Whole Wheat Bread
This easy Whole Wheat Bread is perfect for sandwiches, toast, or just enjoying with some softened butter. You will love this soft homemade bread recipe!
This whole wheat bread recipe is perfect for beginning bread bakers. The method for making the bread dough is simple and easy to follow. Don’t be intimidated by baking with yeast, I promise the steps are really easy!
I used to make a more complicated homemade wheat bread recipe, but it called for ingredients that I don’t usually keep on hand in my kitchen. My goal with this recipe was to use simple, wholesome ingredients, so you won’t have to buy anything special just for this recipe. The only ingredients that you’ll need to make this whole wheat bread from scratch are whole wheat flour, honey, yeast, butter, milk, salt and water.
The Best Whole Wheat Bread Recipe
This healthy whole wheat bread has the best flavor, with a touch of honey. The bread is incredibly soft, and I can never resist eating a slice warm from the oven. Once you try it, I’m sure you’ll agree that this is the best whole wheat bread recipe!
Below I’ve also included instructions for how to make this bread with all-purpose flour or bread flour. Whichever you choose, you will have a delicious loaf of bread to use for sandwiches or to serve with dinner. I highly recommend spreading some butter and honey on a slice – it’s so delicious!
You might also enjoy my brioche bun recipe, whole wheat pizza dough and easy yeast rolls.
How to Make Whole Wheat Bread
Here are some tips and answers to common questions about making this bread recipe. You will find the full recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the recipe card below.
Do you have to proof the yeast?
If you are using instant yeast, you can skip the proofing step and just mix all of the ingredients together in your mixer bowl. However, I almost always proof the yeast because it is a good way to tell if your yeast is active (which is necessary for bread to rise). Most yeast that is called active dry yeast (not instant or rapid-rise) needs to be proofed.
To proof yeast, you mix the yeast with the warm water, milk and honey. Let the mixture rest for 5 to 10 minutes. It should become somewhat foamy or bubbly, which means that your yeast are alive and active. If nothing happens after 10 minutes, your yeast may be dead and you should try again with new yeast.
How much flour to use
When you are new to making bread, it can be hard to know how much flour to add. The amount listed in the recipe is a guide, and depending on your particular ingredients and baking conditions, you may need to add a little more flour.
Start by adding 3 cups of flour when making this recipe. You may need to add up to 1/2 cup more flour if the dough is very sticky. The dough has enough flour when it is only slightly sticky to the touch. If a lot of dough sticks to your finger when you press it, add more flour, a tablespoon or two at a time, until the dough is only slightly sticky. Three cups to 3 1/4 cups of whole wheat flour is usually the perfect amount when I make this bread.
How long to knead the dough
Knead the dough using your mixer’s dough hook for about 8 minutes. If you do not have a stand mixer, you can knead by hand, but you may need extra flour to keep the dough from sticking.
Stop the mixer every few minutes, as needed, and use a spatula to scrape the dough away from the sides of the bowl. After kneading, the dough will be a little sticky and very soft. It won’t hold its shape tightly in a ball, but should hold together when you transfer it to an oiled bowl using your hands or a spatula.
How long does the dough need to rise?
This bread dough needs to rise twice, first in an oiled bowl and second in the bread pan. The first rise takes about an hour, until the dough doubles in size. The second rise is shorter, about 20 to 30 minutes. For the second rise, the dough is ready to go into the oven when the top is just above the top of the bread pan, as seen in the photo below.
How do you know when bread is done baking?
Bread is done when the inside measures 190° F on an instant-read thermometer. This whole wheat bread takes 35 to 45 minutes to bake.
Can I use all-purpose flour or bread flour in this recipe?
I tested this recipe with whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and bread flour. The homemade bread was delicious when made with each of these flours.
If you use white flour, either all-purpose or bread flour, you will need to use a little more flour to get a dough that is only slightly sticky. In my tests of this recipe, 3 1/2 cups was the perfect amount for all-purpose flour and bread flour, while 3 to 3 1/4 cups was the perfect amount for whole wheat flour. I recommend starting with 3 cups of whichever flour you choose, and then adding more flour, a little at a time, as needed.
Can I make this whole wheat bread dairy-free?
To make dairy-free bread, replace the milk with water. Use oil instead of butter. I recommend olive oil or a neutral vegetable oil, such as canola oil.
What type of pan is best for baking bread?
