What Is The Difference Between Pumpernickel and Rye Bread?

Whenever you are looking for a loaf of Rye or Pumpernickel bread, you need to know the differences between the two. Starting out, Pumpernickel bread is actually a type of rye bread, and rye comes in several different types.

If you want a lot of different flavors, try Rye bread because you will find plenty of wonderful varieties that all come with a combination of sweet, sour, and earthy flavors. Additionally, while the nutritional content of the rye bread varies by type, it can be very healthy for you.

Pumpernickel is a type of rye bread that comes in a dark brown color, and contains quite a lot of fiber as well as a stronger flavor.

Pumpernickel and Rye Bread Overview

While not all bread types are the exact same, you might wonder what makes Pumpernickel bread and Rye bread different from one another. After all, they both are dark brown in color, both taste amazing with some cream cheese, and they each have a unique flavor that can make it easy to mistake one for the other.

However, both of these breads are different, and it is important to know the differences. Not just so you don’t accidentally bring the wrong loaf home by mistake, but also because you want to be able to appreciate both pieces of bread!

We can start with their origins because both breads were created in Germany. Rye bread was created after a wheat crop failure, while Pumpernickel was created as a variant of that and named after the fact that it causes gastronomic distress in the body… with the word Pumpernickel meaning ‘the devil’s fart.’

What Is Pumpernickel?

Pumpernickel bread is made differently depending on where you are in the world. The Germans will often use rye flour and then bake the bread on low for an entire day. Other European bakers use a sourdough starter for their pumpernickel breads which will also have a long cooking time. 

U.S. bakers and recipes will use dry yeast instead of a cooking starter and they also use wheat flour that is combined with ground rye. Often the baking time for the rye is much shorter, and other flavorings are used to mimic the color and taste found in a german pumpernickel loaf.

What Is Rye Bread?

Rye bread is a type of bread made from flour and rye gran, and every single country and baker in Europe tend to make their own version a little different. There are also plenty of different types of rye bread as well, including regional rye bread, dark rye, light rye, and marbled rye dishes. 

The bakers in the U.S. use rye bread too, although they often use more white or wheat flour than the European bakers. Some recipes even include cornmeal!

What Is The Difference Between Rye and Pumpernickel?


For starters, both loaves of bread do taste similar, but not the exact same. Pumpernickel bread is much stronger and darker in terms of taste when compared to traditional rye bread because they are cooked longer. Additionally, due to the long cooking time, Pumpernickel bread is often much sweeter than rye bread.

Rye bread is mild in flavor with a nuttier and more earthy taste, and can be eaten with fruit, spices, chocolate, and nuts. It tastes really good, and most rye bread is also flavored with caraway seeds to increase the taste.


Rye bread is often lighter and much less dense, making it very easy to eat and also easy to pair with a large assortment of different foods. Most of the different types of rye bread taste the same texture wise, but rye sourdough bread comes with a chewy texture and Russian rye bread is often very dense.

The pumpernickel bread is very dense and heavy with a slightly sweet flavor, and it is often served with savory foods and meats.

Cooking Time

Whether you use a pumpernickel bread recipe from Europe area or from North America will change the cooking time. Many European bakers will cook the bread low and slow for an entire day, while if you follow the U.S. recipe the preparation of the bread might take a couple of hours.

Rye bread is often easier to make, although it does take a while to fully rise and prove, and that is where the time sink comes in. However, it terms of the cook time rye bread only takes a little bit longer than your average loaf of white bread to cook.  

Type Of Flour Used

Finally, rye bread uses rye flour, yeast, water, and salt as the main ingredients… although depending on the recipe you might have other flours mixed with the rye flour. For example, light rye bread uses a mixture of rye flour and wheat flour, and dark rye bread uses a combination of rye flour and whole wheat flour.

Pumpernickel bread is made from a rye flour and all purpose flour mixture. As well as yeast, brown sugar, salt, and molasses that are all combined into a dough and mixed. 

Which Is Better For You: Pumpernickel or Rye Bread?

Both pieces of bread are very good for you and for your health. Rye bread is high in nutrients and vitamins, and rye bread can fill you up and also lower your risk of diabetes, and can even aid in the promotion of weight loss. 

Rye bread is rich in fiber and magnesium as well, so if you get the chance to eat it with your meals, give it a chance! Pumpernickel bread is a bread with a low glycemic load, which means that fewer carbohydrates are absorbed into the body and you get fewer calories from pumpernickel bread compared to other breads.

Both of them are amazing for you and your health, so don’t be afraid to add them to your diet. The differences between the breads are pretty small, so if you like one you almost certainly will like the other!