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Classic Monkey Bread

Classic Monkey Bread

I have always assumed that monkey bread gets its name from the fact that you need to pull it apart with your fingers to eat it, getting all sticky from cinnamon and caramel as you indulge in bite after bite of warm, sweet bread. The bread is nothing more than a big pile of dough balls that have been dunked in butter and sugar before baking. If you like gooey, sweet cinnamon rolls and warm, sugary donuts, you will love monkey bread.

There are a lot of recipes for monkey bread that use refrigerated biscuit dough. This bread is made entirely from scratch, starting with a simple, yeasted bread dough. The dough only has a little bit of butter and sugar in it to give it some flavor; the vast majority of the flavor of monkey bread comes from the butter, cinnamon and sugar  coating that the dough is dipped into. I did give in and add a tiny bit of vanilla to the dough – although you could certainly leave it out – for a little bit more flavor.

It’s helpful if you have an assistant (or child) for making this recipe, as your fingers tend to get a bit messy when working with the dough. The balls are formed by hand, loosely rolled from small pieces of dough. Each one needs to be dipped in butter and rolled in sugar before it goes into the bundt pan for baking. The process doesn’t take too long and certainly isn’t difficult, but it’s nice to have two sets of hands moving things along (plus, the dough is easier to handle if your fingers aren’t covered in butter and sugar).

Monkey bread can really be made in any size or shape of pan, but it is most often found in a ring shape, like that of a bundt or kugelhopf pan. This large ring makes for a great presentation, and it also makes the hands-on food easily accessible to a big group – making it perfect for a family brunch or other get together.

Monkey Bread, eaten

Classic Monkey Bread
1/4 cup water, warm (100-110F)
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (.25-oz)
3 – 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp butter, melted
3/4 cup milk, warm (100-110F)

 2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 cup butter, melted

Lightly grease a standard 10-in bundt pan with vegetable oil. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (all mixing can be done by hand, as well), combine warm water and yeast. Let stand for 2 minutes, until yeast is slightly foamy.
Stir in 1 cup of the flour, along with the salt, sugar, vanilla, egg, 2 tbsp melted butter and warm milk. Mix well, until dough is fairly smooth. Put the dough hook attachment onto your mixer and gradually add in the remaining flour, mixing at medium speed until dough comes easily away from the sides of the bowl. Knead for 3-4 minutes on medium speed. Remove dough hook and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest for 30 minutes.

Monkey Bread, unrisen

In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar and spices. Place melted butter in a nearby bowl and get a fork out, as well.
Turn dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and gently deflate so that dough is relatively flat (maybe 1/2-3/4 inch thick) Using a knife or a bench scraper, cut off small pieces of dough to form 1/2 to 1-inch balls (I prefer slightly smaller ones, personally). As you cut each piece of dough, roll it into a ball in the palms of your hands. Dunk each ball in butter, use the fork to remove it and transfer it to the sugar mixture to be thoroughly coated. Place all coated dough balls into prepared bundt pan.
Once all balls have been coated and places in the pan, cover the pan lightly with plastic wrap and let bread rise for 60 minutes, until almost doubled in size.

Monkey Bread, risen

Preheat the oven to 350F while the bread rises.
Bake for 30-35 minutes. Bread will spring back when lightly pressed.
Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a serving platter. Eat immediately (or reheat leftovers), as the bread is best served warm and gooey.

Serves 10 (or 4-5 people with big sweet tooths!)

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78 Comments
  • Allison
    December 28, 2011

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I was very glad to find a homemade dough versus buying Pillsburry stuff!
    Quick suggestion to those who don’t know, I would say put your yeast, water and sugar in a bowl and set aside. That step is the most crucial. If I didn’t know that, I’d probably slop all my ingredients together and not get my dough to rise properly.
    I also feel allspice isn’t needed, I didn’t have any and tasted wonderful. I do like that adding of Vanilla to the dough made it taste delicious. Thank you for posting. My husband gobbled 6 balls up when they came out of the oven. Must mean it’s a winner.

  • katrina
    January 2, 2012

    I think I’m going to try makind this with chopped pecans and maraschino cherries! YUM YUM YUM!!

  • Amanda
    January 29, 2012

    Just made this tonight. Turned out great! I baked it for 30 mins, but should have taken it out at 28..it was a tad dry/overbaked. As others stated, I also had extra butter and sugar. will use less next time as not to waste it.

  • Betharoo
    February 29, 2012

    It is in the oven right now! I was pretty upset I had one whole cup of the brown sugar mix and half of the butter left over. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out so I am making another batch tomorrow. Wish I had read the comments first!!

    If you are reading this, just use 1/4 cup butter and half the ingredients of the brown sugar mix to roll the balls in.

  • BiH
    April 23, 2012

    I love this recipe, I made it tonight and it turned out great!! I made the dough as you said except I didn’t have fresh yeast so I just put dry yeast in flour and mixed the other ingredients, the pieces I just rolled together in a bowl of white sugar and cinnamon and the rest of mixture melted with the butter and poured that over put together pieces. I also should have taken it out at maybe 27 min or so because at 33-4 it was a bit dry on top, so watch it closely when it’s almost baked!

