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baked and iced lemon monkey bread in large skillet (6)

Lemon Monkey Bread

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  • Author: Mimi
  • Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
  • Yield: 1 (12 inch) skillet


Lemon monkey bread is everything we know and love in monkey bread, but with a seasonal twist. This fun pull apart bread features little pieces of homemade dough, tossed in a butter sugar mixture, topped with a simple icing, and no shortage of bright and fresh lemon flavor!


For the lemon monkey bread dough:

  • 3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled (plus more for kneading)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 & 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) instant yeast*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
  • 3/4 cup (180mL) whole milk (around 110F or "body temperature")**
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, or any neutral flavored oil

For the gooey lemon sugar coating:

  • 10 tablespoons (150g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 & 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest

For the simple lemon icing:

  • 3/4 cup (95g) powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • lemon zest (optional - for topping)


lemon monkey bread dough:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and lemon zest to combine. 
  2. In a separate medium bowl or cup, whisk together milk, egg, and butter.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Use a spoon to stir the mixture until it starts to come together into a rough, shaggy dough.
  4. Knead the dough (either directly in the bowl or on a lightly floured work surface) adding flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. If you poke the top with a clean finger, none of the dough should stick to your hand and the dough should spring back. If an indent in the dough remains, it needs a bit more kneading.
  5. Form the dough into a rough ball and place it back into your large bowl. Brush vegetable oil on top so the dough doesn't form a skin.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap or a lint free tea towel and set aside to rise for about 45 to 60 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size. 

gooey lemon sugar coating:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Butter an 11 or 12 inch skillet and set aside. ***(see notes for baking in a Bundt pan)
  2. Uncover the risen dough and punch down to release the air. 
  3. Pinch off roughly 1/2 tablespoon sized portions of dough and roll into smooth balls. A little smaller or larger is fine. Repeat until all of the dough is portioned into bite sized pieces.
  4. In a large bowl (you can use the same one you mixed the dough in), combine the portioned dough balls and all the ingredients for the gooey lemon sugar coating (butter, sugar, and lemon zest). 
  5. Toss together to evenly coat. They will misshape slightly, but try to be gentle to minimize it as much as possible. You won't even be able to notice the wonky looking ones once they bake up!
  6. Arrange the dough balls in your prepared skillet. You should be able to get them in 1 layer but it's ok if there's some overlap. If there's any of the lemon sugar coating leftover in your bowl, spread it on top of the dough.
  7. I recommend placing your skillet onto a parchment or aluminum lined baking sheet to catch any drips. Transfer the monkey bread to the center of your preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.
  8. Set aside the baked monkey bread to cool slightly while you prep the icing.

simple lemon icing:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice until smooth and combined. If it's still too thick, gradually whisk in more lemon juice until the icing reaches your desired consistency. If it's too thin, whisk in powdered sugar.
  2. Drizzle the icing over the slightly warm monkey bread. Top with lemon zest if desired then serve! Monkey bread is best served fresh but it will keep for about 3 days.


* If you want to use active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, the steps will change slightly because active dry yeast needs to be dissolved in liquid beforehand. Instead of whisking it directly into the flour, you first need to mix together the milk, sugar, and yeast to dissolve. Set aside the mixture for 5 to 10 minutes or until foamy on top then continue with the recipe as normal.

** Using liquid that's too hot can kill the yeast and using liquid that's too cold will make it difficult to "activate" the yeast. The perfect temperature is around 110F or what's also known as "body temperature". To test for body temperature, simply dip your finger into the liquid - you shouldn't feel any significant shift in temperature (neither hot nor cold) which means the liquid is the same temperature as your body. It should just be slightly warm to the touch. 

*** You can also bake this bread in a 9 inch Bundt pan. Just make sure to pick a pan that doesn't have too intricate of a design or the bread can stick. The bake time in a Bundt pan will be closer to 30 to 35 minutes. You can serve the bread straight from the Bundt pan, but traditionally, monkey bread baked in a Bundt pan is flipped onto a plate. If you do decide to pull it out of the pan, allow the monkey bread to cool for about 5 minutes in the pan, then place an inverted rimmed plate on top and carefully flip. It's important to do this while the monkey bread is hot, otherwise the butter and sugar will set and will cause the bread to stick to the pan. Prep the icing and then drizzle it on top before digging in!

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Bake Time: 25 minutes
  • Category: Breads