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It’s surprisingly easy to make homemade cheese bread. This soft buttery yeasted bread is twisted up with cheddar cheese, but you can use any cheese variety you love. Bake the bread in a loaf pan, then slice it to reveal the 2 cups of swirled cheese inside. For a sweet version, try our cinnamon crunch bread.

This recipe is brought to you in partnership with Red Star Yeast.

homemade cheese bread

The inspiration behind this recipe comes from a local bakery, where I’ve picked up DOZENS of cheese bread loaves. Each of us love it, my almost 2 year old being the biggest fan. ♥

Cheese and bread. It’s obviously the greatest loaf of all time.

So I decided to make it myself. Brace yourself for impact!

cheese bread in loaf pan

What is Cheese Bread?

Let’s back up. This cheese bread is homemade bread swirled with real cheese. It’s a simple yeasted dough that I adapted from my sweeter homemade cinnamon swirl bread and my basic sandwich bread. Each slice is extra soft with a chewy crust and ribbons of melted cheese throughout. For extra flavor, brush the top of the unbaked bread with garlic herb butter. The cheese on top crisps up, while the garlic butter infuses down into the bread.

I have 3 loaves in the freezer right now. Things would become dangerous if there wasn’t a constant stash of cheese bread in our house.

Video Tutorial: Cheese Bread

Let’s walk through each step.

slices of cheese bread

Ingredients in Cheese Bread

  1. Buttermilk: Liquid activates the yeast. For soft, flavorful, and chewy cheese bread, use a combination of buttermilk and water. Nondairy, whole, or low fat milks work too, but buttermilk produces phenomenal flavor and texture.
  2. Water: Although you could use all milk as the liquid in this dough, I preferred a mix of water and buttermilk. All milk made this taste more like an overly soft dessert bread.
  3. Yeast: You can use active dry yeast or instant yeast. If using active dry yeast, the rise times will be a little longer. I recommend Platinum Yeast from Red Star, which is an instant yeast that is blended with natural dough improvers.
  4. Sugar: Sugar feeds the yeast, increases its activity, and tenderizes the dough.
  5. Melted Butter: Butter promises a soft and flavorful bread. Use melted butter. I found that room temperature butter produced a cakey-er and less flavorful end product.
  6. Egg: 1 egg provides structure and flavor.
  7. Salt: Bread would be seriously lacking flavor without salt!
  8. Garlic Powder: Garlic powder adds incredible flavor to the dough AND to the topping. If using fresh garlic, use 1 finely minced clove in the dough and 1 teaspoon minced garlic in the topping.
  9. Bread Flour: Higher protein flour like bread flour is best for this bread recipe because of its strong gluten formation and high rise. All-purpose flour will yield a flimsy bread.
  10. Cheddar Cheese: I recommend cheddar cheese, but you can use another harder cheese such as pepper jack, gouda, or colby cheese. Avoid very soft cheeses. For best taste and texture, shred the cheese off the block yourself with a cheese grater.

Did You Know?

The crustier and chewier the bread, the less fat in the dough– aka a lean dough. Chewy focaccia and my artisan bread are made from lean dough. The softer and richer the bread, the more fat in the dough– aka a rich dough. Monkey bread and cinnamon rolls are made from rich dough. This homemade cheese bread is somewhere in between. It’s chewy, super soft in the center, and a little crisp on top.

After the dough comes together, let it rise for about 1 and 1/2 – 2 hours. After that, punch it down and begin assembling the cheese bread.

Red star yeast platinum packets

Baking with Yeast Guide

Reference this Baking with Yeast Guide whenever you work with baker’s yeast. I include practical answers to all of your common yeast questions.

2 cheese bread dough photos in a glass bowl before rising and after rising

How to Shape & Assemble Cheese Bread

Remember Nutella babka and cinnamon crunch bread? We’re doing the same thing here. Pictures and explanations can only do so much, so make sure you watch the video tutorial above before assembling.

  1. Punch down the risen dough. Roll out into a 9×15 inch rectangle.
  2. Sprinkle cheese all over the top.
  3. Tightly roll the dough into a 15-inch log. Place the log on its seam.
  4. Using a sharp knife, cut the log in half lengthwise.
  5. Criss-cross one half, cut side down, on top of the other half– forming an X. Tightly twist the two together.
  6. Pinch the outer edges to seal as best you can.

