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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. Bread machine verdict: Yes, you can make the dough in the bread machine. If left to complete the full 90min dough cycle, the dough will press against the top of the machine. The dough balls shaped nicely, but I would reduce the 20min resting time slightly, as the resulting dough volume was a little too much. I would also add a slight bit more butter to the brown sugar mixture to make it more pourable. Overall, yes, the bread machine will work for this dough, but it makes the dough rise a little too well, so reduce your rise time accordingly. Absolutely delicious and a new favorite here!

  2. With the 5 cups my dough came out very sticky. I had to add way more flour until I could hand knead it nice. Is this normal? Does the environment had something to do ( I live in the tropics)

    1. Hi Sol! A lot of factors go into this such as mixing time, speed, weather, yeast, and temperature of water. A humid environment can make a big difference. Feel free to add more flour to make a soft, yet workable dough.

  3. OMG! I made yesterday and this is off the charts amazing! My husband and I can’t stop it is so Yummy I can’t wait to make again for my grandkids as I’m sure they will go crazy for it. Thank you so much for this recipe.

  4. Hello! If you choose to freeze ahead – how long do you recommend leaving the dough pieces at room temperature before adding the coating? Thank you!

    1. Hi Ro! Just a long as necessary for the dough balls to thaw. Hope you love this monkey bread!

  5. I was wondering if I can switch out the bread by scratch and use something premade? And also will I need to change any of the other ingredients as well? Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Kaitlynne! We haven’t tested this recipe with pre made dough. Sorry we can’t help more!

  6. Hi, I just made this following your recipe to the T. Is the finished product supposed to have the texture of fluffy bread or a little cakey? I made this for my husband, we had a few pieces but not sure what the texture is supposed to be like..I can provide photo…

    1. Hi Elin, The finished Monkey Bread should be more like a very soft bread – much like a cinnamon roll! I hope you both enjoyed it!

  7. I love all your recipes. You are my go to baking site. I have been searching the comments because I did have one change I’d like to make next time: I felt the end product needed just a little salt. Perhaps it’s just me, but I like a little salt with my sweet. So next time I’m going to use salted butter for the coating. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Jenna, we’re so glad you enjoyed this monkey bread! You can absolutely use salted butter for the coating if desired. Or, you can try adding just a pinch of salt to the coating mixture. Hope this helps!

  8. This exactly how I remember my mom and I making it every Christmas and Easter. She also called it Hungarian Bubble Ring. I had forgotten about the raisins but remember us using walnuts and cherries.

    Sally thank you for publishing this version. It truly brings back wonderful memories and now I can share it with my children.

  9. I really want to make this! But is a Bundt pan necessary I don’t have one but I do have bread pans and cookie sheets. Would those work?

    1. Hi Lauren! You can use a bread loaf pan — simply layer the dough balls in a 9×5 pan. You’ll have enough for two loaves. Happy baking!

  10. Hi,

    This was an excellent recipe, but when I took it out of the pan, it collapsed. It just seemed very heavy. Any recommendations for next time? I didn’t make any changes.

    1. Hi Kristin! Thank you so much for giving this monkey bread a try. Usually when a yeasted dough collapses, the dough has been left to rise to too long or at too high of a temperature – an easy fix for next time! Here’s more tips for baking with yeast.

  11. Hi! I was wondering if the bread would turn out okay if I used 2% milk rather than whole? 2% is all I have on hand at the moment and I’m not excited about going out in the bad weather we have right now to pick up some whole, but I’m craving monkey bread and really wanted to try out this recipe today. I can put it off til I can pick up some whole milk if I need to, but I just thought I’d ask.

      1. I’m excited to try this but only have salted butter on hand. With a pending ice storm I can’t run to the store. What adjustments, if any, to I need to make when using salted butter for the dough?

      2. Hi Becca, you can reduce the added salt in the dough to 1/2 tsp if using salted butter. Enjoy!

  12. Were still in lockdown in Ireland so Thanks for yet another amazing recipe to keep us going. I had never heard of this, but I’ve made it a few times now for my family and everyone loves it!

  13. This was hands down the best treat I have ever made. Thank you Sally! It came out perfectly and it was incredible. It was also so big, I had to drop some off to the neighbor or we would have eaten it all.
    I love all your recipes but this one was something extra special. 🙂

    1. Hi Erin, Absolutely! We’re unsure of the bake time though. Use your best judgement to determine their doneness.

  14. Would coconut oil for the butter be a good substitute? Would cashew milk be a good whole milk substitute? I’m trying to avoid diary. Love your recipes! Thanks!

  15. I try to make the coating following the recipe but it still too thick, any advice?

    1. Hi Alvin! Is there a chance you added all the sugar (brown and white) instead of just the white granulated sugar? You will use the rest of the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla later (in step 9). 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!

