Multigrain Sandwich Bread Recipe

This hearty multigrain loaf bakes up light and chewy, not crumbly, with a nibby crunch—perfect for your morning toast or favorite sandwich.

Overhead shot of sliced multigrain bread, tomato slice, and lettuce for BLT

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Soaking the grains and seeds keeps the hydration of the dough in balance.
  • 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.

While there's no denying my love for the simplicity of a 100% whole wheat sandwich loaf, I also see it as a canvas for a seedy, multigrain loaf. For many folks, myself included, the nibby pop and nutty flavor of added grains and seeds can make our favorite sandwiches and morning toast all the more enjoyable.

To that end, this recipe follows the same process and technique as my whole wheat sandwich loaf: an autolyse to hydrate the flour, a spin in a food processor for intensive gluten development, and a late-stage addition of water and oil to boost hydration without interfering with gluten development.

This recipe differs only with an extra step to prepare the seeds and grains and another to incorporate them at the end.

I'll break down each step here, but I highly recommend reading through the original article and making that 100% whole wheat loaf at least once before jumping in with this multigrain variation. It's an unusual recipe, and mastering the basic dough will be essential for success before complicating the process with mix-ins.

100% whole wheat sandwich loaf

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

The Key to Making Great 100% Whole Wheat Bread

With the wrong flour and equipment, the bread is doomed from the start. But even when those variables are locked down, it's still a recipe that requires skill at a number of stages: gauging proper gluten development, resisting the urge to add more flour to the sticky dough, learning to shape a well-formed loaf, judging the proofing process twice, and then baking.

Done right, it's a technique that will produce a chewy, high-rising, 100% whole wheat loaf that bakes up fluffy and light. But with the wrong flour, it will be a soupy mess; with the wrong equipment, it will be heavy and dense, too unstructured to rise; with a poor shape, the loaf will have an uneven, lumpy top; when overproofed, it will be spongey and coarse; and when underproofed, it will be heavy and dense.

Adding whole grains and seeds will only introduce more variables to that process.

I don't mean to suggest this is an outrageously difficult recipe, only that it requires both attention to detail and familiarity with the behavior of the basic loaf. With those under your belt, you can bake up a multigrain loaf that's chewy, not crumbly, for a perfectly sliceable sandwich loaf loaded with the hearty texture of seeds and grains.

A BLT sandwich made with whole wheat bread slices

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

The Importance of Hydrating Grains/Seeds

My favorite blend is a mix of rolled oats, flaxseed, chia, and wheat germ, with hemp hearts sometimes standing in for the flax (I live in Kentucky; we're a little obsessed with hemp down here).

Rolled oats add their signature flavor and chewiness to the loaf; flaxseed underscores the earthy nuttiness of whole wheat; chia has a toasty yet semi-fruity vibe, almost like poppyseed; and wheat germ doubles down on the graham-like qualities of whole wheat bread.

Together this mix layers in some earthy flavors and textures without overtaking the bread. It's the same tasty-yet-subtle blend I use to bulk up my buttermilk granola, as well.

In this recipe, the first step is to soak the grains/seeds in a little water, so they won't interfere with the hydration of the dough by absorbing its moisture later on. In turn, this allows for proper gluten development and moisture retention in the loaf, keeping it well structured and moist.

While the grains are soaking, the whole wheat flour is combined with water and allowed to autolyse for two-and-a-half hours. This ensures it's well hydrated, to kick-start gluten formation and soften the coarse bran and germ.

Steps to Making Multigrain Bread

When the time is up, the hydrated dough is combined with brown sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the regular metal blade (not the dough blade!). It's processed until silky smooth and strong enough that a small piece can be pulled into a thin, translucent sheet. This step utterly depends on the power of the food processor itself—we're talkin' real food processors, here, not mini-choppers. The dough may also be a problem for rickety old machines or those with cheap construction. Unfortunately, not all food processors are created equal, but we've reviewed the best food processors on the market, including some inexpensive options that will work well here.

I've tested this recipe across several 14-cup models, the CuisinArt, Breville Sous Chef, and Magimix, all with good results.

Once the dough can be stretched into a translucent sheet, add the remaining water and oil while the machine is running. When roughly incorporated, add the soaked grain/seed mixture all at once; then pulse to combine. The dough will be thick and gnarly at this stage but still very wet.

