Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread

One massive, gooey cinnamon roll? Yes, please! I know this is called monkey ‘bread’ but I’m having a hard time deciding if it should be classified as bread or a cake. Or a pastry. Breakfast pastry? Oooh maybe that’s it! However you categorize it, this is all kinds of delicious. Sweetened dough is cut into small pieces, rolled into balls, dipped in melted butter, rolled in cinnamon and brown sugar, and layered int a Bundt pan. The butter and brown sugar create a caramel sauce that coats the bread once it is turned out of the pan. Drizzle the top with a powdered sugar glaze, and you have the most decadent breakfast, snack or dessert (I just love baked goods that can be eaten for a variety of meals or occasions). This is meant to be served warm so you can pull the bread apart with your fingers, but it’s also fabulous at room temperature or rewarmed in a microwave. No matter when you eat it, you’ll be licking your fingers clean!

Monkey Bread

I tried to find the origin of the name ‘monkey bread’ and it doesn’t seem that there is a definitive background, as some claim that the bread resembles the monkey puzzle tree, or that the act of several people pulling at the bread is reminiscent of monkey behavior.

Now, monkey bread does take a little bit of time to create (around 3-4 hours from start to finish), but it is well worth the effort, and when you smell the cinnamon sugar bubbling from the oven, you won’t be second-guessing your decision to make it. In fact, you’ll be giving yourself a huge pat on the back. Here’s a quick run-down of how you’ll be assembling the monkey bread:

First, you start off by greasing a Bundt pan with a liberal amount of butter. Easy peasy.

Greased Bundt pan

You’ll mix the dough together and let it rise until it doubles, then turn it out and pat it into an 8×8-inch square.

Dough patted into an 8x8-inch square

Then, with a sharp knife or bench scraper (the bench scraper worked really well for me), cut the rectangle into 64 pieces.

Dough cut into 64 pieces

Roll each piece into a ball.

Dough rolled into balls

One at a time, dip each ball into the melted butter, then roll in the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture, and then layer in in the Bundt pan.

Monkey bread prep

Monkey bread, ready for its 2nd rise

Let it rise one more time, bake, glaze, and dig in!

Monkey bread ready for the oven

Monkey Bread

By the way, if you have already shattered your iPhone, it really doesn’t matter if you get flour all over it. Just sayin’. The good news? Monkey bread will make you feel better about the whole situation.

Boo boo iPhone

One year ago: Fontina-Stuffed, Bacon-Wrapped Dates
Two years ago: Strawberry Pretzel Squares
Three years ago: Black Bean Burgers

Monkey Bread

Yield: 1 loaf, serving 6 to 8

Prep Time: 1 hour (active), 2 hours (inactive)

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, 2 tablespoons softened and 2 tablespoons melted
1 cup milk, warm (about 110 degrees F)
1/3 cup water, warm (about 110 degrees F)
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 package instant yeast
3¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
2 teaspoons salt

Brown Sugar Coating:
1 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk


1. Butter Bundt pan with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Set aside.

2. In a large measuring cup, mix together milk, water, melted butter, sugar and yeast. Mix flour and salt in standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn machine to low and slowly add milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until dough is shiny and smooth, 6 to 7 minutes. Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to form smooth, round ball. Coat large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Place dough in bowl and coat surface of dough with cooking spray. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a draft-free area until dough doubles in size, 50 to 60 minutes.

3. For the sugar coating: While the dough is rising, mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Place melted butter in second bowl. Set aside.

4. To form the bread: Gently remove the dough from the bowl, and pat into a rough 8-inch square. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut dough into 64 pieces.

5. Roll each dough piece into a ball. Working one at a time, dip the balls into the melted butter, allowing excess butter to drip back into the bowl. Roll in the brown sugar mixture, then layer balls in the Bundt pan, staggering seams where dough balls meet as you build layers.

6. Cover the Bundt pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in draft-free area until dough balls are puffy and have risen 1 to 2 inches from top of pan, 50 to 70 minutes.

7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unwrap the pan and bake until the top is deep brown and caramel begins to bubble around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a platter and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

8. For the glaze: While the bread cools, whisk the confectioners' sugar and milk in a small bowl until the lumps are gone. Using a whisk, drizzle the glaze over the monkey bread, letting it run over top and down the sides of the bread. Serve warm.

