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Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread is a cinnamon-flavored pull-apart bread that’s a decadent treat for a special occasion. The amazing aroma is sure to draw a crowd to your kitchen!

pieces of Monkey Bread topped with cream cheese icing

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Monkey Bread

One of my favorite indulgences is homemade Monkey Bread. Warm bread coated with cinnamon and sugar and topped with cream cheese frosting? It’s like a mashup of cinnamon rolls and sticky buns. No way I’m resisting that!

This is the type of treat that’s meant for a special occasion. Leave the standard fare for everyday treats. THIS is the treat you want for Christmas morning or a birthday or some other big day. Serve it for breakfast, brunch, snack time, or dessert!

Making monkey bread from scratch is not a quick process, but it’s 100% worth it in the end when your kitchen fills with the aromas of cinnamon and caramelized sugar and freshly baked bread. Top it off with a sweet cream cheese icing to take it over the top!

If you love cinnamon breakfast treats, try Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls, Cinnamon Bun Scones, and Cinnamon Breakfast Cake, too.

Monkey Bread on a white cake stand

What is Monkey Bread?

Monkey bread is made from little balls of bread dough that are coated in a sweet or savory seasoning and baked, usually in a Bundt pan or loaf pan.

Once it’s baked and ready to serve, it can be pulled apart one little bit of bread at a time. For this reason, it’s also sometimes called a pull-apart bread. You may see it called bubble bread, pinch-me cake, or puzzle bread.

a piece of Monkey Bread drizzled with cream cheese icing with more bread in the background

What You’ll Need

See the recipe card below for specific quantities. Here are some notes about the ingredients you’ll need to make this monkey bread.

overhead view of ingredients for Monkey Bread

Bread Ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour – Measure by weight for best results. If you don’t yet have a digital kitchen scale, you can simulate that with the spoon and sweep method. Learn more: How to Measure Flour
  • Salt
  • Milk – The milk (and the water) should be warm but not hot. An instant read-thermometer is helpful to get to the 110°F mark. I recommend using whole milk.
  • Water – The water needs to be warm, too.
  • Sugar
  • Yeast – You can use active dry yeast, rapid yeast, or instant yeast.
  • Unsalted butter
  • Egg

Coating Ingredients:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Sugar
  • Brown sugar – Light brown sugar gives the coating a caramel-like flavor.
  • Cinnamon – Check that yours is still fresh by giving it a smell. It should have a strong aroma.

Icing Ingredients:

  • Cream cheese – Bring the cream cheese to room temperature for a smooth icing. Full-fat cream cheese works best.
  • Confectioners’ sugar – Take an extra minute to sift the sugar so your icing will be smooth.
  • Milk
  • Vanilla extract

How to Make Monkey Bread

While there is some downtime for the dough to rise, the actual hands-on time is manageable. Make sure you’ve blocked off sufficient time so you won’t be tempted to rush the rising process.

Make the Bread Dough

Mix the dry ingredients. Combine the flour and salt.

Combine the wet ingredients and yeast. Mix the milk, water, sugar, butter, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes. It should be foamy. (If you’re using rapid or instant yeast, you can choose to mix it with the flour instead and skip the proofing stage.)

Add the flour mixture and the egg. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually add the flour mixture. Next, mix in the egg and continue mixing until a ball of dough forms.

overhead view of bread dough mixed in the bowl of a stand mixer

Keep mixing. Continue kneading for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Let rise. Cover the dough with a towel, and let it rest in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size. This should take about an hour.

Get Ready to Assemble

Prepare the pan. Grease a 10-cup Bundt pan.

Make the coating. Combine the sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Place the melted butter in a shallow bowl.

Portion the dough. Divide the dough into 36 equal portions, and roll each portion into a ball.

Add the coating. Dip each ball of dough in melted butter, and then roll thoroughly in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place each piece of coated dough in the prepared pan. Combine the remaining butter and cinnamon-sugar, and pour over the bread in the pan.

Let rise again. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size. This should take about an hour.

Preheat the oven. Toward the end of the rising time, heat the oven to 375°F.

Bake. Place the pan in the heated oven, and bake for 25 minutes or until the bread is browned and thoroughly baked.

overhead view of freshly baked Monkey Bread in a Bundt pan

Cool. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Then invert the pan onto a large plate to remove the bread from the pan.

