Gooey, pull-apart, delicious Vegan Monkey Bread is probably the most fun dessert to make and eat! Perfect for a holiday breakfast or dessert -- or any time of the year.
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Hey Internet, I'm super pumped to share this new festive dessert with you today: Vegan Monkey Bread! I wonder how many of you have heard of monkey bread before?
I certainly hadn’t until a few weeks ago.
I mean, maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up celebrating holidays in the traditional sense (I’m Jewish), or maybe it’s because, as it turns out, monkey bread like my mom’s kryptonite. She loves anything with cinnamon--and dough.
However, I was researching what people typically eat for Christmas since I now run a blog and want to provide recipes you all will like--and I came across monkey bread. It honestly looked so good and I decided to try it.
Let’s just say my hubby and I polished off the test batch quickly (hah), it’s that good. It actually wasn’t hard at all, and he even made it with me (which says a lot since he’s not into baking, just eating MY baking, lol).
It’s actually really fun and simple to make, even if you wouldn’t consider yourself a baker. It’s a very forgiving recipe as well.
Monkey bread is essentially little balls of dough, dipped in a fatty liquid like canned coconut milk or melted vegan butter, rolled in cinnamon sugar, and stacked up in a bundt pan. Then you pour in some brown sugar mixed with a touch more liquid and bake it.
The result is an impressive cake-looking dessert that can be served in slices or pull-apart style which is more fun. Each ball of dough tastes like a sticky roll or cinnamon roll.
You can choose to drizzle a vanilla icing over it, or leave it as is--either way it is decadent, delicious, and an easy dessert disguised as fancy.
Let’s jump in.
What You’ll Need
This dessert consists of bread dough, not batter or cookie dough, so you’ll need the basics of dough: flour, active dry yeast, sugar, and salt. Trust me, it’s worth it.
The dough is enriched with flax eggs (ground flaxseed mixed with water and left to gel for a few minutes), canned coconut milk or melted vegan butter, and unsweetened non-dairy milk instead of water. These things are important to a soft, sweet, moist vegan monkey bread.
Next, let’s talk about the coating. Each dough ball needs to be dunked in either canned coconut milk or melted vegan butter. I prefer the coconut milk (the final product does NOT taste like coconut), but any vegan butter will also work.
Then, each ball needs to be rolled in cinnamon sugar. You can roll it generously or lightly, up to you.
You can buy pre-mixed cinnamon sugar, but I prefer to make my own with a bowl of organic cane sugar (organic helps ensure the sugar is vegan, as some non-organic sugars are filtered through animal bone char) and a heavy pinch of ground cinnamon.
Now, after the bundt pan is all loaded up with the dipped and dredged dough balls, you’ll want to add this brown sugar topping.
It gets poured over the top (the finished bottom after we flip it following baking), but will seep down during the baking process, sealing all the balls of dough into one big “bread.” This is what makes it hold together, but you’ll still be able to pull each piece apart.
Finally, and this is optional, you can make a simple vanilla icing to pour over your finished product. This is made from organic powdered sugar, a little unsweetened non-dairy milk, and a little more pure vanilla extract.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
I don’t have a bundt pan. What can I use?
Virtually any other pan will work, but all will affect the cook time (so it will be different than what I’ve listed). You could use 2 pie dishes, a couple of 9” round cake pans, a 9x13 rectangular pan, or a couple of loaf tins.
Keep in mind that the taller your pan, the longer it takes to bake, which could make the top start to burn if it dries out or hardens. If you start to notice it getting dried out or burnt, add some foil to the top.
Shallow pans, like the 9x13 rectangular pan, will likely cook faster.
In any case, keep an eye on your monkey bread to make sure it cooks thoroughly (especially in the center). It’s done when the top is dry (but not dried out), and firm.
What can I use instead of canned coconut milk?
Melted vegan butter.
Can I use gluten-free flour?
Yes, you probably could use a good quality gluten-free flour. I’ve used both Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour and King Arthur Baking Company Measure for Measure Gluten-Free Flour with success.
Keep in mind your dough may require a bit more moisture to produce a nice soft moist dough, so keep extra non-dairy milk nearby!
Do I need a stand mixer?
While a stand mixer with a dough hook certainly makes this process faster, you can absolutely do this by hand in a large mixing bowl with a strong wooden spoon. You’ll also need a bit of arm and shoulder strength!
What’s a shortcut for making monkey bread?
You could use canned biscuits--some brands are “accidentally vegan” (meaning they’re not advertising it as such, but don’t contain any animal products). You would roll each biscuit into balls (or cut it into pieces then roll those into balls, to achieve enough balls to make the whole recipe). Keep in mind you might need multiple cans (or halve the recipe).
However, this recipe is made from scratch, and it’s SOOOOO good and worth the small amount of extra effort. From scratch baking the best. Not that I’m biased, no, that would be wrong.
Why is it called monkey bread?
It’s traditionally eaten pull-apart style, picked at with fingers like a monkey would!
How to Properly Measure Flour
We want to measure our flour by weight, not by volume. When you scoop flour out of a bag or tin with a measuring cup, you're packing it in there and not necessarily getting the same amount each time.
What's better is to use a food scale with a tare function (allowing you to zero out the scale after you've put the bowl on it so your bowl isn't playing a factor in your equation).
Working in grams, put your bowl on the scale and zero it out. Scoop the flour into the bowl until you reach the desired measurement.
