Rustic Rye Sourdough Bread Recipe

Last updated: May 26, 2021
4.53 from 280 votes
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Homemade rye sourdough bread is a glorious choice for sandwiches, or eating on its own. Made with a blend of whole wheat, bread flour, and rye flour, this naturally fermented loaf holds its shape and has a moist, chewy crumb. The rustic crust is deeply colored and boasts beautiful blisters!

top down photo of rye sourdough bread
up close photo of rustic rye bread, sliced
2 slices of rye sourdough bread, laying down, overhead photo

New to sourdough baking? You’ll need an active sourdough starter! I ship my well-maintened 13+ year old starter to anyone in the U.S!  You can ORDER it here.


A great deli has a great rye bread for sandwiches, am I right?

I certainly love my Everyday Sourdough recipe for toast and dipping in really good olive oil, but I had my heart set on creating a loaf that was the perfect vehicle for my recent craving of EGG SALAD. I’m fully aware how strange this craving is, but let me tell you, when I piled it on this rye sourdough with crisp lettuce and pickled red onions – it was a joyful moment.

This rustic rye sourdough is called such because of its crisp, deeply browned crust and artisan sourdough shape, rather than baking it in a pullman loaf pan to get perfectly square slices for sandwiches. I might invest in one of those in the future, but for now, I wanted to share a sandwich bread recipe that you could make with your regular sourdough baking tools.

It’s hearty. Has substance. A pleasant tang. And freezes like a charm.

What is rye?

Rye is a type of grain, different than wheat, that contains a low amount of gluten. This means it will not create the same gas trapping air pockets that a bread made entirely of bread flour does.

The dough will also feel wetter and stickier compared to working with all purpose and bread flours, known as high gluten flours. Don’t be alarmed – the dough will become less sticky by the end of your stretch and folds. Knowing this before making this recipe is important.

For these reasons, I like to use rye in combination with bread flour, for a balance of high/low gluten percentages. This allows for excellent structure in the loaf, while the rye contributes a complex flavor and wonderful softness.

ingredients to make rye sourdough bread including bread flour, whole wheat flour in a bow, top down photo

Why I love using rye flour in sourdough bread

  • Complex flavor!
    • Rye flour bodes particularly well to sourdough as it’s unique fruity, subtle sourness compliments the traditional notes of fermented bread.
  • Less dense than traditional rye bread.
    • Because of the chemical reaction that takes places in rye flour during fermentation, your loaf will be airier and fluffier than if you were to use rye flour in a bread made with commercial yeast.
  • Bread has a moist, chewy texture that you can’t achieve with whole wheat.
    • Because of rye’s ability to absorb and keep much of it’s moisture, the inside of a sourdough loaf made with rye flour will have a more moist texture.
  • Your loaf will stay soft for several days after baking!
  • Higher nutritional profile that whole wheat.
    • Rye contains more nutrition than wheat flour does, and this is especially true when rye flour is added to sourdough bread. The slow fermentation increases the nutrient availability of the flour.
rye sourdough rising in a banneton
rye sourdough with scoring on top, and bread lame to the right

How to make rye sourdough bread that holds its shape

Because rye flour has little to no gluten content, it’s difficult to make a loaf of 100% rye bread. It can be done, but I wanted this to be a hybrid loaf, that would hold it’s shape for you, and still achieve a nice rise.

That’s why I used bread flour in combination with the rye and whole wheat, because it’s higher protein percentage is the key to the loaf holding its shape.

You’ll also notice this is a slightly smaller loaf, which makes the slightly wetter dough more manageable. Yes, you’ll notice the dough is slightly wetter than other sourdough bread you’ve made, and that’s okay! Just keep going with it. It will bake up with great structure if properly fermented.

WATCH this short video to see all the steps of making rye sourdough, so you know what to expect from your dough.

close up photo of Rustic Rye Sourdough Bread
close up photo of Rustic Rye Sourdough Bread
two slices of rye sourdough bread

What should I bake an oval loaf in?

