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.
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!
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!
- Homemade Dough: milk, sugar, yeast, eggs, butter, salt, flour
- Dough Ball Coating: butter, cinnamon, sugar
- Brown Sugar Sauce: butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract
- Vanilla Icing: confections’ sugar, milk, vanilla extract
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 Nutella 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:
- Milk: Liquid activates the yeast. Nondairy or low fat milks are fine, but whole milk produces phenomenal flavor and texture.
- 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.
- Sugar: Sugar feeds the yeast, increases its activity, and tenderizes the dough.
- Eggs: Eggs provide structure and flavor.
- Butter: Butter promises a flavorful dough.
- Salt: You can’t make flavorful bread without salt!
- Flour: All-purpose flour is the structure of the dough.
Overview: How to Make Monkey Bread
- 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.
- Let the dough rise: The dough rises in about 1-2 hours in a relatively warm environment.
- Punch down the dough: Punch down the dough to release the air.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bake: Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 40 minutes.
- Invert onto serving plate: Allow the monkey bread to cool for 5-10 minutes, then invert it onto a serving plate.
- Drizzle with vanilla icing: Whisk confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla extract together until smooth. Drizzle all over the warm 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.
More Indulgent Breakfast Recipes
- Star Bread
- Biscuit Breakfast Casserole
- Raspberry Twist Bread
- Apple Cinnamon Rolls
- Giant Cinnamon Roll Cake
- Berry Fritters
Homemade Monkey Bread
- 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
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.
- 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)
- 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
- 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
- 3 Tablespoons (45ml) whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 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.
- 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!*
- 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.
- 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.)
- Generously grease a 10-12 cup Bundt pan with butter or nonstick spray. (Nonstick spray is best for this recipe.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Comments & Reviews
First time making this recipe and loved it. I did omit the icing at the end as I thought the brown sugar gooey mixture was enough. I will definitely be making this again
First time making this and it came out perfectly! My husband liked it more than almost any breakfasty confection I make. I did not use the glaze but would consider trying a cinnamon roll glaze at some point (cream cheese/butter/confectioner’s sugar/vanilla/ lemon extract) to make it more of a cinnamon roll vibe. I rose the dough in the oven by preheating to 175, shutting it off, then putting it on bread proof after 35-40 minutes… Rose in less than an hour and came out perfectly. I also did all the dough work with the KitchenAid dough hook for the first time… perfect!!
Divine! Utterly divine! Couldn’t resist! Unbearable addiction. The soft bread, the strong cinnamon flavor, the creamy icing. It all adds up! It reminds of my great-great grandmommys recipe. Its almost as if I’m in her kitchen like I used to do every Wednesday after a great day at school hanging with my school-yard-chums back in 1982. It’s truly been a long time since I’ve had the famous Monkey Bread, and when my ex-husband recommended me to Sally’s Baking Addiction, I couldn’t contain my excitement! Thank you so much for this absolutely perfect recipe.
Would this recipe adapt to gluten-free all purpose flour in place of regular all purpose flour?
Hi Jan, we haven’t tested this recipe with gluten-free flour so we’re unsure of the results. Although some readers report using an all-purpose 1:1 gluten-free flour in many of our recipes with success, you should expect slightly different results anytime you substitute ingredients. Let us know if you do give it a try.
Dough was flavorless. Not very impressed.
I wonder how big your dough balls were? The smaller they are, the more butter and cinnamon/sugar get on them, making them more flavorful.
Hi Sally, does it matter what kind of pan I use for baking the bread?
HI Lily! You need a 10-12 cup Bundt pan for this recipe.
It’s perfect recipe. Ultimate crowdpleaser. Easier than cinnamon rolls, producing a softer, plusher, and, frankly, more satisfying treat. I don’t think the glaze is at all necessary as the monkey bread is plenty sweet. I’ve made this recipe several times over the years and couldn’t imagine the glaze improving it.
I have been baking this recipe for many, many years and at this point it is not Christmas morning for my family without this. My toddler has an egg allergy so I stressed about how to adapt it this year, but happy to say it works without the eggs! I just increased the milk by a half a cup, no problem. It may have been ever so slightly denser without the eggs, but no one was complaining.
This is absolutely incredible!! A family favorite!!
If I don’t have a Bundt pan could I use a bread tin?
Hi Christine, 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!
