Knekkebrød (Norwegian Crisp Bread)

April 21, 2016
Norwegian Knekkebrød

Norwegian knekkebrødA Norwegian breakfast and lunch is never complete without a slice of bread or a type of knekkebrød. These ‘crisp breads’ or ‘breaking breads’ which are flat and dry, resembling a cracker, probably originated in Scandinavia close to 500 years ago. Some sources say that crisp bread was a staple of the Vikings as they could store them for long periods of time. These crisp breads would have been baked on hot stones, while today’s knekkebrød is baked in the oven. Baking them in the oven is what makes these crisp breads so different from the Norwegian flatbrød, which is baked on a flat griddle, much like lefse.

Once considered a poor man’s diet, knekkebrød has become widely popular boasting a healthy lifestyle with numerous variants from slightly sweet to nutty to herby & salty. They are easy to make, forgiving, and require only a few ingredients, which can be interchanged depending on what you have available in your cupboards. All one needs is a little imagination and water.

Norwegian knekkebrød

Norwegian knekkebrødMy Norwegian mother-in-law first showed me how to make homemade knekkebrød in her home in Bergen. We were living in London at the time, and she knew this was something I could easily make no matter where we were. I came across my hand-written recipe and notes which, despite a couple of smudges from previous batches and a few poorly translated words, had survived our years of travels. It was something we could make with little effort to connect us back to Norway.

The cracking sound it makes when you first bite into it, the intense flavor of seeds and nuts and the pride that comes from being able to say it came from your own oven make each batch truly special. This is the recipe she gave me all those years ago, only slightly adapted.

Norwegian knekkebrød

Norwegian knekkebrødThese are perfectly paired with a slice of cheese or a spread of jam or topped with fresh cucumber. Great for a snack while out on the trail or whenever hunger calls. Scroll below to watch exactly how I make these. 

Knekkebrød

(makes 2 sheet pans, approximately 30 breads)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 600 ml (2 1/2 cups) water
  • 135 g (1 cup) course rye flour
  • 135 g (1 1/3 cups) quick cooking oats
  • 25g  (1/2 cup) wheat bran
  • 80g  (1/2 cup) sesame seeds
  • 60g  (1/2 cup) pumpkin seeds, roughly chopped
  • 60g (1/2 cup) sunflower seeds
  • 45g  (1/4 cup) linseed/flax seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt 

Preheat the oven to 325° F / 160° C. Cover two sheet pans completely with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the honey and warm water and whisk to combine.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the rye flour, oats, wheat bran, seeds and salt. Slowly add in the honey-infused water, stirring until a wet paste forms. Let stand for a couple of minutes so the flour and oats can soak up more of the moisture and you get the right consistency.

Pour half of the mixture over one of the sheet pans and spread evenly and thinly, to the very edges. You can use the back of a spatula, or take plastic wrap over the top of the mixture, pressing down and spreading to get an even thickness across the sheet pan. Do the same for the rest of the mixture and the other sheet pan.

Place both sheet pans in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes then remove from the oven and carefully cut into 15 rectangles per baking sheet. This will make it easier to separate them when they are fully baked.

Place the sheets pans back in oven and bake for another 50-60 minutes, alternating the top pan with the bottom one once through the cooking time. Occasionally open the oven door to release steam. Check the knekkebrød towards the end of the cooking time and look for them being dry and brittle with light browning on the edges.

When finished, break the breads apart gently and let them cool completely on a wire rack. Store in a tight plastic or tin container and they should last for several weeks.

Norwegian knekkebrød

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35 Comments

  • Reply Alexa McAllister October 26, 2016 at 8:06 am

    Oh, they look so delicious. This surely is a recipe for me to try. Thank you 🙂

    Alexa-asimplelife visiting from Sydney, Australia

    • Reply nevada October 27, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      Hi Alexa. These are really tasty and super healthy. The best part is you can mix and match with whatever seeds/nuts you have in the cupboard and top them with whatever you fancy. Hope you enjoy them 🙂

      • Reply Atessa Hariri March 31, 2019 at 1:18 am

        hi Nevada, can I replac the rye flour with coconut flour?