I tried using my round dutch oven for baking oval loaves in the past, but without fail the edges of the dough with hit the side of the pot, creating wonky, bulged shapes. I’m newly in love with the Challenger Bread Pan, which has a unique shape that allows you to bake any shape of bread in it! Bâtards, boules, demi-baguettes, and other loaves of almost any size. Because of how it’s made, the perfect amount of steam is created inside the pan. I’ve never had better oven spring or thinner crusts.

This pan is magical. If you love baking sourdough, it is 100% worth having in your kitchen. You can learn more and purchase here.

My favorite things to eat on rye bread:

  • egg salad
  • smashed avocado + lemon + smoked paprika
  • ricotta + rhubarb jam
  • salted butter

More sourdough recipes:

top down photo of rye sourdough bread

Rustic Rye Sourdough Bread

A light rye sourdough bread with a soft crumb, that you can make at home with active sourdough starter.
4.53 from 280 votes
Prep Time :10 minutes
Cook Time :45 minutes
Additional Time :10 hours
Total Time :10 hours 55 minutes
Yield: 1 loaf
Author: Amanda Paa

SCALE:

Ingredients

  • 55 grams active sourdough starter
  • 280 grams slightly warmer than room temperature water
  • 15 grams honey
  • 100 grams fine rye flour
  • 260 grams bread flour
  • 40 grams whole wheat flour
  • 7 grams salt

Instructions

  • Before beginning, it will be helpful to watch this SHORT VIDEO to see me make this bread, noticing that the dough will be stickier than normal because of the rye flour, but it will come together – you just have to trust!
  • Add starter, water, and honey to a bowl. Whisk thoroughly until combined, with a fork. Add flours, and mix together first with the fork to start to incorporate, then with your hands until a shaggy dough is formed, and the bits of flour left just disappear. Sprinkle the salt on top and do not mix in, just leave it on top. Cover with a damp cloth.
  • Autolyse: let dough sit for one hour, covered and undisturbed.
  • Bulk ferment: Now you will knead the salt that is sitting on top, into the dough for about 1 min 15 seconds. There is no precise way to do this, just think of working the dough through your hands and up against the bowl, push and pull. You will start to feel the dough relax a bit around 1 minute. Continue for about 15 or 30 seconds more. Then leave the dough alone, covered, for 30 minutes. This counts as what would be your first set of stretch and folds.
  • After those 30 minutes pass, perform a set of stretch and folds. Repeat 2 more times.
  • Now you will let sit, undisturbed and covered with a damp cloth, for about 7ish hours at 70 degrees F. If the temperature in your home is above 70, this will take less time, vice versa. You will know it is finished with its bulk ferment when the dough has risen about double, is smooth and puffy on top, with a few bubbles. It will not be as jiggly as some sourdough you’ve made before.
  • At this point, lightly dust your work surface with flour. Put dough onto the work surface, and pre-shape. This video will show you what that means. Let sit for 15 minutes on your work surface.
  • Then shape your dough, using this method as a guide.
  • Place dough into your flour dusted banneton, (or flour dusted linen lined banneton) seam side up. (Optional, you can wait 15 minutes after placing it in banneton, and pinch the perimeters of the dough into the center to hold the shape even more, called stitching.) The dough will now go through its final rise. You can do this on the counter, which will take about 2 hours at 70 degrees F for the dough to puff up and be jiggly. It will not double. OR you can do the final rise overnight in the refrigerator, with the banneton covered in a plastic bag or with a very damp cloth. You need this for holding moisture in.
  • Time to bake. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F, with your dutch oven preheating inside the oven. When the oven is preheated, flip your dough out gently onto parchment paper and score your dough. If you did the final rise in the refrigerator, take it straight from fridge to scoring. You should score it cold, and DO NOT need to let it come to room temp.
  • Then put dough into the dutch oven on the parchment, and put cover on. Turn oven down to 450 degrees F and slide dutch oven in. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove cover.
  • Turn heat down to 430 degrees F, and bake for 25 more minutes, until crust is golden brown and crackly. Remove from oven, and remove bread from dutch oven and place onto a cooling rack.
  • Wait AT LEAST one hour to cool otherwise, the interior will be gummy.

