Rustic Rye Sourdough Bread Recipe

By Amanda Paa – Last updated: December 3, 2021
4.70 from 440 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. Wonderful flavor and perfect for making rye sandwiches!
4.70 from 440 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





  • 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 2 1/2 minutes. 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. Then leave the dough alone, covered, for 30 minutes. This counts as 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 the remainder of its bulk fermentation. You will know it is finished with its bulk ferment when the dough has risen about 75% (just short of doubling) in size, is smooth and puffy on top, with a few bubbles around the edges. It will not be as jiggly as some sourdough you've made before. I find this takes between 5-7 hours, depending on the temperature of your home. If the temperature in your home is above 72 degrees, this will be on the lower end; if it is cooler it will take on the longer end. Always go by the look and feel of your dough to know when it is finished proofing rather than time.
  • When finished with bulk fermentation, lightly dust your work surface with flour. Put dough onto the work surface, and pre-shape. Then let sit for 15 minutes on your work surface.
  • Then shape your dough using the video attached here 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 1 1/2 to 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 475 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 scored 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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  1. 5 stars
    I am tossing all my saved sourdough rye bread recipes “to try someday”! There is no reason to look further. This was amazing! Thank you so much.

  2. Help! I don’t have fine sea salt, but a bit coarser. Would that do, or should I use table salt. Thank you so much. I am so excited to try this recipe.

  3. 5 stars
    I have made great tall loaves from this recipe several times. But ever since our hot and humid Southern summer has begun, I cannot get them to keep their shape. I’m still using the same brand of flour and my starter is strong; I have played around with the amount of starter and the bulk fermentation time. Today I removed from the fridge what looked like a beautiful, strong loaf, but in the few moments between scoring and placing it in the Dutch oven, it lost its shape and never sprung back in the oven. The taste is good, but I am so frustrated with these flat loaves because I used to get excellent results. Any tips? I’ve been thinking that maybe I should switch to loaves that use levain for the remaining weeks of our hot summer.

    • Hi Barbara! With humidity, you’ll need to decrease the amount of water in whatever recipe you’re using, as the moisture in the air will transfer to the dough. I would start with 20 grams less water. Additionally, you’ll need to shorten the bulk fermentation time, as your dough will be warmer than usually when it goes into the fridge, and the carryover fermentation will be more than normal. That will result in overproofed loaves that do not get the same rise you are used. We’ve had a hot summer here too, and it can be difficult to bake in so I totally get it!

    • 5 stars
      Amazing! This worked like a charm considering I’m.still learning the skill of sourdough baking. This is my favorite now. I love the rye and whole wheat in it. I may try to add some seeds next time. Thank you for a reliable recipe and great instructions.

  4. 5 stars
    I modified this recipe quite a bit (used dark rye flour, only had AP flour-no ww or bread), but it still turned out very good. Right until I tasted the first slice I was doubting if the bread would turn out. When she tells you it’s a sticky dough, she means it. This is also quite a small loaf before baking, but a nice oven spring was achieved during baking. 9/10 recommend. Will most certainly be making again.

    • wow, i’m glad it worked using rye + AP flour! if you make it that way again, reduce the water by 30 grams and it will probably turn out even better. happy baking!

  5. Hi, in step 6, the bulk fermentation time is shown as 5-7 hrs. Is the timing from after the 4th stretch & fold or from when the all the ingredients are mixed ?
    Thank you

  6. Hi I have baked the bread a few times and it has turned out lovely thanks to you,but what I need to know is when I am doing the folds and stretches do I do them for the 2 minutes each time or is that only the first time .
    Regards Gerry

  7. 5 stars
    You need to trust the process, I got to the banneton part and thought no way is this gonna bake up; it was loose and moist and did not want to shape so I just dumped it into the banneton and threw it in the fridge over the day. But it did bake up and it’s beautiful and delicious.

  8. 5 stars
    My 2nd ever sourdough loaf and first rye – there is a third of the loaf left 10 minutes after cutting the first slice – I think that says it all! Delicious, thank you Amanda. You’re video was really helpful also. Double win!

  9. The bread was delicious, but mine didn’t have those lovely big air holes inside. It was denser with smaller holes. What causes this? I’m pretty sure I proofed it enough. Any ideas?

  10. 5 stars
    Delicious bread with great tang, chew, and just the right touch of honey. My go-to sourdough from here on out!

  11. 5 stars
    I love this bread recipe; have made it 4 times now and the bread comes out just right. Today the dough is extra sticky; not sure whether it’s the humidity or something else that I did (I tend to double the recipe and make two or three loaves at at time–maybe I miscalculated the amount of flour). Anyway, I’m sure the end result will still be great; thanks for sharing this.

    • I’m so glad you like the rye sourdough, Beth! Yes, if it is humid like it is here in MN/WI right now, that definitely affects how dough will feel and behave. You can add a little flour on your hands or top of dough for each set of stretch and folds to help.