I tested this recipe both in a 9 x 5-inch glass loaf pan and an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch metal bread pan. The bread will bake faster in a glass pan than in a metal pan. In the glass pan, my loaf took 37 minutes to bake. In the metal pan it took 43 minutes.
How to Freeze/Store Homemade Bread
Homemade bread can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days, wrapped airtight. If it is very warm in your kitchen, I recommend keeping the bread in your refrigerator.
This bread also freezes well. To freeze, cool completely and then slice. Freeze in an airtight container, such as a zip-top bag, for up to 3 months. The slices may stick together slightly when frozen, but you can use a bread knife to gently and easily separate them. Or, you can place a small piece of parchment paper between each slice.
Baking Tips for Whole Wheat Bread Recipe
- You can speed up the first rise by putting the covered bowl with the dough in a warm oven. Heat the empty oven for a few minutes, turn it off, and then put the dough inside.
- After the bread bakes, you can rub butter over the hot top crust to soften and flavor it, if desired.
- Homemade bread slices easiest after it has cooled. Since this bread is so soft, I find that I have to slice it a little thicker than typical sandwich bread.
Whole Wheat Bread
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup milk*
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast, or instant yeast (1 packet)
- 3 cups whole wheat flour*, plus more as needed
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces and softened
- Combine the water and milk in a microwave-safe liquid measuring cup or bowl. Warm the milk and water to 105-115° F. (If you do not have a microwave, you can warm them in a pan on the stove.)
- Pour the milk and water into the bowl of a stand mixer.* Add the honey and yeast and stir to combine. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, until the yeast starts to foam or bubble. If nothing happens after 10 minutes, your yeast may be dead and you should start over with new yeast.
- Add the flour, salt and butter to the bowl. Mix using the paddle attachment until everything is combined.
- Switch to the dough hook. Knead the dough on low speed for about 8 minutes. The dough should feel slightly sticky when you touch it, but a lot of dough shouldn't stick to your finger. If the dough is very sticky, add more flour, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. As the dough kneads, stop the mixer every few minutes, as needed, and use a spatula to scrape the dough away from the sides of the bowl. After kneading, the dough will be a little sticky and very soft. It won't hold its shape tightly in a ball, but should hold together when you transfer it to an oiled bowl using your hands or a spatula.
- Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl and turn it once to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise for about an hour, until it has doubled in size.
- Grease a 9 x 5-inch or 8 ½ x 4 ½-inch metal or glass bread pan. Use your hands to gently punch down the dough, deflating it and popping any air bubbles. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a ball. Then use your hands to gently pat the ball into a loaf shape. Put the dough in your greased bread pan.
- Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise in the bread pan until the top of the loaf is just above the top of the pan. This should take about 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350° F.
- Bake the bread for 35 to 45 minutes, until the inside registers 190° F on an instant-read thermometer. If using a glass baking pan, the bread will take 35 to 40 minutes. It will take 40 to 45 minutes in a metal pan. If desired, rub the top crust with butter as soon as the bread comes out of the oven.
- Let the bread cool for 20 minutes in the pan and then remove it to a wire rack to finish cooling. The bread will slice easiest when it is cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- To make this bread recipe with all-purpose flour or bread flour, you will need to use a little more flour to get a dough that is only slightly sticky. In my tests of this recipe, 3 1/2 cups was the perfect amount for all-purpose flour and bread flour, while 3 to 3 1/4 cups of flour was the perfect amount for whole wheat flour. I recommend starting with 3 cups of whichever flour you choose, and then adding more flour, a little at a time, as needed.
- I use a stand mixer to mix and knead the dough. If you don't have a stand mixer, you can mix the dough in a large bowl with a spoon, and knead it by hand on a clean work surface.
- To make dairy-free bread, replace the milk with water. Substitute the butter with olive oil or a neutral vegetable oil, such as canola oil.
Five star recipe! This is the best bread recipe I have tried. I dabble with bread making and often the result is not enough rise and very dense bread. Not with this recipe. The rise was perfect and for me it was just the right texture – not too fluffy and not too dense.
I used 2 TBSP molasses and 1 TBSP honey, and added 1/4 cup of ground flax seed. I’ll experiment a bit since I’ve finally found the recipe that works perfectly, and I like to experiment with flavors. Plan to try multigrain with it. I had toast this morning after baking last night, and it was totally delicious.
So happy I found this one, and that it can be made with no hand kneading. I used my stand mixer with the paddle and dough hook as per the instructions.
Thanks for the excellent recipe.