Did you make this?

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June 12, 2020

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116 comments

  1. 5 stars
    Came out perfect first time. I followed directions exactly but made minor changes to ingredients. Used rye flour in place of the whole wheat, eliminated the honey and added 1 tablespoon of soft butter.

  2. Hi there, I’m finding my dough is crazy sticky and wet. I’ve followed your ingredient measurements with a scale and the dough is almost unworkable because it’s so wet. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Britt! This is a very wet and sticky dough, which is how dough with a large inclusion of rye naturally is. Keep going through the stretch and folds, it will come together! :)

  3. 5 stars
    This is the best Rye Sourdough recipe! I have made it 3 times and it get better with every attempt. I am still having a little trouble removing the dough from my glass bowl after the first proof. Would you suggest adding just a little olive oil to the bowl?

    • Hi Wendy! So glad you like the rye sourdough. You could spritz the glass bowl with olive oil and then dust with rice flour. You’ll have no issues with it sticking then.

  4. Just started process, love rye and this is my first attempt at rye. I’ll have to leave in fridge 2 nights because of all day commitment next day. Will this affect the bread?

  5. 5 stars
    This was my first try at any kind of rye bread, and with your easy to follow instructions, it’s now going to be my go to! A relatively simple recipe produced a complex tasting bread—I love that I can taste the honey. I just baked it this morning after letting it rise overnight and am very close to needing to make another one! I don’t have a banneton to shape it the same way (I just put linen in a ceramic bowl and made it round), and it still turned out great. Thank you for the recipe, Amanda!!

  6. 5 stars
    This recipe has some of the best tips and tricks for a perfect loaf. It also tastes amazing!!! Love the flavor, texture, crumb and crust. I’ll be making this regularly.

  7. Hi Amanda, after the bulk rise (7ish hours), how long is the dough suppose to set overnight in the refrigerator? Is there a set time that may be too little or too much? Last few times, my boule did not have much rise/crumb when baked. Any feedback is appreciated! Thank you.

    • Hi Julie!
      I usually let mine sit in refrigerator overnight, anywhere from 9-11 hours. If the rise isn’t where you’d like it, it may be that you aren’t building enough strength in your dough while stretching and folding, or you could be overproofing the bulk fermentation, depending on the temperature of the water you used and the temp of your home.

  8. 5 stars
    After trying many sourdough recipes unsuccessfully, this new baker finally managed to pull off what I consider a perfect cob loaf. This simple recipe delivered Aa crunchy crust with a soft and slightly chewy bread. I loved the addition of the honey. It will now be my go to recipe.

  9. 5 stars
    This is my favorite sourdough bread to make. I’ve made it almost once a week for months now and it always turns out perfect.

  10. After my first 20 tries, I am now making fabulous sourdough bread. Next stop is your sourdough rye. I would like to add caraway seeds. How much do you suggest for 2 loaves?

  11. I really like your rye recipe but now I am looking for a 100% (or nearly so) whole wheat sourdough recipe. This “rye”is best sourdough recipe I’ve made. I am now looking for a 100% whole wheat whole grain sourdough recipe. I’m convinced, Amanda, that you are the one to do this! Hope you can work your magic on this challenge. Thank you so much.

  12. 5 stars
    I feel so proud to have made it twice now. Great success!! My only problem? The parchment paper gets stuck to the bottom of the loaf….any suggestions? Love making it with a rye sourdough starter and dark rye flour….I make it on a pizza slab with steam from a roasting pan below…(no lid but next time I’m going to see if a lid would prevent the super dark crust) ). This recipe really has amazing flavour…so glad I found you!!..ps loved all the links for tips.

    • Hi Martha! You can either dust your parchment with cornmeal before putting dough on it, or use a high quality parchment paper that does well at high heat.

