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. 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.

382 Comments

  1. Made this last night as my September baking challenge recipe and loved it! My toddler helped (her first time making bread!) and we all loved the taste. I did not have buttermilk and used 2% and it was delicious. The perfect accompaniment to butternut squash soup. Will make it again!

  2. Another fabulous recipe Sally, thank you. This bread is incredibly light & buttery and sooo flavoursome, with just the right amount of cheese. Now I’ll just have to make it again to perfect the twist!

  3. I made it but it didn’t come out that great. I followed the directions to the letter but just didn’t enjoy the taste. It was too garlicky but also didn’t have a great bread taste either. But I found the concept of the recipe exciting and will try it with other bread I make!

  4. I haven’t tried doing a yeast bread recipe for YEARS but when I saw this savory goodness, I knew I needed to give it a try. This bread is DELICIOUS! Sally’s instructions are so helpful when it comes to letting the yeast sit and for proofing and shaping the dough. I definitely recommend watching the video a couple of times to fully understand how to fill and roll out the dough so it will come together successfully. Once I did that, I felt way more confident when working with my bread dough. You could easily fill this bread with any of your favorite cheeses or herbs–very versatile!

      1. I loved how soft the bread turned out! The video was super helpful for the twisting, so thanks a bunch for that. How do you get the dough into a rectangular shape from a ball? Curious more than anything. I’m always afraid of overworking the dough or something.

      2. Hi Lydia! See how I shape it in the video above. I use my hands to straighten out the edges so it’s less rounded. 🙂

  5. This bread is incredible! I added cayenne pepper and some smoked paprika for a little kick. It came together easily and was perfectly light and fluffy. Sally, I have never successfully made a yeast recipe that wasn’t one of yours. Again, you have made me feel like a bread baking hero! I will make this over and over again. Next time I’ll add jalapenos!

  6. This bread turned out so delicious! It’s soft and I love the cheesy goodness. My husband requested we always have it on hand! I used a mix of cheddar and monterey jack, which was so good. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Loved the bread with the cheese swirl! The bread was very soft and easy to twist together after seeing it in the video.

  8. This recipe was easy to follow! Thank you Sally and team for taking intimidating recipes and making them doable! The twist was harder than expected, but with practice, that’ll come together.

  9. This was my first time making a bread loaf AND my first challenge. Followed the recipe/video and everything went smoothly. I can’t wait to try making more bread. My whole house smells delicious.

    1. SO happy to read this, Elizabeth! I hope you are proud of your first loaf of bread! Thanks for participating in your first baking challenge 🙂

  10. This was so good and looks so impressive to others! Following the steps was easy breezy and I felt so proud showing it off!

  11. Sally thanks for your precise instructions and detailed video. The bread turned out tender and delicious! This was my first monthly challenge and I think I’m hooked!

  12. This recipe was easy to follow and tastes amazing!! I used oregano from my garden. Everyone who are it loved it and it was so easy to rise in the fridge overnight!

  13. I made this bread a week ago for the September Baking Challenge. It’s the best cheese bread I’ve had – I love the addition of garlic powder in the dough. I added grated Parmesan cheese to the herb topping to add extra cheese flavor since I love cheese. My son and I enjoyed this bread toasted and as sandwich bread. I made this loaf with cheddar cheese but I think next time I’ll try Gouda.

  14. This recipe was another challenge for me. I absolutely love making bread. I found it similar to cinnamon rolls but without the cutting in chunks. Trying to twist the bread together was hard. I pinch it the best i could to not expose and burn the cheese. I loved the recommendation for putting the foil on it 25 minutes after putting it in the oven. I did this and the loaf turned out perfect. I added some fresh chuncks of garlic to the topping to really top it off. The kiddo super approved of the cheese bread and asked for seconds. We made it with spaghetti for dinner tonight. I really love this recipe just trying to get it twisted right is a bit of a challenge but im glad i tried it. I can not wait for next months recipe.

  15. My kitchen smells so delicious right now! Can’t wait until it cools off so I can try a slice! I’ve attempted yeast breads before without much success. This time everything worked out. So happy with the rise I got!!!
    Thanks Sally!

  16. Made this for the first time and me and my husband loved it!! I didn’t form my load perfectly but there’s always next time!

  17. Sally, I’ve been following your blog and Instagram for years and this is by far my favourite recipe to date! I’ve already made this cheese bread 3 times for my family since the recipe came out. I had never attempted a cheese or swirl bread before, and it was delicious each time. I found the higher end of cooking time (55 mins) was better in my oven, as the first time I baked it for 45 mins to avoid over-browning, and the middle of the bread sank. 55 mins with a foil tent halfway through was the perfect timing for a light brown, crusty, cheesy, tender bread. Plus, the house smelled fantastic! Thank you for this recipe, I know it will be a staple in my family for years to come.

    1. I absolutely LOVE reading this, Sabina! I’m so happy you and your family enjoyed this recipe so much!! Thank you for your kind words and for participating in this month’s baking challenge 🙂

  18. First of all I baked this bread and it turned out perfect. All my friends wanted the recipe so I gave them your website.
    Question: I just ordered some new bread pans and when they arrived I discovered they are 2 1/2” tall. My old pans are taller. So I researched this and it appears that 2 1/2” is standard. Is that true? I’m worried when I bake a regular loaf of bread or do this recipe again that 2 1/2” won’t be tall enough. What do you think? What height are your bread pans? Thanks

    1. I’m thrilled it was a hit, Denise! The standard size loaf pan is 9×5. Check out this post for a link to the pans I personally use: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/stock-your-kitchen-with-these-8-baking-pans/

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