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.

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

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.

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

More Easy Homemade Bread Recipes

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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.

391 Comments

  1. This recipe was a joy to make! I followed your tips, and the texture came out perfectly.
    I also found that the bread toasts wonderfully; I made toasted cheese sarmies to serve with tomato soup and my kitchen was filled with the aroma of cheesy goodness 😉

  2. This bread recipe is excellent! I never have any luck with bread baking, but figured I’d give this a go since none of your other recipes have ever done me wrong, and sure enough, success! I need to work on my swirling technique on my next attempt – all my cheese ended up swirled through the top only. Looking forward to trying with different cheeses and herbs.

    You are the only baker whose recipes I can always count on to be a success.

    Thank you!

  3. This cheese bread is AMAZING!!! Wow it is so delicious and was such a beautiful dough to work with! I enjoyed it heated a little in the microwave for several days like suggested and then finished it today by toasting slices both sides in a pan, soooo tasty! Thanks Sally for yet another fantastic recipe 🙂 can’t wait to make it for more friends and family!

  4. This recipe turned out amazing! I haven’t had much luck with yeast recipes in the past, so I was a little intimidated, but it was so easy to follow the steps and fun to make. My family loved the bread and I will definitely be making it again!

    1. I’m so happy you had great success with this recipe and were able to expand your yeast-baking repertoire 🙂 Thanks for your positive feedback!

  5. This cheesey bread was so easy to make. Not intimidating at all! Smelled fantastic baking and tasted amazing. Totally recommend you make this bread TODAY! btw…don’t go rogue and skip the suggestion to put a pan under it in the oven to catch drips. There WILL be cheese oozing and dripping into your oven without it.

  6. This bread is worth it if for nothing other than how it makes your house smell!! I didn’t roll mine tight enough so my loaf has some air pockets, so definitely roll it TIGHT. (I’ve had this problem doing the same sort of braid with a pesto loaf, maybe I need to do it differently with the high fat content fillings? I dunno)

    I kneaded mine for 10 minutes rather than 4, like I do with a similar enriched white bread recipe. The dough was SO nice and workable after the first rise, hardly any spring back when I rolled it! I also tried it last week as well but as a freeform loaf, just because why not make more cheesy bread, and I have to say I prefer it out of the loaf pan because of how it crisps up the sides!

  7. This was so fun to make! Your notes and tips are always so helpful! The only issue I had was when kneading the dough. It was still pretty sticky and hard to handle after mixing it with my KitchenAid stand mixer. Could I be mixing it for too long or not long enough?

    1. How was the finished product? If the dough is super sticky you can and a tiny bit more flour or just coat your hands and your counter in flour when handling it (you can see me sprinkling extra flour on the counter in the video!).

      1. The final product turned out good! I think it may have been a little dense though. I will just have to try to bake it again and play around with the recipe! Thanks so much!

  8. Your instructions were easy to follow. My house smelled so yummy and wonderful. Everyone in my house loved this bread. Luckily I got a picture before it was gone. So delicious. Thanks so much for another great recipe.

  9. I just finished making this and it is delicious! It has a nice crust on the outside and is perfectly cheesy! The crossing of the dough was difficult. My dough kept wanting to open up and let all the cheese out, but I managed to move quickly enough to get it eventually. Maybe I didn’t roll tight enough? Anyway, I’ve already eaten several slices!! I’m planning on dipping it in chili tonight with dinner!!! 🙂

  10. One step closer to not being afraid of yeast thanks to your thoughtful recipes. This one was so fun to make and even more fun to eat. Thank you Sally!

    1. YAY! This is exactly what these challenges are all about- stepping outside of our baking comfort zones!! Thanks for participating this month 🙂

  11. This is the BEST bread that my husband and I have ever tasted. Hands down….and we’re not usually the cheese bread types. We have three kids under two, and this did create a few challenges. I had to leave it to prove for an extra two hours to get all the kids in bed. That being so, it was soft and chewy on the inside and crisp on the outside. I chose to use extra old cheddar…what a great decision. Yum yum yum. Thanks for another great recipe, Sally!

  12. Made it yesterday and it is just delicious. Made it exactly as written, cooled it the prescribed 10 minutes in the pan, moved it to a rack to cool completely but it never got the chance. 15 minutes after it came out of the oven, half of it was gone. My husband kept saying just one more little piece!

  13. This bread was amazing Sally! I will absolutely be making it again. Me, my husband and son all devoured it in a couple of days (and that was with a lot of restraint!). And as if it wasn’t great enough of on it’s own, we also used it for some delicious BLT’s for dinner one night last week. OMG! I highly recommend that to anyone. We’ll be doing that again some time too!

  14. A very easy recipe to follow, with fantastic results, so delicious, looking forward to baking it many more times in the future

  15. Great recipe for a garlicky cheesy bread to accompany soups, chowders, and gumbos. The video was SUPER helpful- thank you Sally!!.

  16. Wow! This bread recipe is amazing! My family & I love it—the cheese, the overall flavor, the texture. I need to practice on the twisting technique but overall easy and so delicious! Thanks for sharing!

  17. Turned out great! I was a little confused about if I was supposed to do the yeast buttermilk/water step if my yeast was already active. But quickly realized yes, when my dough was super dry. Well definitely make again 🙂

  18. So delicious and super soft! I made it tonight to go with my boyfriend’s potato leek soup and it was phenomenal! There’s none left! I will be baking this a lot this fall! Thanks for making it so easy to follow this recipe too!

  19. I LOVE baking bread, so seeing this challenge got me 10 shades of excited!
    It was so easy to form and pull together. The temperature in my house did affect the dough slightly but with a little extra dusting of flour, I was able to bring it back.
    I used a cheddar blend with pepper jack which gives it a hint of zestiness. The flavor is incredible! I even woke my husband up mid nap to shove a taste in his mouth! Haha He groggily approved! Yay!

  20. The bread was super delicious. My 4 yr old daughter is a great fan of cheese bread. And she loved it. Thanks Sally

  21. I made this yesterday and it is fantastic. I used cheddar cheese, and I served it last night with a skillet lasagna. My daughter is home from grad school for a quick visit and she was so happy to have home made bread! I regularly bake bread so this wasn’t difficult for me, but I watched the video and I think anyone could learn to make this. I “cheated” and I mixed the dough and did the first rise in my bread machine. I know recipes don’t always translate to the bread machine but it worked beautifully. I am so happy to have another great recipe to add to my regular rotation. Thank you Sally!

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