Pretzel Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread made with soft, buttery pretzels with the most addicting Honey Mustard Dip! 

This monkey bread is what delicious dreams are made of.  Think perfect pretzel bites doused in extra butter baked together for layers of salted golden goodness and you have THIS monkey bread! This monkey bread from scratch is perfect for game day, game nights, family nights OR any party!   It can be prepared the night before and baked the next day for the perfect stress free appetizer.

top view of monkey bread from scratch on a white plate

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Monkey Bread Recipe

We have time to squeeze in one or two more Game Day recipes, right?  After you try this Pretzel Monkey Bread, you will be forever grateful that I answered a big YES for you, as I think this appetizer is not only perfect for Game Day but makes an every day fun family snack or tradition!

I actually made this monkey bread several weeks ago (as well as last night) and both Patrick and I fell head over heels in love with it. In fact, it wasn’t even warm by the time he got home and he still ate it into oblivion.  When I made this Pretzel Monkey Bread again last night (to test it in a bundt pan, results discussed below), we shamelessly devoured the entire monkey bread all by ourselves. It’s that good.

This monkey bread recipe is based off of my oldie but goodie Perfect Pretzel Bites which adapts Food Network Star’s Alton Brown’s 5 Star rated pretzel recipe into bite size form.  I reduced that recipe in order for the bites to bake evenly but other than that, his winning restaurant quality dough  remains the same and the buttery, salty pretzel bites are layered on op of each other and baked to create a divine pull-apart monkey bread.  So, that begs the question, what exactly is monkey bread?

WHAT IS MONKEY BREAD?

  • Monkey bread has a plethora of names: monkey puzzle bread, monkey brains, sticky bread, Hungarian coffee cake, golden dumpling coffee cake, pinch-me cake, pull-apart bread, pluck-it cake bubble loaf, bubble bread, pull-apart bread, and/or funky bread.
  • Monkey bread can be either sweet or savory like a giant pull apart pretzel, giant cinnamon roll or giant garlic butter roll.
  • In each version, lots of small dough balls are baked together in a Bundt or tube pan then pulled apart to eat.
  • Monkey bread dough is usually coated in butter, and then can either be coated in Parmesan, seasonings or for the sweet version, coated in cinnamon and nuts.  For this pretzel monkey bread, we are sticking with butter, but you can get as creative as you like!
up close of easy monkey bread from scratch

WHY DO THEY CALL IT MONKEY BREAD?

Monkey Bread got its name because it’s a finger food that you eat by pulling it apart with your fingers with out any utensils, much like a monkey would eat it!  

WHERE DOES MONKEY BREAD COME FROM?

Monkey bread has actually been around in Europe for hundreds of years, before it gained popularity in the US in the mid 1900s and became known as our common day “monkey bread.”

Monkey Bread originated from the Hungarian dessert Arany Galuska which translates to golden dumpling.  In Arany Galuska, yeast dough balls are rolled in melted butter followed by a mixture of sugar and crushed walnuts,  layered with raisins then baked.

When the Hungarian Jewish people immigrated to the US and began selling it in bakeries, it became an American classic.  It took several decades for the name to evolve into “monkey bread.”

Today, you can see every type of variation from Pillsbury biscuit dough monkey bread, cinnamon roll monkey bread, pizza monkey bread, crockpot monkey bread and on and on!  It is an easy, delicious way to combine bread with add-ins, and an equally pull apart delicious way to eat it!

dipping a piece of monkey bread recipe in honey mustard sauce

How to Make Monkey Bread

  • Make dough.  To make this Monkey Bread, you start by making your simple pretzel dough.  After the dough rises, you form it into a 6×12 rectangle and cut into 1″ squares.
  • Boil pretzel dough.  We then boil the dough bites in baking soda water for 30 seconds a batch.  You will see the dough “puff” with this quick immersion but will remain pale.  This extra step might seem like a hassle for just 30 seconds, but trust me, this step is what turns these dough bites into PRETZEL monkey bread!
a collage showing how to make monkey bread by adding dough pieces to a bundt pan and baking until golden
  • Line dough in tub pan.  Once your baking soda bath is done, you line half of your bites in a tube pan or bundt cake pan.  
  • Brush with egg wash.  Once you line half your pretzels in the pan, you brush with egg wash, drizzle with butter then sprinkle with sea salt.  Repeat with the remaining pretzels.
  • Bake monkey bread.  Bake monkey bread for approximately 30 minutes then devour in approximately 10.

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN MONKEY BREAD IS DONE?

It can be tricky to know if the center of monkey bread is done because the center can be doughy even while the outside is golden and even turning brown.

To tell if the monkey bread is fully cooked, carefully move around a few pieces to get to the center to check for doneness. If the center balls are too  doughy, then continue to bake for 2-5 more minutes and check again.  You may need to cover the top of the monkey bread with foil until the inside is fully cooked. 

