Monkey Bread

$7.53 recipe / $0.63 serving
by Monti - Budget Bytes
4 from 5 votes
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When it comes to desserts, the easier, the better. Am I right? Well, if you’re looking for an effortless, absolute knockout sweet treat, you’ve found it in Monkey Bread. This buttery, caramelized, pull-apart cinnamon loaf can be made with a handful of ingredients and just a few minutes of work. Bonus: you’re supposed to eat it with your hands, so don’t worry about putting out any plates! It’s time to bring a new favorite to your table!

Side shot of hand pulling a piece of monkey bread out of a loaf.

What Is Monkey Bread Made Of

In its simplest form, Monkey Bread is chopped biscuit dough baked in butter and cinnamon sugar. Think of it like a pillowy, pull-apart, caramelized cinnamon toast. But, you know, without the crunch. In other words: pure, unadulterated heaven.

Why Is It Called Monkey Bread?

Some say Monkey Bread got its name because its texture resembles the rind of an African fruit often eaten by monkeys. Others say it gets its name from how you eat it- by picking off a piece at a time- which looks like the grooming rituals of primates. I prefer the fruit story. I don’t want to think about monkeys picking fleas off each other. But you do you.

A Note On Caramel

If you don’t have experience making caramel, it can be a fickle beast. You can always skip making the caramel, and just brown the butter, mix in the sugar, cream, and cinnamon and then roll the biscuit pieces in this mixture. You will not get the same texture, (my recipe has a bit of a chewy snap from the caramel coating) but the flavors will still be there. If you want to try your hand at caramel, and you haven’t made caramel before, read these tips before your first attempt.

Troubleshooting Caramel

  • To prevent your caramel sauce from getting grainy, use a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot with rounded sides. A whisk cannot reach the bottom seam on a straight-sided pan, which can strand sugar granules that will crystallize your caramel.
  • Keep a steady, medium-low heat so that your butter and sugar don’t separate. Your stove might run hot. Don’t trust your stove dial, use visual cues. If the caramel is steaming, boiling, or rapidly changing in color, lower the heat.
  • Do not stop stirring.
  • If the sauce separates and the butter pools on top of the sugar, or if it gets grainy, take the pot off the heat and continue to stir until the two come together again.
  • If the sauce does not come together or smooth out, add a tablespoon of water and continue stirring.
Overhead shot of monkey bread on white plate with a few pieces picked out of it .

What Pans Can You Use For Monkey Bread

You can bake Monkey Bread in almost any oven-safe pan, but your choice of pan will definitely affect your results. The best option is a bundt pan because it allows hot air to circulate through the middle of the loaf and cooks the dense biscuit dough evenly. But a pie pan will also work, especially if you place a small, oven-safe ramekin in the middle to help the center of the loaf rise evenly.

What Do You Serve With Monkey Bread

Pair Monkey Bread with savory brunch dishes. Or serve it as a dessert with a strong cup of coffee, a floral tea, or a cold glass of milk. If you want something to break up the sweetness, serve it with salty fresh farmer’s cheese.

How To Store Leftovers

Keep any leftovers out of the fridge, as cool temperatures tend to harden and dry out the dough. Instead, store Monkey Bread at room temperature in an air-tight container. It will keep for a day or two. For more extended storage, freezing is your best bet. Portion it before freezing, as you only want to thaw it once. Wrap it in plastic, then aluminum, and then place it in a freezer-safe container. It should keep for about a month. Then warm it in a 250°F oven for about 20 minutes.