      • 5 stars
        Thanks Amanda, this is wonderful bread I am again so happy to have found your and your recipes and guidance !!

  13. Wow … 38 minutes left on cool down/final cook. Used my daughter’s proof 4 and came close to following to a “T” … can’t wait to tasting it!
    Already want to increase rye ratio.

  14. Hmm it says 55g of sourdough starter which doesn’t seem much for the quantity of flour. I’ve started this a few hours ago but not much action happening so just want to make sure. My sourdough starter is well fed and active so I’d love some reassuring please – grateful thanks in advance!

    • Hello! This is the correct amount of starter. A lower amount of starter equals a lower inoculation, meaning bulk fermentation will take more time than recipes that use a higher amount of starter in terms of ratio. While it is in bulk fermentation, it is also gaining flavor complexity over that amount of time.

  15. Hello, I’m wondering if I increase the amount of starter to 75 grams per loaf how will the bulk fermentation time change? Thank you.

    • Hi Oksana!
      If you increase the starter, your bulk fermentation will take slightly longer, all things the same otherwise. You would also want to decrease the amount of water by 10 grams.

      • Hi Amanda thank you very much for your kind reply. I’ve baked this rustic rye five times till now and it tasted amazing each time. But I think I’ve been under-proofing it during BF, it’s 68 degrees in my kitchen but my dough was doubling in 3 -4 yours. I was afraid to over-proof it so I was pre-shaping at that point then shaping and then cold retard in the fridge overnight. I wasn’t waiting the 7ish hours for the BF as you mention in the recipe. Please advice, shall I wait the 7ish hours, won’t it be over-proofed? Thank you for any tips. And thank you for this amazing recipe.

  16. I started this recipe late last night and did the bulk fermentation overnight. This bread turned out just like your photos! This is my first successful sourdough loaf, after a bunch of disappointing attempts with other books/sites. Thank you so much!

  17. Hey! Going to try to convert all of this so I can make it here in America. I’m a touch nervous that I’ll mess it up and convert improperly. Is there an alternate recipe that is yank friendly? Thanks!

  18. Just tried this yesterday (at 74 degrees ambient temperature and without the overnight proof). Let cool for 1 hour. Great flavor and crumb! My first time baking with rye and thanks to this recipe it came out great.

  19. Hello! Two quick questions. Instead of using whole wheat flour, can I use more bread flour or rye flour? Also, I do not have that shape banneton bowl, would round be ok and would I need to change the bake time as a result?
    Thank you!

  20. I will make this as instructed, we love rye bread. This looks great to give it a try :D I have something else in mind as well that I would like to try with this but I will need help with the baking time and temperature. I want to make 4 demi baguettes. Thank you for any help.

  21. This was such a success! Thank you so much!

    I didn’t have any more bread flour, so I used unbleached AP, but it still came out so perfect I’m still in disbelief. Thanks so much for such a wonderful recipe.

  22. This bread has been one of my staples now, I bake one twice per week! The whole family loves it! To make it right each time, I make 2 recipes in two different bowls for two loaves. I’d like to be able to just double the recipe, but some websites say to double the levain and other say to keep the levain as is and double everything else. I’m confused. Have you done it personally and what is your advice on that? Thank you so much!

    • Hello! I’m so glad you liked the rye sourdough! I’ve successfully doubled my Everyday Sourdough bread recipe. With the rye, I simply double all ingredients, and follow recipe as written until the autolyse (initial rest) is complete. At that point I split the dough equally and proceed in two separate bowls. I do that because rye flour is stickier and such a large amount of dough at once can be difficult to work with.

  23. Do you think it would be worthwhile to try combining gluten free flours with sourdough starter and rye?

    I am not celiac but I react more to wheat flour and have almost no reaction to solid 100% rye which I don’t like that well.

    I’ve read that whole psyllium and flax can make enough of a binder to have some rising.

    Thanks for your recipe – it looks amazing! Wish Icould tolerate the wheat!