 TIPS TO MAKE MONKEY BREAD from Scratch

  • Use a light tube or bundt pan.  I prefer baking monkey bread in a light tube pan. When I experimented and used my bundt cake pan, the monkey bread did not bake as evenly and the darker surface of the bundt cake pan caused the outside of the monkey bread to become quite dark.  That being said, if you don’t have a light tube pan, a bundt cake pan will definitively still work (as Patrick and I can attest to by eating the whole batch), just be aware that the bottom/outside pretzels will be a little darker than pictured.
  • Proof yeast.  You don’t want to go through the entire process of making your monkey bread dough only to find your dough won’t rise.  To prevent this, we “proof” the yeast.  If the yeast doesn’t foam, either your water was too warm, or your yeast is too old.  Yeast should be no older than 6 months, and water should be around 105 degrees F.  Repeat until your yeast foams like this (which can take up to 10 minutes):  
  • Add more flour.  Your dough should be smooth an elastic after kneading for 5-7 minutes.  If your dough is too wet and is not pulling away from the bowl, add 1 more tablespoon of flour at a time (up to ¼ cup) until dough barely sticks to your fingers.
  • Let the dough rise slowly.  I know there are all sorts of tricks to speed up the rising process, but the rising time allows for fermentation, which really develops flavor and should not be rushed for the best results. 
  • Do I have to boil my dough?  YES!  The baking soda increases the PH alkalinity on the outside of the pretzel.  This allows the exterior of the pretzel monkey bread to brown more easily when baked so you can achieve a golden, crispy exterior crust while maintaining a nice chewy, soft interior. So please don’t be tempted to skip this step or you will be skipping out on the texture, flavor and appearance of what makes a pretzel a pretzel! 
  • Set a timer.  When you boil the pretzels, I suggest setting a timer because 30 seconds goes by very quickly! Leaving the pretzels in too long can result in a slightly bitter aftertaste.
  • Bake on a baking sheet.  Place your tube pan or your bundt pan on a foil lined baking sheet to catch any leaking butter otherwise you will end up with a mess! 
  • Cover with foil. You may need to cover some spots of your monkey bread with foil the last 10 minutes of baking if the tops are getting too brown. 
  • Loosen monkey bread.  When you’re ready remove the monkey bread, run a knife around the edges of the pan. Firmly tap the outside of the pan a few times until you feel the bread is loose, then invert the monkey bread onto a serving plate.
a hand pulling a piece of best monkey bread from scratch apart

VARIATIONS FOR MONKEY BREAD

  • You can add Italian seasoning, garlic powder or herbs to the melted butter or sprinkle in between layers of monkey bread.
  • You can sprinkle Parmesan cheese in between layers and on top of monkey bread.
  • You can get creative and add anything to the monkey bread such as bacon, pepperoni, cheese, etc. 

What to serve with Monkey Bread?

  • Honey Mustard Dip.  The first time we stuffed our faces with this monkey bread, we dunked the buttery morsels into my creamy Honey Mustard Dip.  It’s a quick whisking of mayonnaise, honey, both Dijon and yellow mustards and splashes of cider vinegar and hot sauce to create this forever favorite.  
  • Cheese Dip.  The second time, we bathed the monkey bread in Tostitos Salsa Con Queso which has always been one of my favorite dips in the world and it is sublime with this monkey bread.
  • Ranch Dip.  When I think of what I love bathing pretzels in, I also love ranch, so either homemade ranch or store bought ranch is another tasty alternative for this monkey bread recipe.   

So, you have the option of serving this monkey bread with creamy sweet and tangy,  lusciously spicy cheesy. or cool, tangy and creamy.   I highly recommend all three!

DOES MONKEY BREAD NEED TO BE REFRIGERATED?

This monkey bread recipe should NOT be refrigerated because the cold can harden the dough.  To store, cover monkey bread in plastic wrap and store for up to 5 days at room temperature.

How to I reheat Monkey Bread?

You can reheat leftover monkey bread two ways:

  • Microwave:  The microwave is good for instant pleasure and individual servings of monkey bread but you will lose some of the integrity of the pretzels.  To microwave, place serving on a microwave safe plate and microwave for 15 second intervals until warmed through. 
  • Oven.  Reheating leftover monkey bread in the oven will yield the best results.  Place monkey bread on a baking sheet, cover with foil, and bake at 250 degrees F for 5-10 minutes.
monkey bread made in a bundt pan on a white platter with dip

Can Make Monkey Bread Ahead of Time?

To make ahead:

  1. Prepare the entire recipe up to the point of baking, including pouring butter and salt over monkey bread. 
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake the next day.
  3. Before baking, let the unbaked monkey bread sit on the counter for 30-60 minutes to come to room temperature (so it will cook evenly).
  4. Proceed to bake per recipe instructions.

CAN I FREEZE MONKEY BREAD?

To freeze Monkey Bread:

  1. Wrap cooled Monkey Bread tightly in plastic wrap followed by foil.  If your have smaller leftover monkey bread sections, you can store them in airtight containers or freezer bags.  Alternatively, you can freeze in smaller sandwich bags for individual servings.
  2. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  3. When ready to eat, unwrap monkey bread and thaw on the counter so the condensation doesn’t make it soggy. 
  4. Once completely thawed, place on a baking sheet and heat at 250 degrees F for 5-10 minutes or until warmed through.  You may need to pull it out of the oven, carefully pull it apart to check for warmth and continue to bake if necessary.

