Thin, crisp and so easy to make from scratch, this traditional recipe for rye Swedish Crispbread (Knäckebröd) is sure to become a regular part of your baking rotation. These crispbreads are simple, delicious and full of good things like dark rye flour and old-fashioned rolled oats...a serious step up from store bought rye crackers!
Fortunately it's an easy and fun baking project take on an in an afternoon. Keep reading for step-by-step instructions for making Swedish Crispbread (Knäckebröd) at home!
Why This Recipe Works
- The dough contains only simple, wholesome ingredients and rolls out incredibly easily.
- The crispbreads are (as the name suggests) really light and crisp in texture.
- They taste subtly of rye flour and oats and make the perfect backdrop for a variety of different toppings.
- All purpose flour, rye flour and old-fashioned rolled oats form the hearty base of this recipe.
- Sugar provides just a touch of sweetness and helps the knäckebröd become golden brown in the oven.
- Instant yeast serves as the leavener and helps the crispbread achieve a light and crisp texture. Be sure to look for instant yeast rather than active dry as they each behave very differently in a recipe (see the FAQ section below for more information on the difference between instant and active dry yeast, plus information about substitutions).
- There is salt in the dough itself, and there is also flaky sea salt sprinkled on top for baking. Both help highlight the flavors of the rye and oats.
- Milk and melted butter bring moisture and richness to the recipe.
- Parchment paper
- 2 rimmed baking sheets
- Regular rolling pin
- Notched rolling pin (kruskavel) OR a dinner fork
- Pizza wheel
- 1 inch diameter round cookie cutter
- Pastry or basting brush
- Wire cooling rack
How to Make This Recipe
- Begin by whisking the rye flour, all purpose flour, oats, yeast, salt and sugar together in a medium bowl.
- Add the milk and cooled melted butter. Mix with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until the dough is shaggy in appearance and getting difficult to stir.
- Using your hands, knead the dough for a few minutes inside the bowl, picking up any loose flour on the bottom of the bowl, until the dough comes together into a ball.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lay a piece of parchment paper on a work surface. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and pat one of the pieces into a round disc and lay it in the center of the parchment. Keep the other 5 pieces in the bowl and cover again with plastic wrap.
- Roll the disk of dough out using a regular rolling pin until it is as thin as you can get it and about 7 or 8 inches in diameter. Trim the edges with a pizza wheel to create a neat circle shape.
- Switch to a notched rolling pin (kruskavel) or a fork. Either roll over the dough a few times with the kruskavel or poke all over with the fork. Using a round cookie cutter that is about an inch in diamter, cut a hole out of the center of the crispbread. Lay the round piece of dough that came out of the hole next to the piece of crispbread on the parchment.
- Brush the crispbread with melted butter and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden brown and crispy, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.
- Roll the dough directly on a piece of parchment paper. This eliminates the need to add any additional flour or transfer the dough round from the counter to a baking pan. It also makes it easier to roll the crispbread really, really thin. If you are not already doing so, it's worth checking out your local bakery supply store for a large box of baking parchment paper. It is so much more affordable that buying a small box of it at the grocery store.
- Roll your crispbread thin. PAPER thin. When you think it's thin enough, keep rolling. You will get a much more crisp final product when you take the time to roll it out as thin as you possibly can. You can also expect your crispbread to expand slightly when baked so it will not be quite as thin as when it went into the oven.
- Use a pizza wheel to even out the edges if necessary. Don't worry if your crispbread is more amoeba-shaped than round. Simply use a pizza wheel to even out the edges. Or leave it amoeba-shaped! That's rustic and charming, too. The more you make your own knäckebröd at home, the better you will become at rolling out the dough.
- Cut a hole in the center of your crispbread using a round cookie cutter. Not just because it's charming and traditional, but also because the center is the last part of the knäckebröd to crisp up. Creating that hole in the center creates extra edges and helps prevent the dreaded soggy crispbread. Go ahead and bake up the little rounds along side the larger piece of crispbread, just like you might make donut holes out of dough cut from the center of a donut.