*Note: To make without a stand mixer: In step 2, mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the flour, then add the milk mixture to the well. Using a wooden spoon, stir until the dough becomes shaggy and is difficult to stir. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and begin to knead, incorporating the shaggy scraps back into the dough. Knead until dough is smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes. Shape into a taut ball and proceed as directed.

(Recipe adapted slightly from Cook's Illustrated)

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149 Responses to “Monkey Bread”

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  1. Annette on March 22, 2013 at 4:27 am

    Oh!!!!!!!! Thank you! I have been looking for a “from scratch” monkey bread recipe for months! I’m going to make two of these. One for myself, and one for my husband to take to work to share! (I often make them cakes and slices)


  2. Patti on April 1, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    This was uncomplicated and delicious – I just pinched the dough balls off the mass of dough in the bowl it rose in. I made it for an Easter breakfast at church and was really glad that I took a piece before it disappeared.


  3. Annette on April 20, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Made this last night! Perfect food! Oh, yum, this is THE BEST! Didn’t make it with the icing, as my guest isn’t a fan of icing, so I sprinkled it with icing sugar. Works just as well. Even though its a bit time consuming, I will make this again. And again.


  4. Andrea on May 9, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Hey, I bought active dry yeast and I was hoping it can be substituted in place of the instant yeast. Would you know how much and if using the water to activate it will effect the bread consistency?


    • Michelle on May 9th, 2013 at 6:35 pm

      Hi Andrea, Yes, you can use it interchangeably. Substitute the same amount of yeast. You’ll want to activate it in the warm milk; no need for extra water. You may notice that it takes a little longer to rise than the instant yeast would, so keep that in mind when you see the time estimates for rising in the recipe.


  5. Kathryn on June 26, 2013 at 12:28 am

    Can you replace the milk for buttermilk?


    • Michelle on June 27th, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      I think you could do that without a problem.


  6. jen on July 3, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    HI – I am making this for a morning breakfast. Can I leave the dough in the fridge overnight and bake in the morning so it is warm?


    • Michelle on July 5th, 2013 at 10:34 am

      Hi Jen, Yes, you can assemble, then refrigerate overnight and bake in the morning.


  7. Shalena on August 29, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Hello, first I want to say I loveeee your blog, whenever I’m looking for a new recipe to try after searching Google I check your blog to see if you have a recipe for what I’m looking for. I plan to make this tonight, but I wanted to know have you ever tried adding pecans or walnuts to the bread, like before adding the bread to the pan put the nuts? I think I will make it your way and then next time I make it add nuts in between each layer.


    • Michelle on August 29th, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      Hi Shalena, I have not made it with nuts, but that sounds delicious! I’m sure it would be good.


  8. Shalena on August 29, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Oh and another question do you think soy milk can be used in the recipe where it calls for milk?


    • Michelle on August 29th, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      That’s a good question. I’ve never used soy milk when baking with yeast, so I’m not sure how it would affect it, if at all.


      • Shalena on August 29th, 2013 at 7:25 pm

        Thanks for the fast reply, I googled it to find out. You can use soy milk witht yeast the only thing is, there may be a little difference in taste or texture. I’m using original soy milk so I believe it should be fine. I will let you know my results. Thanks for posting this recipe!


  9. Ann on October 31, 2013 at 4:26 am

    Thanks, it worked perfectly!


  10. Ann on October 31, 2013 at 4:26 am

    From the Aussie Downunder xxx


  11. Lisa on July 22, 2014 at 9:19 am

    This looks amazing! I do have a question. I have never in my life ever made any type of bread that requires yeast. Can I use Rhodes bread dough in place of making the dough from scratch?


    • Michelle on July 22nd, 2014 at 9:53 am

      Hi Lisa, While I haven’t done that myself, I know a lot of folks use frozen bread or the canned biscuits or bread, so I think it would turn out okay.


  12. John Krug on September 8, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Made this yesterday for my daughter and her suite-mates at college. A delicious result (so I am told, I wasn’t able to try it), however a couple of helpful hints:
    1. Go light on the coating of brown sugar and cinnamon. I ended up using two cups brown sugar/cinnamon mixture because I coated the first batch too heavily.
    2. I doubled the butter in the bundt pan (does anyone know where I can get a good bundt pan that doesn’t stick!
    3. As a result of the extra butter and sugar I did not do the powdered sugar glaze it seemed like over kill because the top of the bread had a thick layer of caramel.

    But looked beautiful and was demolished in seconds by eight cafeteria fed students!


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