Easy Bread Machine Brown Bread: Steakhouse Style Without Rye

Sneak Preview: This easy Bread Machine Brown Bread is made steakhouse style with whole wheat flour, bread flour, honey, and powdered cocoa (but it doesn’t taste like chocolate)–no rye flour.

Three mini-loaves of steakhouse bread.Pin

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This bread machine recipe reminds me of the dark brown bread mini-loaves we used to get at our local Steak and Ale (a now-defunct restaurant chain)–brought out on a wooden board with a serrated knife and garnished with whipped butter. You may find yourself looking for a white tablecloth and candles to complete the mood.

What’s funny is that after all these years, the bread was what I remember most about my steak dinner. I’m betting the people you feed will remember this bread the same way.

Happy Bakers Speak Up:

Oh Paula, this is without a doubt the very best bread recipe that I have come upon – well almost. Easy to make (thanks to your tips about bread machine usage). Tastes great and looks fabulous. I really liked that I could make small loaves which I shared with some neighbours and could freeze another loaf. Your recipes and tips are tops. Thanks so much. —Stephen

What is the secret ingredient that makes this bread brown?

The dark color comes from cocoa powder and whole wheat flour. But don’t worry. This bread doesn’t taste like chocolate. (Although chocolate in bread can be fabulous!) You could even call it honey wheat bread because it’s sweetened with honey.

What this homemade bread doesn’t have:

  • No rye flour–although rye bread can be fabulous when made with a bread machine.
  • No food coloring
  • No all-purpose flour: Bread flour provides gluten to help this bread rise nice and high.
  • No preservatives

Ingredients and substitutions:

ingredients needed for this recipe.Pin
  • Water: Tap water is good unless your water has high mineral content. In that case, use spring water. It is unnecessary to use warm water, as the friction of the paddles will heat the dough quickly.
  • Orange Juice: Substitute more water if you don’t have orange juice.
  • Butter: Unsalted butter is my first choice. Substitute margarine or vegan butter.
  • Honey: Honey and orange juice complement each other. Use maple syrup or molasses to change things up. I tried date syrup, and it was equally delicious.
  • Flour: Bread flour and whole wheat flour are specified in equal amounts. Using all-purpose flour instead of bread flour may cause your rolls to be dense. Same for using all whole-wheat flour. The combination is perfect.
  • Salt: I use a table or sea salt. Add ¼ teaspoon extra if you use Kosher salt.
  • Cocoa: Dutch-processed or regular powdered cocoa will serve the purpose. Using Dutched-processed cocoa makes the bread a touch darker.
  • Yeast: I only use instant or bread machine yeast in my bread machine recipes. See the notes in the recipe if you only have active dry yeast.

Most of my bread recipes are mixed in a bread machine, then baked in a conventional oven.  The bread machine does the mixing, kneading, and proofing.  All you have to do is form the dough, let it rise again, then bake it in a conventional oven.

Speaking of shapes, I used three mini loaf pans that I can’t recommend enough. But you can make dinner rolls, one large loaf, or whatever you can imagine. That choice is your privilege as the baker.

How to make this steakhouse-style bread with a bread maker:

all ingredients added to the bread machine pan before starting the machine.Pin
Add everything for the dough, including wet ingredients, dry ingredients, and yeast, to the bread machine pan in the order listed.
Dough should look like this during the first minute or two after starting the machine.Pin
Select the DOUGH cycle, then Start. Within the first minute, open the lid to ensure the paddles are engaged and the dough clumps.
The dough should be smooth and elastic towards like thisPin
The dough should stick to the sides of the pan, then pull away cleanly when it’s just right. Use this surprising secret to fix the dough if it’s too dry or too wet to do this.
dough should be doubled in size at the end of the DOUGH cycle.Pin
The dough should double in size by the end of the DOUGH cycle. If not, leave it in the machine until it doubles, then proceed to shape the loaves.

How to shape the dark bread loaves:

pulling the dough out of the bread machine pan.Pin
Pull the dough from the bread machine pan onto a lightly floured surface. I like to use a silicone mat for easy clean-up.
Divide the dough into 3 equal balls.Pin
Divide the dough into three equal portions and form each into a round ball. If the dough sticks to your fingers or the surface, spray with water instead of flour to avoid tunnels or holes in your bread.
rolling out the doughPin
Roll dough into a small square approximately 9 x 6 inches. Be sure to roll over the edges to compress any rogue bubbles.
using your pan as a guide.Pin
Use your pan as a guide to ensure the dough is the right size. The dough should be about one inch longer than the long side of the pan. If it’s too long, you will have too much dough on the ends, ruining the shape. If it’s too short, the loaf will be too tall in the middle and too short on the ends.
Rolling dough into a cylinder.Pin
Roll dough into a tight cylinder.
pinching the seams and the ends.Pin
Pinch the seams and ends to keep the cylinder intact.
placing the dough into the pan and pressing down with your fingers.Pin
Place the dough into the pan seam-side down. Use your fingers to lightly press the dough down into the pan.
slashing the top of the loaves with a lame.Pin
Cover the pans with a tea towel or loose plastic wrap for the final rise. The dough should proof until it’s not quite double in size. When the dough reaches the top of the pan, they are ready to bake. Slash with a lame or serrated knife if you like the look.
Three loaves on a cooling rack.Pin
Yours may look different according to the size of your pans. Turn the loaves out to cool on the rack.
sliced bread with butterPin
Butter the tops of the loaves if desired. Serve with soft butter.