Tips for Making Vegan Monkey Bread
This is a pretty easy dessert, but there are a few different sets of steps, so I’ll break it down into easy-to-read sections for clarity.
Making the Dough
- First, let’s get the yeast proofing. We do this step to make sure the yeast works before we use it.
- Warm up your unsweetened non-dairy milk in the microwave or in a small saucepan on the stovetop. It should be warm, but not hot. Test it on your wrist, if it feels warm, but not uncomfortable, it’s perfect for yeast. If you have a thermometer, it should be between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit (or between 38 and 43 degrees Celsius).
- Whisk the yeast, sugar, and warmed non-dairy milk in your mixing bowl and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- While you wait, mix the ground flaxseed and water in a small bowl and let it gel for a few minutes.
- Once the 5 minutes are up. If the mixture is foamy, your yeast is good. If not, the yeast is likely dead and you’ll need new yeast. It’s a lot better than making the dough and finding out later when it doesn’t rise!
- Start a small pot of water to boil. I use this in my rising method to keep the dough moist and soft while it rises.
- Now add the flax eggs, 6-7 tbsp canned coconut milk or melted vegan butter, salt, and a ⅓ of the flour to the mixing bowl and mix it for 2 minutes at low speed with a paddle attachment (or mix by hand for a few minutes until well combined).
- Add the remaining flour and switch to the dough hook (or mix by hand with a strong spoon, then by hand when it’s too hard to stir. Knead with hands if you don’t have a mixer). Knead for 2-4 minutes until the dough has come away from the sides of the bowl and holds onto the hook (or is a nice uniform ball, if not using a mixer). Your dough should be soft and moist, but not sticky or tacky. Just firm enough to hold together.
- Grease a large bowl with canned coconut milk (the solid parts are perfect for this part), vegan butter, or non-stick spray) and turn out your dough into this bowl. Flip the dough once so both sides are lightly coated. Place a damp kitchen towel over the bowl and put it in a warm place to rise. I put it in my oven with just the oven light on. I place the boiled water on the rack just below the bowl and shut the door. Let the dough rise for one hour, until doubled in size.
Assembling the Monkey Bread
- When the hour is up, remove the bowl and punch down the dough. Set up a station on your work surface with the ball of dough, a medium bowl of canned coconut milk or melted vegan butter, a medium bowl of cinnamon sugar, and your greased bundt pan or other pan (see above). You may also need an extra plate or tray to hold the prepared dough balls (see below).
- If you’re working with someone (this is a great project for kids to help with!), you won’t need an extra plate, but if you’re doing this by yourself, I recommend to make all the dough balls first and place them on a plate or tray, then do the dipping.
- Pinch a fair portion of dough with your fingers and create a wad of dough (you may find it helpful to use kitchen shears to cut the dough). Roll it into a ball (it does not need to be perfect, the ball won’t really hold its shape anyway. Set aside (or hand off to be dunked).
- Dip each ball first in canned coconut milk or melted vegan butter, let the excess drip off, then roll it in the cinnamon sugar. You can roll it lightly or generously, your preference.
- Place each ball in the lined pan. About 2 rows can fit in a standard bundt pan for each layer, an inner circle and an outer circle. We want the dough balls to touch. If they kind of mush each other, that’s OK.
- This recipe works out to about 3 layers for a 10 - 10.5” bundt pan.
Rise Again, Top, and Bake
- Place the filled pan back in the oven with the light on. Cover with a cloth and rise again for about 20 minutes.
- Mix together the brown sugar, 3 tbsp canned coconut milk or melted vegan butter, and vanilla extract. Use a spoon to add it evenly to the top of the pan. This will help create a solid bottom, but it will also drip down and seal the balls of dough together.
- Bake your vegan monkey bread at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or 177 degrees Celsius) for 40-45 minutes on the lowest shelf in the oven. If you find it’s getting too crisp or brown on top, add some foil to protect it while the middle cooks.
- Let the bread cool in the pan for 15 minutes on a cooling rack. Then turn it over onto a plate or cake stand. You may need to thwack the bottom a bit, and then wait a few minutes for it to “drop” out of the pan (it took mine about 1 minute to drop). Coaks with a butter knife if needed.
- Let it cool for approximately 30-40 minutes before adding the icing. The warmer it is when you add the icing, the more that icing will turn kind of invisible. You’ll still taste it. But if you want a bright white icing, I’d encourage you to wait till the monkey bread is completely cool.
- Serve in slices or pull apart style. Enjoy!
- Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or freeze in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months.
More Vegan Baking Recipes
I was scared of baking (especially bread) for the longest time, but now that I’ve started baking I absolutely love it.
Here’s a few more awesome from-scratch baking recipes you can try.
- Chocolate Vegan Babka (think twisty chocolaty bread)
- Vegan Challah
- Vegan Bagels
- Matcha Pound Cake
- Coconut Cake
- Easy Pie Crust - try with my Vegan Pumpkin Pie
- Vegan Chocolate Chip Scones
- Cranberry Chocolate Chip Jumbo Muffins
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does, too. We both ate it just a little too fast, but I mostly blame him.
This vegan monkey bread is:
- Soft but chewy
- Full of cinnamon flavor
- Gooey when warm
- Like little cinnamon roll balls
- And perfect for breakfast or dessert, impressing guests or family!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!