  • habogirl
    May 10, 2012

    I tried making this today and it came out fantastic! Thanks for putting this recipe up!

  • Jessica Garcia
    July 14, 2012

    Im fourteen years old and whenever im home alone
    im always looking for fun stuff to bake this monkey bread is awesome, and my new favorite baked good! I ferreals recommend this to anyone anytime! 🙂 tastes AWESOME!!!!!

  • Sunny
    August 9, 2012

    This recipe is amazing. It turned out perfect

  • Jess
    August 25, 2012

    This recipe is great unfortunately the oven in my new townhouse works too well! Next time I will probably only cook it for 25 min or at a slightly lower temp! Thanks

  • schlegal1
    August 28, 2012

    This recipe is flawless. I made monkey bread for the first time from this recipe and it was delicious.

    I will not, however, make it again. For me, it is more trouble than it is worth. I think the point of monkey bread is for non-bakers to use refrigerated dough so it seems like they “baked.” The time-consuming rolling of dough balls is annoying and the end result is no more tasty than a batch of cold-rise cinnamon rolls, which take about 1/10 the effort.

    But if your family loves monkey bread and you don’t like to use processed ingredients, this is the recipe for you!

  • Maria
    September 17, 2012

    This recipe is great, I also added a vanilla cinnamon glaze on top it and it tasted wonderful.

  • Shawty Bhadd
    December 4, 2012

    This recipe is great I love it

  • Sandra Mort
    December 11, 2012

    Seems like any yeast dough will work, too. I made some no knead chocolate chocolate chip bread dough recently and it worked very well! I’ve also made it with no knead pumpkin bread and included a bunch of walnuts. My mother in law took the leftovers and made bread pudding with it. It’s a no lose concept!

  • Sarah
    December 17, 2012

    This is a great recipe and worth the work! I have made it a handful of times and it is always a crowd pleaser. Everyone enjoys it and it isn’t too much work. I use my breadmaker to mix/raise the dough. When it comes out I cut it into pieces, roll, throw in the pan, let it rise, bake and watch people devour this delicious treat. Thank you, this is a keeper!

  • Ellen
    December 24, 2012

    I also put some whole wheat flour….so it feels like it is a little good for you!! 🙂

  • Susan B
    January 10, 2013

    Five stars! My kids and I had such a great time making this. The dough is the perfect texture. It is not too light and not too heavy. My only regret is that I only made one— It was devoured it in about 15 minutes— and everyone wanted more! Thanks for posting the recipe! It is a keeper!

  • Meribah
    January 17, 2013

    Thanks for this recipe! We have always eaten a store-bought brand that my husband loves, but I am cutting out all GMOs from out diet and decided to start making this from scratch!

    I cut the sugar from the dough completely and used honey instead, used whole wheat white flour, cut the sauce’s brown sugar in half and added a little honey to it and it turned out delicious!! Also, we prefer to pour the sauce on the top after baking so it is really gooey (cutting out half the sugar and adding honey made it more gooey and it was yummy)!

  • C
    February 15, 2013

    I messed up a lot on this recipe and it still turned out really good. It almost made the monkey bread taste better than it already did knowing that I made it from scratch. I love this recipe

  • Iniek
    May 4, 2013

    Is it possible to add metric amounts to the recipe? I googled what for example a cup amounts to, but the results arent’t unequivocal so I had to guess a lot. Thanks!

  • Enass
    November 23, 2013

    i tried that and it turned out great, thanks! only had no brown sugar so i used white sugar instead, i also topped it with toffy (got d idea frm a cooking program on tv) :))) thnx again

  • George glass
    February 10, 2014

    Snowy day in De. Monkey bread and snow? Can’t beat it.

  • Janet Hanson
    March 1, 2015

    I made this for a church event and it was very good. Starting with a real yeast dough is well worth it and I made my balls pretty small, which seemed to be appreciated by many. TASTY!

  • Jasmine
    October 31, 2015

    I’m absolutely in LOVE with you right now. Honestly I’m thirteen years old and I bake everything I make from scratch an this ranks in my top 5 recipes. I actually put a cheesy spin on it. (Not metaphorically, but in the recipe 🙂 ) I took a piece of dough an flat end it am put a little square of cream cheese inside, then I pinched the sides together and made a ball so that the cream cheese was inside and then rolled it in a garlic buyer sauce I made then topped it off with feta, Monterey Jack, and cheddar cheese (shredded) then left it for an hour baked it, and out came cheesy ooey gooey perfection better than cheesy bread it didn’t last 20 minutes I swear I baked it at 10.00 at night and my dad was still up so I have him a piece and then my mom smelled the cheesiness (she a savory tooth) and down she runs like a kid on Christmas morning and bada bing bada boom! Gone I want to thank u for the delicious recipe!!

    -yours truly!!!

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