This recipe is amazing. Just a question, if I would like to add 1 cup of nuts/seeds mix to the dough, any advice on what to look out for? E.g. do I need to modify the milk/water ratio to flour? Or make the dough more “sticky” since the nuts dry out the bread?
I’m so happy to hear that you are enjoying this bread recipe. I have not tried this recipe with added nuts or seeds. I think you could add them without any other modifications, but can’t say for sure from experience. If you try it, let me know how it turns out. 🙂
This was the ultimate recipe for whole wheat bread! You may not want to return to store-bought bread after trying this recipe. The recipe was beautifully laid out and explained in detail but in a simple language. We have baked this recipe twice so far, and it always produced bread that was so soft and moist on the inside, and with a thin and flaky crust. Rubbing butter on the top of the bread right after it came out of the oven added buttery flavor to an already delicious bread. Thank you so much for this outstanding recipe Kristine! This has officially become a staple in my household.
I’m currently trying to make this. It’s almost like a pancake batter consistency. I have been slowly adding more flour. I am using a hard red whole wheat labeled as bread flour but I’ve had issues with dry bread so I’m being cautious. I hope it works out!
I’m replying to myself. I left the dough too wet and it collapses when baking.
Hi Katie, The first time you make a recipe, I suggest following the recipe as is and then if you want to adapt it the next time you can. It sounds like you didn’t add enough flour, since the dough should definitely not have a pancake batter consistency. I have made this recipe many, many times with good success, as have other readers who have commented. I hope you’ll try again, following the ingredient amounts in the recipe – I don’t think you’ll find the bread dry at all. 🙂
I tried this bread exactly per the recipe except I used white whole wheat flour. All the times were perfect for the two rises and used the bread proof setting in my oven. Only issue I had was when slicing, the top crust crumbled on both sides a tiny bit. Taste was very good and slices inside looked like yours.
I did not have a mixer so hand mixed it. Where did I go wrong ?
This recipe is excellent! Easy to make and delicious!! Thank you!
Hi Kristine. Can I knead the dough in a food processor with the plastic hook?
I haven’t tried a food processor, but if your food processor has the special kneading blade its worth a try if you don’t own a mixer with a dough hook.
Just a question please. Is it okay to use instant yeast to skip one of the rising times??
When I make this with instant yeast, I still do both rise times. The rise time needed may be a bit shorter. Use the descriptors in the recipe about the size of the dough to know when it has risen long enough. I hope you enjoy the bread. It’s one of our favorites!
Can you give the recipe using weight instead of measuring and how can you double the recipe?
I don’t currently have weight measurements for this recipe. I haven’t tested a double recipe, but I think it could be done as long as your mixer can accommodate a double amount of dough (or you could knead by hand). If you try it, let me know how it turns out.
I converted the recipe to weight and thought I’d share! This is for one time of the recipe:
* 8 oz water
* 2 oz milk*
* 64 grams honey
* 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (or instant yeast (1 packet))
* 390 grams cups whole wheat flour* (plus more as needed)
* 1 ½ teaspoons salt
* 42 grams unsalted butter
Hi Hannah, Thanks for sharing! This is helpful. The weight of the whole wheat flour may vary slightly.
I have double ke the recipe and it comes out great.
Just made this recipe!! Love the flavor! Is there anyway to make the bread a little more moist? Definitely saving this! Thank you for sharing!
I made this bread today and it turned out perfect. I had to do the dough by hand because I don’t have stand mixer, but it looks good and the Kitchen smells great!
4 Stars only because I had to the kneading by hand,and at 71 that isn’t easy.
I’ll buy a stand mixer soon to make it easier when I need to make more or cookies.
I can’t afford to buy whole wheat bread in the store at $4 a 20 oz. loaf.
I figure this cost me about $1 to $1.50 in ingredients.
This was so good!! The only issue I had was that I ended up with a giant air bubble just below the crust, not sure why. The bread is really tasty though and I’ll make it again. The only substitution is that I used oil instead of butter which worked just fine.
I used Indian wheat flour (Atta) for this recipe and the bread turned out so good. My 7-year-old loves this bread. Thank you!
Mine didn’t rise much and I actually did proof the yeast and it seemed fine. It’s denser than I thought it would. Tastes good….what did I do wrong?
The rise time can depend on the temperature in your kitchen, so it may have needed more rise time. Since it didn’t rise much, that could cause it to be denser.
Excellent recipe! The bread was easy to make and turned out really tasty :D. Thank you so much for sharing!
