Homemade Challah (Easy Braided Bread)


Overhead photo of baked Challah bread on a blue baking sheet.

Challah Bread is a popular braided bread recipe made with eggs and honey. It’s is lightly sweet and makes the most incredible French toast!

While this recipe does take time, most of that is hands-off proofing time!  Made with basic pantry staples, the dough itself is so easy to prepare.

Overhead photo of baked Challah bread on a blue baking sheet.

What is Challah Bread?

Challah is a braided bread that is so delicious, yet so easy to prepare.

Made with pantry staples like honey and eggs, this slightly sweet bread is braided and brushed with an egg wash before being baked until the perfect golden brown color!

While it does take time to proof, this recipe takes little skill to make.

How To Make Challah Bread

This recipe works best with a stand mixer with a dough hook! You will also want a digital thermometer since you’re working with yeast and temperature is very important!

  1. Prep – Using a stand mixer, prepare the dough (per recipe below) and transfer it to a greased bowl. Cover with a damp dishcloth to proof.
  2. Braid – Make evenly sized dough strands and braid together. Place bread on a greased baking sheet.
  3. Egg Wash – Brush with a prepared egg wash and let proof. Repeat once more.
  4. Bake – Brush with a final coat of egg wash and bake!

To check for doneness, use a kitchen thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of the bread has reached 190°F.

Delicious Additions

Mix-Ins: Add up to 1 cup of raisins, dried cherries, or other dried fruits to the dough. Just add it in with the eggs while preparing the dough!

Toppings: Top the bread with poppy seeds or sesame seeds after the final egg wash is applied and before baking, or leave it plain (which is perfect for French Toast).

A pastry brush brushing egg wash on Challah bread.

How to Braid Challah

Braiding challah is the hardest part! To start, try a classic 3 strand braid. Once you have the hang of it try braiding in 4, 6, or even 8 strands for beautifully baked bread!

  1. Divide the dough into equal portions (3, 4, 6, or 8 depending on what you have chosen).
  2. Roll into evenly sized strips by working from the center and rolling with your hands, tapering the dough at the ends.
  3. Secure one end of each dough strip together and braid.

I recommend doing a YouTube search for braiding Challah bread for the number of strips you chose. It’s good to have a visual guide to follow for this part.

Tips for the Perfect Loaf

While this dough is easy to prepare, there are a few helpful tips to remember for the perfect loaf every time!

  • The bread does not rise like a traditional sandwich bread recipe. It should double in size but it will not expand over the top of a large bowl. The dough gets most of it’s rise in the second round of proofing after it has been braided.
  • DO NOT skip the egg wash process. I know how tempting it might sound to just let it do the second proof all at once and just apply the egg wash right before baking, but the egg wash helps apply moisture to the dough which helps it rise and gives it the glossy topping Challah breads are known for!
  • If you like Challah bread heavy on the egg flavor, add 1 additional egg yolk to this recipe with no additional changes.

Close up photo of Challah Bread that has had the end sliced off.

How To Serve Challah Bread

Challah bread is delicious on its own, and it’s even more when paired with honey butter or cinnamon butter.

Serve it alongside eggs in purgatory or with a plain poached egg.

It’s also a great bread to use to make homemade croutons, bread pudding, or French toast with!

To Freeze

Prepare the dough through the braiding process then freeze!

Place it on a baking sheet until frozen, then wrap with plastic wrap and aluminum foil until ready to use. To use, remove it from the freezer, unwrap immediately and place it on a baking sheet. Plan for it to take 6 to 8 hours for it to fully rise.

Challah bread can also be frozen by allowing it to cool completely before wrapping and freezing.

Easy Bread Recipes

  • Easy Beer Bread – no yeast required!
  • Homemade French Bread – made with pantry staples
  • Easy Banana Bread – classic quick bread recipe!
  • Irish Soda Bread – perfectly dense bread
  • Monkey Bread – sweet, sticky, and so easy to prepare

How did your Challah Bread turn out? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

Overhead photo of baked Challah bread on a blue baking sheet.

Challah Bread

Challah Bread is a popular braided bread recipe made with eggs and honey. It's is lightly sweet and makes the most incredible French toast!
Course Bread
Cuisine Jewish
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Proof Time 3 hours 40 minutes
Total Time 5 hours
Servings 16 servings
Calories 167
Author Rebecca

Ingredients

Bread

  • 1/2 Tablespoon Instant yeast (also called Rapid Rise Yeast) *dry active yeast alternative below
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk heated between 120-130°F
  • 3/4 cup water heated between 120-130°F
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks save whites for eggwash
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Egg Wash

  • 2 large egg whites leftover from the bread
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 Tablespoon honey

Instructions

  • Mix together the yeast, flour, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment.
  • With the mixer running on "stir" speed, pour in the milk and water. Then add in the honey, egg, egg yolks, and vegetable oil. Increase speed to medium and knead for 5 to 6 minutes until the dough completely pulls away from the bowl and is no longer sticky to the touch.
  • Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to a large greased bowl and cover with a damp dishcloth and proof (rise) for 1 hour.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl with the top right side up on a lightly floured surface. Pull the edges of the dough from 4 points, flip, and work in a circular motion on the counter to seal, then place back in the bowl. Cover the dough with the damp dishcloth again and proof for an additional hour.
  • Remove from the bowl and evenly divide the dough into the number of braids you want, I like to use 4. Shape the dough into logs. Cover the dough logs with the damp dishcloth and let the rest for 20 minutes.
  • Roll each log out into 1 1/2-inch strips of dough, working from the center and rolling with your hands, tapering the dough at the ends. Secure one end of dough strips together and braid. Place bread on a greased baking sheet.

Egg Wash

  • Make egg wash with the leftover egg whites, water, and honey and brush it on the bread. Proof uncovered for 40 minutes.
  • Apply another coat of the egg wash then proof for an additional 40 minutes.
  • Apply a final coat of egg wash before baking.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F and reduce it to 325°F as soon as you put the bread in the oven to bake. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and place an aluminum foil tent over the top and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes.
  • The bread should sound hollow when you tap on the top and the top should be golden brown when done. Challah bread should have an internal temperature of 190°F when baked let cool completely before cutting.

Notes

To use dry active yeast, bloom it first by mixing it with the milk and water in a measuring cup and letting it activate for about 10 to 15 minutes. The liquid ingredients should be between 105°F and 115°F for proper blooming or it can kill the yeast.

Additions: add 1 cup raisin or dried fruit into the dough in step 2 if desired. Or top with sesame or poppy seeds after the final egg wash (before baking). 

You can freeze the Challah bread dough right after braiding. It will need about 6 to 8 hours to thaw and rise before baking.

Nutrition

Calories: 167 | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 162mg | Potassium: 57mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 60IU | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1mg

 

sliced challah with writing
Sliced Challah bread with writing
Top image - Challah bread sliced. Bottom image - braided Challah bread being brushed with a pastry brush
Braided Challah bread being brushed with an egg wash with writing

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