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top view of half eaten monkey bread recipe from scratch

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Soft, buttery Pretzel Monkey Bread with the most addicting Honey Mustard Dip! I always bring this crowd pleasing appetizer to parties and it is the first to go!

Pretzel Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread made with soft, buttery pretzels with the most addicting Honey Mustard Dip! This monkey bread is what delicious dreams are made of. Think perfect pretzel bites doused in extra butter baked together for layers of salted golden goodness and you have THIS monkey bread! This monkey bread recipe is perfect for game day, game nights, family nights OR any party! It can be prepared the night before and baked the next day for the perfect stress free appetizer.
Servings: 8 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

Pretzel Dough

  • 3/4 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Pretzel Moneky Bread

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened,
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • sea salt

Honey Mustard Dip

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons hot sauce

Instructions

  • HONEY MUSTARD DIP: Whisk all of the Dip ingredients together in a medium bowl. Set aside in the refrigerator.
  • PRETZEL DOUGH: Combine the water, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a standard mixer. Let sit 5 minutes. (If it doesn’t foam, start over)
  • Add salt, flour and butter and mix (using the dough hook attachment) on low speed for 5-7 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl, spray bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let rise in a warm place for approximately 1 ½ hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
  • PRETZEL MONKEY BREAD: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line roughly 18” of your counter with parchment paper (to place boiled pretzels later). Brush tube/bundt* pan with 1 tablespoon softened butter. Place tube pan on a foil lined baking sheet (to catch any escaping butter while baking – tube pan only).
  • Bring 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a large (8-quart) saucepan.
  • In the meantime, turn out dough onto a lightly floured cutting board; pat and stretch into a 12 x 6 inch rectangle. Cut dough into 1-inch pieces (I think a pizza cutter is easiest).
  • Boil the pretzel bites in the baking soda water in batches of about 20 pretzel bites for 30 seconds per batch**. Remove pretzels with a large slotted spoon and place on parchment paper, making sure they are not touching.
  • Layer half of the pretzels in the prepared pan. Brush with some egg wash then drizzle with 1 tablespoon butter. Lightly season with sea salt. Repeat with remaining pretzel bites.
  • ANGEL FOOD CAKE PAN: Bake 30-35 minutes at 400 degrees F or until pretzels are golden and cooked through. You may need to cover some spots with foil the last 10 minutes of baking if tops are getting too brown. BUNDT PAN*: Bake 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees F or until pretzels are golden and cooked through. You may need to cover some spots with foil the last 10 minutes of baking if tops are getting too brown.
  • Loosen edges of bread with knife then invert onto a plate then invert again onto serving plate. Serve with Honey Mustard Dip

Notes

*I definitely prefer a tube pan as it bakes more evenly.  The dark surface of the bundt bake pan causes the outside of the pretzels to become quite dark but will still work if you don’t have a tube pan.
**30 seconds goes by very quickly! You might want to set a timer as leaving the pretzels in to long can result in a slightly bitter aftertaste.

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN MONKEY BREAD IS DONE?

It can be tricky to know if the center of monkey bread is done because the center can be doughy even while the outside is golden and even turning brown.
To tell if the monkey bread is fully cooked, carefully move around a few pieces to get to the center to check for doneness. If the center balls are too  doughy, then continue to bake for 2-5 more minutes and check again.  You may need to cover the top of the monkey bread with foil until the inside is fully cooked.

STORAGE

This monkey bread recipe should NOT be refrigerated because the cold can harden the dough.  To store, cover monkey bread in plastic wrap and store for up to 5 days at room temperature.

How to reheat

You can reheat leftover monkey bread two ways:
  • Microwave:  The microwave is good for instant pleasure and individual servings of monkey bread but you will lose some of the integrity of the pretzels.  To microwave, place serving on a microwave safe plate and microwave for 15 second intervals until warmed through.
  • Oven.  Reheating leftover monkey bread in the oven will yield the best results.  Place monkey bread on a baking sheet, cover with foil, and bake at 250 degrees F for 5-10 minutes.

HOW TO MAKE AHEAD 

To make ahead:
  1. Prepare the entire recipe up to the point of baking, including pouring butter and salt over monkey bread.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake the next day.
  3. Before baking, let the unbaked monkey bread sit on the counter for 30-60 minutes to come to room temperature (so it will cook evenly).
  4. Proceed to bake per recipe instructions.

HOW TO FREEZE MONKEY BREAD

To freeze Monkey Bread:
  1. Wrap cooled Monkey Bread tightly in plastic wrap followed by foil.  If your have smaller leftover monkey bread sections, you can store them in airtight containers or freezer bags.  Alternatively, you can freeze in smaller sandwich bags for individual servings.
  2. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  3. When ready to eat, unwrap monkey bread and thaw on the counter so the condensation doesn’t make it soggy.
  4. Once completely thawed, place on a baking sheet and heat at 250 degrees F for 5-10 minutes or until warmed through.  You may need to pull it out of the oven, carefully pull it apart to check for warmth and continue to bake if necessary.
 
 

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