FAQs about Bread Machine Brown Bread:

Is this pumpernickel bread?

No. Authentic pumpernickel contains dark rye flour.

Can I make the dough one day and bake the loaves the next day?

Yes. Make the recipe through step 7 in the recipe. Put the loaves in the refrigerator. The next day, take the loaves out of the fridge 2-3 hours before you want to bake them. When the loaves rise and are puffy, bake as directed.

What can I serve with this bread?

Softened butter is the BEST! Steak on the side would be good, too.

My mini-pans are smaller (or larger). How do I know how much dough should go into each pan?

The dough should fill a third to half of the pan when you place the dough into the pan after shaping. If the pans are too big for the amount of dough, your loaves will look squat. If the pans are too small, the dough may rise too high and tear as it bakes

Parting Thoughts: I first published this recipe 12 years ago. Since then, I have revised the recipe and tested some substitutions. Originally, I made dinner rolls, but we like the mini-loaves better. They are more authentic. Speaking of authenticity, you must serve these loaves with softened butter, just like in restaurants. It is the absolute best way to eat this bread. And one more thing…if you should have any of this bread long enough to grow stale, try making this Bread Crumb Pudding.

Recipe Help at Your Fingertips: For questions or suggestions, email Paula at saladinajar.com. If you need help, I’m happy to troubleshoot via email (faster than leaving a comment). Attach pictures and as many details as possible for the best advice.

three mini-loaves of steakhouse breadPin

Easy Bread Machine Brown Bread Recipe

Paula Rhodes
This Brown Bread Recipe is dark-colored bread like we used to get at the local Steak and Ale. Directions for mixing and kneading in a bread machine are included.
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4.80 from 5 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Mixing & Rising Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 5 minutes
Course Savory Bread Machine Loaves and Yeast Rolls
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Calories 176 kcal



  • cup + 1 tablespoon (212 g) water
  • ¼ cup (57 g) orange juice
  • ¼ cup (84 g) honey
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa
  • 3 tablespoons (42 g) unsalted butter (chopped)
  • 1 ⅔ cup (200 g) whole wheat flour
  • 1 ⅔ cup (200 g) unbleached bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast


  • Add ingredients to a bread machine pan in the order given: ⅞ cup + 1 tablespoon (212 g) water, ¼ cup (57 g) orange juice, ¼ cup (84 g) honey, 1 ¼ teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa, 3 tablespoons (42 g) unsalted butter (chopped), 1 ⅔ cup (200 g) whole wheat flour, 1 ⅔ cup (200 g) unbleached bread flour, and 2 teaspoons instant yeast. Select the DOUGH cycle and press START.
  • Open the lid in the first minute to ensure the paddles are engaged correctly and the dough starts clumping.
  • Recheck the dough after 12-15 minutes of kneading. If too sticky, add one tablespoon of flour at a time. Conversely, if too dry (dough slaps loudly against the side of the pan) add one or more tablespoons of water. The goal is for the dough to stick to the sides of the pan, then pull away cleanly.
  • When the dough cycle finishes and the dough has almost doubled in volume, remove it from the bread-machine pan to a floured board.
  • Divide dough into three equally sized portions and form each portion into a ball.
  • Roll each ball into a 7 x 9-inch rectangle (approximately). Roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Pinch the seams and ends together.
  • Drop the cylinder into a mini-loaf pan seam-side down. Repeat for the remainder of the dough balls. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise a final time until almost double.
  • Preheat your oven to 350˚F (180˚C).
  • When the loaves are ready, bake them for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Their dark color makes these loaves somewhat challenging to assess for doneness. Look at the bottom for browning or check the internal temperature, which should be 190-195˚F (88˚C).
  • After five minutes, turn the loaves out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm, with butter, please.


Directions for making bread with a stand mixer or by hand:
  • To make this recipe in a heavy-duty stand mixer:  Add ingredients to the bowl in the same order. Turn on LOW to mix until all ingredients are moistened. Then, using a dough hook, turn the speed to 2 or 3. Continue beating/kneading until dough becomes smooth and elastic (about 5-10 minutes). Cover and allow to rise in a warm place. Deflate dough gently and shape as indicated in the recipe.
  • If making by hand: Combine all ingredients into a shaggy ball in a large bowl. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead with your hands until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Kneading will likely take 10-20 minutes, depending on your experience. Place the dough ball into a greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise until double. Deflate the dough gently and shape as indicated in the recipe.
  • Please note: You can substitute active dry yeast for instant yeast. Dissolving it first is optional. Active dry yeast tends to rise slower initially but will catch up eventually.


