Homemade Monkey Bread (aka Cinnamon Roll Bites)

Homemade monkey bread combines several tiny balls of dough coated in butter, cinnamon, and sugar. It’s basically a giant Bundt pan of gooey cinnamon rolls! Finish this fun breakfast or dessert treat with vanilla icing and serve pull apart style.

monkey bread with icing on pink cake stand

Have you ever had monkey bread before? You either (1) have eaten it and love it (2) have no idea what I’m talking about. If you fall into the latter category, let me explain what this outrageous recipe is.

What is Monkey Bread?

Monkey bread is a sweet, gooey Bundt cake made from balls of dough rolled in cinnamon sugar. Arrange the dough balls in a Bundt pan, then top it all with a buttery brown sugar sauce before baking. Invert it onto a serving plate, then drizzle with creamy vanilla icing. Each bite tastes like the sticky delicious center of cinnamon rolls. Monkey bread is served pull apart style where everyone tears off a piece– just like how monkeys pick at their food.

You can have monkey bread for breakfast, brunch, or dessert. Or dinner, or 2nd dessert, or lunch, or snack. (Hey, I’m not judging! Every time is a good monkey bread time!)

I published a caramel monkey bread recipe several years ago and followed up with this traditional recipe. I decided it was time to update the photos, add a video tutorial, and include more helpful information so you can have monkey bread recipe success!

top of monkey bread

Video Tutorial: Monkey Bread Recipe

Here’s a video tutorial displaying each step. Use this as your guide.

4 Parts to Monkey Bread

There are 4 parts to this monkey bread. It sounds like a lot, but most of the ingredients are repeated in each. One thing to note is that you pour the brown sugar sauce over the dough balls before baking. It’s the secret to monkey bread’s gooey sticky texture!

  1. Homemade Dough: milk, sugar, yeast, eggs, butter, salt, flour
  2. Dough Ball Coating: butter, cinnamon, sugar
  3. Brown Sugar Sauce: butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract
  4. Vanilla Icing: confections’ sugar, milk, vanilla extract

pull apart monkey bread

Homemade Monkey Bread Dough

Before we walk through each individual step in this monkey bread recipe, let’s talk about the dough. This is the best monkey bread I’ve ever had because it starts with a rich homemade dough. Nothing compares to the flavor of homemade and you’ll be surprised how quickly the dough comes together. You can even get started on the dough the night before!

This is a rich dough, which means that it’s prepared with fat like milk, butter, and eggs. Rich doughs make soft breads such as babka, dinner rolls, and glazed doughnuts. Lean doughs, on the other hand, are made without much fat and produce crusty bread such as focaccia, bagels, and pizza dough.

You need 7 ingredients for monkey bread dough:

  1. Milk: Liquid activates the yeast. Nondairy or low fat milks are fine, but whole milk produces phenomenal flavor and texture.
  2. Yeast: You can use active dry yeast or instant yeast. I recommend Red Star Platinum Superior Baking Yeast, which is an instant yeast blended with natural dough improvers.
  3. Sugar: Sugar feeds the yeast, increases its activity, and tenderizes the dough.
  4. Eggs: Eggs provide structure and flavor.
  5. Butter: Butter promises a flavorful dough.
  6. Salt: You can’t make flavorful bread without salt!
  7. Flour: All-purpose flour is the structure of the dough.

Baking with Yeast Guide

Are you a 1st time bread baker and nervous to work with yeast? Before beginning, I encourage you to review my Baking with Yeast guide. It’s a very helpful resource for yeast beginners and yeast professionals alike!

2 images of monkey bread dough on counter and in glass bowl

2 images of rolling monkey bread dough balls and pouring coating on top of dough balls in bundt pan

