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, 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. 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.

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 (43°C)
  • 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.

414 Comments

  1. Susan Shaneyfelt says:

    I CHEATED a bit. I was at our lake place and supplies and bakery tools are limited. I bought frozen cinnamon rolls, let then rise, tore each roll into thirds, rolled the thirds into balls, then followed the recipe for dipping into butter and sugar mixture. However in between layers in the pan I threw in chopped pecan pralines/pecans. For the topping I followed the recipe but added about 2 tablespoons of light corn syrup. Followed the baking instructions and I was able to use the frosting that came with the frozen rolls for the drizzle. Let me just say. “AMAZING”!!!

    1. Sounds incredible, Susan! Enjoy your time at the lake 🙂

  2. Do you think it would work with AP gluten free flour?

    1. Hi Jan, I haven’t personally tested this recipe with GF flour but please let me know if you do!

  3. I’ve made this twice now. It’s delicious! Thank you for all the great recipes! 😀

  4. I would like to make these for a special breakfast. Can the dough be made the night before and refrigerated?

    1. Hi Kristen, See recipe note #2 for overnight instructions! Enjoy!

  5. This monkey bread is so tasty I didn’t even add the icing. It really didn’t need it. I too had an overflow situation which may have been either my pan size or perhaps over proving the dough. I also feel that I may have incorporated too much butter so that when the brown sugar sauce was added it created more gooeyness.

  6. Hi sally! Made this a while ago and it turned out AMAZING! However, I expected the cinnamon sugar coating to dissolve when it was in the oven. Instead, the sugar was still crystallized and some bites tasted like I was just eating sugar. Is this how it’s meant to be? If not, do you know why it happened and how I can prevent it? Thank you so much ❤️❤️

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed this! Do you think that when you rolled the dough balls in the cinnamon and sugar mixture in step 7 that there were some harder chunks of sugar? This can happen when some moisture gets into your sugar – you can either sift or pick them out. If you try it again make sure your sugar doesn’t have any larger hard pieces and you can also coat the dough balls a little lighter.

  7. Absolutely amazing. I’m more of a cake baker vs bread baker and this intimidated me. But the instructions are to the tee and almost fool proof. It was not hard, just a bit time consuming.
    I added a good bit of orange extract to the icing and man, what a great combination. Also added a tsp of allspice to the cinnamon/ sugar mixture.
    I will absolutely make this 5 star recipe again.
    One last note, let it cool completely before inverting, otherwise it might not hold together as well as you’d like.

  8. Hi there!

    And let me be perfectly honest… These are better than anything Cinnabon or my sisters completely homemade cinnamon rolls, they are that good! So sweet and gooey! I was not expecting these to be this good! They are the best straight out of the oven and warm with pretty white icing! The coating gives these a nice syrupy chewiness, they are so amazing! I made the dough before I went to bed and put it in the fridge overnight and then took it out in the morning and let it rise, I made all of the coating into one and tossed the squares all together, (I wouldn’t recommend tossing them together if you want perfect squares) they sort of jumbled up into each other, but I didn’t mind, I just kind of reformed them as I went. I put them in mini Bundt cake pans, cooked it half with foil and the other half without… they are so adorable and heavenly! Brilliant recipe and luscious outcomes! Thank you so much for this recipe, Sally!

    1. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed this recipe so much! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment!

  9. I tried your recipe last night. My first success in making bread! Hubby liked it a lot. The coating overflowed while baking… so we ended having to fan away the smoke from the burning sugar for 1/2 hr so our smoke alarm didn’t get activated.. I think I have to adjust the recipe as it came out too big!

  10. This turned out excellent! Exactly the soft texture I wanted.
    Only needed a little more than a quarter cup of melted butter for coating the dough balls (not a full melted stick). I thought the dough was a little sticky after adding 5 cups so I added another 1/4 cup and it binded better.

    Also, I baked it in a springform, and I would recommend putting a pan under it when baking to collect the dripping butter and sugar, because it raised a lot in the oven. Overall 5/5!!

  11. I’ve made this several times and my family loves it so thank you for sharing! I’m considering making this and selling as a fundraiser for our family mission trip to Belize but would need to roll the balls in cinnamon sugar and then freeze in the pan for it to work. Do you think they would still turn out ok that way? I saw your note said to freeze them before you roll and then roll after they’re defrosted but I’d like to be able to defrost and pop in oven. Just wondering if you’ve tried it that way and it didn’t work. Thanks!

    1. Hi Shelley, I have tried it this way and find that the coating does not freeze well on the dough. Best to coat them right before baking!