By the way, there’s 2 cups of cheese stuffed inside this bread. 🙂

collage of 4 cheese bread dough step photos

After it’s shaped, loosely cover the bread and let it rest for about 30 minutes. During this time, preheat the oven. Right before baking, brush the shaped dough with melted butter, garlic powder, and chopped parsley. Chopped basil would be excellent, too!

cheese bread dough in loaf pan
cheese loaf bread on cooling rack

There is no sight more beautiful. No smell more heavenly. No taste more paralleled!

The best part, besides that first cheesy bite, is slicing into the loaf to reveal all those swirls of real melted cheese. Like I said, this is obviously the greatest loaf of all time.

sliced cheese bread

More Easy Homemade Bread Recipes

See Your Homemade Cheese Bread!

Many readers tried this recipe as part of a baking challenge! Feel free to email or share your recipe photos with us on social media. 🙂

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sliced cheese bread

Homemade Cheese Bread – Extra Soft

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 1 loaf 1x
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

You only need a handful of basic ingredients to make homemade cheese bread. This soft buttery yeasted bread is twisted up with cheddar cheese, but you can use any cheese variety you love. Bake the bread in a loaf pan, then slice it to reveal the 2 cups of swirled cheese inside. See recipe notes for make ahead and freezing instructions.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, warmed to about 110°F
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) water, warmed to about 110°F
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons Platinum Yeast from Red Star (standard packet)
  • 2 Tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons (72g) unsalted butter, melted + slightly cooled
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 cups (390g) bread flour (spoon & leveled)*
  • 2 cups (250g; 8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese (see note)

Topping

  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley (or your favorite dried or fresh herb)*
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Prepare the dough: Whisk the warm buttermilk, warm water, yeast, and sugar together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or paddle attachment. Cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the butter, egg, salt, garlic powder, and 1 cup flour. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then add the remaining flour. Beat on low speed until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 2 minutes. *If you do not own a mixer, you can mix this dough with a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula. It will take a bit of arm muscle!*
  3. Knead the dough: Keep the dough in the mixer and beat on low speed for an additional 2 minutes or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 2 minutes. (See video tutorial above if you need a visual of kneading dough by hand.)
  4. 1st Rise: Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a relatively warm environment for 1.5-2 hours or until double in size. (I always let it rise on the counter. Takes about 2 hours. For a tiny reduction in rise time, see my answer to Where Should Dough Rise? in my Baking with Yeast Guide.)
  5. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  6. Shape the bread: Punch down the dough to release the air. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and with a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 9×15 inch rectangle (approximately). Sprinkle cheese all over the top, leaving a 1/2 inch border uncovered.
  7. Watch the video above to see exactly how I do this step. Tightly roll the dough into a 15-inch log. Place the log on its seam. Using a sharp knife, cut the log in half lengthwise. I find a serrated knife works best. Criss-cross one half, cut side down, on top of the other half– forming an X. Tightly twist the two together. Pinch the outer edges to seal as best you can. If you have any leftover cheese, cut a few small squares and tuck into the dough as shown in the video above. This is optional and simply for extra cheesy pockets! Place in prepared loaf pan and cover with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. (This step can get a little messy.)
  8. Allow the covered loaf to rest for 30 minutes. It will slightly rise during this time.
  9. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any cheese or butter that may drip down. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
  10. Topping: Whisk the melted butter, herbs, and garlic powder together. Drizzle or brush on top of dough.
  11. Bake: Bake until golden brown and, when gently tapped, the top of the loaf sounds hollow, about 45-55 minutes. If you find the top of the loaf is browning too quickly as it bakes, tent with aluminum foil. (I usually place foil on top after about 25 minutes.) Remove bread the oven and place on a wire rack. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove from the pan and cool loaf on the wire rack.
  12. Slice and serve. Cover and store leftovers at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Leftover slices taste delicious when warmed in the microwave for 10 seconds.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions – Overnight: Prepare the dough through step 3. Place into a greased bowl as directed in step 4. Cover the dough tightly and place in the refrigerator for up to 15 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and allow the dough to fully rise for 1-2 more hours. Continue with step 5. I don’t recommend shaping the bread the night before as it will puff up too much overnight.
  2. Make Ahead Instructions – Freezing: Baked bread freezes wonderfully. Wrap the cooled loaf in plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw wrapped bread overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature, then warm to your liking. You can also freeze the bread dough. After punching down the dough in step 6, wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then punch the dough down again to release any air bubbles. Continue with the rest of step 6.
  3. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer, Box Grater, Rolling Pin, Loaf Pan, Pastry Brush, Cooling Rack
  4. Buttermilk: Buttermilk provides the softest texture and unbeatable flavor. In a pinch, you can use whole milk instead. Lower fat or nondairy milks work in a pinch, but the bread won’t taste as moist or rich. Here are other recipes using buttermilk if you purchase a carton and need to use it up.
  5. Yeast: Platinum Yeast from Red Star is an instant yeast. You can use Red Star Yeast active dry yeast instead. Rise times will be slightly longer using active dry yeast. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.
  6. Bread Flour: Higher protein flour like bread flour is best for this bread recipe because of its strong gluten formation and high rise. All-purpose flour will yield a flimsy bread.
  7. Cheese: I recommend cheddar cheese in this recipe, but you can use another relatively harder cheese such as pepper jack, gouda, or colby cheese. Avoid very soft cheeses. For best taste and texture, shred cheese off the block yourself with a cheese grater. Pre-shredded cheese is drier than freshly shredded. If you have extra cheese, cut a few small squares to stuff inside the twisted bread, as noted in step 7.
  8. Herbs in Topping: Use your favorite herb in the topping. If using dried, reduce to 1/2 teaspoon.

