Overnight Monkey Bread

After her kids were grown and starting to have kids of their own my Mom started the tradition of having everyone over for breakfast Christmas morning. She would make Monkey Bread and have it on the table for everyone to snack on while she whipped up eggs and bacon and pancakes. The sweet little puffy balls coated with cinnamon and sugar would disappear one at a time until before you knew it nothing was left.

I was a pretty picky eater growing up and I didn’t love Mom’s Monkey Bread because she always added nuts to it. I’m still not crazy about nuts in baked goods, but I love Monkey Bread. It’s like getting just the best part of a cinnamon roll, the ooey, gooey middle in every bite. (Monkey Bread is also known as Bubble Bread or Pull Apart Bread.)

So this year in memory of my Mom I decided it was time to serve Monkey Bread on Christmas morning. I think Mom made it with frozen Rhodes roll dough the night before, but I wanted to make the dough from scratch. An internet search turned up tons of great recipes. I was especially attracted to the Cook’s Illustrated recipe posted by Kristin, on Picky Cook, because it uses brown sugar.

I adapted the recipe so that you don’t add all of the flour in the beginning, which gives you more control over the consistency of the dough and prevents adding too much flour, which can be a problem in my dry climate. I eliminated letting it rise in the oven because my home is generally pretty warm already. And most importantly I included directions to make it overnight so that it’s ready to bake in the morning.

Overnight Monkey Bread

Overnight Monkey Bread


  • Dough
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup milk, warm (about 120 degrees)
  • 1/3 cup water, warm (about 120 degrees)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons table salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour , plus extra for work surface*
  • Brown Sugar Coating
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
  • Glaze
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk


Butter a 12-cup Bundt pan generously with softened butter. Set aside.

In large measuring cup, mix together melted butter, milk, water, sugar, and salt. Stir to dissolve.

Mix 2 1/2 cups flour and yeast in stand mixer fitted with a beater blade. Turn machine to low and slowly add the milk mixture. After the liquids are incorporated, switch to the dough hook, increase the speed to medium and gradually add the remaining flour (add more or less as necessary*) until dough clings to the hook and almost cleans the sides. Knead until the dough is shiny and smooth, 6 to 7 minutes. You want the dough to be slightly sticky.

Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to form smooth, round ball. Coat large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Place dough in bowl and coat surface of dough with cooking spray. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm, draft free place until dough doubles in size, 50 to 60 minutes.

While dough is rising, mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in bowl. Place melted butter in second bowl. Set aside for the sugar coating.

Remove dough from bowl, and pat into rough 8-inch square. Using bench scraper or knife, cut dough into 64 pieces.

Roll each dough piece into a ball. Working one at a time, dip balls in melted butter, allowing excess butter to drip back into bowl. Roll in brown sugar mixture, then layer balls in Bundt pan, staggering seams where dough balls meet as you build layers.

Cover Bundt pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.

Approximately one hour before you want to bake your Monkey Bread, remove it from the refrigerator and let the dough come to room temperature and the dough will begin to rise. (It should have risen some in the refrigerator overnight.)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap pan and bake until top is deep brown and caramel begins to bubble around edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out on platter and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

For the glaze: While bread cools, whisk confectioners' sugar and milk in small bowl until lumps are gone. Using whisk, drizzle glaze over warm monkey bread, letting it run over top and sides of bread. Serve warm.


*I used bread flour and used significantly less than 3 1/4 cups flour. You may need to use more or less flour depending on the flour you use and the climate you live in.

adapted from Cook's Illustrated


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    Leave a Comment:

  1. Melva says

    Hi Barbara…..I’ve been baking this bread for the past two years…the flavour and presentation are beautiful.
    I’m trying to fine-tune it as the inner rolls are too doughy even after max. baking. I’ve switched to a larger pan and less brown sugar mixture so there wouldn’t be as much sauce generated.
    If you can make any other suggestion, I’d appreciate it. ( maybe I should spread the brown sugar mixture on the rolls halfway through the baking process?)

    • says

      Hi Melva – so glad you love the monkey bread so much that you want to get it just right. What kind of a pan are you baking it in? The bundt pan helps to cook the monkey bread from the inside out as well as the outside in. Have you tried just cooking it longer in the bundt pan? Or maybe not filling your bundt pan as full and baking the rest in a loaf pan?

      • Melva says

        Hi Barbara…..my monkey bread turned out beautifully this morning. I used a larger pan and also baked it a bit longer. Thanks for your advice….Season’s Greetings!

  2. says

    This was amazing! I used my dough setting on my bread machine to make the dough (took out before 2nd rise) and it worked perfectly! I made today for my husband’s coworkers but will make again soon Just for my family =) Thanks for a great recipe!

