Delicious Sourdough Rye Bread: A Hearty and Flavorful Classic

Sourdough Rye Bread Recipe (100% Rye Flour)

Sourdough rye bread is a traditional bread made with a combination of rye flour and a sourdough starter. Known for its dense texture, robust flavor, and tangy taste, this bread is a staple in many European cuisines. It offers a unique and satisfying eating experience, whether enjoyed plain, with butter, or as a base for sandwiches and hearty dishes.

100 Rye Sourdough bread recipe
100 Rye Sourdough bread recipe (image source)

100% Rye Ingredients:

  • 500g rye flour
  • 350ml lukewarm water
  • 150g active sourdough starter
  • 10g salt


Prepare the Sourdough Starter: Ensure your sourdough starter is active and ready to use. If it has been refrigerated, take it out and let it come to room temperature.

Mix the Dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine the rye flour, lukewarm water, active sourdough starter, and salt. Stir until the ingredients are well combined and form a sticky dough. You can use a spoon or your hands for mixing.

Knead the Dough: Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for about 5-10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. Rye flour tends to be stickier than wheat flour, so it may require a bit more effort to knead.

First Rise (Bulk Fermentation): Place the kneaded dough back into the mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for about 8-12 hours, or until it has doubled in size. This process may take longer than traditional wheat bread due to the nature of rye flour.

Shape the Loaf: Once the dough has doubled in size, gently deflate it and shape it into a round or oval loaf. You can do this by folding the edges of the dough towards the center and then flipping it over to create a smooth surface.

Second Rise: Place the shaped loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet or in a proofing basket dusted with flour. Cover it loosely with a kitchen towel and let it rise for another 1-2 hours, or until it has increased in size by about 50%.

Preheat the Oven: About 30 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C). Place a baking stone or inverted baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven to preheat as well.

Score the Dough: Just before baking, use a sharp knife or razor blade to make a few shallow slashes on the surface of the loaf. This will help the bread expand properly in the oven.

Bake the Bread: Carefully transfer the scored loaf onto the preheated baking stone or baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Cooling: Once baked, transfer the sourdough rye bread to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. This will help retain its moisture and prevent it from becoming too dense.

Enjoy: Slice the cooled bread and enjoy it plain, with butter, or alongside your favorite toppings. Sourdough rye bread has a robust flavor and pairs well with both sweet and savory accompaniments.

This sourdough rye bread recipe yields a delicious loaf with a hearty texture and tangy flavor, perfect for sandwiches, toast, or as a side to soups and stews. Experiment with different toppings and enjoy the wholesome goodness of homemade bread!

Sourdough vs 100% Rye Bread: A Comparison


Sourdough Bread: Sourdough bread is typically made with a combination of flour, water, salt, and a sourdough starter, which is a natural leavening agent made from fermented flour and water.
Rye Bread: Rye bread is primarily made from rye flour, water, salt, and sometimes yeast or sourdough starter. It can also contain other grains like wheat flour or additives like caraway seeds.

Texture and Flavor:

Sourdough Bread: Sourdough bread has a chewy texture with a slightly tangy flavor, attributed to the fermentation process of the sourdough starter. It often has large air pockets and a crispy crust.
Rye Bread: Rye bread has a denser texture compared to sourdough bread, owing to the lower gluten content in rye flour. It has a robust flavor with earthy, nutty undertones and can range from mildly tangy to slightly sweet, depending on the fermentation process and additional ingredients.

Nutritional Profile:

Sourdough Bread: Sourdough bread offers several health benefits, including improved digestion and better nutrient absorption due to the fermentation process. It contains a good amount of fiber and minerals and has a lower glycemic index compared to some commercial bread.
Rye Bread: Rye bread is known for its high fiber content, which promotes digestive health and helps regulate blood sugar levels. It also contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making it a nutritious choice for those seeking a hearty and wholesome bread option.

Cultural Significance:

Sourdough Bread: Sourdough bread has a long history and is deeply rooted in various cultures around the world. It has been a staple food for centuries and is celebrated for its natural fermentation process, artisanal craftsmanship, and unique flavor profiles.
Rye Bread: Rye bread holds cultural significance in many European countries, particularly in Scandinavia, Germany, and Eastern Europe. It is often associated with traditional baking methods, regional variations, and festive occasions.

Versatility and Uses:

Sourdough Bread: Sourdough bread is versatile and can be enjoyed in various forms, such as loaves, baguettes, boules, and rolls. It pairs well with both sweet and savory toppings and is commonly used for sandwiches, toast, and artisanal bread baskets.
Rye Bread: Rye bread is prized for its rich flavor and pairs excellently with hearty toppings like smoked salmon, pickled herring, cured meats, and cheese. It is commonly served alongside soups, stews, and traditional dishes like open-faced sandwiches (smørrebrød) in Scandinavian cuisine.

In summary, while both sourdough and rye breads offer unique characteristics and flavors, they cater to different preferences and dietary needs. Sourdough bread is renowned for its tangy taste and airy texture, while rye bread is beloved for its dense, hearty profile and nutritional benefits. Whether you’re a fan of sourdough’s artisanal allure or rye’s robust flavor, both breads contribute to the rich tapestry of global culinary traditions.

Read more about: Garlic and Rosemary Sourdough Bread 


What is sourdough rye bread?

Sourdough rye bread is a type of bread made from rye flour and a sourdough starter. It has a dense texture, tangy flavor, and is often favored for its nutritional benefits and complex taste profile.

Can I use all rye flour in sourdough rye bread?

Yes, you can use 100% rye flour to make sourdough rye bread. However, rye flour lacks gluten, which is necessary for bread structure, so the texture may be denser compared to bread made with wheat flour.

How do I make a sourdough starter for rye bread?

You can make a sourdough starter for rye bread by combining equal parts rye flour and water and allowing it to ferment over several days. Follow a basic sourdough starter recipe, but use rye flour instead of wheat flour.

Why is my sourdough rye bread dense?

Sourdough rye bread can be denser than wheat bread due to the lower gluten content in rye flour. To improve the texture, ensure your starter is active, allow the dough to ferment sufficiently during bulk fermentation, and handle the dough gently during shaping.

How should I store sourdough rye bread?

Sourdough rye bread can be stored at room temperature in a bread box or paper bag for up to 3-4 days. For longer storage, wrap the bread tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and freeze it for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw at room temperature before serving.

Sourdough rye bread offers a delightful combination of rich flavor and wholesome goodness, making it a favorite among bread enthusiasts. Experiment with different ratios of rye flour and wheat flour to find the perfect balance for your taste preferences.