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

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!

Monkey bread with vanilla icing

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, soft 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. Egg: Eggs provides 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!

monkey bread dough

Monkey bread dough balls

monkey bread dough in bundt pan

baked monkey bread in bundt pan

How to Make Monkey Bread in 9 Steps

  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.

monkey bread serving on plate

More Indulgent Breakfast Recipes

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monkey bread

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
  • 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.

Keywords: cinnamon rolls, breakfast

Homemade Monkey Bread (aka Cinnamon Roll Bites or Cinnamon-Sugar Pull Apart Bread) - this homemade version is incredible! sallysbakingaddiction.com

This post is sponsored by Red Star Yeast. Thank you so much for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction and the brands I genuinely love. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you!

338 Comments

  1. Hi Sally,
    I need to prepare everything in advance!
    So is it okay to have the balls rise for more than 45 mins in the pan??

    Thanks!

  2. I just made these. I used an average sized bundt pan and the dough rose out of the pan while it was cooking, and a lot of the balls fell out and burned at the bottom of the oven. Also a lot of the sugar mixture leaked out while cooking, and burned at the bottom of the oven. So now the monkey bread tastes like smokey burned sugar. I’m sure it’s a delicious recipe. I just thought I’d warn people to use a bigger pan when they make it or use two pans.

  3. My sister has been insisting I make monkey bread. I finally manned up.

    I ended up with about 50 or more little rounds of dough when it came down to it, I cut it really close with the toppings. The only issue I had was that when I turned out the completed monkey bread, a few pieces stayed in the pan and what came out began to slide apart slowly. That was alright, I could just as easily put it in a bowl or rimmed serving dish, and I did just that. I think this happened because I misinterpreted the instructions for the coating sauce: “Melt the remaining 1/4 cup of butter and whisk in the brown sugar and vanilla[…]”. I melted the butter in the microwave, then tried to combine them. I get the idea I was supposed to do all this in a saucepan, because what I got was a little thick and didn’t really pour as much as…ooze…out of the bowl. My bad! Near the end of baking, however, it had heated up enough that I could separate the chunks of dough and let the heated coating run in between the cracks. So that’s probably why mine didn’t hold together so prettily.

    Regardless of that little mishap, this was a roaring success and everyone enjoyed them! I might be back for your caramel monkey bread sometime.

  4. If you don’t have a night for the dough, you can always put it in a warm, not hot, over for an hour. First time making it, really yummy!

  5. I was planning on making these soon but with pumpkin. Would you have any suggestions on how much pumpkin to incorporate in the coating? Thanks so much! 

  6. I made these this morning. It was delicious! I usually make sticky buns as a treat, but I thought I’d try these. They were amazing! This website is slowly becoming MY addiction! 

  7. I made these this morning for a birthday for one of the guys at work. They are LOSING THEIR MINDS and requesting more tomorrow.

  8. Hey Sally,

    This is one of my favorite recipes. If I added apples between the balls of dough, do you think it would effect the cooking time?

  9. Is it really necessary to add the pre-baking brown sugar glaze? I know, I know, why not? Oh, too much sugar makes too much mom and dad! Seriously, can I do without it? I really just want it to taste like a cinnamon roll. With cream cheese frosting!

  10. Hi Sally!

    I’m thinking of making a non-sweet version of this (maybe with some ham, cheese and pepperoncinis?)… any advice? Your recipes always taste amazing so I’d like to try your dough recipe as a base and then get creative from there! ~Thanks!

    1. That sounds DELISH! I’ve never tried making a savory version before– besides a pizza version recently which I just layered in shredded cheese, pizza sauce, and pepperoni with the balls of dough. However, I found a couple recipes online that can inspire you!

      Here’s one: http://gooddinnermom.com/incredible-savory-monkey-bread/
      Another: http://www.macheesmo.com/cheesy-monkey-bread/
      And one more! http://www.fivehearthome.com/2013/11/11/savory-herb-cheese-monkey-bread/

  11. If I don’t use Red Star yeast, do I still need to let it rise for 45 min. after rolling the dough into balls? I will be in a bit of a time crunch the morning I make it and don’t want to have to waste any time letting it rise. Thank you.

