This Cinnamon Roll Monkey bread is pull-apart perfection. Canned biscuit pieces are tossed in cinnamon sugar before being topped with lashings of homemade caramel. Thirty minutes in the oven later, you’ll have an irresistible breakfast feast.
Looking for a way to get lazy teenagers out of their beds at lightning speed? This Cinnamon roll Monkey bread will do the trick. No one, and I mean not even the elusive-before-midday teenager can resist the smell of this buttery, cinnamon sweet treat.
Now I love cinnamon rolls and I love homemade monkey bread, but as the days get busier, I find myself with less time to spare in the kitchen. Traditional cinnamon rolls are made using a sweet yeast dough that requires at least a 30-minute rise time, so I needed a speedy solution. Enter, bought cinnamon roll dough.
While I usually always advocate for making from scratch over store-bought, by using cans of Pillsbury Grands Cinnamon Rolls I’ve saved myself time, effort, AND washing up. Who can argue with that? By cutting the dough and rolling it into balls, the pieces bake into one another in the pan but don’t fully merge. This makes the signature, pull apart texture and perfect breakfast.
As the canned biscuit dough also doesn’t contain yeast, there is no resting time. The biscuits, however, bring an irresistible texture that absorbs the homemade caramel sauce beautifully. Pulling it apart reveals golden ribbons of pure joy that are guaranteed to make the whole family smile.
When this time of year can feel chaotic as we rush through between to-do lists, visitors and events this is the perfect recipe to remind us to slow down, gather and share. Whether you make it for Christmas morning breakfast or next weekend, there is something undeniably special about the whole family sharing from the same plate. It’s the same reason I love cinnamon twist bread - it brings people together and is a guaranteed conversation starter. The fact that it's one of those easy recipes with irresistible flavor is just a bonus.
WHY WE LOVE THIS EASY CINNAMON ROLL MONKEY BREAD RECIPE
- All occasions - while this cinnamon roll monkey bread particularly hits the spot for breakfast, it can also be enjoyed for brunch, dessert or simply whenever you fancy. It is bread, after all! Perfect for any special occasion! Serve it with a side of fresh fruit for an eye catching brunch recipe.
- Canned biscuits and Simple Ingredients – Canned biscuit dough is the key to making this cinnamon roll monkey bread easy. While I love baking from scratch, I genuinely don’t believe the convenience of canned biscuits is detrimental to the flavor.
- Make ahead – Savor that Sunday morning lie-in by making this ahead! Simply cover and refrigerate ready to pop in the oven the next morning for an indulgent breakfast treat.
- Family friendly – Perhaps it’s the word monkey that invites fits of giggles, perhaps it’s the joy of breaking off the biscuit pieces, either way it’ll be a guaranteed hit with even the fussiest of family members. Did I mention it feeds 8 people? A family friendly feast indeed.
- Delicious Flavor – To top the buttery biscuit pieces, I use a combination of butter, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and cream to create a luxurious caramel. The sweetness of the glaze pairs perfectly with the warming spice of cinnamon for a crowd-pleasing combo.
- Cans of Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls or any store-bought cinnamon rolls
- Brown sugar
- White sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Heavy cream or half and half
- Pinch of salt
SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS
- Toppings – You might be tempted to top it with a finishing touch other than the Pillsbury cream cheese icing. A drizzle of melted white chocolate, royal icing, or a little orange zest would all make exquisite toppings. Alternatively, you could also serve a small dish of Nutella, salted caramel or melted chocolate as a dipping sauce.
- Peanut Butter – If you’re nuts about peanut butter or simply want to skip the stovetop you could use peanut butter instead of homemade caramel. Cream together peanut butter and softened cream cheese then spread the mixture between two layers of biscuit pieces. Melt butter using the microwave and add any remaining sugar from your Ziploc bag and stir to dissolve. Drizzle over the melted butter then bake for 30-35 minutes as per directions.
- Dessert worthy – If you’re searching for a fuss-free festive dessert, serve this cinnamon roll monkey bread warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of any leftover caramel. Divine!
- Add ins – For added texture and flavor it’s super easy to sprinkle in some walnuts, chocolate chips, pecans, or raisins before your monkey bread hits the oven. Or, make an apple version by adding some apple pie filling!
- Bundt pan – Thanks to my Cherry Cream Cheese Bundt Cake and pumpkin chocolate chip bundt cake among many, many other recipes, I have had plenty of practice with baking and removing cake from a bundt tin. If you find them fiddly and frustrating, however, you can still make this cinnamon roll monkey bread in a loaf pan instead (possibly two loaf pans depending on their size.) You could also try making muffin-sized monkey bread which is perfect if you want to showcase a variety of add-ins or for lunch box sized treats.
- Muffins - Turn this recipe into cinnamon roll monkey bread muffins by adding the dough balls and caramel sauce to a well greased 12-cup muffin tin and baking for 10-12 minutes.