Overhead shot of monkey bread on white plate.
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Monkey Bread

4 from 5 votes
If you're looking for an easy, absolute knockout dessert, try making the buttery, caramelized, pull-apart cinnamon loaf known as Monkey Bread.
Side shot of hand pulling a piece of monkey bread out of a loaf.
Servings 12 cups
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 40 minutes
Total 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salted butter ($2.40)
  • 1 cup brown sugar ($0.45)
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream ($0.55)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon ($0.04)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla ($0.36)
  • 2 cans biscuit dough, 16 oz each* ($3.38)

Instructions 

  • Set a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat it to 375°F. Set a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and reserve the wrappers. The butter will melt, foam, and then the milk solids will caramelize into light golden-brown specks, creating brown butter. Using a light-colored pan will help you see the color change as the butter browns.*
  • Add the brown sugar to the pan.
  • Whisk until the brown sugar has completely incorporated with the brown butter and is no longer crystallized. It will form a caramel.
  • Take the pan off the heat and add the cream. Whisk until it has completely incorporated into the caramel.
  • Whisk in the vanilla and the cinnamon.
  • Grease a Bundt pan with the butter wrappers. Add more butter if necessary. While the caramel cools, quarter each of the sixteen biscuits.
  • Dip each biscuit piece into the cooled caramel, then layer it in the Bundt pan.*
  • Top the Monkey Bread with any remaining caramel.
  • Bake at 375°F for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top of the Monkey Bread springs back when touched.
  • Allow the loaf to cool before inverting it onto a serving dish.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.


Notes

*If you want to skip making the caramel, simply brown the butter, take it off the heat, and mix in the sugar, cream, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Then roll each biscuit piece in it. The final texture will be different, but the flavors will be there.
*If you don’t have access to canned biscuits, try  doubling this recipe: https://www.budgetbytes.com/basic-biscuits/
*Please allow the caramel to cool so that you don’t burn yourself when dipping the biscuits into it. Don’t let it get cold, but don’t get your skin anywhere near hot caramel. 

Nutrition

Calories: 509kcalCarbohydrates: 56gProtein: 5gFat: 30gSodium: 854mgFiber: 1g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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Overhead shot of monkey bread on white plate.

How to Make Monkey Bread – Step By Step Photos

Overhead shot of butter browning in a pot.

Set a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat it to 375°F. Set a light-colored pan over medium heat and add the 1 cup of butter. Reserve the butter wrappers. The butter will melt, foam, and then the milk solids will caramelize into light golden-brown specks, creating brown butter.

Overhead shot of brown sugar being cooked in a pot with butter.

Add the 1 cup of brown sugar to the pan.

Overhead shot of hand mixing caramel in a pot with a whisk.

Whisk until the brown sugar has completely incorporated with the brown butter and is no longer crystallized. It will have formed a caramel.

Overhead shot of hand mixing caramel and cream in a pot with a whisk.

Take the pan off the heat and add the 1/3 cup of cream. Whisk until it has completely incorporated into the caramel.

Overhead shot of hand stirring caramel with a whisk in a pot and a second hand adding vanilla to the pot with a measuring spoon.

Whisk in the 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.

Overhead shot of knife cutting canned biscuit rounds.

Grease a Bundt pan with the butter wrappers. Add more butter if necessary. While the caramel cools, quarter each of the sixteen biscuits in the 2 cans of biscuit dough.

Overhead shot of hand dipping a biscuit piece into a bowl of caramel with pieces of biscuits and a Bundt pant next to it.

Dip each biscuit piece into the cooled caramel, then layer it in the Bundt pan. Please make sure the caramel has cooled so you do not burn yourself.

Overhead shot of raw Monkey Bread in a Bundt pan.

Top the Monkey Bread with any remaining caramel.

Overhead shot of baked Monkey Bread in a Bundt pan.

Bake at 375°F for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top of the Monkey Bread springs back when touched.

Overhead shot of monkey bread on white plate.

Allow the loaf to cool before inverting it onto a serving dish. Serve as a whole loaf, and let your loved ones go to town!

Side shot of Monkey Bread on a white plate.
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  1. I made this for Christmas Eve breakfast for my kids, and we all loved it. It was a ton of work, but really wonderful for a special occasion. The caramel sauce didn’t work for me at first, and I was scared that I had wasted all that butter, but I tried a troubleshooting trick and added water, and that caused the sauce to caramelize right away. Amazing. I also didn’t want to buy canned biscuits so I made a double batch of the biscuit recipe listed here. I was afraid the bread would stick to my bundt pan, but it didn’t! Also, I made everything in advance and in stages (caramel sauce on day 1, biscuits and assembly on day 2, and baked on day 3.) If you have the time, this is really special.

