Family Recipe: Swedish Rye Bread
for the Bread Machine or Mix By Hand

My dad's favorite bread is the slightly sweet, slightly dense Swedish Rye Bread. So I adapted our family recipe for Swedish Rye for the bread machine, that means he can make it too! He's a popular guy at potlucks, now, walking in with a warm loaf of just-baked bread. All the widows swoon!

Swedish Rye Bread, the slightly sweet, dense classic Swedish rye bread. Make it in a  bread machine or mix by hand.

"I made your recipe for the rye bread and it came out perfect ..." ~ Pauline
"Just made bread by hand, tastes great." ~ Fishook
"... excellent. Slightly hearty, but at the same time very light, fluffy, moist and smooth." ~ Rosa's Yummy Yums

On cool Saturday mornings, the oven seems to plead, “Make bread! Please! Make bread!” Most loaves emerge plump and fragrant, demanding to be sliced and buttered on the spot.

Enter my summer nemesis, a bread machine borrowed to convert a recipe for Swedish rye, a family favorite.

What trouble! Only three of the first fourteen loaves were perfect. I made one silly mistake after another, like forgetting to insert the kneading blade or to press the Start button. From much trial and many errors, I learned that an automatic breadmaker certainly isn’t goofproof.

I learned that the extra oomph in rapid-rise yeast creates a round top on heavy, European-style bread. I learned to store yeast at room temperature. I learned to open the lid during the first kneading cycle to scrape flour from the sides. Finally, I learned to close the lid, let the machine do its work and hope for perfection. Lucky you, I think I’ve got it. Here’s the recipe, Swedish Rye Bread for the bread machine, along with the make-it-by-hand method, both work great.

ALANNA's TIPS Both fennel seed and ground fennel work, so does all caraway. But my favorite is a mix of fennel seed and fennel powder plus a touch of caraway. I love the taste and texture produced by Bob’s Red Mill’s dark rye flour but other ryes work too. Wheat gluten is a favorite breadmaker trick but lightens this bread too much. When mixed by hand, this bread works beautifully with a "slow rise" in the refrigerator overnight. For years, I baked Swedish Rye Bread in traditional loaf pans. Now I usually form two round loaves, they hold up beautifully and look so pretty in a basket, a nice hostess gift. (2012) I no longer have a bread machine so always mix this bread by hand, even a mixer is unnecessary. But I'm puzzled that the much-tested bread-machine version can use so much less flour than what's needed to make a hand-workable dough. Is it possible that a bread machine is a calorie-saver? For just-buy-the-box convenience, Bob’s Red Mill also sells a stone ground rye bread mix for bread machines. It includes some caraway but I add fennel and orange zest to the mix. It’s not the same but good! Have you seen a Butter Bell? It keeps butter just the right temperature for easy spreading. It’s a must if you love bread ‘n’ butter!
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe you've adapted for a bread machine that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!


Slightly sweet, densely delicious
Hands-on time: 15 minutes (bread machine)
Time to table: 3-1/2 hours
Makes a 1-1/2 pound loaf
  • 1-1/4 cups (275g) warm tap water
  • 1 tablespoon soft butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon table salt
  • 1/4 cup (70g) honey (or sorghum or part molasses)
  • 1/4 cup (50g) brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seed or ground fennel or a blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway
  • Zest of an orange
  • 1-1/2 cups (190g) bread flour
  • 1-1/2 cups (190g) rye flour
  • 1 packet (2-1/4 teaspoons, 7g) rapid rise yeast
  • Butter

Add ingredients in order listed, not letting yeast touch liquid. Set for white bread and light crust. When baked, transfer to a cooling rack, brush top with butter.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Twelve slices, per slice: 164 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 32g Carb; 9g Sugar; 5g Fiber; 302mg Sodium; 3mg Cholesterol; 5g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 2.5, WW PointsPlus 4

  • 1 packet (2-1/4 teaspoons, 7g) active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon warm tap water
  • 1-1/4 cups (275g) warm tap water
  • 1 tablespoon soft butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon table salt
  • 1/4 cup (70g) honey (or sorghum or part molasses)
  • 1/4 cup brown (50g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seed or ground fennel or a blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway
  • Zest of an orange
  • 1-1/2 cups (190g) bread flour
  • 1-1/2 cups (190g) rye flour
  • Up to about 1 more cup bread flour, as needed
  • Butter

In small bowl, proof yeast with sugar and 1 tablespoon warm water. (If it doesn’t bubble up, the yeast is dead and you’ll need to repeat this step with new yeast.)

In large mixing bowl, mix water, 1 tablespoon butter, salt, honey, brown sugar, fennel, caraway and orange zest with a wooden spoon. Gently stir in 1 cup bread flour and proofed yeast. Add remaining bread flour and rye flour until combined, then knead for 5 minutes, adding bread flour as needed.