- Brush the crispbread with butter and sprinkle on some flaky sea salt before baking. This helps with browning and adds incredible flavor.
- Bake until golden brown and crisp. DO NOT remove your knäckebröd from the oven too soon. This leads to soggy crispbread. You want to make sure it is crispy all the way through.
- Allow the crispbread to cool completely on a wire rack prior to storing. Moisture is the enemy of good crispbread. Make sure that it is thoroughly cooled before placing in an airtight container.
Scandinavians eat a lot of crispbread, Swedes boasting the highest consumption, closely followed by Norway. Crispbread is Sweden's second largest export (just behind vodka), and on average, Swedes consume over 450 slices of crispbread per year! While crispbread might seem like just a cracker, Scandinavians see it as another form of bread and serve it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and as a snack in between meals.
Crispbread was traditionally made only twice a year and stored on a long pole hanging near the ceiling, hence the hole in the center of each piece. When you were ready for another crispbread, you could simply climb up, slide one off the pole and give it a little dust off. While this storage method is very charming, modern day Scandinavians are more likely to opt for an airtight container to keep their crispbread fresh AND dust-free.
It's best to store it in airtight container at room temperature. It will keep for at least a couple of weeks.
The essential difference between the two is that instant yeast can be mixed right in with the dry ingredients whereas active dry yeast needs to be proofed in warm liquid prior to adding it to the recipe. Instant yeast is also more reliable, effective and fast-acting.
Yes, if you are using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast it is best to warm the milk in the recipe to about 105-115 degrees F and stir the sugar and yeast into the warm milk. Let it sit until it begins to become foamy (about 10 minutes) and proceed with the recipe.
Absolutely! Substitute plant-based milk for the regular milk and your favorite vegan butter substitute for the butter.
What to Serve on Crispbread
Crispbread makes an excellent base for just about anything and everything, and quite honestly, nothing quite beats a generous smear of good butter. But there are many toppings beyond butter to consider as well. For breakfast, think butter and sliced hard-boiled egg, or maybe cream cheese and a homemade fruit compote or store-bought jam. For lunch, how about a piece of crispbread piled high with creamy chickpea salad or egg salad? It makes a very nice partner for gravlax (with a little mustard sauce drizzled over the top. And as an easy and delicious accompaniment to your Nordic supper, serve it buttered along side a cozy soup or stew. It's perfect for dipping.
While there are many obvious ways to use crispbread, there a few not so obvious but popular ways to eat this crunchy bread in Scandinavia:
- Crushed up and sprinkled on yogurt with fruit for breakfast;
- Covered with cheese and broiled to make crispy little toasts;
- Crispbread pizza! Top your knäckebröd with a few favorite ingredients and a sprinkling of cheese and pop it into a 350 degree oven to heat through. Ingenious!
Looking for more tasty Scandinavian crispbreads or flatbreads? Give these a try!
Ready to try this Rye and Oat Crispbread for yourself? Please do and let me know how it goes in the comments below. Honestly, there is something very meditative and satisfying about making crispbread at home. I hope you enjoy the process of baking it (and eating it) as much as I do.
Easy Swedish Crispbread (Knäckebröd)
- 1 cup dark rye flour
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
- ¾ cup milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled, plus more melted butter for brushing
- Large sea salt crystals for sprinkling such as Maldon
- Whisk flours, oats, salt, sugar and yeast together in a large bowl. Stir in milk and butter. Knead briefly in the bowl with your hands until the dough comes together (dough will be quite stiff and a bit sticky). Cover and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough into 6 equal pieces and cover with plastic wrap. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll into a thin round on a sheet of parchment paper using a traditional rolling pin.
- Roll with a kruskavel a few times or poke all over with a skewer or fork. Cut a 1 inch hole out of the center using a biscuit cutter. Set the round cut out piece of dough next to the larger crispbread. Brush both with butter and sprinkle with sea salt crystals.
- Transfer parchment paper to a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and crispy, about 12-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.
If you loved this recipe, give it a star review! Also, snap a picture of your Swedish Crispbread (Knäckebröd) and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #truenorthkitchen and tagging me @true_north_kitchen.