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Icelandic Brown Bread

Icelandic Brown Bread

Easy to make, slightly sweet, soft and perfect for your morning toast – this Icelandic brown bread is amazing. You need to try it!

Icelandic Brown Bread - Easy to make, slightly sweet, soft and perfect for your morning toast - this Icelandic brown bread is amazing. So good with jam for breakfast, you need to try it!

So, anyone out there ever had Icelandic brown bread?  Yeah….didn’t think so.

This maybe isn’t a recipe that the masses are clamouring for.  But you know what?  They should be.  It’s a fantastic, easy to make, brown bread that is a bit sweet, super soft, and just perfect for your morning toast.

So why Icelandic brown bread?  Well, because I’m part Icelandic and so I had it fairly often growing up.  My grandma’s family is from Iceland, although I’ll be honest, I haven’t really had a ton of Icelandic food.  There were the few things that we would have at my Grandma’s house whenever we were visiting, but that’s about it.  And occasionally my dad would bring home some dried fish and he and I would happily inhale it (being the only two in the house that actually liked it! As a side note, I haven’t had that in years – I wonder where I can find it?).

Icelandic Brown Bread - Easy to make, slightly sweet, soft and perfect for your morning toast - this Icelandic brown bread is amazing. So good with jam for breakfast, you need to try it!

I have a couple of Icelandic recipes from my Grandma, although I haven’t yet attempted to make my favourite of all, a cake that she made every Christmas.  It’s so good though, and I might need to try making it this year, just so that I can share it with you!

The one I make on a regular basis is this one – Icelandic brown bread.  This recipe was from my great Aunt, and was originally meant to be made in a bread machine.  But I never did really care for the strange square shaped loaves that you get out of a bread machine and so I haven’t used one in years.  If you prefer to use one though, this recipe works well on the whole grain setting – it will make one large, 2 pound loaf.

I like it as two smaller 8×4 inch loaves, made in bread pans.  Either way, it’s the perfect bread for toast.  We love it toasted for breakfast with peanut butter or jam.

Even if you haven’t grown up with Icelandic brown bread – you will love it.  It’s fantastic!

Icelandic Brown Bread - Easy to make, slightly sweet, soft and perfect for your morning toast - this Icelandic brown bread is amazing. So good with jam for breakfast, you need to try it!

Yield: 2 - 8x4 inch loaves

Icelandic Brown Bread

Icelandic Brown Bread

Easy to make, slightly sweet, soft and perfect for your morning toast - this Icelandic brown bread is amazing. You need to try it!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes


  • 1 1/3 cup (315mL) warm water
  • 1/4 cup (57g) butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (105g) brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup (90g) molasses
  • 2 teaspoons (12g) salt
  • 2 cups (10oz, 280g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups (12.5oz, 350g) whole wheat flour (plus up to 1/2 cup (2.5oz, 70g) extra, if needed)
  • 1 tablespoon (11g) instant yeast


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, or in a large bowl with a wooden spoon or dough whisk, combine the water, butter, sugar, brown sugar and molasses.
  2. Add the salt, all-purpose flour, 2 1/2 cups (350g) whole wheat flour and the yeast.
  3. Mix with the dough hook until everything is combined.
  4. After mixing for a minute or so, the dough should come together and clear the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  5. If it is too wet and sticky to clear the bottom of the bowl, sprinkle in a little more whole wheat flour, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough clears the bottom of the bowl. It should be soft and slightly tacky to the touch, but not overly sticky.
  6. Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes (12-14 by hand) until it is smooth and elastic.
  7. Remove the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning it to coat, and cover tightly with plastic wrap.
  8. Allow it to rise until almost doubled, about 2 hours.
  9. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly oiled surface.
  10. Divide it into two pieces and shape each into a loaf by pressing it into a thick rectangle and then roll it up from the long edge, pressing the seam as you do so.
  11. Place each loaf seam side down into an oiled 8x4 inch bread pan and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  12. Allow the loaves to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until they have almost doubled.
  13. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  14. Bake the loaves for 50-60 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.
  15. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

2 slices

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 68Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 146mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 1g

Nutrition Information is estimated based on ingredients used and may not be exact.


