A sweet and sticky caramel bread created with several layers of fluffy dough balls coated in brown sugar and cinnamon.
If you haven’t heard about monkey bread before, then it’s time you should!
Monkey bread is similar to cinnamon rolls in taste, but is much more fun to snack on! It’s made of a fluffy, soft dough cut into small balls, coated in a cinnamon-sugar mixture, and layered in a Bundt pan. When baked, the sugar turns into a gooey caramel sauce, and since there are more than 60 balls, there are multiple layers of this caramel goodness everywhere. You’ll taste it in every single bite, making this a cinnamon roll lover’s heaven!
The name’s origin, by the way, is unknown. Once you take your first bite, though, you won’t even care!
This monkey bread is the first I’ve ever made, and I was so pleasantly surprised with how amazing it turned out. I was afraid that the sugar would stick to the sides of the pan when I inverted it onto a plate, but it came out smoothly and beautifully. I made pretty much the same dough as in my perfect cinnamon rolls recipe. It’s really not hard once you understand how it’s done! It’s so rewarding, too. Ever since I made the first perfect batch of cinnamon rolls from scratch, I’ve been having constant cravings for them!
To make the bread, start by making the dough (once again, you can find a step-by-step recipe for a similar dough here). Once the dough has doubled in size for the first time, pat it into an 8 or 9-inch square – it doesn’t need to be exact – and cut it into 64 pieces using an 8×8 grid. Now here’s where the fun starts 😉 Using your hands, roll each piece of dough into a ball. Roll the balls in the melted butter, then generously in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Once coated, place into the pan. This process may sound tedious, but it’s fun and goes by fast, I promise! I use dark brown sugar for the sugar-cinnamon coating mixture for a deeper caramel flavor, but you can use light brown sugar if that’s what you have on hand.
Layer the balls one by one into the pan, keeping in mind that they’ll stick to each other while baking. Since this cake will be flipped once it’s baked, be sure to flatten the top layer by pressing gently to ensure a flat cake bottom. Once you’re done layering the balls in the pan, cover and let it rise for about 45-60 minutes. My bread was ready after exactly 30 minutes in the oven. The top should have a deep brown color and the caramel will bubble all around. I’m warning you, the smell filling your entire house will drive you crazy! 🙂
When the bread has been out of the oven for 5 minutes, invert it onto a large plate. Don’t wait more than 10 minutes to do this or the caramel will harden and the bread will stick to the pan. If you generously buttered the pan before baking, it should turn out perfect. You’ll be so proud of yourself!
While taking these photos, my mouth was watering and I just couldn’t wait to bite into this thing! Once I did, there were sparks in the air. It was sticky, gooey, fluffy, and soft with lots of caramel-cinnamon flavor. Have I convinced you yet?
You now have two choices on how to serve the bread: you can either cut into generous pieces as you would a cake, or pull the balls apart by hand like a monkey. You know how I chose to eat it, right?
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (7 g/0.25 oz) dry yeast
- 1/4 cup (56 g/2 oz) butter, melted
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup (50 g/ 1.7 oz) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/4 – 3 1/2 cups (about 450 g/16 oz) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (113 g/4 oz) butter, melted
- 1 cup (200 g/7 oz) dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
In a small saucepan, heat water and milk until lukewarm (110F-115F). Pour the mixture into a mixer bowl and sprinkle yeast over it. Let sit for 10 minutes until frothy.
Add butter, egg, sugar, and salt to the milk mixture and stir until combined. Add 3 ¼ cups of flour. Fit your mixer with the dough hook attachment and mix on a low speed (or if you don’t have a mixer, mix by hand) until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough is still wet at this point, add more flour – 1-2 tablespoons at a time (up to 3 ½ cups total). The dough should be soft, smooth, elastic, and just slightly sticky. Once it has reached this consistency, keep kneading on low speed in the mixer for 5 minutes, or by hand on a floured surface for 7-8 minutes.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place for 1-2 hours until it doubles in size.
Make the cinnamon-sugar coating: In a medium bowl, mix together cinnamon and sugar. In a separate bowl, place the melted butter. Set aside. Generously butter a 12-cup Bundt pan and set aside.
When the dough has doubled in size, gently punch it to remove air. Pat the dough into an 8-inch square and cut into 64 pieces by using an 8x8 grid. It’s ok if the pieces are slightly different in size. Roll each piece of dough into a ball, then roll into the melted butter and generously in the cinnamon-sugar coating. Place each piece in the Bundt pan and layer. Gently press the top layer to make it even. Cover the pan and let rest to rise for 45-60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
Bake bread in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes until the top has browned and a skewer inserted into the dough comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a large serving plate.