monkey bread dough in bundt pan

baked monkey bread in bundt pan

Overview: How to Make Monkey Bread

  1. Prepare the dough: The dough comes together with a mixer. You can also make the dough by hand, but it requires a bit of arm muscle. After the dough comes together in the mixing bowl, it’s time to knead. You can simply continue beating the dough with the mixer for this step or you can knead the dough by hand.
  2. Let the dough rise: The dough rises in about 1-2 hours in a relatively warm environment.
  3. Punch down the dough: Punch down the dough to release the air.
  4. Shape & coat dough balls: Pull off little pieces of dough and roll into balls. Dunk the balls into melted butter, then coat with cinnamon sugar. Little bakers love to help out with this step! Good thing to note: the heavier the cinnamon-sugar coating, the more these little monkey bread bites will taste like gooey cinnamon rolls.
  5. Let the shaped monkey bread rest for 20 minutes: Arrange the coated balls in a Bundt pan or tube pan, cover lightly, then set aside to rest as you preheat the oven. The balls will slightly rise during this time.
  6. Top with buttery brown sugar sauce: Before baking the monkey bread, mix melted butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract together. Pour this sauce all over the dough balls.
  7. Bake: Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 40 minutes.
  8. Invert onto serving plate: Allow the monkey bread to cool for 5-10 minutes, then invert it onto a serving plate.
  9. Drizzle with vanilla icing: Whisk confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla extract together until smooth. Drizzle all over the warm monkey bread.

pull apart monkey bread

monkey bread serving on white plate

Imagine the best cinnamon roll you’ve ever tasted. This monkey bread is even better because it’s stickier, softer, sweeter, and piled extra high. You’ll be licking your fingers clean and grabbing more and more bites. Though from-scratch monkey bread takes longer to prepare than a shortcut version made with canned biscuit dough, the results are incomparable. Once you smell the gooey cinnamon sugar bubbling in the oven, you’ll know you made the right decision.

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monkey bread with icing on pink cake stand

Homemade Monkey Bread

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 servings
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Monkey bread combines several tiny balls of dough coated in butter, cinnamon, and sugar. It’s basically a giant Bundt pan of gooey cinnamon rolls! Finish this fun breakfast or dessert treat with vanilla icing and serve pull apart style.


Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) whole milk, warmed to about 110°F (43°C)
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons Red Star Platinum yeast (1 standard packet)
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup (5 Tbsp; 70g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups (625g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)

Coating

  • 3/4 cup (12 Tbsp; 170g) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup (130g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Vanilla Icing

  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Prepare the dough: Whisk the warm milk, 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 eggs, butter, salt, 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.
  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. Generously grease a 10-12 cup Bundt pan with butter or nonstick spray. (Nonstick spray is best for this recipe.)
  6. Prepare the coating: Melt 1/2 cup (115g;1 stick) of unsalted butter in a medium bowl. Mix granulated sugar and cinnamon together in another medium bowl. You will use the rest of the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla later.
  7. Shape the dough: Use the video tutorial above as a guide for this step. When the dough is ready, punch it down to release the air. Working one at a time, take small pieces of dough and roll into balls (about 1.25 inches in diameter each). You will need 40-45 balls total, so be modest with their size. Dip each ball, one by one, in the melted butter and then generously roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat them. You may need more cinnamon-sugar depending how heavy you coat each ball. Arrange the balls in the Bundt pan as you go. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel and allow the shaped monkey bread to rest for 20 minutes. The balls will slightly rise during this time.
  8. Adjust oven rack to a lower position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). (It’s best to bake the monkey bread towards the bottom of the oven so the top doesn’t burn.)
  9. Finish the coating: Melt remaining 1/4 cup (60g; 4 Tbsp) butter, then whisk in the brown sugar and vanilla extract. Pour evenly all over the shaped monkey bread.
  10. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown on top. Cover loosely with foil if the top is browning too quickly. Cool for 5-10 minutes, then invert onto a large serving plate or cake stand.
  11. Make the icing: Whisk all of the icing ingredients together. Drizzle over monkey bread. Cut the bread into generous slices or let everyone pick off the gooey pieces themselves. That’s the fun of this treat!
  12. Monkey bread tastes best served on the same day. Cover leftovers tightly and store at room temperature for 1 day and in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: Prepare recipe through step 4. After dough rises, punch it down to release the air, then roll into 40-45 small balls as directed in step 7. Do not coat the balls. Place shaped dough balls on a baking sheet, then refrigerate for 30 minutes. Once cold, the dough balls won’t stick together anymore. Place them in a freezer bag or freezer-friendly container, then freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw dough balls in the refrigerator or at room temperature, prepare the coating and Bundt pan, then coat the dough balls as instructed in step 7. Continue with the recipe.
  2. Overnight Instructions: Prepare the recipe through step 3. Cover the dough tightly and refrigerate for up to about 15 hours. At least 3 hours before you serve the monkey bread the next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator, keep covered, and allow to rise on the counter for about 1-2 hours. Continue with step 5.
  3. Yeast: Red Star Platinum yeast 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.

