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. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.

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!

344 Comments

  1. I have some active sourdough starter leftover from baking bread. Can I add a bit of sourdough starter to the monkey bread? If so, how much would you suggest? Thanks!

    1. JB, You would replace One (1) cup of Flour and add One (1) cup of Sourdough Starter. So, remove 1 Cup Flour and replace it with 1 Cup of your Sourdough Starter.

  2. I want to add some apple chunks to this recipe, but am worried about the finished product getting soggy.  What would you suggest?

    1. I’ve added apples to this before! I cut the apples into small square chunks and tossed with cinnamon, sugar, and melted butter. I reduced the temp to 325 and kept a piece of foil just laid across the top of the dish to let the moisture out and keep the tops from overly browning, it turned out great! Total bake time was approx 10 min longer. 

  3. I made this dough Friday night and was all set to assemble and bake it Saturday morning. Well, a major snow storm hit. 10 inches…in Atlanta. Who knew? 
    I went ahead and assembled it Saturday morning even though we had no power, in hopes our power would come back.  It sat in our garage refrigerator for an entire day. Today we still have no power, so we decided to bake it on the grill.

    Even after all of that, it is amazing and wonderful and delicious!! Thank you!!

  4. Looks yummy! I would like to make this a few days ahead of time and freeze it after it’s baked then thaw and warm up on Christmas morning. Would that be ok?

  5. Thank you so much! I know the shortcut version from my childhood, but now live in Switzerland where there’s no frozen bread dough available. My family will be trying this recipe out! 

  6. Can I halve the recipe? If I do, could I still use a bundt pan (less full)? How long would that take to bake? Any suggestions on any other changes to make a half recipe? 

  7. I only have Red Star active yeast.  Will I need to wait an additional 45 minutes before baking?  Thanks Sally and enjoy your first Christmas with your baby

  8. I don’t know what I did wrong but this didn’t turn out for me at all. Maybe bad yeast? My dough was very hard, never rose, and once baked it didn’t stick together so when I flipped it there were 45 very dense balls laying in a heap. Lol but also sad. Was very eager to eat this. 

  9. I missed the 8 hour cool down in the recipe, and tried to make this the same day. It came out perfect. I let it rise for about half an hour before making the balls, and then let it rise for another half an hour in the bunt-cake pan. The only drawback was that it rose above the edge of the pan and some of the brown sugar mixture overflowed causing a smokey kitchen experience–but the rest was great. It didn’t need the final glaze because it was plenty sweet without it. (I made some simple icing on the side for people to dip if they wanted to.)

  10. Hi, Sally! How do you recommend I reheat this? Like temp and time (I’m new at this so I follow directions religiously!). I’m going to a party but it’s 45 minutes away and the bread won’t stay warm. Thank you!

    1. It should be fine to serve at room temperature if you are traveling to a party. But if you would like it warm you can just set the oven to “warm” and place it in the oven about 10-15 minutes before you serve it.

    1. I prefer to use unsalted butter so that I can control the amount of salt in a recipe. If you use salted butter you will need to reduce the amount of salt but I don’t know by how much because each brand of butter contains a different amount.

  11. This is a delightful monkey bread! Everything went perfect. I left the dough in the fridge for about 16 hours. I made this for a birthday gift at the request of the birthday girl.

  12. Looks gorgeous! I’m not sure why I never made monkey bread before but I look forward to trying yours. I have tried few of your cookie recipes and they turned out perfect.

    1. Delish recipe! I added two teaspoons vanilla to the dough, which was great! I used a 12 cup bundt and it baked way over the top, but it all worked out! Thanks for a fun recipe!

  13. It’s Christmas morning and this thing is a soggy mess, just put back in the oven for another round of 10 minutes…. I’ve made monkey bread before and it was perfect, maybe the extra glaze made it too wet? It looks like it worked for others.

  14. This is the best thing I have ever baked!

    My three year-old son and I were inspired to make pull-apart bread from a recipe on the side of a Pillsbury biscuit can. Thankfully, the biscuits had expired and we were forced to search for a homemade recipe because it lead us to your recipe! In the years before I had my son I was venturing into the world of baking and lost touch after he was born. Making this recipe yesterday has reinvigorated the inspiration. Thank you!

    And thank you for an amazing recipe! It takes all our restraint to not eat it all at once!

  15. I made this tonight and my family LOVED it!!! “YOU GOTTA make this again!” Was echoes by everyone at the table. Thank you for the great recipe!

    I followed the recipe exactly except for raising the dough. I did. Not have the luxury of waiting till morning so I warmed the oven to the lowest setting I could and placed a bowl of steaming water in the oven to create a moist humid environment. I put the dough in a oiled oven safe dish and let it rise up to double the size. It took about 25 mins. The dough was pillowy and perfect. Covers in owey gooey goodness. The topping had a bit too much vanilla for my taste but everyone else LIVKED THEIR FINGERS CLEAN WITH EACH SWEET BITE. Yummy!!

    This would be great for a brunch or to takentona pot luck.

  16. Hi there,
    I’d like to make this for Easter breakfast tomorrow. Can I do the first rise today (8hours) and assemble balls and sugar in the bundt pan before bed and refrigerate? Will it be ok if I do the prep today and just bake tomorrow morning? Thanks and SO looking forward to trying this yummy recipe!

    1. Hi Ali! That’s actually what I did the last time I served this and the monkey bread was GREAT! Cover assembled/shaped bread tightly overnight in the fridge, then bake in the morning.

  17. Thanks so much for this recipe. I have tried several and it is by far one of my favorites. It will be a great addition to our Easter spread!

  18. This monkey bread looks delicious! I adore cinnamon buns, so this is obviously becoming the next thing on my to-bake list 🙂 Love the new photos! Your photography alone is eye candy to me, and just as sweet and perfect as your recipes!

  19. Oh my goodness! I seriously wish I could just walk into the kitchen right now and make this. But sadly 12-year-old bakers are not allowed to stop doing school to bake monkey bread. If I could, I would though. This looks insanely delicious!!! I have to make this sometime really soon 🙂 Thank for another amazing recipe Sally!

    1. I hope you are able to find time to make this soon, Sarah! I’d love to know what you think 🙂 Happy baking!

  20. I literally just got done eating this delicious bread! I am so glad I gave it a try because this morning I was debating on making it or not. I made monkey bread before but it ended up burning but still not cooking all the way through. I made this recipe in my bread machine and it turned out perfect! Love the coating that was drizzled over the cake before baking, it made it that much better! I usually don’t make bread because it is a little intimidating but this recipe was so easy! I will forever use this amazing recipe! Thanks Sally!!!

    1. I’m so glad you loved this recipe, Zoe! Thanks for giving monkey bread another try 😉 Thrilled it was a hit!

  21. I’ve been looking for a good homemade monkey bread recipe and haven’t found one, so I’ll definitely be making this! Everyone just uses biscuit dough but I love making bread dough from scratch, so this is great!

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