Transfer the dough to a well-greased bowl and proof until puffy, light, and roughly doubled in bulk. This will take about two hours at cool room temperature, at or slightly below 70°F (21°C). Bear in mind the dough will move faster in warmer environments and slower in cooler ones; proofing should always be judged by sight and touch, not a hard-and-fast timetable.

After proofing, shape the dough into a tight log and transfer to a standard 1-pound loaf pan; this tapered style will measure 9- by 5-inches at the top, and 8- by 4-inches at the bottom. Loosely cover the dough with plastic and proof until it feels puffy and light, but it's structured enough to slowly spring back from a gentle poke.

Bake until the loaf is well risen and golden brown, giving up a hollow sound when thumped. At 350°F (180°C), this should take about 45 minutes or until the bread reaches an internal temperature of just over 200°F (93°C).

A loaf of multigrain bread cooling on a wire rack

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Immediately de-pan the loaf and let it cool completely on a wire rack. While warm, it will be fragile and easily compressed, with a gummy texture that seems almost raw. Give it time, however, and it will firm up into a light, well-structured loaf.

While having a sharp, serrated knife is important for slicing any loaf of bread, this is especially true of a seedy, multigrain bread. If the teeth are dull, they'll snag on the seedy bits, tearing the loaf apart rather than cleanly slicing through.

My favorite is a $20 Tojiro slicer, but check out Daniel's review of the best serrated knives for more options.

BLT with whole grain bread on a plate.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Armed with a flexible serrated knife that's as thin as it is sharp, the grainy loaf is easily cut into thin sandwich slices. It's a hearty, satisfying bread that's perfect for everything, whether you're making toast or a classic BLT, and one I find well worth the effort to master.

March 2019

Recipe Facts

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

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For the Grains:

  • 1 1/2 ounces flax seed or meal (about 4 1/2 tablespoons; 45g)

  • 1 ounce chia seeds (about 2 heaping tablespoons; 30g)

  • 1 ounce rolled oats (about 1/3 cup; 30g)

  • 1/2 ounce wheat germ (about 1 3/4 tablespoons; 15g)

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

For the Dough:

  • 15 ounces traditional 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 Grains: Combine flax, chia, oats, and wheat germ in a medium bowl and toss to combine. Add water and stir until fully absorbed, then cover tightly.

    A collage: combining the grains and adding water, soaking them in a mixing bowl.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  2. For the Autolyse: In a large bowl, combine whole wheat flour with the 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 1/2 hours.

    A collage: combining whole wheat flour with water and mixing with a spatula to form autolyse and covering the bowl with a plastic wrap.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  3. 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.

    A collage: checking consistency of the autolyse, processing the dough in a food processor and stretching the dough into a thin sheet to check the right consistency.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  4. Once gluten is well developed, drizzle in the remaining water and oil while the processor is running, and continue mixing until roughly incorporated. Shut off the machine, add the prepared grain mixture, and continue processing only until homogenous. At this stage, the dough will feel sticky, wet, and elastic, but a little gnarly from the seeds.

    A collage: Adding the grains to the dough and mixing until combined, letting the dough rest in a mixing bowl.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  5. First Rise: Transfer dough to a 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. Proofing is best judged by touch, not time.

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

  7. Second Rise: Let dough proof until puffy, light, and risen about 2 1/2 inches above rim of pan at the very center. To test, poke dough 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 and is best judged by touch. Near the end of this period, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

    Proofed multigrain bread in a loaf pan, ready to bake.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  8. Baking the Loaf: After the second rise, uncover the 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.

Special Equipment

Food processor, 8-inch aluminized steel loaf pan, digital thermometer, Wire cooling rack, Bread knife


This recipe was formulated with 100% hard red wheat flour in mind. Due to variations in flour type and milling style, when working with specialty wheat varietals and regional flours, be aware the recipe will require alterations in the hydration level for optimal performance.

Make-Ahead and Storage

The finished loaf will keep up to a week at room temperature in a bread box or paper bag.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
203 Calories
6g Fat
34g Carbs
7g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 203
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 361mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 34g 12%
Dietary Fiber 6g 22%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 43mg 3%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 197mg 4%
*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.)