100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread Recipe

Make this 100 percent whole wheat bread in your food processor, for a wonderfully light and chewy loaf.

A slice of 100% whole wheat bread, toasted and topped with jam

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Fully hydrating the flour with an autolyse substantially improves gluten formation and development in 100% whole wheat bread.
  • A food processor makes short work of the stiff dough, creating intense gluten development in just 75 seconds.
  • Brown sugar adds flavor and complexity with minimal sweetness.

With a little patience and the help of a food processor, it's possible for 100 percent whole wheat bread to bake up as fluffy, light, and chewy as a classic white loaf, but with all the nuttiness, flavor, and virtue of whole grains. The key is patience and power, with an autolyse to hydrate the flour before kneading in a food processor. This powerful tool makes short work of the dough, allowing for rapid and intensive gluten development in 75 seconds flat.

Recipe Facts



Active: 10 mins
Total: 8 hrs
Serves: 10 to 12 servings
Makes: 1 loaf

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  • 15 ounces whole wheat flour, such as Bob's Red Mill (about 3 1/3 cups, spooned; 425g), plus more for dusting

  • 11 1/4 ounces cool water, about 65°F/18°C (about 1 1/2 cups minus 4 1/2 teaspoons; 320g)

  • 1 3/4 ounces dark or light brown sugar (about a shy 1/4 cup; 50g)

  • 3/8 ounce (2 3/4 teaspoons; 11g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight

  • 1/4 ounces instant dry yeast, such as SAF (1 packet or 2 rounded teaspoons; 7g); not RapidRise or active dry (more info here)

  • 2 ounces cool water, about 65°F/18°C (about 1/4 cup; 55g)

  • 1 ounce neutral oil, such as safflower, or a nutty, flavorful oil, such as hazelnut or roasted pumpkin seed (about 2 heaping tablespoons; 28g)


  1. For the Autolyse: In large bowl, combine whole wheat flour with first addition of water. Stir until water is absorbed; then knead briefly against the sides of the bowl until no floury bits remain. Cover and set aside for 2 hours 30 minutes to hydrate flour.

    A collage of making dough for 100% whole wheat sandwich bread

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  2. For the Dough: Transfer hydrated dough to a 14-cup food processor fitted with the regular metal blade (not the dough blade), along with brown sugar, salt, and instant dry yeast. Process until dough is silky smooth, and a small piece can be stretched into a thin sheet without tearing, about 75 seconds. The exact timing will vary with the power and capacity of a given machine. For smaller machines, the reduced capacity and power will necessitate dividing dough in half to process in stages.

    Collage of mixing 100% whole wheat bread dough in a food processor

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  3. Once gluten is well developed, drizzle in the remaining water and oil while the processor is running, and continue mixing only until smooth. At this stage, the dough will feel sticky, wet, and elastic.

    Adding water to 100% whole wheat bread dough in a food processor

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  4. First Rise: Transfer dough to large, lightly greased bowl (it's fine to reuse bowl from autolyse, no need to wash). Cover and proof until puffy, light, and roughly doubled in bulk, about 2 hours at 70°F (21°C). In a chilly kitchen, the dough will need more time to rise, and in a warmer kitchen, it will move faster.

    Collage of 100% whole wheat bread dough rising in a glass bowl

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  5. Shaping the Loaf: Turn soft dough out onto clean surface lightly dusted with whole wheat flour. Pat dough into 7-inch square, and form into tight log, sealing dough together with heel of your hand. Nestle into lightly greased 1-pound loaf pan, seam side down; cover loosely as before.

    Collage of forming 100% whole wheat bread dough and placing it in loaf pan

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  6. Second Rise: Let dough proof until puffy, light, and risen about 2 1/2 inches above rim of pan at very center. To test dough, poke it gently with a flour-dusted fingertip; when dough is ready, it will retain a shallow impression that springs back after a minute. If dough is firm and springs back right away, continue proofing until dough retains a shallow impression. This will take about 75 minutes at around 70°F (21°C). Again, timing of the process will vary based on environmental conditions. Near the end of this period, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).

    A loaf of 100% whole wheat bread dough after its second rise

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  7. Baking the Loaf: After the second rise, uncover dough and bake until well risen, golden brown, and hollow sounding when thumped; about 45 minutes, or to an internal temperature of approximately 200°F (93°C). Immediately turn loaf out onto a wire rack, and cool completely before slicing, at least 90 minutes. Slice with a sharp serrated knife. The loaf will keep up to a week at room temperature in a bread box or paper bag.

    A loaf of 100% whole wheat sandwich bread on a wire rack

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Special equipment

Food processor, 8-inch aluminized steel loaf pan, Digital thermometer (optional), Wire cooling rack, Serrated knife


Due to variations in flour type and milling style, when working with specialty wheat varietals and regional flours, be aware the recipe may require alterations in the hydration level for optimal performance.

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
159 Calories
3g Fat
30g Carbs
5g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 159
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 4%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 359mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 30g 11%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 17mg 1%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 140mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)