  3. Jackie says

    Hi Barbara,
    I made monkey bread last night/this morning and just wanted to let you know how it turned out! I used my bread machine to make the dough, I added 3 1/4 cups at first, but when it was done rising (There were still twenty minutes left in the cycle and it was overproofed) it was apparent there wasn’t enough flour because the dough was still too sticky. There, I kneaded in some more flour, perhaps I used about 3 3/4 cup in total. Then I split the dough into twelve sections, and split each section into six pieces. I used three pieces per muffin tin. I only had a twelve cup tin on hand, so with the leftovers I made mini muffins (24 of them, I needed to make more sugar/cinnamon mixture) and baked the mini ones immediately after they were done rising and let the regular sized ones sit overnight. I baked the mini ones for 11 minutes at 325, the regular ones for 17 minutes at 325. I liked how the butter seemed to seep into the dough overnight, making the dough very tender. Thank you for posting this tutorial and the recipe, even though I think I already have it in my Americas Test Kitchen cookbook! Thanks again! One final note, my regular sized ones rised barely up the top, next time I would put four pieces in each tin.

    • says

      Hi Jackie! Thanks for the follow up comment and the great details on how you made your mini monkey breads. I’ll definitely put minis on my list to make soon.

  4. Jackie says

    Could you make these in muffin cups? How long would you bake them for? I don’t have a bundt pan and monkey bread doesn’t work well in a tube pan with a removable bottom (I’ve tried).

  5. Donna says

    I live in San Antonio, Tx. Usually humid. Depending on humidity would you add more or less flour for more humid climate? The recipe look delicious. Anxious to try it.

    • says

      Hi Donna – sorry I’m so slow getting back to you. I’ve been out of town and missed your comment. In my dry climate the flour really sucks up the water. So I would think you would need more flour in a humid climate. Hope you love it as much as we do!

  6. Kerry says

    Oh my god, I’ve got the monkey bread in the oven right now and it looks gorgeous and smells AMAZING! Thanks so much for the recipe!! (by the way, I also used quite a bit more flour than you called for). Can’t wait to try it!!!

    • says

      Merry Christmas! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Now I wish I had this baking in my oven too. It tastes as amazing as it smells. How much extra flour do you think you added, I’ll update the recipe for others. Thanks!

  7. Desi says

    Good morning…this is my first visit to your blog. I was looking for monkey bread recipe which allows it to rest overnight and landed here. I was wondering if you can substitute frozen dough (buttermilk biscuit) for making the dough from scratch. Is the process the same thereafter? Thank you so much!

    • says

      Hi Desi – welcome to my site. You could substitute frozen bread or roll dough in this recipe. Thaw the dough and let it rise and then cut it in to pieces and roll in the sugar mixture. Biscuit dough generally doesn’t have yeast it in so you wouldn’t have the same result.

  8. Ashley says

    Do you think it would work if I put dough in a bread machine on the dough cycle? I do not own a stand mixer but LOVE my bread machine. Think I’ll try it and let you know! :)

    • says

      Hi Ashley – Yes, it should work fine. I don’t have a bread machine and don’t know how you judge if it needs more flour – that would be my only concern. Others have had to add as much as a cup of extra flour – I live in a dry climate and our flour really soaks up the moisture.

      You could also make it in the morning and not bother chilling it overnight if you don’t mind getting up early or eating a bit late. I hope you enjoy it! I’d love to know how it went.

  9. Lauren R. says

    This looks really great, I can’t wait to try it! If I wanted to make your mom’s version with the nuts, can you advise on what to do differently?

  10. Lauren says

    The bread is great but I needed to add almost an extra cup of flour. The dough was very very sticky and not dry enough to handle until the extra flour was added.

    • says

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the bread! I live in a dry climate, so that could account for the difference. It is one of the reasons I like bread recipes made this way instead of adding all the flour at first because every time you make a bread it will require a different amount of flour depending on the type of flour you use and the humidity in the air that day.

      Thanks for commenting and letting me know you made it!

  11. says

    Yum, the only monkey bread I ever made was from Pillsbury biscuit dough. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I can tell that the monkey bread is very soft and moist. Did you ever bake it for the allotted amount of time and find that the dough is still raw? It always happened to me when I made it, by the time the whole thing was actually done, the tops were burned.

  12. says

    We just love monkey bread! I make it an easy way with biscuit dough but yours from scratch looks super good. Who wouldn’t want this on Christmas morning or any morning!

  13. says

    Mmmm, we love monkey bread and I make the cheater’s version of it all the time (Monkey bread muffins rock, too!) but have never made a homemade one. I bet it’s even better than the cheater’s one I make.

  14. says

    I made monkey bread one Christmas and everyone’s memory of it was the sugar headache – it was way too sweet. Yours looks just right! I love that it’s an overnight recipe.

  15. Annie says

    Just a random question, does the dough have to sit over night? Or could I make it in the morning and refrigerate through the afternoon to have as dessert? Or could I just bake it then and there? Thanks! I’m really looking forward to trying this out for a couple of friends!

    • says

      Hi Annie – no the dough does not have to sit over night. You could definitely make it in the morning and have it for dessert. It’s delicious hot or at room temperature. Just be sure and unmold it while it’s hot.

  16. says

    I mean, who wouldn’t LOVE this? And overnight? Wow! You know how I love making yeast breads yet I’ve never made Monkey Bread and it is really everything I love in a sweet breakfast or snack treat: light, fluffy sweet dough smothered in brown sugar and cinnamon. And glaze. Mmmmmm. So bookmarked, babes! Stunning, Barbara!

  17. says

    oh Barbara – I love that this is overnight – I’m much better at doing more prep in the eves than early morning. If I serve this to my friends who come up to ski, I may have skiiers up every weekend!