Is Pumpernickel Bread Gluten-Free?

Is Pumpernickel Bread Gluten-Free?

Dark, dense, and tasty, pumpernickel bread is a popular German bakery item that’s also a favorite in the United States. While it doesn’t have the same status as white bread, sourdough bread, French bread, or light rye loaves, pumpernickel is found in many American supermarkets and delicatessen shops. High in fiber, B-complex vitamins, and nutrients, this rye bread is perfect for soups or sandwiches.

Pumpernickel is not gluten-free. That’s because it’s made from rye, a distinctive nutty and sour-flavored grain that’s related to barley and wheat. Since rye belongs to the same family as wheat, it’s also a grain that contains the stretchy protein allergen called gluten. While pumpernickel isn’t naturally gluten-free, the good news is that you can buy or make delicious gluten-free versions.

Discover top nutrition facts about pumpernickel bread, including its gluten-free status, and how to make your own gluten-free pumpernickel bread.

Nutrients in Pumpernickel Bread

Is Pumpernickel Bread Gluten-Free?

According to the USDA, one medium-sized slice or 32 grams of pumpernickel bread contains: 

  • 80 calories
  • 1 gram of fat
  • 191mg of sodium
  • 2.1 grams of fiber
  • 15.2 grams of carbs
  • 0/2 grams of sugars
  • 2.8 grams of protein
  • Contains a rye and wheat flour blend
  • Contains gluten

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Pumpernickel Nutrients Breakdown

Is Pumpernickel Bread Gluten-Free?


Although it isn’t a gluten-free food, pumpernickel bread ranks low on the glycemic index at around 41, with a glycemic load of 5 per slice. This means that it won’t spike your blood sugar. 

Pumpernickel bread contains 15 grams of carbs in a regular medium slice so this isn’t a carb-heavy snack, either. A medium slice of pumpernickel bread measures roughly 5 inches by 4 inches and is about 3/8 inches thick. It’s also keto-friendly since it contains only 1 net carb per slice.

Starch, 2.1 grams of fiber, and under 1 gram of sugar, make up the rest of the carbohydrates in a slice of pumpernickel bread. 


One slice of pumpernickel bread contains about 2.8 grams of protein.


Despite its gluten status, pumpernickel is a low-fat food with just 1 gram of fat per slice. It also contains zero cholesterol. 

Vitamins and Minerals

If you’re thinking about making your own gluten-free pumpernickel bread, the vitamins and minerals present in pumpernickel may vary depending on the flour blend that you use. Traditional sourdough pumpernickel made from rye flour is a good source of immune and bone-building manganese and DNA-producing and thyroid-gland-supporting selenium. 


Is Pumpernickel Bread Gluten-Free?

Pumpernickel, which is made with rye flour, belongs to the same family as wheat and barley. All of these grains contain levels of gluten. Dark rye bread isn’t the same as pumpernickel bread, since pumpernickel bread is made from rye berries with the addition of breadcrumbs from other types of rye loaves. 

While pumpernickel bread doesn’t have wheat, it is lower in gluten than wheat or barley bread. Since some pumpernickel brands may contain unlisted wheat due to cross-contamination, it’s advised for people with celiac disease or gluten allergies to steer clear of store-bought pumpernickel bread. 

If you’re sensitive or allergic to gluten, be careful around rye flour since research indicates that this flour can cause asthma attacks called “Baker’s Asthma” or trigger sneezing or rhinitis. Consuming gluten in pumpernickel bread can cause classic celiac or intolerance symptoms including abdominal pain, swelling, gassiness, or diarrhea. 

There is no gluten-free pumpernickel bread available on the market today, so traditional pumpernickel bread cannot be eaten on a gluten-free diet.

Why Make Gluten-Free Pumpernickel Bread?

Is Pumpernickel Bread Gluten-Free?

If you want to enjoy pumpernickel bread without the negative effects of gluten, there are many delicious gluten-free pumpernickel recipes available that you can make at home. 

When made the traditional way, pumpernickel bread must be baked for a long period of time at a low temperature to achieve the chemical Maillard reaction that creates the pumpernickel’s dark brown color and dense, earthy flavor. 

Home or commercial bakers prefer a shorter baking period, so they often use ingredients like coffee, molasses, carraway, or cocoa powder to make a distinctive deep brown color and robust taste. These ingredients can help mimic the authentic artisan types of loaves found in a traditional German bakery.  

This gluten-free pumpernickel recipe combines warm chocolate and coffee notes with a suggestion of caraway seed to create an intense, dark, and delicious bread that you won’t believe is gluten-free. In fact, it’s so good and satisfying that you won’t even miss the rye flour. Serve warm or slice for sandwiches with cheese, slivered salmon, or a grilled Reuben.

Read More >> Is Ciabatta Bread Gluten-Free?

How to Make Gluten-Free Pumpernickel Bread

Is Pumpernickel Bread Gluten-Free?

What you’ll need:  

  • 2 cups of warm water headed to 110 degrees Fahrenheit or 45 degrees Celsius 
  • 1 tbsp of caraway seed
  • 1 ½ tsp of active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tbsp of dry milk powder or a dairy-free option
  • 1 tbsp of powdered instant coffee
  • ¼ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil of choice
  • ¼ cup of molasses
  • 4 cups or 16 ounces of a gluten-free bread flour blend


Is Pumpernickel Bread Gluten-Free?

First, grease a 9 x 5 x 4-inch loaf pan with oil and sprinkle it with a light flour base.

Next, place water and caraway seed in a small pan and simmer it for about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the water cool to a lukewarm temperature. Strain the seed and combine water to bring it to two cups. 

Put the yeast and water into the electric mixer and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes to reach a bubbly consistency. Combine the oil, molasses, flour, milk powder or dairy-free version, salt, cocoa powder, and coffee powder, and beat it together. Slowly increase the mixing speed from a low to a high-speed setting using the mixer’s paddle attachment for about 4 minutes. 

Once it’s finished mixing, put the bowl aside in a warm spot and let it proof for 30 to 45 minutes. When the timer is up, mix in the rest of the flour until the pumpernickel dough reaches a consistency similar to drop cookie dough. 

Finally, round and smooth the dough with wet hands in the pan until it’s level and smooth off the edges. 

Let the loaf sit in the pan to proof in a warm, humid place for 45 to 55 minutes while you heat the oven. Bake the loaf for 45 to 60 minutes until the loaf is baked inside to around 208-210 degrees internally. Once the loaf has finished baking, let it cool on a rack. Slice and serve. 

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