Transfer to a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place til double. With a fist, gently deflate the dough. Form into a loaf, transfer to a greased loaf pan, cover and let rise in a warm place until double.

Heat oven to 375F. Bake loaf for 35 – 45 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, remove from pan, brush top with butter, finish cooling.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Twelve slices, per slice: 203 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 40g Carb; 9g Sugar; 5g Fiber; 302mg Sodium; 3mg Cholesterol; 6g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 3, WW PointsPlus 5


(2007) In Switzerland, Rosa's Yummy Yums wrote: "This Swedish Rye Bread is excellent ... slightly hearty, but at the same time ...very light, fluffy, moist and smooth. ... incredible and original flavor originates from the caraway/fennel seeds as well as the orange rind ... The crust is gorgeously crunchy and tasty ... not too dark, yet not plain at all, this loaf will [please those who like] white and brown breads [and] brioche type breads. A must-try for all of you bread addicts and homebakers!" See Rosa's beautiful loaves.
(2014) New to me! I love using a digital thermometer for meat but just now read about using the same technique for bread! I baked two round free-form loaves (see below) until the interior reached 190F. The bread was perfectly done, no more guesswork!
(2012 & 2014) Recipe updated.

Free-Form Loaves

Swedish Rye Bread, the slightly sweet, dense classic Swedish rye bread. Make it in a bread machine or mix by hand.

Finally, I tried forming the dough into round loaves. The bread turned out beautifully! I made two round loaves, they took 30 minutes to bake.

More Homemade Bread Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Best-Ever Oatmeal Bread Light 'n' Fluffy Homemade Whole-Grain Bread No-Knead English Muffin Bread

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Bread looks so good!! I am not a baker,I'm afraid!! I buy 7 grain loaf,that's abt it!:))
Fennel seeds must add nice aroma and texture!! I could smell it right now!!YUM!!

Bread. Hmmm. I was just thinking the other day that I should post a few of my bread recipes that I have created from scratch.

I also love the butter bell. It has taken our guests awhile to figure it out. The water scares them. I like that when we go away for a week I don't have to put the butter in the fridge and them come home to stone hard butter and a desire for soft butter on bread.
Looks good! I love the detailed tips you always give with your recipes. Thanks for participating!

Fennel wouldn't have occured to me, I' have to try it.

Oh, and I fixed the post you comment on. Thanks.

I made your recipe for the rye bread and it came out perfect, thanks. I've been using a bread machine (this is my 3rd) since Christmas of 1987. I found that most recipes need adjustments in either flour or liquid. I just keep my eye on the first kneading and work it from there. ... Your weekend sounds terrific. What fun to get all those interesting people together.

Asha ~ You say you're not a baker but until recently, you didn't cook zucchini either and now you love it! Maybe bread's next?!

Chrispy ~ Please do, especially your own recipes.

Danielle ~ Thanks! I learn so much from others, it's nice to pass a little along.

Kevin ~ Fennel somehow turns Swedish rye into, well, Swedish rye!

That bread souds interesting! I'm going to test your recipe this week... Thanks for sharing!

Just made bread by hand Tastes great.Crunchier than made in machine.Thanks for details.I need them
Hi Fishhook ~ The flavor is great, isn't it?! So glad it worked for you. Not sure what you mean by 'crunchier' (that doesn't sound good in bread, does it?) but there is a texture difference between breads baked in a bread maker and ones kneaded and rolled by hand, for sure. Thanks so much for taking the time to write!
Thanks for the mention! I really love this bread!


Yet another recipe to add to my long, long list if I've been far too lazy to try. I'm going to dust off the old sunbeam breadmaker this weekend though!
Super yummy! I ate 2 slices right away after I finished making this bread! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!! Forget buying store bought bread!!
I've not tried this yet but it sounds like just what I have been looking for. My mother made amazing rye bread but unfortunately made it from memory so no written recipe.
I will leave out the fennel and make in the bread machine on the dough setting and bake it in a loaf pan.
This is the lost recipe(without the fennel) I had in the 1960's!!
So happy to have it back- It was a family recipe of a friend that baked it for Christmas.Back then it was easy to find Gold Medal rye and wheat flour already mixed half and half in 5 lb bags!! Thanks! So Much!!
I found my bread to be much too sweet. I'm not a huge fan, granted, I didn't have fennel or caraway so that may be why
I made this bread already 4-5 times. This recipe is great, I shared it with my sister-in-law, and she loved it too! This bread is great. I used half-honey and half-molasses. Fennel- both ground and whole seeds, mixed. Great recipe, very delicious bread! It is my number one bread now!

I would appreciate if you share more recipes for the bread machine.
I made your rye bread by hand and divided it into four mounds forming bread bowls. When it was done and cooled, I served my thick and cheesy potato soup in them. What a treat!
Pamela ~ You are so smart! I love-love-love your idea! It would be great with the Scandinavian pea soup too ... thanks for letting me know, so appreciated!

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna