What Is Rye Bread?

I recently had the pleasure of eating at a certain burger establishment in the Chicagoland area. Along with the standard choices to be made when ordering a burger—rare, medium, or well done; type of cheese; side dish—you could also choose to have your burger on a bun or on rye bread. I’ll be honest with you, dear reader, I chose the bun, but ever since I have been haunted by the decision, wondering what delicious wonders I missed out on by not putting my burger between two pieces of rye bread. If you’re not a rye eater, you probably can’t understand my plight, but if you are, you know the specific toothsomeness of this tasty bread. So what is rye bread, exactly? Let’s find out. 

What is rye bread?

If you’re wondering what’s in rye bread that makes it taste different, the answer, unsurprisingly, is rye. While white bread is made with wheat flour, rye bread is made with wheat as well as wheat’s relative, rye, which is actually a form of grass. Rye bread can come in light and dark varieties, and pumpernickel is a type of dark rye. 

Is rye bread gluten free?

Alas, rye bread is generally not gluten free. It turns out there are three grains that need to be avoided if you are on a gluten-free diet: wheat, barley, and rye. The good news is, there are gluten free versions of rye bread out there that use other grains and rye extract to achieve a facsimile of the rye flavor. 

Is rye bread whole grain?

There are rye breads available that are whole grain (made with flour that is made with whole grain rye) as well as rye breads that are not. That being said, dark rye generally is whole grain, but be sure to check the label! 

What does rye bread taste like?

Rye has an earthy, slightly sour flavor that is somewhat comparable to sourdough but denser and more coarse. Light rye is the more processed, milder version of dark rye. 

best rye bread

Best Rye Bread

What’s the best rye bread to buy? We tasted a bunch of the top brands on the market to find the best rye bread from the grocery store.

What are the seeds in rye bread?

These are known as caraway seeds (though they are, technically, a fruit). They have a slightly anise or licorice-like flavor. 

What is Jewish rye bread?

Jewish rye is a form of rye bread made in the Jewish community. There are different varieties throughout the world but, by and large, Jewish rye actually has less rye flour than a typical rye and more wheat. It is also usually seasoned with caraway seeds and glazed with an egg wash. Rye is a staple of Jewish meals and a favorite at Jewish delis. 

What is marble rye bread?

Marble rye is also usually associated with Jewish cuisine. It is the combination of pumpernickel and light rye bread, marbled together into an attractive pattern. It is also the centerpiece of a classic episode of the television program Seinfeld

What to eat with rye bread? 

As noted above, a burger is a tantalizing option, but more generally, rye is a great choice for foods that have strong flavors themselves and can rise above the more hearty, toothsome quality of the rye. For example, smoked salmon and cream cheese go great with rye bread, and so do a variety of deli meats such as corned beef or pastrami. A reuben sandwich is also traditionally made with rye bread. Of course, it’s also great toasted with butter gon the side of a diner-style breakfast with fried eggs.

About the Author

Matt Crowley

Matt Crowley is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He likes maple-flavored snacks, loves every kind of cheese, and is slowly learning to accept mushrooms.