In this post I’m going to share a delicious recipe for Challah bread, one you will use again and again! Best of all, it’s an easy recipe to use, even if you’ve never made bread before.
What is Challah Bread?
Challah is a wonderful white bread with a crunchy exterior. It’s perfect with soups, salads, or even on its own.
Challah can be used for sandwiches or toasted with cheese on top. No matter how you serve it, you’ll be glad you did!
Challah is different from other breads in that it is kosher. It doesn’t contain butter or meat products. Though it is similar in taste and feel to a brioche, it doesn’t require the butter or milk you’ll find in a brioche bread.
This bread is filling and delicious. You’re going to be so glad you tried it!
What Does Challah Look Like?
Challah is a lovely golden color, sprinkled with sesame or poppy seeds. The braids can be simple (three-rope) or complicated (six or more ropes). The longer you work with challah dough, the more intricate your braids can become.
I started with a simple braid, the kind I used to use while braiding my girls’ hair.
The History of Challah Bread
Challah bread has Ashkenazi Jewish origins. This beautiful bread is usually braided and sprinkled with sesame seeds. It’s served on the Jewish Sabbath (Shabbat) and other ceremonial or special occasions.
The word challah is biblical in origin. The Hebrew term refers to a loaf or cake. And that’s one thing about Challah bread—the interior is almost cake-like in texture.
Challah is traditionally made from a small set-apart portion of dough, a “tithe” of dough, if you will. (A biblical tithe is 10%.)
Challah is eaten in other cultures, as well. In Russia they call it Kalach. In Sebia it’s kolas. In the Ukraine: kolach. The Hungarians call this bread Malays. The Romanians call it Colac.
No matter what you call it, I call it delicious!
Challah Bread Ingredients
I will post a full printable recipe card at the bottom of this post but here’s a quick peek at what you’ll need to make this delicious Challah. These are simple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.
- large eggs for dough
- all purpose flour
- egg for egg wash
- sesame seeds
How to Make Easy Challah Bread
Grease large bowl and set aside. I sprayed mine with olive oil.
Prepare a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper and set aside.
Combine yeast, lukewarm water, and sugar in a large bowl. You can use a mixing bowl with a mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Mix yeast mixture on low speed until well combined.
Add 2 eggs and oil. Mix well.
Add flour and salt.
If you’re using a stand mixer, switch to dough hook. If you don’t have a stand mixer you can start this process in the mixer but will have to take the dough out to knead by hand once the wet and dry ingredients are combined.
If you’re using a stand mixer, mix with dough hook until dough comes together.
Scrape down sides of bowl if necessary
Continue to knead with dough hook or by hand for 3 minutes.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface.
Form into a ball. I sprayed mine with olive oil spray but you could lightly coat with vegetable oil using a pastry brush.
Place the dough ball in the greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
Place in a warm spot for 90 minutes to let the dough rise.
Remove plastic wrap and use your hand to lightly punch down the dough to release the air.
Separate into three equal parts.
Form each piece into a long rope about 16″ long.
Now comes the fun part! Place your logs side by side on parchment-lined baking sheet.
It’s time to make a braid. Use whichever technique works best for you. Like I said above, I braided mine like I used to braid my daughters’ hair. Tuck the ends of the ropes under or pinch them together.
Cover loaf with a kitchen towel and set in warm place for 15 minutes.
Set oven on 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
While dough is resting, place egg in small bowl and whisk with a fork. (If you prefer you can use the egg yolk only.)
Remove dishtowel from loaf and brush with beaten egg. Set excess egg aside.
Sprinkle top of loaf with sesame seeds. You can also use poppy seeds or Everything Bagel seasoning.
Place in preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove and use egg wash on the center section of the loaf if it has separated. You can add more sesame seeds to the center section if you like.
Place back in the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Remove and cool on wire rack.
When you can handle the loaf, remove it from baking sheet and place directly on rack to continue cooling.
Slice with a good, quality bread knife and serve.
Store in airtight container but don’t do so until the bread is 100% cooled. If you put it in a ziplock bag while warm it will get gluey and the crust will soften up.
Bread will be good for 2 – 3 days.
What to Expect from this Easy Challah Bread
First of all, look at that beautiful braided loaf, y’all! I did that!
I wasn’t sure what to expect before I started, to be honest. I had already tried one Challah recipe and failed so my hopes weren’t very high as I set out to make this one.
I’m so glad I went for it! This bread is absolutely perfect. When I cut into it with my bread knife, it had that delicious “crunch” you enjoy with a good loaf of bread.
The inside was sheer perfection–the right combination of fluffy and springy. I’m not really supposed to be eating bread right now (Weight Watchers points) but I couldn’t help myself. I had to have a piece! (Hey, it was worth the four points!)
This is one of those bread recipes I plan to make again and again. Mine was mixed in my new Thermomix. (This contraption has revolutionized my baking and cooking.) But this is one of those easy recipes you can easily do by hand if you don’t have a stand mixer with a dough hook.
