Easy Monkey Bread is a stack of several small buttery dough balls rolled in cinnamon and sugar, baked to a golden delight, and topped with a sweet glaze. It’s a ridiculously delicious mass of gooey cinnamon rolls you pull apart with your fingers. And it’s super easy, just slap it all together any way you want in a bundt pan.
You know how much I love bread in all forms! This blog here has a long list of bread recipes that is on weekly rotation here at home.
And so I am so excited to share with you one of our favorite holiday and party bread (aside from French Toast Bake) – the Monkey Bread.
What makes the bread even more lovable is that you can make it easier by buying store-bought biscuit cans and just form the biscuits into balls sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.
However, if opening biscuit cans scare the life out of you, you can make the dough ahead. Once you knead the dough until smooth, coat it in vegetable oil, cover it with plastic wrap, and pop it in the fridge.
When you’re ready to bake it, just put it in a warm area and let it rise for several hours before you cut and shape them into little balls.
Easy Homemade Monkey Bread
Monkey bread has so many names; sticky bread, monkey puzzle bread, cinnamon bites, Hungarian coffee cake, pinch-me cake, and pluck-it cake.
It is a sweet dough bread comprised of soft-baked dough balls rolled in cinnamon sugar and usually topped with vanilla or caramel glaze. I love it because it’s so much fun to tear off the little tidbits of goodness. That and a cup of coffee, and I’m in heaven.
Why is it Called Monkey Bread?
This delicious bread wasn’t always called monkey bread. Way back in the 1880s, Hungarians brought this mouthwatering dish with them when they came to America. They called it arany galuska or golden dumplings. Some people called it Hungarian coffee cake.
Another kind of bread dipped in butter, but not cinnamon and sugar, is also called monkey bread. Some got confused and started calling this deliciousness monkey bread.
Of course, people loved the cinnamon and sugar version, so the name stuck, and the other monkey bread was all but forgotten.
It makes great finger food as those eating it pull the bread apart to take a piece of a delicious ball. Someone decided that plucking off pieces of this bread reminded him of how monkeys eat. Thus, the name.
Another story says that the bread comes out of the bundt pan looking like a barrel of monkeys. Who’s to say who’s right.
Anyway, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. So that you know, this recipe does not have monkeys in it. 😉
- Active Dry Yeast gives bread its rise and has a wonderful yeasty flavor that baking soda or powder doesn’t provide. You can use other types of yeast, like the rapid rise and regular bread yeast.
- Milk is not only a flavorful liquid than water, but it also helps bread brown to a more beautiful color.
- Butter, like milk, gives more flavor than ordinary oil, making bread softer and more delicious.
- Sugar sweetens bread and turns it into dessert. Yum!
- Salt is a pantry-staple flavor enhancer.
- Eggs are a binder that helps bread rise in the oven and stay risen.
- Flour is the main ingredient that makes bread what it is, deliciously bready.
- Light brown sugar adds sweetness and a hint of flavor to the ground cinnamon. You can add a teaspoon of molasses to a cup of white sugar for a super easy substitute.
- Cinnamon is the spice that makes this so nice. The smell of cinnamon bread baking is incredible.
- Confectioners Sugar dissolves easier for glazes and frosting. Who wants to feel grainy sugar that hasn’t melted?
- Heavy Cream or Milk makes the sugar dissolve into a wonderful glaze, making these incredible Monkey Bread balls so gooey and tasty.
- Vanilla Extract adds an exquisitely rich flavor to just about anything, even more so if your own homemade vanilla extract.
- Gluten-free Version – You can substitute the all-purpose flour for a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend that can be used in equal amounts.
- Dairy-free Version – Replace the milk with coconut milk or your favorite nut milk. No problem.
- Egg – You can replace each egg with a tablespoon of flaxseed meal in a tablespoon of warm water. See this blog post here on Egg Substitutes.
Make-Ahead & Storage Instructions
Making the Dough Ahead. Sometimes, I make the dough ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for two or three days. The cold in the fridge doesn’t stop it from fermenting and, after a couple of days, the wonderful yeastiness is even better. Warm the dough up to room temperature, and proceed with the instructions.
Room Temperature. Easy Homemade Monkey Bread doesn’t have the same preservatives that store-bought does. Even so, it should last at room temperature for a day or so.
Refrigerate. You can also keep it in the fridge for up to a week.
Freezer. If you wrap it up well and tight, it will last for a couple of months in the freezer.
Reheating. When you’re ready for a luscious snack, let it thaw at room temperature, wrap it in foil, and heat it in a 180℉/82℃ oven for about 15 minutes. You could warm it up in the microwave a few seconds at a time, but I usually end up with tough bread when I do that.
If you reheat monkey bread too quickly, the sugar can burn. Wrap it up in foil and heat it at a lower temperature, around 180-200℉/82-93℃. Or you can reheat it in a microwave in 15-second bursts until it’s the temperature you want.
Even though you usually see it in a bundt cake form, it is NOT necessary to use a bundt pan. You can use a cookie sheet, muffin pan, loaf pan, or whatever else you have available. The important things are that it fits in the pan with room to rise and cooks evenly.
Absolutely. I would try to make the balls small enough to fit three in a muffin well. The bake time will need to be reduced, too. You might want to start checking for doneness at around 20 minutes.
Is this a trick question? These babies go with anything. However, if you really want suggestions, I’m happy to oblige.
Ginger tea is warming to the soul and the perfect pair. I love to make this as a dessert for special occasions. You know the ones I’m talking about: the ones that you make turkey or ham and green bean and sweet potato casseroles.