    1. This may be too much for one loaf pan, but I’d need to try it out first to be sure!

  2. I tried making the caramel twice. Each time, the sugar and butter separated and got ruined. This recipe is not a simple, 30 minute deal for a home cook. It needs more instruction on how to make caramel built into the page. Pretty frustrating to waste 2 cups of butter on a site that’s about cooking on a budget. 🙃

  3. I DID screw up the caramel at first (my heat was too high!) but I used all your troubleshooting tips to take it off the heat, add a splash of water, stir the crap out of it, and eventually I made a beautiful caramel! I’ve had monkey bread before but nothing like this, it is SUPERIOR in every way. Thank you!

  4. I made this for Thanksgiving and it turned out beautifully. My husband was happy because it reminded him of his grandmother’s monkey bread. Thank you for this recipe!

    P.s. The sauce did not sieze. There is a point where after adding the sugar it gets a little lumpy, but just whisk through it until it smooths out.

    1. Thank you, Sara. A few people have had problems, and I was starting to second-guess myself. I’m a chef so what I think is easy might be more complicated for a home cook, but I truly don’t see this as that complicated of a recipe. I appreciate your feedback.

  5. I wish your recipe had trouble shooting. I will not try a third time today to somehow waste more butter and the rest of my brown sugar. If you update, I’d genuinely appreciate troubleshooting tips on why the brown sugar seized and wouldn’t incorporate. I will stick to your savory recipes I guess. Butter isn’t cheap or plentiful at the end of 2022.

    1. Hi Cara. I have made this recipe many many many times and have never had the brown sugar seize. Caramel can seize if you are melting the sugar without a fat, which is why you melt the butter first and then also add fatty heavy cream.
      I am unsure as to what you could be doing wrong because I’m not there with you, but if you follow the steps as outlined, it should work. Here are some troubleshooting tips:

      Use a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot with rounded sides.
      Keep a steady, medium-low heat so that your butter and sugar don’t separate.
      Do not stop stirring. It’s arm’s day. This caramel sauce is worth it.
      If the sauce separates and the butter pools on top of the sugar, or if it gets grainy, take the pot off the heat and continue to stir until the two come together again.
      If the sauce does not come together or smooth out, add a tablespoon of water and continue stirring.

      1. Agree with Cara – there is very little guidance in the recipe. This site used to have such well-tested recipes.

        1. I don’t know what to say. Beth and I tested this recipe. And I don’t have any more guidance to give. Sorry, it didn’t work out for you, but there’s just so much I can do if you don’t have much cooking experience.

      2. My sauce also seized up and then burned to uselessness as I was stirring it back together. And the recipe says medium heat and you recommend medium low.

        1. Yes, I recommend medium heat. But that doesn’t mean that medium heat on your stove dial is actually medium. It sounds like your stove runs hot. Especially if it burned on medium. This is why I recommended you use medium-low.

  6. I haven’t yet made this recipe, but being a long time aficionado of Monkey Bread, I have one question – why is it necessary to have a paragraph about leftovers? Do they exist?

    1. RIGHT?!?!?!?!? I feel exactly the same way. But some people have self-control. Not me. But I’ve heard they’re out there. XOXO -Monti

      1. Woke up from a dream about monkey bread this morning so I guess I’m making this. My question is: if I only have unsalted butter how much salt would you add back to the caramel ¡Gracias!

        1. It depends on the brand, but usually about a teaspoon per stick (or a teaspoon for every 8 tablespoons of butter). GO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE!!! xoxoxo -Monti

          1. I thought it was ¼ t. of salt per stick. A teaspoon would be way too salty imo.

  7. Level it up by following the instructions but using cinnamon rolls instead of biscuit dough and drizzle the icing on top at the end!

  8. Thanks for the recipe! Is there any non-ready dough one could make that would work for this? Don’t have canned dough available where I live.