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100% Whole Wheat Bread Recipe: Homemade and Delicious

This 100% Whole Wheat Bread recipe makes healthy loaves of soft, incredibly flavorful homemade bread. Sweetened with honey, it’s absolutely perfect for toast, sandwiches, or snacking. It also happens to be my favorite homemade bread.

Sliced Homemade 100% Whole Wheat Bread on a Bread Board

If you bake bread, you know that the aroma coming from homemade bread baking in the oven is almost indescribable. It lifts the mood in the whole house and builds expectations for delicious things to come.

Think sandwiches and morning toast. Think soup, like our Ribolitta, served with slices of homemade bread, drizzled in honey.

My mouth is watering as I think of it.

Truly, it’s a gift to yourself and those you live with.

I try to make homemade bread every week, often this 100% Whole Wheat Bread. I don’t always get to it, but it’s a worthy and delicious goal. 

Especially when you pair it with an easy, small-batch Refrigerated Strawberry Jam.

This recipe makes two loaves, which is perfect for freezing one ahead. But in my house… it never seems to last into the next week.

Sliced whole wheat bread on a cutting board with honey

What to Love About 100% Whole Wheat Bread

Honestly, there is very little NOT to love about homemade bread. Especially warm from the oven. But here are some more favorites.

  • Incredibly soft and delicious sandwich bread
  • Healthy and satisfying
  • Easy to make with few ingredients
  • The aroma of home-baked bread
  • Perfect for sandwiches, toast, and snacks!

WHAT KIND OF WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR SHOULD YOU USE?

You can use standard whole wheat flour, whole wheat bread flour, white whole wheat flour, or stone-ground whole wheat flour. 

I prefer and always use stone-ground whole wheat flour unless I’m fortunate enough to have some of my sister’s home-milled flour.

The difference between stone-ground whole wheat flour and whole wheat flour is in the processing, and it may contain more fiber and healthy fats.

100% WHOLE WHEAT BREAD INGREDIENTS

Gather these ingredients to make this superb, utterly delicious homemade bread.

  • Whole wheat flour: you can also use white whole wheat is you prefer the taste
  • Instant yeast (although active dry yeast works too)
  • Honey for sweetness (or maple syrup if preferred)
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt
2 whole wheat bread loaves cooling on a rack

HOW TO MAKE 100% WHOLE WHEAT BREAD

This bread dough is incredibly easy to make. With few ingredients, it comes together quickly. The time involved is mostly inactive as it will rise two times.

STEP 1: PROOF THE YEAST:

In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, add warm water and honey. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let sit for 5 minutes.

STEP 2: MIXING THE DOUGH:

To the yeast mixture, add 4 cups of flour, oil, and salt; stir until incorporated. Then add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

STEP 3: KNEADING THE DOUGH:

If kneading the dough by hand, transfer it to a very lightly floured surface. With oiled hands, knead for 6 to 7 minutes. To knead the dough using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook, and knead for 5 minutes on medium speed.

First Rise of of whole wheat dough in stainless bowl

STEP 4: LET THE BREAD RISE

Transfer the dough to an oil-coated bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down, cover, and let rise another 30 minutes.

Second Rise of whole wheat bread in two glass loaf pans

STEP 5: SHAPING THE LOAVES:

Divide in the dough half and form 2 loaves. I like to make a log and pinch the seam and the ends together tightly.

Transfer to two 9 x 5-inch, well-greased loaf pans with the seam side down. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until the center has crowned; about 1-inch above the loaf rim; about 30 minutes.

BAKING THE LOAVES:

While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Once risen, place the loaves in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a digital thermometer reads between 180° and 200°F. 

Immediately remove the loaves from the oven and also from the loaf pans. Let cool on a rack completely before slicing.

For an extra delicious, soft crust, brush melted butter over the loaves as they are cooling.

Buttered and Sliced whole wheat bread on a white plate with butter and honey

Whole Wheat Bread Questions

What is the difference between whole wheat flour and white whole wheat flour?

There are two varieties of 100% whole wheat flour; whole wheat and white whole wheat. The difference is 100% whole wheat flour is made from hulled red wheat and provides more fiber than all-purpose flour. Bread made using this flour is darker in color and more dene. White whole wheat flour is made from hulled white spring wheat. This flour will result in a milder taste and will be lighter in color.  