Made rolls with this dough this afternoon and they are phenomenal! Soft, fluffy and the best wheat rolls we’ve ever had. My husband asked that I make them again and he doesn’t like “brown” bread. If you haven’t made this, you are missing out!
Now I have to try this!! Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂
Made bread for the first time ever today using this recipe! Thank you for an easy-to-follow recipe. I do not have a stand mixer, so I kneaded by hand using some tips from a friend who bakes bread regularly. Other than that, I followed the directions, and it turned out nicely. Tastes great with a soft, toothsome texture and a slight sweetness while also feeling like a good healthy bread option. Will make again!
This bread turned out perfectly!!! It is so light and good. I did not use all wheat I added 1 cup of bread flour instead of the whole amount of wheat. Thanks for a great recipe!
Delicious. Very easy and very tasty
This recipe deserves all five stars. My husband and toddler loved it, too. I subbed one cup of flour with white all purpose flour. It tasted amazing with homemade chili on a below freezing day.
Excellent recipe! We won’t buy store bread ever again!
Thank you for this excellent recipe. I followed it completely. Delicious!
Can this recipe be baked in a Pullman bread pan?
I have not tried that. Without the lid, I’d say yes. With the lid, you would have to experiment.
Can I replace the honey with sugar?
Yes, I think that will work fine. Enjoy!
Want to try this recipe. Have one question? Why have unsalted and salted butter? Is the unsalted used when bread has baked and you brushing the top with it.
This recipe calls for unsalted butter only. I use unsalted as an ingredient and also for brushing the top of the bread.
This is the 4th time I’ve made this recipe and will continue to do so. It’s definitely my favorite wheat bread. I just saw a comment where someone made dinner rolls with this recipe; thanks for the idea. I will definitely make rolls with them next time! Thanks for an easy and great recipe!
The flavor of this recipe is worth the five stars alone! The only issue I’m having is that my dough doesn’t rise high enough during the second proof. So when it’s baked, I get a short dense loaf. My husband still loves it, but I want to get the recipe right. Everything up to that point, including the first proof, goes by the book. I have even tried both instant and dry active yeast. Any tips?
You might try giving it more time to rise during the second rise time, and be careful to not overwork the dough when shaping the loaf for the pan. If your kitchen is on the cool side, you can slightly warm your oven (set it to 200 degrees and only let it heat for about a minute, then turn it off) to create a warm place for the bread to rise. Good luck!
After having made this recipe numerous times and failing, I finally discovered my error. Somehow, I was adding 6 tbsp of butter, not 3! However, I am continuing to use your warm oven method to prove the dough because the rise is amazing!
This is an easy recipe to make. I mad a vegan loaf, substituted olive oil for butter and maple syrup for honey. I use a standing mixer for 8mins. The texture of the dough was good only used 3cups of whole wheat flour. My loaf did not rise above ethe baking pan. What should I have done differently to get the loaf to rise above the pan?
It may have needed more time for the second rise. The rise time can vary depending on the temperature in your kitchen, as well as other factors. Sometimes when I’m short on time, I’ll put the bread in the oven even though it hasn’t risen above the edge of the pan and it rises up more as it bakes.
Can I use the bread machine, ten bake in the oven?
I haven’t tried this in a bread machine but I think that should work. If you give it a try, let me know how it turns out.
Thank you! I have always been hesitant to try fresh bread from scratch!
I want to thank you, as you shared a recipe that was so easy. And with the leg work you did ahead of it….thank you a million times!
We enjoy the fresh whole wheat
Do you have any other tips for determining when the bread is done? I currently have the bread in the oven and I’ve turned my kitchen upside down trying to locate our thermometer and of course I can’t find it! Thanks!
I’d err on the side of baking it the maximum cook time listed in the recipe, 40 minutes in a glass baking pan or 45 minutes in a metal pan. Enjoy!
I love not only the ease of this recipe but the wonderful flavor!
I was shown an extra step by a wonderful Amish baker and would love to share with you all as well😁 I did however allow my bread to rise 3 times instead of twice. I personally find doing this makes my bread lighter and has less large air bubbles. Then rolling the dough to approximately 3/4” thick (looking a bit like a thick cinnamon roll)
And a fun thought…. The Amish (and now I do) say extra prayers for those who will be eating the bread for happiness and good health. Who can’t use extra prayers for themselves after all🙏😁🙏😁
The bread is great, but I have an issue that needs addressing if possible.
