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

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  1. Rebekah Ann Jones says:

    This recipe worked so well and it tasted so good! I used a little nutmeg in the cinnamon sugar mixture just to add a little more flavor. Also be careful when making the coating… I put too much sugar and not enough butter (I accidentally put about a cup of brown sugar) so it was not runny enough to go fully into the pan. Even then it still tasted sooo good! Thank you Sally!

  2. Lindsay Barrett says:

    Hi sally, can this recipe be made with bread flour? or even 1/2 AP and half bread?

  3. The directions for making this in advance seem to have changed from when I made it last, and isn’t working for me so well. I followed the new directions to a T, but my dough seems to be very sticky and am having trouble even getting it to shape into balls to get in the pan. Any ideas?

  4. Can you use a bread maker to make the dough?

    1. Karen Zelnick says:

      Sally can I cover the sugar and cinnamon coated balls overnight and bake with the brown sugar the next day?

  5. Wow, made this for Easter with my 9 year old daughter. She had a blast and it turned out amazing! Perfectly written directions! To those who asked if you could use AP flour, the answer is yes – that’s what we did because that’s all we had on hand.

  6. We made this for Easter. My 6 yo and 3 yo loved rolling the balls of dough and dipping them in the butter and cinnamon sugar! And, it tasted amazing!!

  7. Wonderful recipe, Sally. I reduced the amount of sugar a bit and used half white wheat flour and it still rose perfectly and tasted great!

  8. Hi. Can I make these in loaf pans somehow ? How do I do the pull apart bit? Should I just make balls as directed and put them in mini loaf pans instead of a bundt pan?

    1. Yes, simply layer the dough balls in a loaf pan. You’ll have enough for to loaves. I’m unsure of the exact bake time.

  9. Hello, I have been reading this recipe and I was wondering can I use Bread Flour for this instead of all purpose? I have a surplus of bread flour that I knead (LOL) to use up. Thanks for sharing your expertise.
    Angela

    1. Ha! Yes, you sure can. Same amount.

      1. Thank you!! Will it change the texture any?

      2. I made it with bread flour last night and it came out GREAT. I have made it a few times now – only once using bread flour. The only difference was that the dough seemed to come together better/faster using the bread flour. The texture was wonderful with both bread flour and all purpose flour. I do not use a stand mixer. I use a hand held mixer with the beaters to do the initial mix and then do everything else by hand. This is a FANTASTIC recipe. Absolutely delicious!

  10. Sally Thank you, I’ve tried this and your delicious scones. I did have to use more butter and cinnamon sugar. Because I made the balls smaller. But it still came out wonderful.

  11. can I make this with low fat milk?

  12. Todd Johnson says:

    The syrup was all crystallized and crunchy. I messaged her twice to find out if I did anything wrong, and she never answered me.

    1. Hi Todd, I don’t see any previous comments, so I apologize if I’m missing it. (I get hundreds per day, hard to keep up!) Thanks for asking again. The brown sugar syrup will crystallize in some places (around the edges) and provide extra texture. However, lowering your oven temperature by 25 degrees F (and baking for a few extra minutes), as well as baking the monkey bread on a lower rack will help. Tent the monkey bread with aluminum foil halfway through baking too. All three will help prevent that coating from becoming too crunchy. Thanks!

  13. Marguerite says:

    OMG. Yum, yum, yum. I made the monkey bread this past Sunday afternoon. It was gone by Tuesday afternoon. No company came over (Covid). Just me and hubby devoured it. No judgement. Lol. My husband normally says “ that was good.” This time he said “that receipe is a keeper”. Thank you Sally!

  14. Wonderful recipe! Unfortunately, I made the mistake of not putting a pan under the Monkey Bread while baking, resulting in the sauce overflowing all over the bottom of the oven. I definitely won’t be making that mistake twice… Yikes! But I will be making this Monkey Bread recipe again. SOOOOOOO GOOD! Thank you for sharing it!

  15. Halved this recipe to make a smaller loaf and it came out beautifully! Baked for about 37 minutes and it was just done. I actually cut the amount of brown sugar – butter topping and didn’t include the icing because I like my desserts a little less sweet and it was still wonderful. Thank you!

  16. Baked these before and htey were great. Quick question: If I’m in a hurry, can I substitute some kind of pre-made pilsbury (or other brand) dough ? If so, what kind would work best?

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed them, Macy. I’m sure you could use packaged dough although I haven’t tested one.

  17. Yamahamama says:

    Can I make this using almond flour and stevia? Made the original recipe and it is amazing. Asking because my son and his fiance are dieting pre-wedding. Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi! I don’t recommend almond flour in this yeasted dough. I haven’t tried any sugar substitutes but I fear the yeast wouldn’t raise the dough properly without real sugar. Here are some of my healthier recipes if you’d like to browse.

  18. Hi! Can you add pecans into this recipe? If so, where would you recommend adding them in? Thank you!

    1. Absolutely! As you arrange the balls of dough into the pan, simply layer in some chopped pecans between them. Yum!

  19. I tried your recipe today. I must confess though I used my own bread recipe. I was making something else anyway with it. I used the rest of your method and it was perfect. Sweet? Yes. But isn’t that what monkey bread is? Decadent and sweet? It’s not something I eat regularly and I’m sure no one else does either. Thank you for this recipe. It’s just my husband and I and we’re seniors who don’t eat much so I’m taking most of it to my daughter and grandkids. I better go… they’re waiting for me. 🙂

  20. hi sally! I was wondering if the monkey bread removed easily from the pan? even with the brown sugar glaze?

    thanks!
    Maddie

    1. Hi Maddie, I generously grease my bundt pan with nonstick spray and don’t ever have an issue with them sticking!

  21. hi sally! I was wondering if I could make cinnamon rolls out of this dough? I know you have several cinnamon roll recipes but I wanted to try this dough

    thanks!

    1. Definitely!

  22. How well does this keep? I was thinking about making it a day before and having for breakfast for guests.

    1. Hi Amanda, Monkey bread tastes best served on the same day. If you would like to get started the before you can follow the overnight instructions in the recipe notes. Enjoy!

  23. Hi Sally. I’m new to yeast and bread. I am in the middle of trying this recipe fir the 1st time. The dough prior to kneading was very wet and sticky. I couldn’t knead it as is. I added more flour to get it to form like it did in your video. Hoping this works.

    For future reference, any tips? I measured everything diligently – using a scale – so I know that’s not the issue.

    Thanks!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Bryan! There are a lot of variances that go into the consistency of yeast doughs, even down to the weather and humidity. Adding more flour is always helpful if the dough seems too sticky. While this is a very soft and supple dough, it should still come together as you knead it. More flour, a little at a time, helps. Hope you enjoyed this recipe. It’s one of our favorites!

  24. Hi sally! I made this recipe and it was delicious! I was wondering if I could double it or is it like cake and I’d have to make it twice?

    Thanks!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi M, for best results I recommend making 2 individual batches of this dough!

  25. Hi Sally! Do you think I could fry this dough to make doughnuts?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi M, I’m sure you can! Very similar dough to my glazed doughnuts recipe.

  26. hello! if i don’t have milk on hand, would you recommend water, or an almond milk instead?

  27. Lexi Snooze says:

    Hi Sally, could I use a bread maker for this recipe? Thanks.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lexi, We don’t have a bread machine so we can’t test anything, but I know some readers have made this dough in one.

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