How many times does whole wheat bread need to rise?

In this recipe, the bread will rise three times; the first rise will take about 1 hour then you will deflate the dough and let is rise for an additional 30 minutes in an oiled bowl. The last rise takes place after shaping the loaves and just before baking.

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2 loaves of 100% whole wheat bread cooling

100% Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

Yield: 2 loaves
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes

This 100% Whole Wheat Bread recipe makes easy, healthy loaves of soft, incredibly flavorful homemade bread. Perfect for toast, sandwiches, or snacking.

Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 to 6 cups whole wheat flour*
  • 2½ cups warm water
  • 1½ tablespoons instant yeast (or 2 packages active dry yeast)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, add warm water and honey. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add 4 cups of flour, oil, and salt to the yeast mixture; stir until incorporated. Then add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Knead the Dough: If kneading by hand, transfer the bread dough to a very lightly floured surface, oil your hands, and knead for 6 to 7 minutes or until the dough is smooth. If kneading in a stand mixer, using the dough hook, knead for 4 minutes at medium speed until the dough is smooth. Adjust the dough as needed with additional flour or water if necessary.
  4. Transfer the dough to an oil-coated bowl and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, until the dough has doubled. Punch the dough down, cover, and let rise for 30 minutes.
  5. Coat two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans and set them aside. Divide the dough in half and form it into 2 loaves. I like to make a log and then pinch the seam and the ends together tightly. Place seam side down in prepared pans, cover loosely and let rise in a warm place until the center of the loaf has crowned; about 1-inch above the loaf rim. About 30 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Uncover the loaves and place them in the oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a digital thermometer reaches between 180° - 200°F. Tent a sheet of foil over the loaves after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning if desired.
  8. Remove the bread from the oven and from the loaf pans. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before slicing. Brush melted butter over the warm bread for a delicious crust as it cools.

Notes

Whole Wheat Flour

  • Regular whole wheat, whole wheat bread flour, white whole wheat flour all work great. I always use Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour.
  • Adjust the flour amount as necessary so that it pulls away from the bowl and is easily handled.

Storage

  • Wrap bread and store it at room temperature for several days or freeze it for longer storage.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 32 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 79Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 202mgCarbohydrates: 91gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 3g

31Daily.com occasionally offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site. This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although 31Daily.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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29 Comments

  1. I’m not clear on the directions. After the first rise do you let it rise again for 30 minutes then divide and put it in the loaf pans and let it rise again for another 30 minutes before putting in the oven?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Carol, thank you for your question. Yes, there is another 30 minute rise after the first rise. In essence, the first rise is about 1 hour and 30 minutes in total. Then you shape the loaves and it rises again before baking. Hope that helps!

  2. Can you skip one of the 30 minute rises. I did by accident with this recipe and it turned out fine…maybe it’s because I used hard red wheat? Anyway, thanks for this great and easy recipe!

    1. Hi Rose! That is a great question– I’ve never tried this recipe without both of the rises. That is great news that it worked out and super good to know. Hard red wheat flour is my preferred flour too, it has a higher protein and I like the color it brings to the loaves.

  3. This is really the best homemade bread recipe I have made. My family loves it. Simple and so tasty. Thank you so much. You are a great baker.
    I made 4 bread and added 3 cups of raisins and cranberry in my second batch. So good.

    1. Hi Michelle! Thank you so much for letting me know how you’re enjoying this recipe! It’s my go-to whole wheat bread I love to make as often as possible. I LOVE your adaptations with the raisins and cranberries! Yum!!

    1. Hi Debbie! I just now found your comment– I’m so sorry it took me a few days to get back to you. I’ve updated the nutritional information on the whole wheat bread based on 16 slices per loaf. Fat is 1g, Sodium is 219mg, and Cholesterol is 0mg. The rest can be found at the bottom of the recipe in the recipe card. Thanks so much for your understanding!

    2. Hi. I love the look of this recipe but need very low sodium, would it work if I lowered the salt to 1 teaspoon? Ty

      1. Hi Michelle! Reducing the salt should not affect the recipe, other than flavor. Hope you like it!

  4. Can you make this without the honey? I’m looking for a recipe my 9 month old can eat and so no honey yet for him.

    1. Hi Melissa! You can absolutely make it without honey. Yeast needs sugar to activate and grow so you can easily substitute maple syrup, agave, or even brown sugar in the recipe.