The bread looks great, tastes great, and is soft enough. But, as soft as the bread is, it also crumbles and falls apart, if that makes sense.
What am I doing wrong?
This bread is very soft and delicate. I have found that adding some extra flour can make it hold up better. Also be sure to let it cool before slicing.
Thank you Kristine for the perfect and easy bread recipe. I’ve tried several “best” wheat bread recipes in past several weeks & they did not come near the flavor & soft, springy texture of your recipe. And all your times given were on the mark which made the process flow so easily. I doubled the recipe to have 2 loaves and that worked out perfectly. Love the light sweetness. NO crumbling when slicing or spreading soft butter on I toasted bread – so perfect! ♥️
I made this today. It is amazing! My first time ever making bread. I used half unbleached all purpose and half whole wheat flour. Used raw, dark honey and added a flax/ chia/ hemp seed mix. I do not have a stand mixer or bread machine.
I tried this recipe. It was simple and tastes good, but I had the same problem I often have with bread. The first rise is really good. The second rise is not very good at all. It does rise a bit when I bake it, but not as much as I would expect. I have switched yeast to make sure it is still good. Any suggestions?
You might try using active dry yeast (not instant or rapid rise) and make sure that the first rise doesn’t go too long.
Just came out of the oven and i got a delicious warm, butttered heel of soft, flavourful bread! Great recipe, but I must have erred somewhere as the dough did not rise as high as it should have in the loaf pan. Not disappointed though! So tasty.
You might try using active dry yeast (not instant or rapid rise) and make sure that the first rise doesn’t go too long.
Thank you for giving dairy free alternatives in the notes. My granddaughter is allergic to dairy.
I followed the recipe but my dough was super crumbly! What did I do wrong?
If the dough was crumbly it sounds like you may have measured something wrong. Double check the ingredients and amounts, and also make sure that when measuring flour you gently spoon it into the measuring cup and then level it off. Scooping directly with the measuring cup can pack in too much flour.
This recipe was outstanding!! Perfect crumb, perfect texture, excellent taste…it has it all.
I did allow an extra 20 minutes on the second rise and the shape was perfect!
Thank you so much for sharing this excellent recipe!
The rise in the pan needs to be more than 20-30 minutes. And needs to be higher than just above the pan. It doesn’t rise anymore in the oven. So it is too flat on top and not really sandwich bread at all.
The rise time needed can depend on how warm your kitchen is, how long the first rise was, how active the yeast was, as well as other factors.
I HAVE JUST STARTED BAKING AND THIS WAS THE EASIEST BREAD TO MAKE SO FAR THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS RECIPE. DO YOU HAVE AN EASY SOUR DOUGH BREAD RECIPE. I HAVE NOT HAD ANY SUCCESS WITH SOUR DOUGH BREAD YET THANKS AGAIN
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I do not have a sourdough bread recipe at this time.
Oh this is so good! Mine turned out not as tall as yours in the picture but I feel like my second rise was… maybe not long enough? I’m not sure. It still turned out great and I will be making it again.
I made this as a sandwich bread. Turned out great!
This bread is so soft.I used crushed wheat & einkorn flour.I used scant the amount of flour and then I mix it on slow in my mixer until it was still sticky,but then after it was done rising it was perfect consistency. This will be my go to recipe for bread.
Made this bread using a bread machine and it was a success. Soft and tasty as mentioned. Used olive oil instead of butter and 2 tablespoon of monk fruit sugar substitute for honey for a diabetic friendly bread. I can still go up to 3 tablespoon of sugar substitute next time as per recipe. Terima Kasih! A greeting of thanks in Malaysia.
I have made the bread and absolutely love it! Can you use this recipe to make buns?
I haven’t tried that but it may work. If you give it a try let me know how it turns out. You might also enjoy my brioche buns recipe. It’s another favorite!
This is delicious bread! It’s my second time making bread ever and it always turns out good. I always seem to burn the top though, can anyone tell me what I’m doing wrong?
You may be baking it too long – if you have an instant read thermometer (a kitchen tool I use daily!) you can use it to test when the bread is done – it should be cooked to 190° F in the center. If the top is browning too much before the bread is done you can loosely cover it with a piece of foil. You might also try moving the oven rack down so that the bread bakes at a lower position in the oven. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the recipe!
I used this recipe in my bread maker on the dough setting and I replaced honey with brown sugar and butter with olive oil. It turned out great. My husband really liked it and he doesn’t eat anything whole wheat. He wants me to make more whole wheat bread.