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. For a sweet version, try our cinnamon crunch bread.

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

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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
  • 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 (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

This post is sponsored by Red Star Yeast.

584 Comments

  1. I have made this bread twice. Once as the recipes suggested and the second time adding fresh sliced jalanpenos along with the cheesey center. Delish!

    1. Can’t wait to make this bread!! Can I use low fat buttermilk? That is all I can find in my local stores ..

      1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        The bread may be slightly less rich, but it should work just in a pinch!

  2. Can I use a sourdough starter instead of regular yeast?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Annette, we’ve never tried this recipe using a sourdough starter, but if you give it a try we’d love to know how it goes for you.

  3. I made it and it came out sooooo gooood. Thank you.

  4. Hi Sally,
    I’ve been spending weekends trying your recipes. So far, the cinnamon bread, bagels and Nutella babka have been delicious! This weekend I made the Blueberry cream cheese braided pastry. Amazing!!
    My question: can I use sour milk (whole milk with vinegar) in lieu of buttermilk, or should I just use plain milk?
    Thank you!
    Susan

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Susan, we’re so glad to hear you’ve been enjoying our recipes! For this one, you can either make your own DIY buttermilk as you mention, or you can use the plain whole milk. The buttermilk gives it the best texture and flavor!

  5. The flavor is amazing and this bread is really fun to make! After more than 60 minutes mine came out dense and almost under baked on the inside . Any tips on what I may have done wrong?

    1. Hi Amanda, if it’s too dense and under-baked, the bread could benefit from more time in the oven. If you try the recipe again, don’t be afraid to extend the bake time. You can tent the loaf with aluminum foil to prevent it from over-browning on top.

  6. This bread is so great! Love the texture. As FYI for others who might be interested – I made the dough in my bread machine (on the dough setting) and came out great.

  7. Amanda Robinson says:

    Can the bread be stored on the counter after it is baked? I’m wondering because if the cheese.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Amanda, it can be stored on the counter for up to two days, or for up to a week in the fridge. Leftover slices taste delicious when warmed in the microwave for 10 seconds.

  8. Could you use butter milk substitute, such as milk and vinegar?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Julie, you can either make your own DIY buttermilk as you mention, or you can use the plain whole milk. The buttermilk gives it the best texture and flavor!

  9. I am planning on making this in the morning, I dont have a mixer, I make all my doughs, cakes, loaves etc by hand.. could you perhaps share any advice so that i am able to make this successfully? It seems absolutely divine, I would love to make it.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lauren! If you do not own a mixer, you can mix this dough with a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula and knead by hand. It will take a bit of arm muscle, hope you love this bread!

  10. Hello! It will be very lucky if I can get an answer in the next two hours (I just started
    My first rise), but I’m wondering if this can be made into pull-apart buns?

    Either way, I’m super excited to see how this recipe turns out and will do my best to report back. 😀

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Erin, we don’t see why not!

      1. Thanks so much for getting back! I’ll do that and let you know how it worked out!

  11. Hi Sally, although I have been home baking bread for 30 years, I was never inclined to make cheese bread. I tried your cheese bread recipe and not only the taste is great but also the instructions are very clear and explicite. And every different step is on time as described. Did not have to do any adjustment. For me it’s a keeper. Thank you so much.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Thank you so much for giving this recipe a try, Alex!

  12. This bread is GREAT! I’ve made it a bunch of times, always using the homemade buttermilk option (milk +lemon juice or vinegar), since we rarely have it at home. I’ve also used a variety of cheese and herb options and they’ve all turned out well. Thank you!

  13. Throwback to my absolute first attempt at making bread! However, I went rogue. I added roasted garlic to the cheese filling, and oregano, rosemary, basil, garlic powder, and onion powder to the dough. I loved how pillowly soft this bread was, and the flavours really worked well together. It’s shaped like you would shape a babka.

  14. Kate Heston says:

    A bakery in my area makes this amazing bread they call Cobblestone Bread. It is a delicious soft white bread marbled with butter. It makes incredible toast. I tried to recreate it by using this recipe but subbing frozen shredded butter in place of the cheese. Not the best results. The bread was perfect and very close in taste to Cobblestone, but the butter all melted and settled to the bottom of the pan and completely soaked into the bottom half of the bread. It basically became inedible. Any suggestions on how I keep the butter marbled through the bread while baking?

    1. Hi there!
      If you don’t grate the frozen butter, but instead place a frozen rectangle of butter in the centre of the dough it might come out a little better for you, freeze the butter the day before you intend to make the bread too! Ensure the whole loaf is as cold as possible (with the rest) before baking. Advice from a trade pastry chef, hope it helps!

  15. Hi Sally – I have made this a few times, and given it as gifts to friends as well, it is delicious! My only problem is every single time it falls in the middle – do you have any suggestions for what I could be doing wrong? Could it possibly be because my loaf pan is glass instead of metal?

    Thanks!!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jenny! The glass pan shouldn’t be an issue. Usually a loaf of bread that collapses is due to over-proofing the dough – try reducing the rise time next time. Otherwise the issue could be air getting trapped in the twists and expanding while baking, then collapsing. Make sure to roll the dough as tightly as possible to avoid too much air getting trapped. Hope this helps!

      1. Thank you! I am relatively new to yeast bread and I do always let it proof for the full amount of time listed (and sometimes even longer) so that could very well be it! I will reduce next time and see what happens 🙂

  16. I just made this bread yesterday. It was delicious! The extra cheese on top was fantastic and made a wonderful crisp on the cheesey crust, the bread was so soft and held together well. The only thing, which was my fault since it was my first twisted bread, is that I didn’t twist it enough to get a beautiful, tasty cheesey swirl throughout the whole loaf. I’m excited to try again! I had some family taste it, they loved it and can’t wait for the next loaf. Thank you for this recipe!

  17. I love this recipe! I made it for Easter last year and wanted to try again this year. I was thinking of making mini loaves and have four mini loaf pans. Do you think splitting this 4 ways would work?

  18. Hi, can I use a round pan (like those for cakes) instead of a loaf pan?
    Thank you!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Arielle, you can try using this dough/cheese/topping and assemble in a cake pan or springform pan just as we do with this raspberry twist bread. Let us know if you give it a try!

  19. I made this today! I had a little problem with the twisting of the dough but other than that the bread came out delicious and the texture is perfect ! Hubby loved it! But I have 2 questions:
    1. Do you think i can make this into 2 loaves into a much smaller pan? How long should I bake it?
    2. Can i omit the cheese and just turn it into plain bread? Same baking time?

    Thank you Sally! Your recipes are always a keeper❤️

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi D, we’re so glad you enjoyed this bread! You can absolutely bake these as smaller loaves. We’re unsure of the exact bake time as it will vary by the size of pan you’re using, but keep a close eyes on it and when it sounds hollow when tapping, it should be done. You can also make this as a plain loaf if desired. Enjoy!

  20. We love this recipe! The instructions were super clear which is great for inexperienced bakers. My whole family gobbles this bread up so quickly that I make 4 loaves at once so that we can have a few on hand in the freezer.

    I’d love to try to make them into baguettes. Any idea what the cooking time and temp would work?

  21. This bread is fantastic!

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