  16. Can I make this in mini Bundt cake pans? If so how do I need to adjust the cooking time? Also, can I search the comments section to see if this has already been answered without scrolling through every page?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Sherry! You can absolutely use mini Bundt pans for this monkey bread. We’re unsure of the exact bake time, as it will vary based on the size of your pans, but it will be less. Keep a close eye on them. Let us know if you give it a try!

  17. im using a 9×13 and it worked but since a bread pan is shorter i guess you can make multiple loafs

  18. I used Almond Milk for this recipe (Costco’s Vanilla unsweetened) and it came out just as AMAZING as when I used regular whole milk.
    I baked this recipe late at night and let it cool outside overnight. Are there oven reheating instructions? I just stuck them in the oven again at 350 for 5 minutes (not terribly long for fear of over-baking) so I could melt the butter and get the bread out of the bundt pan =D.

    1. Hi Christine, that works perfectly for reheating — so glad you enjoyed this one!

  19. I am using a 14 cup Bundt pan, and mine overflowed in the oven 🙁 still tasty, just caused a bit of mess. is there something that I could do to prevent this next time? Could I split it into two separate Bundt pans?

    1. I’ve enjoyed many of your recipes, but I had to write on this one. This was the first time I’ve made dough in my KitchenAid. Usually, I make bread in my bread machine using only the dough cycle and finishing up in the oven. The dough was climbing up the dough hook and I didn’t think it was kneading properly. So, I slowly sprinkled in flour until it wasn’t climbing and clinging to the hook like a monkey. 🙂 I have to admit I was a little concerned because the dough was heavy but I’ve never used whole milk in bread before. The rise of the dough was huge, so I’d recommend using a very large bowl. Since after the second rise, the little dough balls were at the level of the bundt ban, I placed it on a foiled baking sheet. So glad I did this, several of the little balls popped off onto the sheet and sugar overflowed onto the pan. This was an amazingly delicious dessert! I had to quickly divide and freeze sections (for sharing) otherwise my husband and I would have eaten way too much. Thanks

  20. This looks like the perfect recipe but I question the use of melted butter in the dough. Have you ever used just room temperature butter? I would think it would give a lighter texture similar to a brioche.

    1. Hi Lynn, We use softened butter in many of our rich doughs, including the dough for our soft cinnamon rolls and you could use it here also. We opted for melted butter for this Monkey Bread because we find melted butter adds more, well, buttery flavor!

  21. Can you make the dough balls ( without the butter and cinnamon sugar coating) and refrigerate them for 2-3 hours and then continue with the recipe?
    Also, if you reheat it after taking it out of the Bundt pan and inverting it, do you need to put it back in the Bundt pan and invert it again? Does something happen to the brown sugar sauce when reheating it?

    1. Hi Marie! We haven’t tested that particular method for the dough balls, but don’t see why it would be an issue. 2-3 hours shouldn’t be too long. When reheating, there’s no need to put it back in the pan. We recommend setting your oven to “warm” and place it in the oven about 10-15 minutes before you serve it.

  22. Do I need to spray the bundt pan down with baking spray before I put the dough balls in?

  23. Hi Sally! Is it possible to make these “minis”, in muffin tins? If so, is it as simple as just dividing up the dough evenly and drizzling the butter/sugar coating over, then baking for less time? Can’t wait to try!

    1. Hi Annie! We haven’t tried this recipe in mini form with a muffin pan, but don’t see why it wouldn’t work – let us know if you give it a try!

  24. This sounds delicious! Do you actually make all the dough balls first and lay them out on a cookie sheet or something? Then do the dipping? Thanks!

    1. Hi Judy! You can see how we do the whole process in the video tutorial in the blog post above. Happy baking!

  25. Hi! I’m going to make this tomorrow and was wondering if there is any difference in the dough between this recipe and the one with caramel sauce. I’d prefer to do this recipe for the lower rise time but I’d much rather use caramel sauce. I was wondering what you would recommend

    1. There’s isn’t much of a difference, but I do prefer this dough for a softer monkey bread. You can use the caramel sauce from the other recipe if desired.

  26. Hey Sally! I use your recipes very often and they always come out delicious. However, for this recipe, I don’t have a stand mixer nor do I have a food processor. Is there any other way I can make the dough? Can I use a hand mixer or something simpler? Please reply soon! Thanks! 🙂

    1. Hi Amal, 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!

  27. Monkey Bread…. The best part of a cinnamon roll!! I used the dough setting on my bread maker and my bread came out soft, cinnamony and delicious. Thanks for this wonderful recipe!!

    1. In the coating? It should be just fine! You may want to add a bit more sugar to even out the consistency. Hope you love it!

    1. 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!

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