Keywords: cinnamon rolls, breakfast

pull-apart monkey bread

This post is sponsored by Red Star Yeast.

254 Comments

  1. Linda Setton says:

    Hi,

    Can I make this dough dairy free? If so, how?

    1. Yes! Use margarine and egg substitute/replacer (like red milk) and flaxseed meal. I did if for Xmas and it turned out fabulous

  2. We love this recipe! But I have extra apples to use. Do you think I could add in chopped apples as I build the dough balls?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mary Pat, we haven’t tested this monkey bread with chopped apples, but some readers have tried it with great success. If you try it, let us know how it goes!

  3. Hi Sally. Can I use the dough recipe to make it savory? I was thinking skip the sugar since I’m using instant yeast I’ve made this before but now I want to try a breakfast monkey bread. Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Definitely! This is a good “base” dough for any flavor monkey bread. You can reduce the sugar in the dough. We recommend 2 Tablespoons (halve the amount listed).

  4. Another awesome recipe from Sally. This one takes some patience, but is fun to make with the kids, and is absolutely scrumptious. Followed the recipe exactly, and it came out perfectly. Thank you, Sally!

  5. Still giving this a 5 stars. Fantastic, delicious biscuit dough, yum yum yum.

    One complaint is that it’s wayyyy to sweet with the icing. I make this without the icing and it’s perfect.

  6. So you think I can roll out my dough and cut tiny squares, put my regular filling in and roll them into the balls? So there’s gooey filling inside and not just outside? Or even roll out my dough just extra long but not so wide and make a bunch of mini cinnamon rolls to throw in the bundt pan?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Roxanne! We haven’t tested either of those variations but let us know if you do. The recipe as written is already gooey and delicious. Happy baking!

  7. Suggestions on bake times if I make these in muffin tins?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Melissa! We haven’t tested it so can’t say for sure. Let us know if you give it a try!

      1. Yes, a muffin tray works great! I put 5 roughly 1″+ sized balls in each cup. They took about 20min. DEFINITELY put a baking tray under the muffin tin, the topping leaked off and all over my oven. I had extra dough, but would guess it made about 17 muffins?

  8. I don’t have a Bundt pan. Can I use a 8×8 pan or 9×13 pan? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Julia, We haven’t tested it but you could try placing a single layer of the dough balls in a 9×13 but you might have some leftover. You can also use a loaf pan- simply layer the dough balls in a 9×5 pan. You’ll have enough for two loaves. We are unsure of the exact bake time for either. Happy baking!

  9. I have made the bread portion many times and delicious. So much better than greasy store bought biscuit dough. Curious as to why you chose AP flour?

    1. Which flour would you have used? Bread flour perhaps? AP is readily available and makes for a softer dough than a higher gluten flour.

  10. If I’m making a day before, do I just make the dough and sit in the fridge after its first rise rising? Or straight to the fridge after moving?

    Thank you,

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ben, The first rise will happen in the fridge. See the recipe notes for details on the overnight method.

  11. Can I just use regular skim milk instead of whom?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Evalyn, That should be fine in a pinch, but the dough may not be as soft or rich.

  12. When I tried to flip it out, the balls all were separated. 40 “monkey bread meatballs” as my husband joked. They tasted nice, if a little light on cinnamon, but I didn’t know why they didn’t stick together. Any thoughts? There seemed to be plenty of brown sugar/butter mixture in there.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Grace! How strange, did you make any changes to the recipe? Also make sure to cool the bread for 5-10 minutes before inverting. Hope the “monkey bread meatballs” were still delicious!

  13. Cara Cichowicz says:

    Do you think you could substitute the all purpose flour to make this gluten free?

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cara, we haven’t tested this recipe with any gluten free alternatives, but let me know if you give any a try.

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