Keywords: cheese, bread, yeast

slices of cheese bread on a blue plate

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Love this bread! Came out great! I added jalapeños and it was perfect!

  2. This bread is spectacular. I have made several loaves now, and each one was perfection. It is so light and flaky that is tastes like a croissant. With cheese. Which is a pretty much unbeatable combination, IMO. I am always so impressed with myself when I taste it – LOL!! I intended to freeze my last loaf to have on hand for an emergency dinner side or contribution to a potluck, but as soon as I smelled it I knew it would never make it into the deep freeze. Thanks for making it so easy for me to appear to be an exceptional baker, Sally!

  3. I’ve made this so many times and I always love it! I got to thinking….have you ever done this bread base but with the cinnamon sugar filling instead of cheese? I know you have the cinnamon swirl bread but was just curious about this base with the swirl. Could be amazing also!

    1. Hi Taylor, you can roll up some softened butter/cinnamon/sugar in this bread instead of cheese! (we recommend the filling used in our cinnamon swirl bread.)

  4. I’m new at making bread. Because your instructions were so detailed, I was able to make this. It came out so beautiful and delicious! I couldn’t believe I made that. I was so proud of myself. And everyone loved it! It didn’t last long!
    Thanks so much for the recipe and for giving such detailed instructions!

  5. Excellent bread. I bet I could braid it better the second time. Would it work if I lined the pan with parchment? It was just a bit difficult to release the cheesy bits on the pan.

    1. I can’t answer for the author, but I ALWAYS use parchment paper when baking bread. Cake too.
      With cake I cut out a perfect circle to fit in the bottom of the pan by tracing the pan on parchment paper and then cutting just inside the pencil lines. I grease both the pan and the paper. With bread I just lie it in the bread pan because bread doesn’t have to be perfectly shaped like a cake does. It can be crinkled. Of course you can make the parchment neat in the loaf pan too by cutting a long strip the width of the length and then the width of the width and lying them crosswise going up the insides of the pan.

  6. I am updating my previous review. One day after making this,the flavors melded together with a much more satisfying flavor. The garlic was less pronounced,allowing the cheddar to come out more. It was soft,light,and tasty. It did make a beautiful loaf,even though I doubted it would during assembling it.

  7. I haven’t made it yet, but am going to. Just one question, instead of braiding the dough, could I simply just form it into a loaf (without braiding) and bake it as usual?

  8. This is my first time baking cheese bread. And it turns out fluffy and light, just like eating a croissant! Thanks to your detailed instructions and recipe, not forgetting the video guide. I am going to finish the whole loaf by myself!

  9. This bread is fabulous and quite addicting! I find myself making it all the time, especially when friends come over or family stays, or just when I want something super savory and delicious. The crossing the cut dough gets a bit messy, but I end up scooping up all the cheese that fell out and tuck it back in. I used plain yogurt since I didn’t have buttermilk for the 1st go, fresh oregano and basil since didn’t have parsley , and fresh garlic with a pinch of garlic powder in the butter topping, and it was so delicious! Thank you so much for sharing this amazing recipe! It’s a favorite!