Make the Cream Cheese Icing

Mix the icing ingredients. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until thoroughly combined. Add the milk and vanilla, and continue mixing until smooth.

Add the icing to the bread. Drizzle the icing over the warm bread. If you like, place some of the icing in a small bowl for dipping.

overhead view of Monkey Bread topped with cream cheese icing

Tips for Success

  • In a hurry? For those times you can’t plan to make the bread from scratch, you can use three 8-ounce cans of refrigerated biscuit dough. Quarter the biscuits and proceed with the recipe beginning with making the coating. It’s not quite the same flavor and texture, but it’s still pretty darn good!
  • Make ahead. This can be a lot to make from start to finish for a breakfast treat! Luckily, you can assemble the bread, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Set it out at room temperature for 15 minutes before baking.
  • Portion efficiently. To make quick, accurate work of portioning the dough, first weigh the dough in grams and then divide that number by 36 to determine how much each ball of dough should weigh.
  • Checking for doneness. The best way to check if the monkey bread is done is to check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. It should read 200°F when the bread is thoroughly baked. Your nose will likely pick up on the incredible aromas that tell you when it’s time to check for doneness.
a large portion of Monkey Bread on a blue-rimmed white plate

How to Store Leftovers

After the bread has cooled completely, cover it well with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, or transfer it to an airtight container. Place any extra icing in an airtight container, too. Store in the refrigerator up to 3 days, although it will be at its best the day it’s baked.

Reheat servings in the microwave in 20-second increments until warm.

How to Freeze Monkey Bread

Transfer leftovers to a freezer-safe container, and freeze up to 3 months. For best results, freeze without the icing. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat as directed above.

You can also freeze the shaped dough before adding the coating. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and freeze until solid (about 3 hours). Then transfer to a freezer-safe container, and store in the freezer up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and then continue the recipe beginning with making the coating.

a piece of Monkey Bread dipped in cream cheese icing

Monkey Bread

Yield 10 to 12 servings
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 5 minutes

This sticky, gooey Monkey Bread is an absolute crowd-pleaser. With lots of cinnamon flavor and a cream cheese icing, it's sure to disappear quickly!

a large portion of Monkey Bread on a blue-rimmed white plate

Ingredients

For the bread:

  • 3 & 1/2 cups (420g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (236ml) whole milk, warm (110°F)
  • 1/4 cup (59ml) water, warm (110°F)
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (56g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 & 1/4 teaspoons yeast*
  • 1 large egg

For the coating:

  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, melted

For the cream cheese icing:

  • 4 ounces (113g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (110g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

To make the bread:

  1. Combine the flour and salt, and set aside.
  2. Combine the milk, water, sugar, butter, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, or until foamy.
  3. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually add the flour mixture. Then add the egg, and continue mixing until a ball of dough forms.
  4. Continue kneading for 5 minutes. The dough will be smooth and elastic. Cover with a towel and let rest in a warm spot for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

To make the coating, assemble, and bake:

  1. Grease a 10-cup Bundt pan.
  2. Combine the sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Place the melted butter in a shallow bowl. Set aside.
  3. Divide the dough into 36 equal portions. Gently roll each portion into a ball.
  4. Dip each dough ball in the melted butter, and then roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture until thoroughly coated. Arrange the dough in the prepared pan.
  5. Once all the dough is coated and in the pan, combine the remaining butter and cinnamon-sugar. Pour over the bread in the pan.
  6. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size. This should take about an hour.
  7. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes, or until browned and thoroughly baked.** Then set the pan on a wire rack to begin cooling. After about 10 minutes, invert the pan onto a large plate to remove the bread from the pan.

To make the cream cheese icing:

  1. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until thoroughly mixed.
  2. Add the milk and vanilla, and mix until smooth.
  3. Drizzle the icing over the warm bread.

Notes

*You can use active dry yeast, rapid yeast, or instant yeast. If using rapid or instant, you can mix it with the flour instead if you want to skip the proofing step.

**The bread is done when the internal temperature reaches 200°F.

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    2 Comments on “Monkey Bread”

  1. Love the monkey bread recipe!

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