    Best regards,

    B. Maurene White, Montreal QC, Canada

  24. Made this 4 times and we love it! I adjusted it to add more WW by doubling it and decreasing BF. it turned out well. I believe wholeheartedly in an overnight last fermentation rise because it adds to the sourness and makes scoring a breeze. You nailed it though. Great bread! However I would like to know nutrition information if you have it.

  25. When you say “After those 30 minutes pass, perform a set of stretch and folds. Repeat 2 more times.” does this mean to repeat waiting 30 minutes as well? or just the stretch and folds?

  26. Greetings,
    This is the second time working this recipe & I succeeded again. I did throw some caraway seeds, dill and dried onion to enhance flavor, plus I put in what I had left of the rye flour which worked out to 2 cups.
    I also got a cast iron bread pan for Christmas and wanted a more traditional looking loaf.
    The flavor was great. It was cooked all the way through evenly.
    This is my go to recipe for rye. 2 tries and 2 wins.
    Thanks,
    Chuck

  27. Hi Amanda, thanks for sharing the recipe. I bake a lot of sourdough bread, mostly a mix of whole wheat and good all-purpose flour (like King Arthur) or whole rye and AP flour. I have a couple of questions:
    – Why the honey or some other sweetener? What purpose does that serve in the recipe? I have tried adding molasses to my rye breads a couple of times in the past; don’t really like the taste that it adds, and it makes the dough a bit stickier (as if rye wasn’t already sticky enough!).
    – Why do you emphasize that the dough needs to be baked cold (if overnight retarded), and not warmed up on a counter first? I have done both actually in the past, I find that the crumb tends to be more open if I let the dough sit on a counter for about an hour first. Interested in your thoughts.

    By the way, love the way you scored your loaf, I just did mine in a similar way too, and it looks very pretty!

    • Hi Cooper! Thanks for the questions. You can use regular cane sugar if you’d like instead of a runny sweetener. It aids in the fermentation, and helps the crust achieve a darker color.

      If you leave your bread to warm on the counter, it will have a tendency to lose its shape when you take it out of the banneton. When it’s cold, it’s much easier for the dough to retain its structure which is particularly helpful for scoring the dough.

  28. Thank you for your recipe I’ve been looking for it for so long!!!
    I have a quick question:
    the 55g of sourdough starter is meant after having it fed and waited for its peak or we should start from the 55 g, and so that after feeding it we will have 165 g in total of levain?
    Thank you

  29. I have a fresh bag of dark rye in the pantry. Can I use this instead of the fine light rye you describe? Should I reduce the ratio of rye to bread flour?

    • Hi Lili! Dark rye still has the bran in tact, so it will absorb more liquid.
      I haven’t tested this recipe using dark rye, but you’d need to either reduce the ratio of rye to bread flour, or use more water.

  30. Hello and thank you for sharing this recipe. I am still just experimenting with sourdough and this was my first go at a sourdough rye bread. I subbed the honey for 20g of molasses and added 2 TBS of caraway seeds, but the flour/water ratio
    from here are perfect. A little sticky at first, but came out just as we’d like! Thank you.

    Love your about me story as well….I too found cooking and baking as as comforting, creative option during a stressful postdoc and later in a biotech career. Love your site!

  31. Hi I’m keen to try your recipe,but wondering whether to use my white bread flour starter or a rye starter? Thanks, Andrea

  32. I have a cast iron Dutch oven that has no lid (really it’s a cast iron pot that’s very deep) . My Dutch oven from Lodge has a lid but the lid isn’t certified to 500 degrees or even 430 degrees due to the plastic handle. Several questions:
    1) I could invert my cast iron skillet over the top of the cast iron Dutch oven and make a lid that way (not too stable, but it might work). or possibly make an aluminum foil lid or
    2) might it work to use my baking stone without using a Dutch oven at all? (I will have to check it’s upper temperature limits)
    3. OK to sub in molasses for the honey?
    4. Do you mist the oven with water at all as the bread is first going in or use steam in any way?

