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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.

This recipe is brought to you in partnership with Red Star Yeast.

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, similar to my cinnamon roll wreath, 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, homemade 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 Platinum Yeast from Red Star, which is an instant yeast blended with natural dough improvers. Review my Baking with Yeast Guide before getting started if you need a little refresher on working with yeasted dough.
  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.
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

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: 1214 servings 1x
  • 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

Scale
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) whole milk, warmed to about 110°F (43°C)
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons Platinum Yeast from Red Star (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

This post is sponsored by Red Star Yeast.

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. This was so easy to make, and tasted so good! My boys helped me roll the dough balls in the cinnamon sugar, and it was a fun (messy) activity!

  2. Sally. You are a queen. This recipe is fantastic! It was so soft and gooey and cinnamony (is that word? I hope it is)!!!! I am obsessed with Cinnamon Rolls so this was an obvious choice! I’m so excited to use all of your many cinnamon roll recipes! They all look fantastic! But this Monkey bread was pure heaven! I will most DEFINITELY be making this again very, very soon!

  3. This recipe rocks! I’ve tried several other recipes from you, Sally, and they were all good to great. You knocked it out of the park on this one!!
    (I found that the dough-quantity was a bit much for my Nordic Bundt pan, but no bother. I’ll just toss the extra next time…next time will be very soon!)
    Thanks for your creative work and video’s; it’s making my covid-time here in Cali pass more quickly.

  4. Hello, I made this recipe and it was exceptional. However, it exploded while baking. Not sure what I did wrong. I am not an experienced baker. Just a grandma quarantined with 2 grandsons experimenting because we have run out of things to do after 6 months. I would like to try it again , so any help would be appreciated.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Peggy! I’m glad to help. By exploded, do you mean it overflowed? I wonder if a slightly larger Bundt pan will be helpful for next time. Try slightly reducing that 2nd rise time, too. It could have over-proofed.

  5. The dish turned out ok. I’m not a fan of the way Sally makes dough. Although I’ve made plenty of doughs for breads, yeast donuts, and other pastries. I tried this recipe and her Homemade Glazed Doughnuts one. Both doughs were not good. In fact, the Homemade Glazed Doughnuts’ dough was terrible (Tried to comment on that recipe earlier and it locked me out)! However, with this recipe since it is all covered in cinnamon and sugar you mostly taste the overwhelming sweetness. I would recommend a different recipe with better dough.

    1. Hi Rivkah, I would love to help troubleshoot! What didn’t turn out with the dough?

    2. The way Sally makes her dough is pretty traditional… I’ve been baking for over 40 years and this is pretty standard for this kind of recipe…. Perhaps it’s not the dough?

  6. My 6 year old loved rolling dough balls in sugar and plopping then in the pan. The sauce is definitely the key to ooey gooey goodness. We assembled the whole thing using leftover (homemade) pizza dough, put it in the fridge overnight, let it come to temp and baked for a next morning treat!

  7. Wow, oh wow! I’m a novice baker and made monkey bread from store bought biscuits. And I hesitated at the number of steps in the recipe. But the monkey bread is absolutely worth it! The pull apart pieces are incredibly lightweight and delicious. The only piece of advice is to fill your Bundt cake pan halfway so the gooey sauce doesn’t flow over during baking. Other than that, I would make it again very soon!

  8. I made this recipe and it ridiculously amazing! Like the center of the best cinnamon roll (I might have been heavy on the cinnamon ). Do you think I could add walnuts between the balls of dough? And then a few on the top before adding the “sauce”? My mom adores walnuts and I think that kind of cake might make me her favourite child…

  9. So good! My husband started eating it before I inverted the pan! I had to get on him. Lol. Do you have the nutritional info for this recipe. Specifically the amount of carbs per serving. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Hi Jamie, I’m unsure of the nutritional info of this recipe, but there are many great online calculators like this one: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

  10. Hey Sally!
    Love this recipe and all of your others!
    I wanted to make this in full (including baking) and then individually portion into jars + freeze to give as gifts for the holidays. Would it be ok to freeze cooked monkey bread with the glaze etc. included? Would this change if I used store bought buiscuits?

    1. Hi Anita, You can! Tightly wrap a the bread and place it in the freezer. Thaw prior to serving at room temperature – you can even heat it up in the microwave for a few seconds! Biscuit dough is just a little too firm. The yeast dough here is comparable to soft cinnamon roll dough.

  11. Hi Sally. I’m waiting for the dough to rise. I like the taste of honey when making sticky buns. I was thinking drizzle a little on this one as in the last step. I was thinking of substituting the sugar with honey. Let me know what you think. Thanks!

    1. Hi Debbie, We’ve never tried coating the dough balls with honey, but I would be afraid it would be too sticky and burn on the inside of the pan. I suggest drizzling the top with honey instead of the vanilla icing.

      1. That’s what I did but didn’t skip the icing. I also added some honey in the last step of pouring the syrup mixture but in two parts. Halfway then at the end so they get coated better. I also added pecans. Brought it to work today and it’s all gone! Thanks.

  12. This recipe was AMAZING!!! Is there a way/Or what is the best way to try and make this Gluten Free for other members of my family? How would I adjust the recipe for that?

    1. Hi Sara, I’m glad these were such a hit! I haven’t tested this recipe with any gluten free alternatives, but let me know if you give any a try.