How to Use Challah Bread
I’m so excited about this bread because I can see that it’s going to be very versatile. I could use it to make:
Open-Faced Grilled Cheese: I love Gouda cheese, in particular. Spread butter on a slice of bread, add Gouda, and place in toaster oven until cheese melts. (Delicious!)
Soup Bowl: I might try to make this in three “bowls” and hollow them out to add tomato basil soup. (Just the idea is making me hungry!)
French Toast: I think this would be a lovely, heavier French toast. Give it a good soak in the egg mixture before grilling.
Cinnamon-Sugar Toast: Toasted butter, cinnamon and sugar on Challah? Yes, please!
Honey or Jam: If you want to enjoy the simplicity of this bread, simply top with honey or jam. (I love blackberry jam so I might have to give that a try!)
Olive Oil: Dip in olive oil and herbs for a mediterranean kick!
Questions People are Asking about Challah:
Should I use bread flour in my challah?
Some recipes call for bread flour (which is a denser flour) but this one does not. All purpose works just fine.
Do I need to check the internal temperature of the bread before removing from the oven?
I didn’t. Forty minutes worked perfectly.
What can I do with leftover Challah bread?
I have a marvelous bread pudding recipe and I think Challah would be perfect for that. Allow it to dry out before using.
How can I vary this Easy Challah Bread recipe?
If you like, you can add herbs to the dough. Instead of topping with sesame seeds, top with garlic and other herbs.
Other Breads from Out of the Box Baking
Easy Fry Bread Recipe: This recipe is so versatile and can be used to create many favorites–like beignets, donuts, fried bread, or even churros. Talk about the perfect sweet treat!
Southern Cornbread with Whipping Cream: In this post I show you how to doctor an instant cornbread mix to make it moist and flavorful using a simple ingredient. . .heavy whipping cream.
Monkey Bread with Canned Biscuits: If you love a good cinnamon roll, one that’s gooey and sticky but light and fluffy at the same time. . .you’re definitely in the right place. This Monkey Bread recipe is rich with brown sugar and cinnamon and will leave you swooning! Best of all, it starts with canned biscuits. Talk about simple!
Classic Banana Bread with Walnuts: If you’re looking for that classic down-home taste of a great banana bread rich with walnuts, you’re going to love this one! This is a great go-to recipe you can whip up when you’re in a hurry.
That’s it for this post, friends! I hope you enjoy this delicious Challah recipe. Let me know your thoughts after you try it.
See this recipe at
About the Author
Janice Thompson is an author, baker, and all-around mischief maker! She has overcome a host of baking catastrophes, including a toppled wedding cake, to learn more about the baking process. Janice has published over 150 books for the Christian market but particularly enjoys writing recipes and baking devotions. To learn more about Janice or to drop her a note, visit her About the Author page.
- 1 packet Yeast
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/8 cup water
- 1/3 cup oil
- 2 eggs for dough
- 1/2 tbl salt
- 4 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 egg for egg wash
- 1 - 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- Grease large bowl and set aside.
- Prepare a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper and set aside.
Combine yeast, lukewarm water, and sugar in a large bowl. You can use a mixing bowl with a mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until well combined.
- Add 2 eggs and oil. Mix well.
- Add flour and salt.
- If you're using a stand mixer, switch to dough hook. If you don't have a stand mixer you can start this process in the mixer but will have to take the dough out to knead by hand once the wet and dry ingredients are incorporated.
- Mix with dough hook until dough comes together.
- Scrape down sides of bowl if necessary.
- Continue to knead with dough hook or by hand for 3 minutes.
- Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Form into a ball. Place the dough ball in the greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot for 90 minutes so the dough can rise.
- Remove plastic wrap and use your hand to lightly punch down the dough to release the air.
- Tear into three even pieces.
- Form each piece into a log about 16" long.
- Now comes the fun part! Place your logs side by side on parchment-lined baking sheet.
- It's time to make a braid. Use whichever technique works best for you. I braided mine like I used to braid my daughters' hair. Tuck the ends of the ropes under or pinch them together.
- Cover loaf with a dishtowel and set in warm spot for 15 minutes.
- Set oven on 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- While dough is resting, place egg in small bowl and whisk with a fork.
- Remove dishtowel from loaf and brush with egg mixture. Set excess egg aside.
- Sprinkle top of loaf with sesame seeds. You can also use poppy seeds or Everything Bagel seasoning.
- Place in preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove and use egg wash on the center section of the loaf if it has separated. You can add more sesame seeds to the center section if you like.
- Place back in the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
- Remove and cool.
- Slice with a good, quality bread knife and serve.
- Store in airtight container but don't do so until the bread is 100% cooled. If you put it in a ziplock bag while warm it will get gluey and the crust will soften up.
- Bread will be good for 2 - 3 days.