You can either cut the bread into generous slices like a cake, or pull apart the balls by hand.
Serve warm or reheat before serving.
Monkey bread is best served the same day it’s made.
Nicole ~ Cooking for KeepsMay 29, 2014 at 2:09 pm
Lovveeee monkey bread, and honestly I’ve never seen a recipe for it from scratch, so I love this! I feel like all the recipes I see are for the canned variety!!
ShiranMay 30, 2014 at 3:07 pm
Making the bread from scratch is so good and rewarding! Same about cinnamon rolls 🙂
traditionallymodernfoodMay 29, 2014 at 4:44 pm
Ur pics make me drool:)
ShiranMay 30, 2014 at 3:00 pm
That’s a good thing 😉 Thanks!
StavroulaMay 30, 2014 at 4:00 pm
I’ve never tasted a monkey bread before but I have made your cinnamon rolls twice and I definitely LOVED them. So when you say that this is a “cinnamon roll lover’s heaven” a absolutely trust you! 😀
By the way, your blog is great – your pictures make me wanna try all of your recipes!
ShiranMay 30, 2014 at 7:21 pm
You’re so sweet Stavroula! Thank you so much for sharing this with me 🙂 If you love my cinnamon rolls recipe then you should definitely try this monkey bread! You’ll love it 🙂
Kloe's KtichenMay 31, 2014 at 6:41 pm
This looks amazing! I know this sounds crazy. but I have never had monkey bread. Isn’t that terrible??? I know I would like it though because I am an avid cinnamon and sugar and bread lover. Maybe it is a good thing I have never eaten it, because if I did I would it the whole thing. Your recipe is calling me though….and those pictures are making me so hungry!
ShiranJune 1, 2014 at 10:14 pm
It is terrible 😉 Just kidding, you should definitely try it! It’s truly amazing… even better than cinnamon rolls. And now I’m hungry too!
AnneMay 31, 2014 at 10:27 pm
That looks like my favorite part of a cinnamon roll! You are making me soo hungry after swimming… Thanks a bunch!
ShiranJune 1, 2014 at 10:06 pm
You deserve a piece of bread after swimming 😉
Angie (@angiesrecipess)June 2, 2014 at 4:09 pm
I wish I could reach in and grab the whole pan just for myself! It looks to die for!
ShiranJune 3, 2014 at 3:05 pm
Thanks Angie 🙂
dinaJune 2, 2014 at 9:07 pm
i never had this. it looks yummy!
ShiranJune 3, 2014 at 2:47 pm
You should try this Dina! It’s so delicious!
Heather P @The Owl with the GobletJune 3, 2014 at 12:58 am
Prettiest monkey bread I’ve ever seen… and I’m sure it’s tasty too!
ShiranJune 3, 2014 at 2:46 pm
Thank you so much Heather! 🙂
CrystalJune 29, 2014 at 2:31 pm
Can you prepare this the night before and then bake in the morning?
ShiranJune 29, 2014 at 9:23 pm
Hi Crystal! Yes you can. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, take it out of the fridge and let the dough rise in a warm place or on the counter, about one hour before you want to bake it.
JeanJanuary 31, 2015 at 8:30 am
Hi! I can’t wait to make these. It seems perfect for a Super Bowl party. Can you use fast-acting yeast or do you need to use just the regular? Thank you!
ShiranJanuary 31, 2015 at 5:21 pm
Hi Jean! It sounds perfect for a Super Bowl party 🙂 You can replace the active dry yeast with rapid-rise/instant yeast, but you’ll need to use less of it – 1 3/4 (1.75) teaspoons instead of 2 1/4. Also, you don’t need to “proof” the yeast with warm water, just simply add it to the dry ingredients. Enjoy! 🙂
MariaMay 1, 2015 at 11:03 am
This bread looks delicious and i think i will be busy making it today. It seems like a perfect alternative to cinnamon buns that everyone loves. Even better than CB, because the shape is so unexpected and you end-up having the best part of the CB in it – the middle. Cannot wait to see the faces of my family and company we’re having over!!!!
ShiranMay 2, 2015 at 8:52 am
I can never choose which one is my favorite – monkey bread or cinnamon rolls. Both are so gooey and delicious! But this monkey bread is full of caramel flavor, which is always a bonus 😉 I hope you and your guests enjoy it!
TohruMay 14, 2020 at 5:05 am
This is amazing! Thank you for a recipe! It tastes so yummy.