This easy monkey bread recipe is moist, rich, and decadent. It combines a sweet yeasted pull-apart dough with a cinnamon caramel sauce and vanilla icing. It uses simple ingredients and takes minutes to make.
If you’re unfamiliar, Monkey bread is an American pastry often served for breakfast or on special occasions. It’s made up of baked dough balls covered in a cinnamon–sugar coating and thick icing. Once baked, the cinnamon coating turns into an ooey-gooey caramel sauce.
Essentially, it’s like cinnamon roll bites but so much more delicious!
Why you’ll love this Monkey bread recipe
Even though this recipe takes a bit of time (like waiting for the dough to rise), I assure you it is SO easy to make.
- It’s fun. Adults and kids alike will love this pull-apart bread, plus it’s got the perfect balance of sweetness and cinnamon spice flavor that everyone is guaranteed to love.
- It’s made with basic ingredients. Like Concha, for how fancy it looks, it’s surprisingly simple to make. You only need common breadmaking ingredients, a little cinnamon, and sugar!
- They are extra fluffy. Just like chocolate babka, the yeast in the dough makes for a naturally fluffy, self-risen dough.
- You don’t need fancy gadgets. All the more reason to make this dough on a whim!
What I love about this recipe is getting to revisit it over a few days. Every time I pop in the kitchen, I snag a bite until it’s gone. It tastes as great on the first day as on the second and third. Here is everything you’ll need:
- Milk. Any dairy or nondairy milk will work. We’ll be using it to wake up the yeast, so it will need to be lukewarm, around 110°F.
- Yeast. Instant yeast to double the size of the dough.
- Sugar. White sugar or a sugar substitute.
- Egg. Makes for a richly textured dough.
- Flour. All-purpose works best.
- Butter. Preferably unsalted so you can better control the amount of salt in the monkey bread.
- Salt. Just a dash, enough to balance out the bread.
- Butter. Unsalted is best.
- Sugar. Both brown sugar and white sugar are used to add sweetness and a nice molasses flavor.
- Cinnamon. For the irreplaceable cinnamon-sugar coating.
- Vanilla extract. Gives the bread a subtle vanilla flavor.
- Powdered sugar. Also known as confectioner’s sugar. This will be the main component of the sugar glaze.
- Milk. Again, any dairy or nondairy milk will work.
- Vanilla extract. To impart a subtle vanilla flavor to the icing.
How to make monkey bread
Making this easy monkey bread recipe may have a few steps, but it is so hands-off!
Step 1- Activate the yeast
Prepare the dough by whisking the warm milk, yeast, and sugar in a bowl. Cover the bowl and set it aside for 5 minutes to help wake up the yeast.
Step 2- Make the dough
Melt the butter and add it to the yeast mixture, followed by the egg. Whisk everything until smooth. Then, fold in the flour and salt.
Stir everything until the dough comes together, then knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Alternatively, add the dough to a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Once you have a smooth dough, cover it with plastic foil and let it rise for 1 ½- 2 hours or until the dough doubles in size.
Step 3- Make the coating
Once the time is up, punch down the dough and cut it into 40-42 equal-sized pieces. Shape each piece into a small ball.
Step 4- Assemble the monkey bread
To make the coating, grab a bowl and combine the sugar and cinnamon. Then, in a deep bowl, add half of the melted butter.
Generously grease a bundt pan with some butter before building your monkey bread. When you’re ready to build the bread, dip the dough balls into the butter, then coat them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Arrange the coated dough balls in the bundt pan.
Step 5- Let the bread rise again
To make the icing, combine the remaining butter with brown sugar and vanilla extract. Drizzle the brown sugar mixture over the dough and let it rise for 30 minutes. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Step 6- Bake the monkey bread
Bake the monkey bread for 35-40 minutes. Then, let the bread cool for 10 minutes before inverting it onto a plate.
Step 7- Make the icing and serve
Before serving, prepare the icing by whisking the powdered sugar with the milk and vanilla extract. Then, drizzle the icing over the bread, slice, and serve.
- Invert the cake after 10 minutes. If you wait longer, the caramel will harden and not slip out of the bundt pan.
- Let the bread rest before slicing. Just for a few minutes, the bread firms up before being sliced.
- Use parchment paper. Lining the bundt pan with parchment paper will make removing the monkey bread from the pan easier.
- Use room temperature ingredients. Using room temperature ingredients will help the dough to rise more quickly and evenly.
Dietary swaps and substitutions
We love making this monkey bread recipe for all our friends and family and even though some have some dietary restrictions, they can still enjoy it with a few tweaks.
- Vegan monkey bread. Use nondairy milk and vegan butter. For the eggs, swap them out for an egg substitute (we like flax eggs).
- Make it sugar free. Replace the sugar in the dough, the topping, and the icing with a sugar substitute.
- Make it gluten free. If you use gluten-free flour then make sure to add xanthan gum otherwise, it won’t have a good texture.
To store: Leftover monkey bread can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days. If you want it to last longer, refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
To freeze: Place slices of the monkey bread in a Ziplock bag and store it in the freezer for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Recommended tools to make this recipe
- Bundt pan. This is my go-to, which seamlessly cooks bundt cakes and this gorgeous monkey bread.
- Parchment paper. To line the pan for easy removal.
- Stand mixer. As much as I love making dough by hand, using the mixer is so much better.
If you don’t have a bundt pan, then fear not! You can easily make monkey bread in a cake pan, bread pan, cookie sheet, or Dutch oven.
Monkey bread is best served warm, straight out of the oven. You can pull the bread apart into individual pieces and serve them in bowls on their own or with a drizzle of maple syrup.
Some common toppings for monkey bread include chopped nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, or a drizzle of icing made from powdered sugar and milk. You can also experiment with different flavor combinations by adding ginger, nutmeg, or even holiday spices to the batter (like gingerbread or apple pie).
More sweet bread recipes to try
Easy Monkey Bread Recipe
For the coating
- Whisk the warm milk, yeast, and sugar in a bowl. Cover the bowl and set aside for 5 minutes.
- Melt the butter and add to the yeast along with an egg. Whisk until smooth.
- Fold in flour and salt. Stir until the dough comes together. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Alternatively, just add it all to the stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.
- Cover the dough with plastic foil and let it rise for one hour or until doubled in size.
- Punch down the dough and cut it into 40-42 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a small ball.
- Make the coating. In a bowl, combine the sugar with cinnamon. In a deep bowl, add half the melted butter. Generously grease the bundt pan with some butter.
- Dip the dough balls into the butter, then coat them with the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Arrange the coated dough into the bundt pan.
- Combine the remaining butter with brown sugar and vanilla extract. Drizzle the brown sugar mixture over the dough and let it rise for another 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
- Bake the bread in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes.
- Cool the bread for 10 minutes before inverting it onto the plate. While the bread is cooling, prepare the icing by whisking together the confectioners' sugar with the milk and vanilla extract.
- Drizzle the icing over the bread and serve immediately.
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