        • Reply nevada April 4, 2019 at 12:05 pm

          Hi Atessa. I have never tried it with coconut flour, but have heard of people using almond flour. To make it gluten free, others skip the flour altogether and just combine the oats, nuts, and seeds. If you take out the flour, you will need to experiment with the quantities of everything (like the water) to make sure it all comes together.

  • Reply Yun July 8, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    hi Nevada, thank you very much for sharing, i’m working on it! haha

    • Reply nevada July 22, 2017 at 7:46 pm

      I hope you enjoy! 🙂

  • Reply Lisa Dokken July 13, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    I just came back from Norway so was excited to make this recipe. It is delicious, but it stuck to the wax paper. Any thoughts?

    • Reply nevada July 22, 2017 at 7:54 pm

      Hi Lisa. Thanks for your comment. Make sure you are using parchment/baking paper rather than wax paper. If you still find the paper sticking, you can try greasing it beforehand with a little butter. I haven’t had trouble getting my knekkebrød off, but I have had to pull at the paper a little bit sometimes. I hope this works for you!

  • Reply Skeena July 25, 2017 at 1:23 am

    Thanks for the recipe. I’ve tried a number of Knekkebrød recipes, but this is the only one that turned out “just right” (meaning good crunch, texture, thickness and taste). No need to search further, for I now have the recipe I’ve been looking for.

    The amount of water made for a very spreadable mixture (more like wet oatmeal) and letting it sit for a few minutes was a really helpful suggestion. For other American bakers who may have the same dilemma, when choosing a sheet pan, if you have an option go for a jelly roll pan rather than a half sheet pan, do so. The width of my parchment paper made for no piecing together and spreading to the edges gave a thickness that matched to the pictures. On baking, after 10 minutes I couldn’t quite believe they would take almost another hour, but they did (albeit I did drop the temperature slightly from the 350 for the second half).

    • Reply nevada July 29, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      Hi Skeena, I’m so happy to hear this recipe worked great for you! And thanks for the suggestions as well, really helpful 🙂

  • Reply Gina Salvati September 25, 2017 at 3:08 am

    Great recipe, but an hour baking time? Way too long. First batch is unedible.

    • Reply nevada October 12, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      Hi Gina. I often find I have to cook them a little longer than an hour. Did you use the convection setting? I would try dropping the temperature to 325°F / 160°C next time and see if that works better for you.

  • Reply Judy Cusick October 6, 2017 at 1:25 am

    Do you know where I can buy knekkebrod (online or in the Washington DC area)?

    • Reply nevada October 12, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      I would try a speciality Scandinavian shop in the area. Otherwise, they are really easy to make at home 🙂

    • Reply Sharon October 13, 2017 at 5:05 am

      Trader Joe’s has a Whole Grain Crispbread that is similar to this. Homemade is better

      • Reply nevada October 24, 2017 at 9:20 am

        I agree – homemade is better! 🙂

    • Reply Desi September 2, 2018 at 1:36 am

      My Norwegian wife loves the ones from NorwegianBaked on Etsy out of Brooklyn (she says they’re even better than the ones she ate in Norway). I’m anxious to try this recipe though and see how it goes!

      • Reply nevada September 3, 2018 at 2:51 pm

        I hope you both enjoy it!

  • Reply Mares March 11, 2018 at 9:21 am

    Oh how exciting finally I have made these delicious little bites that I love to eat when in Norway visiting my son, his wife, the M-I-L & the sister!! They all bake these delicious goodies & now so do I, what a great recipe..worked beautifully. A little bit of Norway in my Aussie kitchen.