  10. Great recipe! I should have watched the video because I missed the part on where you twisted the bread. I divided my dough into four layers, sandwiched them and twisted them into the loaf pan. I didn’t get the beautiful semi-braided crack like you did, but instead got a smooth-ish top which I brushed with fresh garlic, a whole egg wash, parmesan cheese, dried herbs and a pinch of dried chillies. I can’t wait to make this recipe again, I think it would work very well as a pull-apart bread!

    Btw quick question – I’ve been making different recipes of your bread, including this and the soft multigrain bread, but it seems like my breads turned out a little cakey–is this normal? I used a local flour with 14.5% gluten, the packaging says it’s for making bread and noodles. Do brands matter? I’m not familiar with imported brands (and since I’m “overseas,” American brands would be imported to me), though I have used Japanese Komachi flour in the past–also 14.5% gluten.

    I used Saf Instant yeast–I have never seen Red Star yeast in bakers’ groceries in my country, and but apparently it is available on the online marketplace as “winemaker’s yeast.”

    1. Hi Caro, bread flour in the US has about 13% gluten. So glad you’re enjoying our bread recipes!

  11. Love the bread! Great recipe! I make bread 1-2xs a week, and this is a good recipe for all levels of experience. One thing I do different is I add the cheese and knead it in after 1st rising, then split into 2 loaf pans for 2nd rising then bake as directed. Comes out perfect and so delicious! Cheesy all the way through! Thank you for sharing…many family and friends thank you too!

  12. Hi Sally, love your recipes therefore I’m asking if you have a bread machine recipe for this bread, some days I just need a ‘quick’ version… lol

    1. Hi Michele, We don’t own a bread machine and haven’t tried it ourselves, but other readers have reported success doing so. Hope you enjoy this bread!

  13. Fantastic bread! The recipe and instructions are simple and concise. The only part I had a slight challenge with was the braiding and getting the loaf transferred to the baking pan. If I had been prepared with two bench scrapers or one and a spatula I’d have been OK. My hubby came to check it out so he pitched in on one end of it with long spatula. Now, mine did not come out as beautiful as yours, but it was still pretty. (I could have entered it in the monthly baking contest!). The proof was in the pudding as it was absolutely delicious. We stood there and ate half the loaf about 20 minutes after it came out of the oven. Hubby said, this could be dinner…my reply, it is! . BTW, how long should you leave the loaf to cool before cutting?

  14. I use this recipe all the time for college parties, at least 15 times in the last six months. It is always a hit. I recently tried freezing the dough for the first time (I had extra buttermilk that was going to go bad) it turned out great and was so convenient. I know sally doesn’t recommend doubling the recipe but rather making two separate batches, I have never had an issue with it though and I have done it a lot. The shaping of the bread is definitely a skill that I have only really gotten good at now, but I absolutely recommend this recipe.

  15. My daughter’s comment after trying this bread was “well I guess I’m not going to be one of those skinny Lululemon girls!” This was a delicious recipe. I used my bread machine for mixing and the first rise, but found that I had to add a bit more flour as it was mixing because it was too sticky, but I generally find this to be the case when using a recipe not specified for bread machine use. It took a while for me and my bread machine to foment our relationship, but I am now a huge fan, but have learned a few lessons along the way. First, I look for recipes like this one that is not specific to the bread machine because I haven’t found too many bread machine specific recipes that are worthwhile. I also just use the bread machine for mixing and rising, but bake the bread in my oven. I understand that bread machines are different in terms of order of ingredients and had to find my own way to success with mine, but have found the best results by mixing the yeast (bread machine yeast) directly in with the warm liquid (milk or water) then putting the flour on top and all other ingredients to follow. I learned that salt will kill yeast so I typically create a little hole in my flour and put the salt in, then cover it with the flour to prevent the flour and yeast from an early meeting. This recipe will definitely be featured during the holidays and many occasions to follow. I can’t wait to wow my friends/family with this one! I also very much appreciate the author providing other uses for buttermilk and will probably be experimenting with those today as well!

  16. I goofed-no excuses! I added the cheese in the 2nd step—-it’s rising now–will it be OK??????

  17. What are your thoughts on mixing Gruyère and Sharp cheddar ??? Thinking about jalapeños too….

  18. I’m looking forward to trying out this recipe. Would all purpose flour work or unbleached flour work?

    1. Hi Jenni! See recipe notes: Higher protein flour like bread flour is best for this bread recipe because of its strong gluten formation and high rise. All-purpose flour will yield a flimsy bread.

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