Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (2024)

This braided Challah Bread recipe makes two of the best, most gorgeous braided loaves you will ever eat! Enjoy one loaf warm from the oven and save the other loaf for French toast a few days later!

Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (1)
Table of Contents
  1. What is Challah Bread?
  2. Challah Pronunciation
  3. Best Challah Recipe ingredients
  4. How to Make Challah Bread
  5. Braiding Challah
  6. Best Challah Bread Recipe FAQ
  7. Challah Bread Tips
  8. Rosh Hashanah Challah Bread
  9. How to store this Challah Bread Recipe
  10. What to do with Challah Bread
  11. Substitutions and Variations
  12. More Homemade Bread Recipes
  13. Best Challah Bread Recipe Recipe

There is nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked homemade bread, coming out of the oven piping hot. Be sure to also try ourSweet Molasses Brown Bread,Homemade French Bread, andEasy Homemade Rye Bread.

I was surprised when my DNA results came back informing me that I have a small amount of Eastern European Jewish ancestry that I previously did not know about. Even though I make no claims to the authenticity of this challah bread recipe, I love the idea of exploring ancestry through food and this challah bread reminds me of the millions of women who have braided loaves of this rich egg bread to serve in their homes. This is a recipe and tradition I hope to pass down to my girls.

Sure, you can buy loaves of challah bread at a decent bakery. But there is nothing like a fresh loaf baking in your own oven. It fills your home with the most wonderful aroma and when it comes out all glistening and golden brown, it is a thing of beauty. I've been making this challah bread recipe for years now and it still makes me giddy to pull these gorgeous loaves out of the oven. This challah bread recipe really isTHE BEST.

Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (2)

What is Challah Bread?

Challah is a rich, traditional Jewish breadserved on the Sabbath or to celebrate holidays. Challah (also sometimes known as "egg bread") is a made with eggs, a little sugar, and some oil, along with common bread ingredients of water, flour, yeast and salt. Because of the added eggs and fat, this challah recipe has a rich flavor and wonderful texture that makes it perfect forMonte Cristo Sandwiches, french toast, or bread pudding!

Challah bread is most often braided into long six-strand braids or round braided loaves. Then the loaves are brushed with an egg wash two times which gives wonderful color to these stunning loaves.

We like to eat one of the loaves with dinner when it's freshly made and save the other one to use for something else later. Like many bread recipes, this challah bread is best when fresh, within the first day or two, but it freezes beautifully as well. You can freeze challah bread for up to 1 month wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Just let it thaw at room temperature for a few hours before slicing.

Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (3)

Challah Pronunciation

Challah is most easily pronounced "haa-luh" (as in "holla back" - I can't believe I just typed that).

The "ch" can also be pronounced the same as in the German word "buch" or the Scottish word "loch". But it's not actually pronounced with a hard "ch" sound like in the English word "cherry", even though it's tempting for most of us English speakers to read it that way.

Best Challah Recipe ingredients

Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

  • Water: You want your water to be lukewarm-warm, not cold, and not hot.
  • Yeast: Use active dry yeast for best results.
  • Sugar: White Granulated Sugar will work fine.
  • Oil: I use vegetable oil, but you can use olive oil or extra virgin olive oil too.
  • Eggs: Lots of eggs to help the bread rise into its signature fluffiness!
  • Salt: Enhances the flavors of the bread.
  • Flour: All-Purpose Flour works well for challah bread, you don't need specific bread flour!
  • Topping: Sesame seeds or poppy seeds. (Optional)
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (4)

How to Make Challah Bread

The reason this is the best challah bread is not only that it tastes delicious, but it is easier to make than it looks. I know it might sound intimidating, but you will be surprised at how simple challah is to make.

