Homemade Cheese Bread – Extra Soft

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. The best!

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? 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

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sliced cheese bread

Homemade Cheese Bread – Extra Soft

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1 loaf
  • 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

  • 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 (375g) 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 medium 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 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 1-2 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. Bread 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

This post is sponsored by Red Star Yeast.

527 Comments

  1. I’ve never made homemade bread before, so I have a question about pans. My loaf pan is a dark, non-stick pan. I noticed yours is a ‘light’ metal pan. I know to adjust the temperature down by 25 degrees when making cakes and cookies when using dark/glass pans, and to generally shorten baking time. Would you recommend the same approach for making bread?

    1. Hi Kim, I would definitely reduce the baking time when making breads but I don’t think it makes a difference to reduce the oven temperature.

  2. I live in Canada and we don’t have Red Star Yeast (at least where I live). I’m wondering can I use Fleischmann’s Instant Yeast for this bread? I’m a big fan of cheese bread and your recipe is saying “please bake me”!

    Congratulations on your new baby! I bet your older daughter loves being a big sister!

    1. Hi Donna, im sure that’ll be fine. When baking any of Sallys bread recipes I, too, cannot find Platinum Star Yeast so i use any high quality instant yeast i can get.
      Goodluck!

      1. Hey Donna, I also live in Canada, not sure which province you are in but Foodland just started carrying Red Star. But I use both for this recipe and they work great!

  3. This recipe is so great and have had a lot of compliments!

  4. Amazing recipe. I am positive the entire loaf will be gone in one day. So good! Will make this again and again!

  5. This was my first time making this bread and it turned out amazing!! I also watched the video which helped me as well. Very pleased with my first try.

  6. This has truly become a favorite of mine. So light, fluffy and buttery. I just add a bit of pepper with the cheddar for a little kick. Also tried it with pesto and mozzarella instead of the cheddar and it worked great. Thank you for this recipe!

  7. Love the recipe, but how do you make the top shiny? Mine is dull.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sarah, For the shiny golden top, right before baking, brush the shaped dough with melted butter and herbs as directed in step 10. Enjoy!

      1. Greetings from Singapore. I am a newbie. First time trying your cheese bread recipe. The bread turned out so good, soft and fluffy. Thank you.

  8. Thank you for the great recipe, and easy to follow directions. The video really helps to shaping the bread. My family loves it when I make it, it never last for more than 1 day!

  9. Julia Stevenson says:

    I just found this recipe and can’t wait to try it! I LOVE cheese bread! Quick question – usually when I bake and a recipe calls for buttermilk I create a homemade version using vinegar of lemon juice with milk or cream. I’ve never done that using yeast before…do you think a homemade version of buttermilk will work for this or should I purchase real buttermilk? Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Julia, You can make your own or just simply use whole milk for this recipe. Enjoy!

  10. My family devoured this! I had to make a fresh loaf the same day! I’d love to know what the bake time for this would be if I made them into small cheese buns

    1. Hi, we made this recipe just last night, and the bread does taste amazing. But what didn’t work out was the whole middle of the loaf on top completely collapsed into a sinkhole that covered about 70% of the loaf. We followed every direction religiously, so we don’t know what we did wrong. It was baking up just fine, but toward the end of the baking, the whole middle collapsed. So no way of slicing anything, of course. We’re calling it a cheese pull-apart, but still disappointing. Any thoughts?

      1. Hi Ken, thanks for trying this recipe for cheese bread. It’s normal for yeasted breads to sink a bit as they cool, but they shouldn’t collapse. I wonder if the shaped loaf rose for too long, which could have caused it to deflate when cooling. Additionally, what could help, is poking a few holes into the top of the risen loaf with a toothpick. We do this with apple cinnamon babka because it helps steam escape and keeps the layers tight and compact. You could try that with this recipe to see if it helps for next time.

  11. I’ve made this twice in the past week. It is so tasty! After making it the first time, my 6 year old requested it for her birthday dinner.

    I honestly felt like I messed up both times when I was shaping it, but it turned out beautifully both times.

  12. This bread is amazing! And I’ve never baked bread before! I used fresh garlic in the dough (not the topping), and for the topping added a bunch of finely chopped basil and sundried tomatoes, heated in the butter, and sort of pushed them into the folds before baking. So yummy

  13. I made this in my bread machine and made 4 mini loaves instead of one loaf, as follows: all the water and oil (instead of butter), dry ingredients next (NOT the cheese), top with instant yeast. Start machine on “dough” cycle, add remaining 1 cup flour as needed to make dough that does not stick to sides. Once mixed, let rise 20 minutes. Remove from machine, cut 4 pieces, knead briefly and shape into 4 balls; let rest 20 minutes. Roll out with rolling pin, sprinkle cheese onto dough, roll up like a cinnamon roll, let rest briefly. Brush with garlic butter; roll into additional shredded cheese. Let rise 20-40 minutes. Bake at 350 F about 30 minutes (until golden brown)

    1. Oops, did not use egg in recipe. Turned out soft and light despite that. Highly recommenf

  14. I have only 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ x 2 3/4″ high loaf pan. Does it work?

    1. Hi Kake, I’m just seeing your comment/question now so my apologies for the delay responding. You can try that size pan, but the dough will be a little snug inside. When rolling out, adjust the dimensions to about 8.5×14.5 inches instead.

  15. Dear Sally,
    Can I double the ingredients to yield 2 loaves?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lindy, For best results, we always recommend making two separate batches. Though some readers have doubled this dough successfully by doubling each ingredient. The first rise time will be longer since there’s more dough.

  16. This recipe is amazing. I’ve made it four times and it turns out beautifully each time.

    For the holidays I made baskets of savory breads for my team at work. Each included homemade croissants, pretzels, english muffins and this cheese bread. I made it into mini loaves. It was the absolute favorite item in the baskets. I knew it would be.

    I have also made the bread into boules for bread bowls for chili. I didn’t braid in the cheese. I added that after creating the cavities and then toasted them just before filling with chili. It was amazing.

  17. Caryl D Beaty says:

    Looks Devine!! Wonder if a hard cheese like Asiago or Parmesan would work?

  18. Hi there, I only have whole wheat bread flour or regular all purpose flour. Which would work better?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kelly, In a pinch, you can simply use all-purpose flour in this recipe.

  19. Hi, what would happened if I let the dough rise for 6 hours on the counter instead of in the fridge? I really don’t want to put the dough overnight in the fridge and take it out to let it rise for 1-2 hours again.

    Thanks

  20. Beverly Ferrell says:

    For Christmas I gave my brother and his wife a gift certificate for one homemade baked good a month. This recipe was their first choice, which made me nervous because I’m a cake baker not a bread maker. I have to say it was easier than I thought it would be and other than not tenting it soon enough it came out beautifully! Your recipes are always terrific!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      What a lovely gift idea, Beverly — thank you for making and sharing our recipe!

  21. Made this tonight and it is amazing! And it looks super impressive too! I’m not great with yeasted breads but this was a definite winner. I did not have buttermilk so I used sour cream and milk mixed together 1:1-ish. It seemed to work ok, but next time I’ll get real buttermilk.

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