A completely homemade monkey bread recipe – no canned biscuit dough here! Homemade dough is rolled into balls, dipped in melted butter and cinnamon sugar, then baked until bubbling and glazed to perfection. Perfect for dessert, any holiday breakfast, or weekend brunch.

Baked monkey bread with vanilla icing on parchment paper.

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? 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 into 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!

Overhead photo of monkey bread with bowl of pecans and pieces on plate.

Expert Tips

Some quick notes to ensure success!

  • Vegan Option: To make this monkey bread recipe dairy-free or vegan, substitute the butter and milk with plant-based alternatives. Make sure to use an unflavored, unsweetened variety of non-dairy milk. Soy and oat milks have the best consistency and very neutral flavors.
  • Mix by hand: While it’s easy to make with a stand mixer and dough hook, you can also prepare this dough by hand. See step #2 in the recipe for alternate instructions.
  • Remove Quickly! Do not allow the bread to cool in the pan for longer than 5 minutes; the sticky glaze will start to solidify and the bread may break when you try to turn it out.

Step-by-Step Instructions

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.

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.

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

Monkey bread dough in a rectangle, cut into small squares.

Roll each piece into a ball.

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

Balls of monkey bread dough dipped in melted butter and cinnamon and brown sugar.
Monkey bread dough in a Bundt pan before rising.

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

How to Make Ahead + Overnight Instructions

You can make the dough ahead of time and let it complete its first rise overnight in the refrigerator. Take it out the next day when you’re ready to form the dough balls and proceed with step #3. (It may take a little bit longer for the second rise.)

You can also assemble the whole thing and then cover and refrigerate. The second rise will complete overnight, and then you can just remove it from the refrigerator and bake in the morning.

Storage Tips

Monkey bread is definitely best served on the same day that it is baked, preferably fresh out of the oven!

Any leftovers should be stored, covered tightly with plastic wrap, at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Freezer Instructions

Wrap completely cooled monkey bread (either the whole thing or individual portions) in plastic wrap and then in foil, place in a ziptop freezer bag, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or, for smaller portions, at room temperature for an hour or so.

Hand pulling a piece of monkey bread off the loaf.

Flavor Variations

This is a phenomenal base recipe for monkey bread that you can use for countless other flavor combinations; here are some other sweet and savory ideas:

  • Apple: Create an apple pie or apple fritter flavor by sprinkling chopped apple in between layers of dough.
  • Pizza: Make my pepperoni pizza monkey bread or recreate using your favorite pizza toppings!
  • Orange: Add orange zest to the dough (and vanilla bean to amp up both flavors).
  • Taco: Swap the cinnamon-sugar for taco seasoning and add some shredded cheddar, then dip in salsa!
  • Garlic Parmesan: Swap the cinnamon-sugar for a mixture of Parmesan cheese and garlic powder.
  • Jalapeno Cheddar/Popper: Omit the cinnamon-sugar. Sprinkled chopped jalapenos, cooked chopped bacon, and shredded cheddar between the layers of dough.
  • Everything Bagel: Replace the cinnamon-sugar with everything bagel seasoning.
  • Lemon-Blueberry: Add lemon zest to the dough and sprinkle fresh blueberries between the layers of dough.
  • Stuffing: Prepare your favorite stuffing recipe and transfer to a Bundt pan to bake.
  • Hot Chocolate: Follow the directions in this hot cocoa monkey bread recipe!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it called monkey bread?

There doesn’t seem to be a definitive background, but 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.

Can this be made with canned biscuit dough?

While I LOVE the homemade version, yes if you are looking for a quick recipe or one without yeast, you can substitute two cans of biscuit dough for the homemade dough. Cut each biscuit into quarters and proceed with the recipe, skipping the second rise and going straight to baking.

Can this be made with frozen bread dough?

Yes. You’ll want to purchase frozen dinner rolls (you will use about 24 rolls). Thaw according to the package directions.