More Easy Bread Recipes
- Samoan Coconut Bread Rolls – You will adore these gooey sweet coconut bread rolls if you love Monkey Bread. They’re not as sweet as cinnamon rolls, but they are an incredible side for dinner.
- Strawberry Banana Bread – Strawberries and bananas taste so good together. They make this drool-worthy bread the perfect breakfast or snack.
- Whole Wheat Bread – If you’re interested in something a little healthier, this is the one—the nutty delicious, whole wheat flavor in a loaf of bread.
- Pita Bread – Flatbread is so versatile. You can make tacos, gyros, or breakfast burritos with this super easy pita bread.
- Homemade Brioche – Buttery goodness in an egg- and butter-based bread is perfect for special occasions. The lightly sweetened bread is ideal for breakfast, too.
How to Make Homemade Monkey Bread from Scratch
Make the Bread
- Activate yeast – If using a stand mixer, use the dough hook. Start by combining water and yeast in the stand mixer bowl. Use a large bowl if making this by hand. Let it sit until dissolve for about 5 minutes. (Photos 1 & 2)
- Melt butter and sugar – Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe medium bowl, combine milk with the butter pieces, sugar, salt, and microwave for about a minute. Stir until everything is melted. Pour butter mixture into the large bowl or stand mixer.
- Thoroughly mix – the mixture should be lukewarm. If not, let it sit for a few minutes. Whisk in egg. (Photo 3)
- Mix the dough – Gradually add about 3 ½ cups of flour and continue mixing dough. If mixing by hand, remove dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 6-8 minutes. (Photo 4)
Let the Bread Rise
- Rest the dough – Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover loosely with a clean cloth and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled. Punch the dough down. Prepare a bundt pan by spraying every inch with baking spray or grease with softened butter. Set aside. (Photo 5 & 6)
- Shape the rolls – Remove dough from the bowl or mixer and place on aboard. Shape dough into a rough square. Using a knife, cut the dough into about 45-50 pieces. (Photos 7 & 8)
- Prepare Cinnamon Sugar by combining brown sugar and cinnamon coating. Then start rolling dough into a ball until all the pieces have been shaped into a ball. (Photo 9)
Off to the Oven
- Finish the monkey bread rolls – Next, dip the balls in melted butter, then quickly place them into the brown sugar mixture. Roll it around until covered in sugar. Place the balls in the prepared bundt pan, staggering the seams randomly to build layers. (Photos 10-12)
- Let it Rise Again – Cover the bundt with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen cloth. Let it rise in a warm place before baking – a crucial step. It might take about 45 minutes or more. It all depends on the temperature. During summer this rises faster, within 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake for 30- 35 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before carefully inverting onto a plate. (Photos 13 & 14)
For the Glaze
- While the bread cools down, make the glaze if desired it’s optional. Whisk together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the warm monkey bread. Serve warm.
Watch How To Make It
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- 2 tablespoon warm water
- 1 package (or 2 ¼ teaspoon) Active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm milk (at 105F -115F)
- 5 tablespoons butter , cut into pieces
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 3 ½ -3 /3/4 cup flour
- 1 cup (198 grams) light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter , melted
- 1 3/4 cup powdered or confectioners sugar
- 3 tablespoon heavy cream or milk for desired thickness
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- If using a stand mixer, use the the dough hook. Start by combining water and yeast in the stand mixer bowl. Use a large bowl , if making this by hand. Let it sit until dissolve for about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile in a microwave safe medium bowl, combine milk, with the butter pieces,sugar, salt and microwave for about a minute. Stir until everything is melted.
- Pour butter mixture into the large bowl or stand mixer. Thoroughly mix – mixture should be lukewarm. If not, let it sit for a few minutes. Whisk in egg.
- Gradually add about 3 ½ cups of flour and continue mixing dough.
- If mixing by hand, remove dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 6-8 minutes.
- Add in enough additional flour (if needed) to make soft dough. Err on the side of caution ; less flour, rather than more.
- Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover loosely with a clean cloth and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled. Punch the dough down.
- Prepare bundt pan by spraying every inch with baking spray or grease with softened butter. Set aside.
- Also prepare cinnamon sugar by combining brown sugar and cinnamon coating. Set aside.
- Remove dough from the bowl or mixer and place on a board.
- Shape dough into a rough square. Using a knife, cut the dough into about 45-50 pieces. Then start rolling dough into a ball , until all the pieces have been shaped into a ball.
- Next dip the balls in melted butter then quickly place into the brown sugar mixture. Roll it around until covered in sugar.
- Place the balls in the prepared bundt pan, staggering the seams to randomly to build layers.
- Cover the bundt with plastic wrap or clean kitchen cloth. Let it rise in a warm place before baking – a crucial step. It might take about 45 minutes or more . It all depends on the temperature – during summer this rises faster, within 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake for 30- 35 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before carefully inverting onto a plate.
- While the bread cools down, make the glaze if desired it’s optional.
- Whisk together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the warm monkey bread. Serve warm.
Tips & Notes:
- Only let the monkey bread rest in the bundt pan for a maximum of 5 minutes after baking, or else it’ll stick to the bottom of the pan.
- If the top pieces of the bread are getting too dark while baking, cover the top part loosely with tin foil.
- Add fruits or nuts, if desired. You can go for sliced bananas, blueberries, raspberries, or pecans.
- Make sure to grease the pan well (get all the little nitches), so you can get the bread out without tearing it up before digging in.
- If you’re not sure if the middle is done yet, you can use an instant-read thermometer. As soon as it reads 190℉/88℃, it’s done.
- I use traditional cinnamon in my recipe, but you can also use apple pie spices. I like to sneak a little ground cardamon in sometimes, too. Nuts and raisins would be a delicious addition.