  12. Hi Sally! I’m looking forward to making these for a brunch this weekend, love some pull apart cinnamon rolls! Due to the craziness of hosting, I’m brainstorming ways to break up the work on this and wondering if I could follow the instructions for freezing the dough, and then rolling the frozen dough balls in the coating and letting thaw in the bundt pan overnight. That’s typically how my mama did “pull-aparts” with store bought frozen dough, but do you think it would work with homemade as well? Or would you thaw first, roll, and then rise in the fridge overnight? Appreciate your thoughts and work on this recipe!

    1. Hi Chelsea! For best results, I would thaw the dough balls first, then roll in coating, and rise overnight.

  13. Hi sally this was delicious! How would you recommend I add nuts and sultanas for next time? Love the idea of pulling apart so wasn’t sure adding them between the balls would be the best?
    Thanks!

    1. You can definitely sprinkle chopped nuts around the shaped dough balls after they’re coated and as you place them in the pan.

  14. Such an easy recipe to follow! We are vegan so I substituted the egg with commercial egg replacer and used full fat soymilk and they turned out amazing! I will use this recipe time and time again!

  15. I really like this recipe. I make the overnight version for my family every Christmas. I also prep everything for a friend who doesn’t cook much and show her where to start on the instructions. However, the directions have been changed. I don’t think they were broken. The overnight method is now more complicated and takes much longer. I disagree that it needs 3 hours. The previous refrigerator method worked great.

  16. Can you make this ahead and leave it overnight and then bake in the morning?

    1. Hi Holly, You can prepare the recipe through step three the night before. Please see the recipe notes for overnight instructions. Enjoy!

  17. Do you think there would be a noticeable difference if I used canola oil or butter in only the dough section?

    1. You can definitely try it. You will lose that buttery flavor in the dough.

  18. This was well put together. Great recipe no complaints

  19. Our family absolutely loved this recipe! Thank you so much! I will never make cinnamon buns again!

  20. This is a great recipe!! Have not tasted it yet but just took it out of the oven. Followed the recipe exactly and everything went according to plan! Makes a great dough and the house smells AMAZING! Made this for the staff breakfast at my school tomorrow. I’ll make the icing in the morning and add it after I warm it a bit before serving. Can’t wait to have a taste!!

  21. So this is the best thing I ever tasted! Only difficulty is how to stop oneself eating the entire thing…?

  22. Monkey bread for my 7 year old’s birthday today!

    I had some problems with sugar pooling in the bottom of the pan and not dissolving. I’m not sure whether it was the white sugar (rolled on the dough balls) or the brown sugar (poured over before the bake). It is delicious, but the sugar is a bit intense.

    The dough is perfect, by the way!

  23. Hayden Calmese says:

    I love this recipe but I’ve always put raisins in it and I use a warm oven to quicken the rising time

    1. I’m so glad you enjoy it, Hayden!

  24. Hi Sally I love your recipes but I have a question. Because I don’t have a Bundt pan can I use like a cake pan or another type of pan or do I have to go buy a Bundt pan?

    1. Thanks Jeremy! You can halve the recipe for a loaf pan or make 2 loaf pans from the written recipe. The bake time will be shorter when using smaller pans. Or try a casserole dish or individual monkey bread muffins in a muffin pan.

  25. Thank you this is very helpful I love all your recipes.

  26. I thought I’d use a casserole dish, I severely under estimated the size of this recipe! Oops. But thankfully I had the foresight to place a baking sheet underneath it. They are HUGE….I’m thinking they’re not supposed to get THAT huge. Super yeast today or something? EEK! I thought my bundt pan would be too small and I couldn’t find it right away either, so I gave up and thought the casserole dish that I do my apple crisp in would work. Tooooo small! This would be great broken up into a few batches for me I think!

  27. Melissa shenfield says:

    This tastes heavenly and it turned out great I just made a cream cheese icing instead of her icing And it just made it one step better. thanks

    1. I’m thrilled you enjoyed this recipe, Melissa!

  28. I don’t have what I need to make my own bread. Can I use frozen, ready to bake bread loaves or the dinner roll dough to make this?

    1. I used to always make my monkey bread with Pillsbury Grands biscuits. Cut them into quarters. T’s how my Grandma and Aunt taught me t do it.

  29. Hi!
    Can this be made gluten free with a 1-to-1 allpurpose blend?
    Thanks

    1. Hi M, I have little experience baking gluten free recipes. I have personally never tested this dough using gluten free flour, but let me know if you try it.

      1. Okay, I will!

  30. Rebecque Asher says:

    Hi Sally. Can I make the dough in my bread maker just using the “dough” setting”? After the bread maker does its thing, then do I just go to your step 5? And can I use half-n-half instead of whole milk? Thank you!

    1. Hi Rebecque, I don’t have a bread machine so I can’t test anything but I know some readers have made this dough in one. Half-and-half is too heavy for this dough unfortunately.

      1. Rebecque Asher says:

        Ah, gotcha! Okay, thanks Sally. 😉

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