  1. Proof yeast. Proof the yeast by dissolving it in lukewarm water with a tablespoon of sugar in a large mixing bowl until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add oil and eggs. Stir in the oil and 4 of the eggs (reserve 1 egg for an egg wash after braiding), with the remaining sugar and salt.
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (5)
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (6)
  1. Add flour. Gradually add the flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring it in to make a soft dough.
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (7)
  1. Knead dough. My standard-size KitchenAid mixer can't quite handle this much dough so I pretty much always finish kneading by hand by turning the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and kneading until smooth.
  2. Oil the bowl. Clean out and lightly oil the bowl before returning the dough to it.
  3. Cover and let rise. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the challah dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot for about an hour, until almost doubled in size.
  4. Punch and rise. Punch the dough down (literally, just stick your fist right into the center of the dough and push it down), then cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise again for another half hour.
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (8)
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (9)
  1. Divide the dough. To form the 6-strand challah braid, first, divide the dough on a clean surface. Divide it in half to make two loaves. Then divide each half into 6 equally sized portions and roll the balls of dough into 6 equally sized strands, each about 16 inches long. Place the strands side by side and pinch the tops together. See below for step-by-step pictures to guide you through this particular braid or you could do an easier 3-strand or 4-strand braid.
  2. Add egg wash. Next, beat the remaining egg and brush half of it on the loaves using a pastry brush. Be sure to get in the crevices of the braid and down the sides of the loaves.
  3. Rise again and add egg wash. Allow the loaves to rise another hour in a warm place, then brush again with the remainder of the egg wash.
  4. Add topping. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using them (I almost always skip them, but it would make the loaf even more traditional to use them).
  5. Bake. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake the challah for 30-35 minutes until golden brown (or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 190 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer). Eat one loaf warm with butter for dinner and save the other loaf for the most delicious french toast ever!
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (10)

Yes, it does take a little time - a few hours from start to finish - but hardly any longer than a simple loaf of Amish White Bread and definitely not as long as a babka (incidentally, another braided Jewish bread, though I don't make it on regular basis like I do challah).

Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (11)

Braiding Challah

There are many ways to braid challah bread. 3-strand braid, 4-strand braid, or 6-strand braids are all popular. So is a round braided challah loaf. I'm sharing how to do a 6-strand braid and a round braid since those are the two we use most often.

Six-Strand Challah Braid

  1. First, roll out six long strands of dough, line them up side-by-side, then pinch the tops together.
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (12)
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (13)
  1. Move the outside RIGHT strand over two strands to the left.
  2. Next, move the 2nd strand from the left to the far right.
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (14)
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (15)
  1. Now move the outside LEFT strand over two strands to the right.
  2. Then move the 2nd strand from the right to the far left.
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (16)
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (17)
  1. Repeat until finished. Repeat these steps until the braid is complete.
  2. Pinch and tuck the ends. Pinch the ends together and tuck them underneath the loaf to secure them. Your braid is likely to be fairly long and skinny at this point, and that's completely normal.
  3. Plump the loaf. Finally, to finish shaping the loaf, you need to plump it a bit into more of a loaf shape by sort of lifting and smooshing the braid in on itself a bit and wiggling it a bit to make the loaf a bit shorter, wider, and even, from the top to the bottom. The braid shouldn't come undone - you just want to even out the shape here and there to make your loaf look nicer. This step can be done as you are transferring the braid from the floured surface where you formed it onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  4. Place on baking sheet. Transfer the the braided loaves to a parchment-lined baking sheet pan, with at least 2 inches in between the braids so they don't meld together as they rise.

Round Braided Challah Bread

  1. Divide half of the dough recipe into 4 even balls and roll them into roped. Lay two horizontally, about an inch apart, with the other two laid perpendicularly across the top.
  2. Lift the top horizontal strand and place it over the right vertical strand. Lift the bottom horizontal strand and place it over the left vertical strand, as demonstrated in the pictures below.
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (18)
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (19)
  1. Next, take the right strand of each set of two strands that are close together and cross it over the left strand.
  2. Then take the bottom left strands and cross them over the neighboring strands, creating a new set of two strands, like in the images below.
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (20)
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (21)
  1. Continue the process of crossing the right pair of the strand over the left, then the left strand over the neighboring pair until a round loaf takes shape.
  2. Tuck any loose pieces under the loaf, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (22)
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (23)

Now go on and give that six-strand or round braided challah a try! Get the full recipe below and I guaranteeit will be the best challah bread you have ever tried!

Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (24)

More Braids

This is one of my most popular, well-loved recipes and sometimes I receive images from readers who made this. I wanted to share some of the beautiful challah bread loaves they have sent using this recipe!

Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (25)
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (26)
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (27)
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (28)

Best Challah Bread Recipe FAQ

Are Brioche Bread and Challah Bread the Same?

Challah and brioche bread are similar, but differ from each other in important ways. Both are ever so slightly sweet and enriched with eggs and fat, making them richer than other breads.

But challah uses more eggs and less fat than brioche bread. Also, the fat used in challah is oil, whereas brioche bread calls for butter.

What does challah bread taste like?

Challah bread has a rich, eggy taste that is similar to brioche. The flavor of this challah bread recipe is slightly sweet thanks to just the right amount of sugar in the dough.

Why do Jews bake challah?

Challah bread is a traditional Jewish braided bread that is made every Friday before Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, in many households. It is also a part of many Jewish holidays, including Rosh Hashanah when it is braided into a round challah loaf to symbolize the close of the previous year and the start of the new one.

Which flour is best for challah?

You don't need any special bread flour to make the perfect challah loaf. Some recipes call for bread flour, but I juts use all-purpose flour and it works perfectly every time!

What makes challah different from bread?

Challah is different from regular white sandwich bread, french bread, or a baguette in that it is a type of enriched bread with added fat in the form of oil and eggs. It's very similar to a brioche dough, except that challah is made with oil instead of butter.

Challah Bread Tips

  • Let it rise. Twice. Set the dough in a warm place to rise in order to get the deliciously fluffy centers. It will need to properly double in size and this can take about 1½ - 2 hours. After braiding the bread it will need to rise for a second time, for about 30 to 45 minutes. Letting it rise twice gives it that signature fluffy texture.
  • Stand mixer. You can use a stand mixer that has a large bowl, with a dough hook attachment on low speed to knead the dough if you like. My standard-size KitchenAid mixer can't quite handle this much dough so I pretty much always finish kneading by hand. Simply place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.
  • Parchment paper. Make sure to line your baking sheet with parchment paper, otherwise, the bread will stick to the pan. Alternatively, use a silicone mat.

Rosh Hashanah Challah Bread

For the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, challah bread is traditionally made into a spiral, symbolizing the cyclical nature of the year. To make a spiral shape, either use my rounded braided challah bread approach or you can roll the dough into a 36" long rope, and coil it round completely on the baking tray, or use a round cake tin to better keep its shape. Leave it for the second rise time, then add eggwash and bake as directed in the original recipe.

How to store this Challah Bread Recipe

Like many bread recipes, this challah bread is best when fresh, within the first day or two, although it will still be good for up to about a week if you are planning to use it for French toast. Store it on the counter wrapped in plastic wrap or in an airtight ziplock or bread bag.

Challah bread also freezes beautifully. You can freeze challah bread for up to 1 month if it is wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then placed in a freezer-safe ziplock bag or wrapped again in foil for protection from freezer burn. Just let it thaw at room temperature for a few hours before slicing it.

Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (29)

What to do with Challah Bread

Eat it plain or with butter, honey, or jam. This challah recipe has a rich flavor and wonderful texture, thanks to the added eggs and fat. It's almost impossible to resist slicing right into eat and eating thick slices while the bread is still warm. We love it plain, but it's mind-blowingly good with a drizzle or honey or a smear of nutella or jam.

Use it for breakfast. Challah bread makes the best French toast ever. You can use it for regular French toast or go whole-hog with a stuffed French toast recipe instead. It's also great for a breakfast casserole.

Make dessert. Challah bread makes truly fantastic bread pudding. You can even use it to make a shortcake-style dessert by serving it with macerated berries and cream on top.

It's great for grilled cheese or other sandwiches, including our favorite Monte Cristo sandwiches. Let me know how you used your challah bread in the comments below!

Substitutions and Variations

  • Seeds. You can use different kinds of seeds to top the bread, like sesame seeds, poppy seeds or even sunflower seeds or everything bagel mix for something a bit different.
  • Savory flavors. Give your bread a more savory flavor by adding garlic and rosemary to the dough mix.
  • Sweet flavors. Add some raisins or other dried fruits to make this into more of a sweet bread.
  • Shapes. Make your loaf into different shapes depending on how or when you'd like to serve it.
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (30)
Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (31)

More Homemade Bread Recipes

  • Easy Homemade Rye Bread
  • Sweet Molasses Brown Bread
  • Easy Rosemary Focaccia Bread

Bread

Homemade French Bread

Bread

Bread

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.