    • Hello Jean!
      I would invert the cast iron skillet over the dutch oven to make the lid. Or purchase a cast iron lid.
      You could also use your baking stone instead, and have a pan of water underneath it, using about 2 inches of water to create steam.
      This is in effect, what a lid does. You could use molasses!

  33. Love this sourdough, followed the recipe exactly.
    The only mishap was that it got burned a bit on the bottom, any suggestions?
    Still cannot stop eating it!

    • Hi Lola! So glad you enjoyed the rye sourdough. If you find your bottom getting a bit too dark, you can try moving the oven rack up one level. You can also remove the bread after it bakes in the dutch oven for 20 minutes, and bake it on a baking sheet.

      • I appreciate this question and answer–my bread is always overdone on the bottom regardless of what recipe I am using! I will try this approach today and move the bread onto a baking sheet when done with the closed dutch oven bake. Here’s hoping!

  34. I’ve tried several sourdough rye recipes. This is by far may favorite! Straightforward directions, no fussy techniques, great flavor and spring. I proofed overnight in the refrigerator and dusted the top with with caraway seeds before scoring. My whole family agrees that this is fantastic in every way!

  35. Hi, what altitude are you baking this at? I’m in Denver at >5000 feet so want to make sure I can do this with appropriate high altitude instructions.

    Thanks!

      • I’m hoping to use freshly milled whole rye flour. Is there anything you know I should change or if it is acceptable for this recipe?

        • hi Shelley! this recipe has been tested with fine rye flour, meaning the bran and germ has been sifted out. whole rye flour will be much thirstier, as it absorbs more water than a fine rye flour. there would definitely need to be more recipe testing for me to know if fresh milled whole rye flour would produce the same results as the recipe currently read.

  36. I’m just in the middle of making this loaf and have followed the measurements to the gram, but at the moment the dough is extreeeemely sticky – to the point where i can barely stretch and fold it because half of it sticks to my hand! Is this normal or do you know why this is?

  37. Do you just put starter in from the “mother” vs. creating a new leaven from the mother to use in this recipe?

  38. I am a bit confused when you advise to take the dough from the fridge if leaving it in there overnight to parchment paper, score, then put into the Dutch oven cold. If you follow this do you mean that you DO NOT preheat the Dutch oven in the preheating oven that is at 500 F? Or do you mean place it on the parchment paper cold, score and then take the Dutch oven out of the preheated oven and place the cold dough into it on the parchment paper?

    • Hi Peter! You’ll preheat the dutch oven in the preheating oven, as the recipe reads. Then score your dough cold, and it will still be cold when you put it into the preheated dutch oven.

  39. Made this today and the rise and smell were beautiful. Used maple syrup instead of honey because that’s all I had on hand. Also did the second rise overnight in the fridge which I think led to a really wonderful “spring”. Can’t wait to taste

    • Hi Courtney! Delayed salt allows natural, or biological, development of a part of the amino acids in gluten, called cystein, to occur, which can’t happen in the presence of salt. Adding later helps the gluten network begin to form in the autolyse.

  40. I’m ready to try agsin? I never get the lightness or interior bubbles I’m looking for? But ill try again ….. yes!

  41. I have been dying to try a rye sourdough recipe. Thanks for this!

    I followed the recipe to a tee and noticed that there aren’t as many holes as a normal sourdough loaf. Is the addition of rye meant to create a tighter loaf?

    • Hi Kris! Rye does create a bit of a tighter crumb. But I also find you can push the bulk fermentation maybe farther than you think, to get more open structure like you see in the photos.

  42. This is so beautiful! I have been playing with using more rye in my sourdough experiments lately. I’m curious about the addition of honey and whole wheat flour – are they primarily for flavour or do they affect the fermentation somehow? This will definitely be my next loaf :)

  43. Oh yay!!! I’ve been looking for a Sourdough Rye Bread recipe to make! This will be my next loaf! If I want add toasted seeds & nuts do you have any suggestion of how & when to incorporate them into the dough?