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

Welcome to the September Baking Challenge! As we finish up summer and head into a new season, now is the perfect time to revisit baking with yeast. You’re certainly conquering any yeast fears this year, as we’ve already made homemade bagels and dinner rolls. This month we’re focusing on a loaf of homemade 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. 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.

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 crusty 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

cheese bread dough photos

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. 🙂

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

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.

cheese bread

Join Sally's Baking Challenge

Make the cheese bread. Feel free to use a different variety of cheese such as pepper jack, colby, or smoked gouda. Avoid super soft cheeses for this bread. If you’re not into this recipe, here is the alternate September Baking Challenge:

  1. any previous challenge recipe OR
  2. homemade cheese crackers

After you make the cheese bread or alternate recipe, share your recipe photo with me any of the following ways:

  1. Use #sallysbakingchallenge and tag me (@sallysbakeblog) on your public Instagram or Twitter account. (Instagram messages are hard to track, so please email instead.)
  2. Upload your recipe photo to my Facebook page or Facebook group.
  3. Email me your recipe photo.

By sharing your photo, you’re automatically entered in the $250 giveaway.

For a bonus entry, leave a review on the recipe below!

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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. 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

cheese bread

This post is sponsored by Red Star Yeast. Thank you so much for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction and the brands I genuinely love. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you.

265 Comments

  1. Sally,

    This recipe was awesome! Who could ask for more ; bread, cheese and garlic. We loved making it as well.

    As always, thank you! That apron has Sally written all over it. It is perfect for you! Cheerful and inviting,

  2. WOW! This is one of the best breads I ever made! So delicious! We ate it straight from the oven and the cheese and SUPER soft bread are just perfect together! You said it was the best bread ever and you are right! When you said you had 3 loaves in your freezer I was a little confused but I am about to make 3 loaves just for me to eat alone for dinner! 😀

  3. Is it wrong that I want to make this and use it to make a grilled cheese? Yum. We are a very pro cheese house and this looks awesome.

  4. Made this with dinner and it is delicious! I was super excited to see a recipe like this because I’ve always loved the cheese bread we made camping in the Dutch oven with Rhodes. While good, this recipe blows it away. This will be appearing on my table quite frequently. Thank yoj

  5. I used red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning for my parsely. Now my house smells fantastic and the cheese crunchies on the side of my loaf pan are the bomb . com.
    I made 2 loaves but am kinda hoping my picky eaters see the paper flakes and run.lol
    I want them all to myself!
    Thanks Sally for the year of no bread fear.

  6. Hi Sally
    I only have Mozerella cheese and plan to make in a few hours. Can I go ahead with this cheese .? Pls reply urgently

    I love this recipe and everything ready to try baking it

  7. Amazing recipe and very easy to make! I do recommend watching the video before you begin. I goofed up with the twisting of the dough but the bread still came out terriffic!
    Next time I will double the recipe!

  8. I loved this recipe and did the alternative option of letting it rise over night. Taking it on our family vacation this weekend!

  9. I just made this bread for supper and it is amazing. My husband has probably told me 20 times how much he loved this bread. thank for a great recipe. Is there any reason why I could not make this cinnamon bread or just plain bread?

  10. Super excited to make this cheesy bread! Honestly I was scared to even try it since I never thought I could do something like this but I tried it anyways and I’m happy I conquered my fears. The look on my family’s face said it all. Super delicious and will definitely bake more for the holidays. Thank you Sally

  11. This bread is AMAZING. And super easy! My mom and i made this and had never made bread before, and we had no issues. We made it with Colby jack and added some jalepeños. I cannot stop eating it. Wow!

  12. This recipe was easy to follow, and turned out beautifully! It tasted great too! I used a combo of pepper jack and cheddar. On the top I added oregano too. I took this to our mid week meal at church (2 loaves) and it was all gone. Everyone loved it obviously!

  13. I’m so excited about this Cheese bread, and want to make it as soon as possible, but I don’t have a metal pan that is equivalent to the size of the loaf pan. I do have a ceramic pan which is exactly the same size as the required loaf pan. Would it be OK to bake it in the ceramic, perhaps lined with parchment?

  14. It’s been an honor to be able to follow your blogs. You teach us in the most friendly and easy way! Thank you for being a wonderful teacher/ mentor to all of us. Happy Teacher’s Day

  15. Oh man, this came out so yummy! I read 2 cups cheese and added 16oz of cheese, didn’t realize I should have measured 2 cups AFTER shredding. It came out pretty squishy and not loaf-shaped. I’m excited to try again with 1/2 the cheese!

  16. I used all-purpose flour and didn’t have time to let it rise much for the second rise, but it still turned out great! Awesome recipe!

  17. This cheese bread is amazing! The recipe is very easy to follow as well. I just made it tonight to have with dinner, and my husband is already asking me to make a few more loaves!

  18. Made the Cheesy Bread today and we all loved it! We used Kerry Dublin cheese and it tasted amazing! Can’t wait to make it again!

  19. My first baking challenge! Loved making this bread and testing my skills to create those wonderful cheese swirls. Had fun plus tasted delicious!

  20. This bread is heaven!! So light and cheesy with a beautiful, buttery crust. 10/10 from my whole family. Followed the instructions perfectly and it was easy to make. Thanks Sally for another amazing recipe xx

  21. This bread was absolutely perfect!! I used smoked gouda and mixed herbs instead of the cheddar… with tomato soup it was to die for ❤

  22. I made this tonight for dinner. One thing I liked about it is that it’s not an all day affair – the dough only has to initially rise for 2 hours so manageable to start in the afternoon. My dough was a little too sticky when I had it in my mixer with the dough hook so I added a little more flour and gave a quick hand knead and that made it soft and ready to go in the bowl. Also I used my thermapen to test it to make sure it’s done on the inside. About ~ 190 and it was great! Thanks for a great recipe!

  23. I finally conquered my yeast fear! This Homemade Cheese Bread was so much fun to make and it tastes wonderful! Perfection!

  24. Can I make DIY buttermilk (tbsp of lemon or vinegar with whole milk) or would it be better to just use whole only because I might be able to taste the acid? It’s hard to find real buttermilk where I am.

  25. This bread was so good I’ve already made it twice this week! Absolutely delicious, and my favorite challenge recipe yet 🙂

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