RECOMMENDED TOOLS TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
- Ziploc bag
- Mesuring cups & spoons
- Bundt pan
- Wooden spoon
HOW TO MAKE THIS CINNAMON ROLL MONKEY BREAD RECIPE
This cinnamon roll monkey bread is irresistibly easy. Coat the biscuit pieces in a cinnamon sugar, chuck them in the bundt pan with homemade caramel, bake for thirty minutes and enjoy! Good job it’s quick to make as your family will be begging for this breakfast every single weekend!
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously spray bundt pan with nonstick spray.
2. Add the white sugar to a large ziploc bag or a medium bowl, followed by ½ cup of the brown sugar and the cinnamon.
3. Separate the quartered biscuits then add ⅓ of them to the bag. Seal the bag and shake to fully coat biscuits. PRO TIP: Alternatively, you can add the sugars and cinnamon to a plate and roll the biscuit pieces in the mix, making sure to coat evenly.
4. Add the sugar coated biscuits evenly into a well-greased bundt pan. Continue the sugar coating process with the remaining ⅔ until all biscuits are done and added to the pan.
5. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter then add in the remaining brown sugar followed by the vanilla.
6. Let cook, while occasionally stirring for a few minutes, until the mixture starts to become lighter and almost frothy (around 10 minutes.)
7. Remove from heat, then slowly whisk in the cream and a pinch of salt.
8. Immediately pour the melted caramel mixture over the biscuits. Making sure to coat dough pieces evenly.
9. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the tops begin to look slightly crisp and edges are golden brown.
10. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 5 minutes before carefully flipping the bundt pan onto a very large plate, allowing the monkey bread to slide out. PRO TIP: For best results, do not let the monkey bread cool for too long in the pan otherwise you risk it sticking and falling apart. Invert the pan onto a serving plate.
11. Drizzle Pillsbury glaze over the top of the monkey bread.
- Flip Tips - We’re aiming for pull apart bread not fall-apart bread, so if your monkey bread gets stuck in the pan and falls apart it’s likely you didn’t grease the pan well enough. Another reason could be that you waited too long before flipping. Make sure the monkey bread is still warm (but not hot) as this will make it slide out easier.
- Same plate – Once out of the pan, it’s quite tricky to transfer the cinnamon roll monkey bread to another plate, so flip it onto the plate or platter you plan to serve it on.
- Make ahead – Assemble the bread the night before for the breakfast of dreams. Follow the directions as per normal except instead of popping in the oven, cover the bundt pan and pop it in the refrigerator overnight. When you wake up in the morning, add the pan to the oven and bake as per directions.
- Test – It can be hard to tell from the pockets of bubbling caramel if the bread is baked in the middle. To test, insert a long, wooden toothpick or skewer into the thickest part of the monkey bread. If it comes out clean, it’s ready. Usually around 30-35 minutes.
- Enjoy the same day – You probably don’t need this advice, but this pull-apart bread is best enjoyed the same day. If you store it, the leftover monkey bread may go stale so serve it the same day you bake it.
Cinnamon roll monkey Bread tastes best eaten fresh so make it when there’s plenty of mouths to feed (this recipe serves 8!) or when you’re reaaally hungry.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why is Monkey Bread called Monkey Bread?
As mentioned, monkey bread is usually enjoyed as a pull apart bread. The action of pulling it apart and eating it in small bites using your hands, is said to imitate the way in which monkeys also eat. Another theory is that it’s similar to the way monkey’s groom each other – picking out the debris from each other's fur to eat, using their hands. I think the first sounds slightly more appetizing!
Do I have to use a bundt pan for monkey bread?
No! As long as the pan is deep you can use any kind of pan for monkey bread. This includes a cake pan, sheet pan or even individual monkey bread muffins. You may need to reduce or increase the cooking time depending on your choice of pan.
How to make cinnamon roll Monkey Bread in the instant pot
For super moist cinnamon roll monkey bread, you can also make it in the instant pot instead of the oven. This creates a more steamed pudding texture and is a great alternative if your oven is busy baking other items!
To make cinnamon roll monkey bread in the instant pot:
- Add 1 cup of water to the bottom of the instant pot followed by a steam rack.
- Add your ingredients to the bundt pan as per directions above then cover the pan with foil and place on top of the steam rack.
- Cook on high pressure, do a natural release for 10 minutes, then a quick release.
- Remove the bundt pan from the instant pot and remove the foil.
- Flip your monkey bread onto a plate, then drizzle with glaze if desired.
MORE BREAD RECIPES YOU MAY ENJOY
- 3 Cans of Pillsbury Cinnabon Biscuits quarted
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar divided
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup heavy cream or half and half
- pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large ziploc bag, add in white sugar and ½ cup of brown sugar and cinnamon.
Next, add in ⅓ of the quarted biscuits (having had separated them from each other). Seal bag and shake to fully coat biscuits.
Into a well-greased bundt pan, add in sugar coated biscuits evenly. Continue the process until all biscuits are done.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add in remaining brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Let cook, while occasionally stirring for a few minutes, until mixture starts to become lighter and almost frothy like -about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in cream and pinch of salt.
Immediately pour melted sugar mixture over the biscuits evenly.
Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until tops begin to look slightly hardened and edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven, let cool 5 minutes before carefully flipping bundt pan onto a very large plate.
Drizzle Pillsbury glaze over the monkey bread.