Saturday 8th of May 2021

Hi there,

I love Icelandic brown bread - though I haven’t tried making it before... until now! I seem to be having trouble with the recipe. My dough never reached the elastic stage and after I gave up, I wanted to see if it would double in size after 2 hours and it stayed exactly the same. I just bought the yeast today and have looked back over the recipe many times and can’t find anything that I did wrong (except for maybe not kneading long enough).

Any advice?! I am craving this bread so badly and want to give it another shot tomorrow!


Saturday 8th of May 2021


Thank you! I will try again tomorrow.


Saturday 8th of May 2021

The amount of kneading shouldn't affect whether or not it rises, that will affect the gluten formation and the texture of the bread, but not whether it rises or not. As far as the kneading goes, it should get to the point of a smooth dough after kneading it, if it's not, it's either too dry (if it feels dry and not tacky at all with bits of flour that aren't hydrated then add a bit more water), or it's too wet (if you can't handle it at all and it's crazy sticky, add a bit more flour until it's tacky but not excessively sticky). For rising though, that's a factor of the yeast. Either your yeast isn't alive, which is unlikely if it's brand new, or you might be using the wrong type of yeast. If it's instant yeast, it should rise just fine when you mix it into the flour before kneading. If you're using active dry yeast, you need to activate it before using it. For this recipe I use instant yeast. If you have active dry yeast, mix it with the water and granulated sugar first and let it sit for about 5 minutes until the mixture is foamy, and then continue with the recipe using that mixture. Hope that helps!


Monday 14th of December 2020

The Icelandic national league of North America has a pdf of recipes which includes recipes for Vínarterta and Icelandic brown bread.


Tuesday 15th of December 2020

Thanks, I'll have to check that out! I do have my grandma's recipe for Vinarterta, just haven't actually tried making it yet. :)


Saturday 12th of December 2020

I am happy to have your Icelandic brown bread recipe! My grandmother used to make it. I was reading the comments and I just made Vinaterta using my grandmother's recipe. Not sure I spelled it correctly. Also, my cousins and I have made Rulipilsa (not sure of spelling) as well but this year I purchased some from a Scandinavian store in Seattle. Did any of you grow up with the twisted donuts called kleiners? They are so delicious and sold in Iceland all over. Will report back after I make the bread!


Saturday 12th of December 2020

Hope it turns out the way you remember it! I haven't tried making Vinatarta yet but I definitely want to one of these years. It was a favourite of mine that my grandma made every Christmas. My kids have never tried it though so I really need to try making it myself. I never tried Kleiners though, never heard of those - can you send me the recipe (I have a contact form for email)? I'd love to try it!

Kerri (Kristjanson) Pinkston

Thursday 30th of April 2020

I can't wait to try this recipe. I grew up loving my aunt Baby's brown bread. I'm half Icelandic and how I long for authentic, Vinatarta... (I have a hunch that's the Xmas cake you referred to.) Cardamon flavored layers like thick Icelandic tortilla's smothered in a prune concoction. A real labor of love to produce, but worth it in the eating. There was also some kind of smoked meat that came out around Xmas time. I want to call it Rulapelsa, but I have no idea how it was spelled, let alone made, or even what kind of animal it came from. Just delicious. The Skyr, you can keep unless it comes with 3 times as much honey. It's Icelandic yogurt that always tasted more like sour milk curds to me, but my palette wasn't very developed when dad fed me a spoonful when I was about 6. Dad passed a couple years back and the older generation is pretty well gone now, I'm missing the flavors of my childhood. Glad I found you.


Thursday 30th of April 2020

Thank you! I hope you love it as much as I do! I LOVE Vinatarta (no clue how to spell it) but haven't tried making it yet. I have my Grandma's recipe so one of these days I'm going to have to make it. I haven't had it in years so that needs to happen soon! Rulapelsa I never liked much but my Dad likes it. Skyr - agreed, not a fan at all! My other favourite (that I have made) is Ponukkukur (spelling?) and Lefse. I haven't made those for my kids yet, but definitely need to. Hope you like the bread! :)

T Guttormsson

Wednesday 15th of February 2017

I have a small amount of skyr, recently brought to me from Iceland. I understand it can be used as a sort of "mother" to make home-made skyr. Any suggestions on recipes?


Thursday 16th of February 2017

I wish I could help you out there, but I've never actually had skyr, let alone made it. Although now I want to!

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