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 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

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

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


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.


  • 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)


  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley (or your favorite dried or fresh herb)*
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


  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.


  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

cheese bread

This post is sponsored by Red Star Yeast.


  1. This was soooo good!!! I made this with soup for dinner tonight.. I had a block of white cheddar instead of yellow but otherwise everything else on hand and it turned out perfect. Will definitely be making it again!

  2. Hi Sally,
    I was a little late in entering the challenge but really wanted this bread today ( and I was a bit busy so I thought I’d try it in the bread machine (wasn’t sure how that was gonna go!) The dough turned out great and I used all purpose flour as well. It was a hit at supper and I didn’t think there was going to be any left but I get to have a couple of pieces for toast in the morning. Yay ! Great recipe I will be making again !

    1. I’m glad you posted you made this in the bread maker. I was thinking of doing just that! Thanks!

  3. Can I make this in cupcake pans for smaller servings? And if so, what would the bake time be?

    1. Hi Kyra, I haven’t tried baking it that way but let me know if you try!

  4. Sally, it’s obvious that you make the effort to thoroughly test your recipes and write clear instructions. This is so easy to make and really delicious!

  5. I just made this for the first time – and WOW! It’s wonderful! I will be making this again and again! Thank you

    1. You are welcome, Lynne! I’m thrilled you enjoyed it!

  6. Have you ever kneaded dough in a food processor? Do you recommend it if I don’t have a stand mixer?

    1. I don’t recommend a food processor here. You can kneed the dough by hand – you can see me doing this in the video above!

      1. Made this recipe as my first time ever making homemade bread. Thank you so much for the detailed instructions and suggestions. It was absolutely delicious and my family was very impressed! Looking forward to more of your recipes.

  7. Omg Sally! This is so good. Unfortunately I ate 3/4 of a loaf by myself. I’ll be on my spin bike if you need me. Incredible recipe.

  8. I made this in our bread machine (through 1st rise) and it turned out great. I feel so fancy pulling this loaf out of the oven! Another winning recipe that is on repeat at my house!

  9. Can I make buttermilk using lemon juice and 2% milk because the only buttermilk I can buy is 1%.
    Which would be better

  10. Hi Sally, i tried making this bread today. It tasted delicious but my bread ended up having giant holes in the middle of where the cheese is.

    I used white cheddar and platinum yeast. First rest is 1.5 hr, 2nd rest 30minutes. The log was pretty tight. Baked for 25 without aluminum tent, and another 20 with the tent.

    Do you know how to prevent giant holes in the middle? It is over proofing? Not tight enough braiding?

    1. Hi Jeannie, are there holes or just spaces where the white cheddar cheese is? The white cheddar version won’t look like the pictures– it’s all a little pale inside. The loaf also may not have been rolled tight enough– that results in spaces, too!

  11. Hi Sally,
    This recipe looks so divine and I can’t wait to try it! I was contemplating making it for a Christmas gathering, and I was wondering if you think this recipe can be shaped according to the star bread recipe? Or would it be better to make that recipe and use a cheese filling?
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Steph! For absolute best results, I recommend using the star bread dough and filling with cheese.

  12. Think this could be made in mini loaves? Any idea how many mini loaves equals one regular loaf? Thanks!

    1. Hi Leah, You can make mini loaves! Mini loaf pans vary greatly in size and capacity so I’m unsure of exactly how much yours will hold or the bake time needed.

  13. I made this for dinner tonight, and it was SO yummy! I made a double batch, and had no problems doubling it. The flavor of the bread is so good. I think I should’ve allowed the loaf to cool longer before slicing into it. The slices weren’t pretty, but it was still yummy. This is a keeper! Thanks, Sally!

  14. Hi Sally, can I make this on a sheet pan instead of a loaf pan?

    1. Hi Christine- I don’t recommend it. The loaf pan is what helps the bread stay shaped while it bakes!

  15. Great recipe! Thank you for sharing!

    Sally, what brand of cheese do you use? I used Cabot sharp cheddar but it didn’t completely melt, it still had that partially melted cheese look.