Serving: 1(1/4 of a loaf) | Calories: 176kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 278mg | Potassium: 119mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 137IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg
Keyword steakhouse bread, mini-loaves, wheat bread, bread machine
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Recipe Rating


  1. Cannot wait to try this recipe! Could you leave the dough in the bread machine for one big loaf? If so, what settings would you suggest? Thank you!

    1. Hi Meg,

      I never bake bread of any kind in my bread machine unless it’s to illustrate why I don’t like it. You can easily put this bread into one big loaf pan and bake it in your oven for a wonderful loaf. I will spare you my rant about baking bread in bread machines, but you can read all about it on my website. Sign up for my FREE bread machine email course if you want to know more or read more here.

  2. 5 stars
    Oh Paula, this is without a doubt the very best bread recipe that I have come upon – well almost. Easy to make (thanks to your tips about bread machine usage). Tastes great and looks fabulous. I really liked that I could make small loaves which I shared with some neighbours and could freeze another loaf. Your recipes and tips are tops. Thanks so much.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Stephen. I agree about the small loaves. So much nicer to share with friends, especially if they live alone or with one person.

  3. 5 stars
    Hi Paula,
    Baked these rolls up last evening, served with beef vegetable soup. Hello October!
    Great recipe. I did sub out the honey (didn’t have any) with maple syrup & molasses. And used white whole wheat flour and regular Hershey cocoa
    ( ’cause that’s what I had). Baked up nice and are great for dunking in soup.
    Here is a Tip… since we don’t drink much oj, I now just keep a can of oj concentrate in the freezer to use in recipes. 1 tab oj concentrate to 3 tabs water makes 1/4 cup.
    Thanks for your post. Happy Fall 🥣😋

    1. Hi PattieAnn,

      I love your substitutions and tips. Thanks for writing–your ideas are sure to help other readers.

    2. My husband has been asking me to make steakhouse bread for months, so I found your recipe using a Google search. The problem I have is that my actual oven broke and is now just storage for pots and pans. Aside from expecting a weird shape and probably being a little dry, would this work in the bread machine from start to finish?

      1. Hi Kelly,

        I’m sorry to hear about your oven. Yes, you can try making this in your bread machine. Your bread doesn’t have to be dry if you will use my Surprising secret for making better bread in a bread machine.. This can help the weird shape, too. You can also pull the dough out after the second rise and reshape it by hand and put it back in the machine. Do it quick.

        What I can’t help you with is the holes in the bottom (however, remove the paddles when you pull the dough out to reshape to minimize the damage) or the cardboard crust. I hope you will let me know how it turns out for you. Occasionally, I get this question from other people who can’t or won’t use their oven.

  4. May I know if I can sub the orange juice with vinegar? Thanks.

    1. I have not tried that Ju. The orange juice adds sweetness in addition to the acid.

  5. ~Jacqueline~ says:

    Do these rolls taste like chocolate?

    1. Not at all. They’re similar to the rolls you’d get at Outback Steakhouse.

  6. Hi,
    I love your tips for successful bread making!
    I’m dying to try this recipe, but here in Brasil we don’t have “unbleached flour”. I’m in Rio de Janeiro and I can’t find this kind of flour in supermarkets, it’s so disappointing…
    Is there any replacement?
    Thanks a lot!

    1. Clarissa,

      You can used bleached flour. That is all I used for years. Some recipes may require a tablespoon or more of bleached flour when substituted for the unbleached.

  7. OH!!! These look fantastic.

    This is how I do a lot of my breads. Machine work. Oven bake.

  8. Wow. Those look awesome. I’m surprised by the orange juice! Can’t wait to try these!

  9. Interesting recipe, I guess we could call them cocoa rolls. I’ve gotten rid of my bread machine. Between my Cuisinart and KA HD stand mixer, I found I really don’t need it.

    1. Judy, I love my Cuisinart and KA too. But I can’t set a timer with them. Really handy to throw all ingredients for pizza dough or rolls in bread machine in the morning and walk in the door with dough ready to roll out. Also, the bread machine provides the perfect environment for proofing. Especially handy in the winter. Guess I just find the dough needs less handling than with my other appliances. In fact, I have two bread machines–for use when cooking for a crowd.

  10. When you say “instant yeast”, do you mean the dried yeast in the small package that says “instant”. or is does it mean just regular dried yeast in a package?

    1. When I say “instant” I’m referring to the little package called instant or bread machine yeast which often comes in jars. Neither instant or bread machine yeast need to be dissolved in warm liquid first as does regular yeast.

  11. They turned out beautifully!!

  12. i’m sure these rolls look beautiful. unfortunately, my work computer is filtering out all pictures on your website. so it’s not as fun to look at. i don’t think there is much you can do to modify this from your end. gotta love corporate computers!