  13. I would love to make this for our family on Christmas morning, but I want to do as minimal work as possible day-of. I will make it the day before, but at what step do you recommend I stick the bundt pan in the fridge? Before or after pouring over the butter mixture? And how long should I let it sit on the counter before I stick it in the oven on Christmas morning? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Elizabeth, See the recipe notes for details on the overnight directions. We hope you love it!

  14. I’ve made this before and it’s amazing! I have the dough balls frozen to make Christmas morning, however have two hungry boys …
    Can I thaw them on Christmas Eve, prep them with the coating, then refrigerate overnight to be ready to bake in the morning? Or since they’ve been frozen, should I do it all morning of?
    Thank you!

  15. I made this today for my Christmas Brunch and it is one of the best things I’ve ever made!!!! Thank you so much for a delicious recipe. Sweet and buttery! But not too sweet! I did prepare it last night and pick up with Step 4 this morning. I ordered the yeast you recommended on Amazon, in case people can’t find it in their store. And I didn’t have a Bundt pan but I used two bread pans and baked them for 45 mins. Perfect!!!! Thanks again and Merry Christmas!

  16. Very yummy! I made it the day before and refrigerated overnight (after first rise) and baked straight from the fridge in the morning for breakfast. I do feel the dough could use a bit more salt though, next time I will increase it a bit

  17. Delicious! I did not add the icing because I was worried it would be too sweet for my taste, and without the icing it was just right (for my taste)! I also tried a version with nutella instead of cinnamon sugar and that came out great too, although I prefer the original recipe with the cinnamon sugar coating. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. It was pretty easy to make and my whole;e family loved it! I recommend dunking in milk or coffee. Yum!

  18. I’ve been making this for extended family on Christmas morning for about five years now; it’s a huge hit and has become part of yearly tradition. I often simplify the recipe by mixing all the ingredients in 9 with the coating in step 7 (vanilla in the butter and then combine sugars for coating), then just mixing any excess butter with excess sugar and pour it over the top. It’s just a little quicker and more evenly distributes the flavor.

    This year, I successfully spend up the morning routine by going all the way to step 7 the night before. I used a slightly shorter first rise time, then let the second rise happen overnight in the covered bundt pan in the fridge. The next morning I took it out, let it come to room temp as much as possible, and then put it straight in the oven. The time the bread needs in the oven is longer, so be mindful to cover the top with foil either at the beginning of the bake or towards the end.

  19. This recipe is perfection! I have been trying to find a good recipe for homemade cinnamon rolls for years and I no longer need to keep looking. Planning on making this a holiday staple in our house!

  20. I’ve always been a fan of store-bought monkey bread & didn’t think anything could compare. But boy I was wrong! This was the most amazing, gooey, sweet but not overly sweet monkey bread I’ve ever had. It was a huge hit!

  21. Omg! So good I made some for us, then turned around and made more for some close friends! Huge hit everyone loved these!!

  22. Hi Sally!
    I made this recipe over the holidays and we LOVED it.
    I loved the dough and would like to make a savory version for Sunday brunch – is it possible to adapt this recipe? Could I reduce the amount of sugar?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Helene! I would love to hear how your savory monkey bread turns out. You can reduce the sugar in the dough. I recommend 2 Tablespoons (halve the amount listed).

  23. I have always been pleased with every recipe from this site and the monkey bread was no different! It was amazing. For those of you who don’t have a Bundt pan or prefer a smaller dessert size, I cut the recipe in half and bake it in my glass 9×13 for 20-25 minutes. It turns out perfect and each piece is equally done. My husband and I along with four children licked the dish clean! Thank you for recipes from scratch!

    1. I LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT
      I sense the pandemic have remodeled my house and wondered what next. I remembered how wonderful mom’s fresh bread smelled and tasted. So…
      It all started with bread, Muffins, monkey bread lemon meringue pie and so on. I am having the best time ever. Neighbors love everything I make. Thank you so much for your recipes.

      1. We’re thrilled you’ve been enjoying our recipes, Thomas! Thank you so much for making and trusting them.

  24. In step 9 you say to melt remaining 1/4 cup butter and whisk in brown sugar & vanilla. I did that and ended up with a paste, not a sauce. What did I do wrong?

    1. Hi Tara, It’s possible that either there wasn’t quite enough butter or too much sugar making it too thick. If that ever happens again feel free to add just a bit more melted butter. You can watch the video above (right at the 2:44 mark) to see how thick the mixture should be. I hope this helps!

  25. I make this pretty often and I always use this recipe. My entire family loves it. Every time they are over they ask me if I can make it. 100% recommend.

  26. Loved it! Made it for the nurses that took care of my husband

    1. Hi Anela, we don’t suggest heavy cream in this yeasted dough. Milk is ideal.

  27. I am in Denver Colorado and would like to make this for my daughter and her family. What do I need to adjust for the altitude of 5280

    1. Hi Audrey, I wish we could help, but we have no experience baking at high altitude. I know some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

  28. This is the second time I’ve tried monkey bread but the first with this recipe. It turned out really great – my kids are still licking their fingers! Not sure if it was my Bundt pan size (do they come in different ones?), but the brown sugar sauce started overflowing and sizzling on the bottom of the oven. I put a cookie sheet lined with foil on the most bottom rack to catch it.

    1. Hi MacArthur, bundt pans do come in varying sizes, so that could definitely be why the brown sugar started to overflow (you’ll want a 10-12 cup Bundt pan for this recipe). Glad you were able to catch it — and glad it was a hit with your kids!

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