        1. Hi Ana! I would substitute an equal amount of brown sugar (1/4 cup). As you probably know, honey will taste sweeter than brown sugar, but I still think that amount should be fine.

      1. My suggestion would be to use maple syrup, brown sugar, or even regular sugar. The sweetener is what helps feed the yeast. Whole wheat and honey are classic, but I also like whole wheat and molasses.

  5. Hi! This bread is AMAZING!

    Question: my husband and I have both made this and same results each time – the loaves don’t rise above the pan so they’re short. I’ve triend lengthening the rise time in the pan, but no change. Any tips?

    1. Hi Lauren, thank you for trying the recipe and for your question. My best tips are to let the bread rise even up to a couple of hours. I use a 9 x 5-inch pan for 1 loaf and an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan for the second. Lately, I’ve found the 8 x 4-inch pan does give me a higher rise.

      Also, whole wheat flour can vary in gluten amounts, which is what helps bread rise. Substituting 1 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten for 1 tablespoon flour in each cup of flour can help the bread rise higher. Or, you can also add 2 tablespoons of instant dry milk powder (per loaf) to help increase the rise as well.

      Also, watch the moisture level in the dough. Humidity and temperature can vary each time you make bread, which also affects its ability to rise. You want your dough to be soft but not overly sticky. Try to aim for a “tacky” dough to get the right amount of flour to moisture ratio.

      I hope these tips are helpful!

  6. I spent all day making this and it kept falling. So after the rise before I put it in the oven it fell when I removed the Saran Wrap lightly covering it. I let it rise again, put it in oven , checked it 5 minutes later and it fell again! Any ideas why ????

    1. I’m so sorry that happened. I’ve had it happen on other recipes a couple of times. It can be frustrating. In every case, for me, it was about the yeast. Each time my yeast was freshly purchased too. When I made the recipe again with different yeast, I had no problem with it. Even fresh yeast can sometimes lose its “energy,” resulting in bread that rises and then falls.

      The other issue could be the oven temperature. As you know, all ovens are different, some run a bit hot. When the oven is baking hot, the outer crust becomes golden and the inside of the bread isn’t baked through, resulting in bread that falls after it’s baked. Thank you for your question!

  7. I have used your recipe four times now and have had a great outcome every time! I do use a mix of whole wheat flour and all purpose flour. Mostly because I’m a little nervous to use all wheat flour. The taste is great and this bread is loved by everyone in my family. I freeze one of the loaves so we have some for a few weeks and it does great out of the freezer. The bread is amazing for grilled cheese sandwiches! It gets the perfect crunch while cooking in the pan. Thank you for the recipe and one day I will try a compete whole wheat batch. 🙂

    1. Hi Melissa! Your comment made my day. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the recipe (even with a flour blend)– which is, of course, absolutely fine! I do that too sometimes, and love making 2 loaves for the same reason as you. It’s wonderful to have one in the freezer. I have a son who is a grilled cheese lover too. I can not believe I’ve NOT made grilled cheese with this bread. Um — I’m going to remedy that when I bake my next loaf Monday! Thank you for the tip and for trying the recipe!!

  8. I’m making your recipe for the second time today. We love the taste of the bread, which is neither too bitter because of the 100% whole wheat, nor too sweet, with the honey. I am adding about a third of a cup of sunflower seeds again. The first time, I weighed the flour and the dough was too wet, and the loaves didn’t hold their height well. This time I’ve gone by “feel” and added a little more flour to make a stiffer, but not dry dough. Will see how that works out. Thanks for this great recipe!

    1. You made my day — thank you! I’m so glad you like the 100% Whole Wheat Bread recipe. In fact, I’m making a loaf for us today as well. I love your addition of sunflower seeds, making the bread even healthier and heartier. And, you are exactly right. Bread making, as you know, changes from day to day depending on heat and humidity in the air. I always start with basic measurements and add tiny amounts of flour (like 1 tablespoon) until the dough “feels” just right.

      Thank you so much for commenting and letting me know about your changes, adaptations, and how you liked it!

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