    1. Hi Kacie! I can’t remember the brands of the cheeses I typically use here– likely store-brand extra sharp– but freshly shredded cheese should melt down a little. Did you freshly shred it yourself or purchase already shredded cheese?

      1. I shredded it myself. I’ll try a different brand next time and see if that works better.

  16. This recipe was so easy. It’s resting now but, everything else went so easy, I’m sure the final bake will also. I will be doing it again soon.

  17. I made this recipe twice. The first one turned out about equivalent to a garlic cheese brick. Then I watched some YouTube videos on bread making tips, as I’ve never made bread before, and learned that you have to kneed the dough in a mixer for 10 min, and I let it ride in the oven (with the oven off) and a dish of boiling water under it. This made a huge difference. I also omitted the garlic powder on the second try and added a bit into the cheese, and added an extra tbsp of sugar and the bread turned out great!! If I make it a 3rd time I will only add garlic to the top as it was still too garlicky for my family.

  18. Dying to make this with a smoked cheddar I have! I don’t have buttermilk, and a run to the store isn’t possible in a snowstorm, so can I substitute milk curdled with lemon juice or vinegar? Thanks!!!

    1. Yes you can do that, Mary Anne!

  19. This is such a great recipe! I diced up two jalapeños and rolled it in with the cheese to give it some pep. My family loves it! thank you for a delicious loaf.

  20. Can I make the dough and let it rise then when it’s all done could I refrigerate it to bake in fresh in the next day or two? Will that effect it at all?

    1. Hi Angela, You can prepare it through step 3, and then in step 4 place it in the refrigerator for up to 15 hours. See the fist recipe note “Make Ahead Instructions – Overnight” for details.

  21. Hi Sally,
    Awesome recipe!! We made a loaf last night and the bread is sooooo tender. Loaf is almost gone.
    Going to make it again today and use sliced ham and sliced cheese!!
    Thank you for a delicious recipe =0)

  22. Hi Sally, where did you get your beautiful flowered apron please? I love it so much.
    Thanks so much!

    1. Thank you, Susie! It’s from Anthropologie: https://www.anthropologie.com/en-gb/shop/nathalie-lete-helena-apron?category=kitchen-aprons&color=095

  23. The ham and cheese (sliced at the deli) loaf is soooooo good!!

  24. I used to bake for Great Harvest Bread Company and this is almost exactly like their Golden Cheddar Garlic bread, maybe even a little better than that! After I brushed on the garlic butter I had to top it off with sesame seeds instead of parsley because that was how our store always made it. Another wonderful recipe!

  25. Thank you so much for this bread recipe! I’ve made it several times and the bread tastes amazing and looks amazing! This recipe is the best bread recipe I have found! Thank you again!

  26. Love this recipe. Making it for the second time tonight.

    One question – you say to kneed only for about two minutes. That doesn’t seem long enough to get it to the point you are getting enough gluten in the bread, and after that long my bread definitely doesn’t pass the window pane test. Is that on purpose?

  27. This is delicious. I’ve made it twice with extra sharp cheddar and it’s to die for. Even if you can’t “master” the twist as quickly as the video shows, it still turns out really well.

  28. Just made this.

    It was amazing. Thank you

  29. Hi Sally! Cheese bread is my absolute favorite! I cut out white flour in my diet and can only use other types of flour. Would this recipe be ok with whole wheat flour? Or would you not recommend it. Thanks! Love your recipes!

    1. Hi Mena, No, I don’t recommend whole wheat flour. If you’d like to use just whole wheat flour, here are my favorite whole wheat rolls.

      1. Thank you so much for responding! I will be trying the whole wheat rolls recipe this week. I have your whole wheat pizza in the oven now. I am counting down the minutes! Thank you again!

  30. Pragya Kanodia says:

    Hi Sally, i didnt quite understand how to shape the bread after cutting it lengthwise. do you have a video or some more pictures please?

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