It’s Monkey Bread Time of the Year

As far back as I can remember, food has been an integral part of my family’s holiday traditions. If you asked me what my mom would serve on a specific holiday, I could recite entire menus that I have carried into my own holiday traditions as an adult. There is something special about being able to make the same recipes that so vividly stick out to me from my childhood that made holidays extra special. A favorite dish at our house for Christmas is called ‘sticky buns’, commonly known as monkey bread.

Christmas Eve growing up was the same year to year. After returning home from our Christmas Eve church service, my sisters and I would get ready for bed and our mom would head to the kitchen, still in her church dress and tights, prepping for Christmas day breakfast. Sticky buns, or monkey bread, would have to sit overnight on the counter for the rolls to rise prior to baking the next morning. As I got older, I remember hanging out in the kitchen with my mom the evening of Christmas Eve to help measure the ingredients and rearrange the frozen dough balls in the Bundt pan. On Christmas morning, we would wake up to the smell of cinnamon and butterscotch flowing throughout the house.

As the years have gone on and I have begun making this same dish for my family, I have tweaked it a little and added chocolate chips or butterscotch chips to the pan for extra sweetness. Making monkey bread for Christmas day helps me feel connected to my family even though we are separated by 1,000+ miles for the holidays. Our new tradition is to send completed pictures of our sticky buns/monkey bread to one another to see how the dish has evolved over the years. My husband looks forward to Christmas breakfast, mainly because of my family’s infamous breakfast tradition. I envision my daughter, who recently turned 3, helping me in the kitchen after Christmas Eve church service this year to help me prep our monkey bread.

What dishes or scents bring about happy memories for you around the holidays? Please share your family favorite dishes with us!

Cheers to making your family favorite dishes during this holiday season!


Katy Moscoso

Katy Moscoso is a Program Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. As a new mom she is always on the lookout for easy, healthy recipes to prepare for her family.

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3 thoughts on “It’s Monkey Bread Time of the Year

  1. I love it that Monkey Bread is a tradition. Great article, but can you please share your recipe? Thank you in advance.

  2. Hi Roxie and Vera!
    Apologies for getting this recipe out late. I took a long holiday break this year! The recipe is below. It is an easy one to modify to your liking (chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, different pudding flavor, variety of nuts, etc.) Hope you enjoy!

    Monkey Bread
    1 bag of frozen dinner rolls (24 rolls), do not use biscuits
    1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, you can also use baking chips (chocolate or butterscotch) in place of nuts or in addition to the nuts
    1 box (3 oz or 3.5 oz) butterscotch, chocolate, or vanilla cook and serve pudding, do not use instant or fat free
    1 1/2 sticks margarine or unsalted butter
    3/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
    1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    2 tsp. karo syrup

    1. grease a bundt pan and cover the bottom with the nuts and/or baking chips of your choice. Place frozen rolls on nuts and/or baking chips. Sprinkle 1 box of pudding over the rolls.
    2. In a medium saucepan, melt and bring to a full boil the butter/margarine, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Stir to a full boil and add 1 tsp. karo syrup. Pour this mixture over the rolls.
    3. Drizzle remaining 1 tsp. karo syrup over the rolls and melted butter mixture in the pan. Cover the pan with foil and set overnight. (I recommend placing the plate on a sheet pan to catch any drippings from the rolls expanding overnight)
    4. Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered. If the rolls are flowing over the pan, press them down slightly prior to baking. Place the bundt pan on a sheet pan while baking to catch any drippings. Let set for 10 minutes. Place a plate over the top of the rolls and flip the bundt pan over. Lift the pan off of the plate and enjoy!

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