I loved this but I did think it was way too sweet. I didn’t even add the icing on top, I think it was because of the sauce. But I had a question, the sauce, I even whisked it after pouring it out because the butter and brown sugar didn’t seem to blend in completely while in the pot, but it ended up very “grainy” and hardened on the bottom of the pan so a few pieces sucked to the bottom and I end up having some holes in the bread. How to prevent that grainy issue? and have the sauce spread out evenly to all the dough balls (and I did evenly pour the sauce before baking) and not just pile on specific ones and made those extremely sweet?
Hi Veronica, adding a bit of room temperature heavy cream to the remaining melted butter and the brown sugar/vanilla mixture will help thin it out. This will also help it stay nice and liquid. You could also try a similar caramel sauce I published with this turtle brownie pie, which is cooked on the stove. There’s cream in that sauce, and a little corn syrup to help prevent that crystallization and grainy texture to which you’re referring.
Big hit. Did first rise and dip/roll, then refrigerated. Made probably 50 balls. Pulled out 2.5 hours prior to bake. Didn’t do the final frosting. Baked in sculpted bundt pan. Everyone thought it was purchased from a local custom bakery. Only disappointment: there were no leftovers.
I thought the recipe was easy to follow and all went well, but it just didn’t taste awesome, despite the abundant sugar and butter.
Love this recipe. Making them tonight, but have to finish tomorrow. I let the dough rise for two hours and then threw it in the fridge. Will the recipe be ruined if I leave them overnight and restart at step 5 tomorrow?
Hi Dennis, that’s exactly what we recommend for our overnight instructions – see the recipe notes. Enjoy!
I assemble the entire thing in a Bundt pan on Christmas Eve and refrigerate, covered, overnight. In the morning I take it out as soon as we get up and put it straight into the oven about 30 minutes later. It comes out perfect every time!
Question… has anyone made them through the rolling the balls step then refrigerated overnight. Curious if I can shape them and then let the balls rise in the morning… Thanks
Hi Kate, we haven’t tried that, but recommend the overnight instructions in the note section if making the day before. Enjoy!
Yes I have done that many times with similar recipes and have this one in the oven now. I did everything including the sauce, put in fridge yesterday and put directly into cold oven while it was heating up with AM, covered with foil. It doesn’t make sense to stop at step 3 if you plan to serve this for breakfast!
I made this last night (overnight first rise in the fridge) and this morning, and it turned out great! I got a little overflow of sauce on the bottom of my oven, so I think my Bundt pan was just a tad too small. Will use a larger tube pan next time. I usually add a little extra flour to get my dough into a ball, but by keeping yeast doughs on the stickier side, I’ve noticed how much softer the bread turns out! It’s finding the in between of too sticky to knead and too much flour and making it dense. Monkey bread was delicious! I did 10 balls off the dough one at a time, then second guessed my estimating abilities, and cut the remaining dough into 30 or so pieces to make assembly go a bit faster. It puffed up a lot in the oven! So happy with how it turned out for my work brunch today. Will definitely make again for grab and go events or potlucks where one or two pieces would be better than a whole cinnamon roll. I baked for right around 40 minutes. So much better than canned biscuits!
Hi! Will thawing the frozen dough balls overnight in the fridge count as the second rise? – so i just pop them in the pan and move on with the recipe? And Should I lay them out to thaw or keep them in freezer bags?
Thanks! I love this recipe and need it for a potluck after work so I’m trying to plan ahead!
Hi Alex! Thaw dough balls in the fridge overnight, you can leave them in the freezer bags, then prepare the coating and Bundt pan, then coat the dough balls as instructed in step 7. Continue with the recipe (including the 20 minute rest before baking). Hope it’s a hit!
I have made this recipe in past and love it! I would like to make it to have Christmas morning and do as much as I can in advance.. do you have an estimate of how long it would take to thaw the dough balls (when following the freezing instructions)? Thanks so much!
Hi Anna! It would be easiest to thaw the dough balls in the fridge overnight.
Hi there. Looking forward to trying this. Can you make this in advance and refrigerate overnight before baking?
See recipe notes!
Superb, I cut down the cinnamon by half, and didn’t make icing, it was plenty sweet!
Made it tonight. I have a very happy family, thank you so much
I was thinking about making half of the dough pumpkin flavored. If I were to add in some blotted pumpkin (maybe ¼ cup?), would you recommend reducing the milk or butter, or should it be fine as it is? Thanks in advance!
Hi Catherine! We haven’t tested it so can’t say for sure. We would try reducing the milk. Let us know how it goes!
This recipe will be going in my favorites for sure! It is amazing!
What might the internal temperature be-Around 190F when finished?
The dough balls certainly blow up!
Hi Gay, If you have an instant read thermometer, yeast doughs/bread is done when it reads the center of the loaf/pan/bread as 195°F(90°C).