Cut the rolls in half or quarter them, depending on the size. Proceed with the recipe as written (the second rise may only take 30 minutes or so).

Can this be made with crescent rolls?

Yes! To replicate this recipe, use two cans of crescent rolls. Once you unroll the crescent rolls, leave the dough in a log and cut into 8 slices. Quarter the slices and proceed with the recipe. Skip the 2nd rise and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until deep golden brown.

This part-bread, part-cinnamon roll, part-sticky bun breakfast pastry is an absolutely perfect breakfast option for overnight guests or holiday mornings.

I can’t think of a better follow-up to Christmas morning present opening or Easter morning basket hunting than digging into this sweet breakfast treat.

More Decadent Breakfast Pastries

Ball of cooked monkey bread bitten into so you can see the inside.

If you make this recipe and love it, I would so appreciate it if you would take a moment to leave a rating below. Thank you so much!

Monkey Bread Recipe (From Scratch)

A completely homemade monkey bread recipe – no canned biscuit dough here! Perfect for any holiday breakfast or weekend brunch.
4.46 (51 ratings)

Ingredients

For Greasing the Pan

  • 2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, softened

For the Dough

  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk, warm (about 110 degrees F)
  • cup (80 ml) water, warm (about 110 degrees F)
  • ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • teaspoons instant yeast
  • cups (390 g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
  • 2 teaspoons salt

For the Brown Sugar Coating

  • 1 cup (198 g) light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, melted

For the Glaze

  • 1 cup (113 g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) milk

Instructions 

  • Prepare the Pan: Grease a standard 12-cup Bundt pan with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Set aside.
  • Make the Dough: In a large measuring cup, mix together milk, water, sugar, melted butter, 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. (To Make By Hand: Whisk together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk mixture. Use a wooden spoon to stir together until a shaggy dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is soft and satiny.) 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.
  • Prepare 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.
  • Form the Bread: Gently remove the dough from the bowl, and pat into a rough 8-inch square. Using a bench scraper, knife, or pizza slicer to cut dough into 64 pieces.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bake the Monkey Bread: 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.
  • Make the Glaze: While the bread cools, whisk the powdered 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.

Notes

  • Vegan Option: To make this monkey bread recipe dairy-free or vegan, substitute the butter and milk with plant-based alternatives. Make sure to use an unflavored, unsweetened variety of non-dairy milk. Soy and oat milks have the best consistency and very neutral flavors.
  • Dough Alternatives: See the post above for instructions on using canned biscuit dough, frozen bread dough, and crescent dough.
  • Flavor Variations: See the post above for 10 different modification ideas!
  • Mix by hand: While it’s easy to make with a stand mixer and dough hook, you can also prepare this dough by hand. See step #2 in the recipe for alternate instructions.
  • Remove Quickly! Do not allow the bread to cool in the pan for longer than 5 minutes; the sticky glaze will start to solidify and the bread may break when you try to turn it out.
  • Storage: Monkey bread is definitely best served on the same day that it is baked, preferably fresh out of the oven! Any leftovers should be stored, covered tightly with plastic wrap, at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Make-Ahead/Overnight Instructions: You can make the dough ahead of time and let it complete its first rise overnight in the refrigerator. Take it out the next day when you’re ready to form the dough balls and proceed with step #3. It may take a little bit longer for the second rise. You could also assemble the whole thing and then cover and refrigerate. The second rise will complete overnight, and then you can just remove it from the refrigerator and bake in the morning.
  • Freezer Instructions: Wrap completely cooled monkey bread (either the whole thing or individual portions) in plastic wrap and then in foil, place in a ziptop freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or, for smaller portions, at room temperature for an hour or so.
Nutritional values are based on one serving
Calories: 557kcal, Carbohydrates: 90g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Cholesterol: 49mg, Sodium: 610mg, Potassium: 168mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 49g, Vitamin A: 579IU, Calcium: 78mg, Iron: 3mg

Did you make this recipe?

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Photography by Dee Frances.