    • Reply nevada March 22, 2018 at 3:53 pm

      So glad to hear they worked great for you and that you can bring a part of Norway back to your kitchen! 🙂

  • Reply Aquarius March 23, 2018 at 4:21 am

    Should I use less water if I’m only using the flour, wheat bran, oats and seeds? Can I use rolled oats for this?

    • Reply nevada March 24, 2018 at 7:52 pm

      Hi. I have never tried it without the oats so I can’t be assured of the the outcome, but you would certainly need to use a lot less water. Rolled oats should be ok, but you might need to adjust the amount water as well since quick cooking oats absorb the liquid differently.

  • Reply Mike Mosher June 6, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    Hi, Do you have an idea of the manufacturers producing this product in Sweden or Norway besides SIGDAL?

    • Reply nevada June 11, 2018 at 10:32 am

      Hi Mike. There are many producers of knekkebrød throughout Norway and Sweden, some local and some more large-scale. I believe Wasa is one of the larger companies selling in grocery stores. I don’t have a list of others off hand, but there are some really good brands around! I imagine you can find a local producer/producers in most towns.

  • Reply Carolina July 30, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    Hi! I was wondering if the honey can be replaced since i’m diabetic and can’t have any. Thanks!

    • Reply nevada August 1, 2018 at 9:24 pm

      Hi Carolina, thanks for your question! Yes, by all means just take out the honey and leave the rest of the recipe as is 🙂

  • Reply David October 21, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    Made these last night. They are wonderful and just the thing for a whole grain diet.

    A few things I will do next time
    -more than a pinch of salt, maybe a 1/4 teaspoon
    -lower the temp to 325 after the first 10 minutes. My oven might run hot
    -add some herbs

    In the US we have whole grain rye, nothing labeled course rye that I could find

    I used oat bran instead of wheat bran. Not sure if thats similar texture

    I added a good amount of black pepper

    This recipe is one of my favorite things. Thank you

    • Reply nevada October 22, 2018 at 12:20 pm

      So glad you hear that, David! And great to hear about your suggestions, thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Julie November 19, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    Making this today for the 9th time!!!
    Absolutely love this recipe. I too,have lowered the temperature (ovens vary)
    A friend brought me Knekkebrod, from Norway, in June. Knew I had to find a recipe; honestly these are better than what she brought me.
    Thank you so much for posting this recipe! This is now my “go to”bread.

    Thank you so much, this is now my go to bread!

    • Reply nevada November 25, 2018 at 3:36 pm

      I’m so happy to hear this Julie! I love making knekkebrød – they are so healthy and simple to throw together 🙂

  • Reply Jennifer Galbraith December 23, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    Love this recipe. I have made them several times now with a couple changes based on what I have in the house. I have always used the rolled oats with the same amount of water with no issue. I use wheat germ instead of wheat bran and I don’t chop the pumpkin seeds to save a little time and they always come out great. I sometimes add some herbs like dried oregano.

  • Reply andrea January 15, 2019 at 9:27 pm

    hello! i can’t find course rye anywhere, only rye flour. do you think that will be okay? it looks pretty fine ground, unfortunately

    • Reply nevada January 16, 2019 at 11:12 am

      Hi Andrea, that’s a great question! Go ahead and use the fine rye flour but try using only 3/4 cup and then use 3/4 cup of the wheat bran instead of 1/2 cup. Let me know how it turns out!

  • Reply Kristin April 18, 2019 at 5:06 pm

    I love this recipe! My third batch is in the oven right now! A couple of tips so far: I put the dough on the sheet pan in blobs in each corner and one in the middle and then spread. This helped make it easier to spread evenly. A little sprinkle of the rye flour ( I found pumpernickel rye flour ) can help if things are getting sticky. The edges cooked more quickly,so I broke the done edges off and put the center back in the oven to finish cooking. I can’t wait for lunch!

    • Reply nevada May 6, 2019 at 12:58 pm

      I’m so happy to hear you are on your third batch! And thanks for sharing those helpful tips 🙂

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