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!

345 Comments

  1. Love this monkey bread. Have you ever made it with cream cheese frosting as is on your delicious cinnamon rolls?

    I am tempted to do so but am coming to the expert for advice. Thanks much, Sally!

    1. I haven’t yet! I usually just stick with a vanilla icing. A tangy cream cheese icing would be divine though.

  2. Dear Sally, If you did make them in a muffin pan for more individual servings–this is for a tea party for animal shelter volunteers-how many balls do you think for each cup? Would the baking temp still be the same? Any idea of baking time? Thank you!

    1. Hi Lynne! I’d say 3 balls of dough per cup. Grease the pan very well. Stuff the dough balls in there! Same oven temperature. Bake time will be around 20 minutes.

  3. Hi Sally! This recipe looks incredible…as a cinnamon fanatic I’m so excited to try it out! Two questions: 1) could I use an Angel Food cake tube pan (I’m also attempting the June baking challenge of Angel Food cake, so trying to multi-task…I’m guessing if I can then I should grease the pan for the Monkey Bread). 2) Could I use Cake/Pastry flour instead of or in combination with All Purpose flour (again as I have that on hand for the baking challenge, and I’m running a bit low on AP flour). Thanks as always for your awesome recipes and great advice!!

  4. Hi
    Just wondering – I want to save a portion for someone that is on vacation- can I freeze a portion after it’s all made??

    1. Hi Chris! Definitely 🙂 Tightly wrap a portion of the bread and place it in the freezer. Thaw prior to serving- you can even heat it up in the microwave for a few seconds!

  5. I wish I had read the recipe better on the pan size. I had balls of dough baking out of the pan like a volcano having a slow eruption. Thank goodness I had put foil under the pan and caught the strays. I put them in a casserole dish. I gave those to my son and his fiancé. They liked them. 🙂

  6. Fantastic, and delicious! Love these fun, yummy recipes. We love this! Started in the night before, finished after spending time boating and fishing on the river. It was Perfect.

  7. Made this today to take to a dinner that was cancelled last minute, so all the more for us! This is SO good and I’d love any tips on self control that you and your followers have to share!

    The dough was SUPER moist but I’m assuming that’s pretty standard? It turned out beautifully so it must be, but it was just still really sticky after some kneading..I ended up adding a tiny bit more flour even though I was reluctant to play around too much!

    Thanks for sharing such a comforting and indulgent recipie! Hoping for another dinner invite so I can justify making this again!

  8. 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”!!!

  9. 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.

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