Best Challah Bread Recipe

4.78 from 176 votes

Amy Nash

Prep Time 20 minutes mins

Cook Time 30 minutes mins

Additional Time 2 hours hrs

Total Time 2 hours hrs 50 minutes mins

Course Bread

Cuisine Jewish

Servings 20 slices

This braided Challah Bread recipe makes two of the best, most gorgeous braided loaves you will ever eat! Enjoy one loaf warm from the oven and save the other loaf for French toast a few days later!

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups warm water
  • 1 ½ tablespoons active dry yeast
  • ½ cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon extra for proofing the yeast
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten + 1 additional egg for an egg wash
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 to 8½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading/dusting
  • Sesame seeds, for dusting (optional)

Instructions

  • Proof the yeast by dissolving it in lukewarm water with a tablespoon of sugar in a large mixing bowl until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the oil and 4 of the eggs (reserve 1 egg for an egg wash after braiding), with the remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add the flour, 1 cup at a time, to make a soft dough. My standard-size KitchenAid mixer can't quite handle this much dough so I pretty much always finish kneading by hand by turning the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and kneading until smooth.

  • Clean out and lightly oil the bowl before returning the dough to it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the challah dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot for about an hour, until almost doubled in size. Punch the dough down (literally, just stick your fist right into the center of the dough and push it down), then cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise again for another half hour.

  • To form the 6-strand challah braid, first divide the dough on a clean surface. Divide it in half to make two loaves. Then divide each half into 6 equally sized portions and roll the balls of dough into 6 equally sized strands, each about 16 inches long. Place the strands side by side and pinch the tops together.

  • Starting with the outside right strand, move it over 2 strands to the left. Then take the second strand from the left and move it all the way across to the far right. Next, take the outside left strand and move it over 2 strands to the right. Then move the second strand from the right over to the far left. Repeat the pattern by starting again with the outside right strand being moved over 2 strands to the left, and so on until you have a long, braided loaf.

  • Tuck the end of the braid underneath the loaf to secure it. Your braid is likely to be fairly long and skinny at this point, and that's completely normal. To finish shaping the loaf, you need to plump it a bit into more of a loaf shape by sort of lifting and smooshing the braid in on itself a bit and wiggling it a bit to make the loaf a bit shorter, wider, and even from top to bottom. The braid shouldn't come undone - you are just evening out the shape here to make your loaf look nice. This step can be done as you are transferring the braid from the surface where you formed it onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

  • Repeat steps 4 & 5 with the remaining half of the dough for the second loaf. Place the braided loaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet pan, with at least 2 inches in between the braids so they don't meld together as they rise. Beat the remaining egg and brush half of it on loaves using a pastry brush. Be sure to get in the crevices of the braid and down the sides of the loaves. Allow the loaves to rise another hour in a warm place, then brush again with the remainder of the egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using them (I almost always skip them, but it would make the loaf even more traditional).

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees then bake the challah for 30-35 minutes until golden brown (or when the internal temperature of the bread reaches 190 degrees on an instant-read thermometer). Eat one loaf warm with butter for dinner and save the other loaf for the most delicious french toast ever!

Notes

Storage:

  • Store: Store this challah bread at room temperature, well wrapped. It is best when fresh, within the first day or two.
  • Freeze: Freeze challah bread for up to 1 month. Once it has fully cooled, wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap. Let it thaw at room temperature for a few hours before slicing it.

Nutrition

Calories: 279kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 369mg | Potassium: 77mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 68IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 3mg

Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

This post was originally published in February, 2017. The photos and content were updated in December, 2022.

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About the author

Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (40)

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Challah Bread Recipe - House of Nash Eats (2024)

FAQs

What ingredients are in challah bread? ›

The basic blueprint has stayed the same: A rich, slightly sweet bread made with flour, eggs, oil, yeast, and honey. Whether you stick to the classic, top with poppy or sesame seeds, add golden raisins, shape it, stuff it, or swirl it, challah is one of the best (and easiest) breads to make at home.