  12. Hi Sally! I want to make this for a holiday party, but was wondering if I could substitute biscuit dough rather than making a homemade dough. Let me know!! Happy holidays 🙂 

  13. Hi!

    Would this recipe work if I made the dough on a Friday and let it rise for 8 hours, assembled the dough balls in the bundt pan and then keep the whole thing in the fridge until Christmas morning (Sunday)? I used the Red Star Yeast. Thanks and Happy Holidays!

  14. Hi Sally,
    I LOVE all your recipes, I have never been led astray. A question: how would using butter flavored shortening affect the butter/sugar/cinnamon sauce? I want to make a vegan version and was hoping to avoid buying margarine! I’ve seen some recipes that call for it, but not sure how trusteworthy they are. 
    Thanks!
    All my best!

    1. The “green” (green and yellow, but not the plain yellow one) box of fleichemans (spelling?) stick butter is vegan. its the only one I’ve been able to find that’s not earth balance and much more affordable.

  15. Great recipe! I made this over Christmas and made the dough around 8pm (doubled recipe) and left covered until 11pm. It had risen well to double the size. I rolled and coated the balls and left in the fridge overnight in the bundt pans.the next morning took them out which they had again risen and then put them in the oven for 35 mins. Some of the butter/sugar spilled over the side, other than that it cooked perfectly, looked beautiful and was delicious. I will probably cut back a little on the sugar, it was a tad too sweet. Thanks for a great recipe!!!

  16. I followed this recipe exactly and it is DELICIOUS!  My children BEG me to make this.  I’m making it for the second time tonight– to cheer us through our Winter Blues.
    Thank you for this recipe!  It’s wonderful!

    1. Nooooo! Don’t ever let your dough do that! Unless you are making sourdough bread. You can put it in the fridge overnight, which retards the dough’s rise, slowing it down. Or you can let it rise to double in size and punch it down, usually takes 1-2 hrs. Then let it rise once more to double and use in your recipe. 8 hrs will ruin your dough.

  17. I usually make up the monkey bread….half a recipe. Put the balls in to a 9 x9 pan. place it in the refrigerator overnight. First thing in the morning I turn the oven on to 350 and put the buns in the cold oven…..this lets the dough rise a bit more before they actually stop rising. this works for me .
    I just used THIS recipe but added the brown sugar along with the white sugar to coat with. I hope it does not do a ””””bad””’thing like burn easily. I will try and see, as it already is in frig waiting for morning. I guess its good to read the whole recipe and not assume you know about it.

  18. Made this morning for my son’s birthday breakfast. Made the dough (doubled for 12 children) rolled out flat 1/4″ on floured surface cut into 1″ squares (pizza cutter) tossed into greased 9×13 pan. Let rise 30 minutes (crunched for time) melted 2 sticks butter, poured over dough squares, mixed brown sugar & cinnamon poured over. Baked 15 minutes, tossed with tongs to coat better, baked 20 minutes more. Turned over onto sheet pan, poured confectioners glaze over the top. All the kids ate it and loved it !!! Will make again ♡ wonderful recipe. Thank you Sally !

  19. I made this recipe exactly and put tin foil over it while babaking but when the top was golden and it was already 35-40 mins the monkey bread was still doughy underneath. Any advice?

  20. I really like your creative fist prints in the raw dough pic! It really strikes my fancy… I may have to recreate it, After I make this awesome yeast monkey bread!!! I have only ever done biscuit monkey bread, this looks 100x Better!!

  21. I am new to the gluten-free diet thing, as I discovered recently that my “reflux” was actually that. So I wanted to try this recipe and just switch out the kind of flour. (Gluten free instead of regular) Warning to others, do NOT switch it out as the dough will not rise at all and the bread will be dense, and not very tasty. It will also make handling the bread mkuch harder if you try to switch it out…

  22. Hi Sally
    I once had a recipe for Hawaiian Monkey Bread, but have lost in many moves. Do you by any change have it? It was in a Cooking Light Magazine and had sweetened coconut milk in it. If not, your version will be as good, I am sure. 
    Thank you !

  23. I haven’t used yeast before in a recipe so I’m scared…could I use fast rising yeast instead though? How would the rise time differ?

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