Monkey bread, aka pull-apart bread, is a sweet or savory finger food that's easy to make and fun to eat. I'll show you how to make monkey bread, with helpful tips all along the way.
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Monkey Bread Baked In A Bundt Pan
Credit: Vanessa Greaves

What Is Monkey Bread?

Monkey bread — also known as pull-apart bread or bubble bread — is the kind of tear-and-share dish that brings a tableful of people together. It's formed by baking individual balls of dough together in a pan, and as you'd guess from the name, you pull it apart with your fingers to eat the bite-size pieces. (If you're squeamish about getting in there with your hands, you can always pick it apart with a fork.) While bread dough forms the structure, the dish itself can be sweet or savory depending on the ingredients you use.

Sweet monkey bread is a popular breakfast or brunch dish for Christmas, and savory monkey bread makes a grand edible centerpiece for dinners.

Try this recipe for savory Garlic and Herb Pull-Apart Bread

Why Is It Called Monkey Bread?

There are numerous explanations for this finger-food's whimsical name. Some say picking apart the bread to eat is monkey-like. Others say the pieces of bread baked together form an erratic pattern that looks like a monkey-puzzle tree.

How Do You Make Monkey Bread?

For the bread itself, you can use homemade yeast dough, refrigerated bread dough, pizza dough, or refrigerated biscuit dough — a popular shortcut ingredient. You can even make monkey bread with cinnamon roll dough.

Making monkey bread is easy. First, you cut the dough into bite-size pieces and either roll it into balls or leave the cut pieces as they are. Next, you moisten the dough with melted butter (optional) and dust it with cinnamon sugar if you're making sweet monkey bread. For savory monkey bread, you'd use ingredients like garlic, minced herbs, salt, pepper, etc.

Monkey Bread ingredients in a bundt pan waiting to be baked
Credit: Vanessa Greaves

Next, you place the pieces in a well-buttered pan. If your recipe calls for extras like dried fruits and nuts, you'd sprinkle them onto the bread pieces as you build layers. Monkey bread recipes often call for pouring a sweet sauce or melted butter over the bread before baking. Note: If you're making a monkey bread with a sauce, do NOT use a two-piece tube pan with a removable bottom otherwise the sauce will leak out.

Monkey Bread Butter and Brown Sugar Sauce
Credit: Vanessa Greaves

What Kind of Pan Do You Use to Make Monkey Bread?

You can make monkey bread in a Bundt pan, tube pan, or loaf pan. Speaking from personal preference, I like to use a tube pan or Bundt pan because the tubular shape allows hot air to circulate up through the middle of the bread so all of the pieces get baked. For individual mini-monkey breads, you can bake the pieces in muffin cups.

How to Serve Monkey Bread

After baking, let the bread sit in the pan on a cooking rack for 10 to 15 minutes. If you've bake it in a Bundt pan or tube pan, turn it over onto a plate (protect your hands because the pan will be hot). Lift the pan slowly, letting gravity coax the bread out in one piece.

Monkey Bread with Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Credit: Vanessa Greaves

Happy baking!