What is special about challah bread? ›

There are a couple key characteristics that distinguish challah from other enriched breads, beginning with its shape, which varies depending on the holiday: plaits for the Sabbath, or rounds for the High Holidays to commemorate the returning cycle of a new year.

Why is my challah so hard? ›

If your dough is STILL too hard: This can happen if you used too much flour by accident or if you are using whole wheat flour that has a higher bran content. Make a hole in the center of your dough by pulling it open with your hands. Pour some very warm water and a teaspoon of oil into the hole.

What temperature should challah be baked at? ›

If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking. Then dip your index finger in the egg wash, then into poppy or sesame seeds and then onto a mound of bread. Continue until bread is decorated with seeds.

How healthy is challah bread? ›

The total lipid fats in a serving of challah bread is two grams, or three percent of your recommended daily value. The total saturated fat amount in a serving is 0.26 grams, and you will not find any unhealthy trans fats.

What makes challah bread different from regular bread? ›

Challah is a rich, traditional Jewish bread served on the Sabbath or to celebrate holidays. Challah (also sometimes known as "egg bread") is a made with eggs, a little sugar, and some oil, along with common bread ingredients of water, flour, yeast and salt.

What does challah mean in Hebrew? ›

Name and origins

The term challah in Biblical Hebrew meant a kind of loaf or cake.

Why do Jews eat challah? ›

Challah functions as a physical metaphor for manna from heaven at the sabbath meal. It is baked for sharing during shabbat; candles lit, wine poured, blessings made and prayers shared.

What does the Bible say about challah bread? ›

In the Bible, challah is the portion of bread that is set aside and given to the priests to eat (Numbers 15:19-20). The mitzvah of separating challah applies to the five grains, wheat, barley, spelt, oats and rye. The rabbis calculate that more than 1.75 kg of dough baked at one time must have challah taken from it.

What is the best flour for baking challah? ›

Myrna's original recipe calls for all-purpose flour, and you can substitute that here. But I find bread flour gives the challah a nice chew without making it tough, and also helps the braided loaf maintain its shape after baking. For some novice challah makers, that braid can seem like the hardest part.

How do you know when challah is kneaded enough? ›

After kneading the dough for several minutes, press it with your finger. If the indentation stays, the dough still needs more work. If it springs back to its original shape, your dough is ready to rest.

Can you let challah rise too long? ›

Overrising the first rise, which is when the dough is still just a dough, can occur. Usually if it overrose just a bit, say, for an hour extra in a cold kitchen, it doesnt really matter. You simply punch it back down and go on to the shaping.

Is it OK to let challah rise overnight? ›

Allow the dough to rest and rise for 8–10 hours—overnight is perfect! Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.

Can you let challah dough rise overnight? ›

Instead of letting it rise at room temperature on the counter, place the dough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap, or place it in a large, covered container. Make sure the dough is in a large enough bowl or container and has plenty of room to rise, because it will. Refrigerate it overnight.

How do I know when my challah is done? ›

How do you know when your bread is done? Follow the allotted bake time in your recipe. Otherwise, you can go based on look and feel. The crust on the challah should be a medium-dark brown, and when you lift up the loaf and tap the bottom, it should sound like a hollow thud.

What flour is challah made from? ›

Type of flour: A good-quality bread flour is ideal for strong dough. I personally use this one. If you don't have bread flour, you can use all-purpose flour (do not use a “self-rising” version). Amount of flour: The key to a soft loaf that isn't dense is to use as little flour as possible.

Does challah have a lot of sugar? ›

Others will knead it and form it (braids) after the first rise, and then let the braided loaves rise before baking. But typically, the amount of sugar or honey added is somewhere between a teaspoon and a Tablespoon.

What does challah taste like? ›

Challah is a slightly sweet, eggy bread with a consistency and taste similar to brioche. According to Jewish tradition, challah refers to a section of dough which is separated after kneading to be given as an offering at the Temple.

What is brioche vs challah? ›

Both breads are rich, eggy yeast breads, but brioche is definitely richer. (Butter will do that). Challah, by the way, is often a braided loaf. Both make excellent French toast and bread pudding.

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