If you can bake bread, then you can braid bread. It's that easy and we'd love to show you how.
There are few foods more beautiful than braided bread. This centerpiece item might look special, but it really isn’t that complicated to learn how to braid bread (especially when you know these pro tips). Once you get the hang of it, you may have so much fun you’ll never bake bread any other way!
We think braiding bread is as easy as baking bread, but don’t feel overwhelmed if the technique sounds too complicated. You can start out with an easier version that still looks special by dividing the dough in half. Roll the halves into ropes (following the instructions below) and just twist them together instead of creating a braid.
Type of Bread
The best part about braided bread? You can make it from almost any type of bread dough. Give this simple braided bread recipe a try, or use your favorite plain white bread or yeasted roll recipe. You can even buy pre-made bread dough from the store!
When I started making this bread, my husband and our six children liked it so much that I was baking every day! I was thrilled when the judges at our county fair gave these braids both a blue ribbon and a best of show award! —Nancy Montgomery, Hartville, Ohio
After the wreath is baked and cooled, it can be wrapped in foil, placed in an airtight container and frozen until you are ready to use it yourself or give it away. Add some whipped butter on the side and it’s the perfect gift. —Linda Padia, Wauna, Washington
During the holidays, I sometimes make a couple of these golden loaves a day to give as gifts. Everyone in our family loves them any time of year. The recipe originated with one for Jewish challah, which I began making over a decade ago.
This golden bread has a soft, tender texture and the perfect amount of cardamom flavor in every bite. Slices are especially good with a cream cheese spread or fresh honey butter. —Carla Miller, Pasco, Washington
Ever wonder why a bread recipe includes mashed potatoes? The potato's starchy quality absorbs liquid during the kneading stage, and it holds onto that liquid during baking. The bread finishes with a crisp, brown exterior crust and a flavorful, moist interior that helps the bread keep longer. —Joan Ranzini, Waynesboro, Virginia
Similar to an almond crescent, this coffee cake is light and flaky with a rich almond center. It’s versatile, so you can serve it for dessert, breakfast or brunch. It tastes as if it came from a high-end bakery, but packaged puff pastry dough makes it easy. —Gina Idone, Staten Island, New York
I developed this bread to celebrate our two favorite holidays, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. Try it with flavored butters, and use leftovers for French toast or sandwiches. —Sara Mellas, Hartford, Connecticut
I use these shiny, beautiful loaves as the centerpiece of my spread. I love the taste of honey, but you can also add chocolate chips, cinnamon, orange zest or almonds. Leftover slices of this sweet challah recipe work well in bread pudding or for French toast. —Jennifer Newfield, Los Angeles, California
Crunchy, green hulled pumpkin seeds (better known as pepitas)add a slightly nutty taste to this rich and moist bread. Because of their high oil content, pepitas can spoil quickly. Make sure you store them in the freezer to keep them fresh. —Cheryl Perry, Hertford, North Carolina
These savory loaves are moist, tender and loaded with flavor from grated Parmesan cheese and roasted sweet red peppers. They're fantastic at dinner or as an appetizer. —Cheryl Perry, Hertford, North Carolina
I received this recipe from a friend who was moving into a new apartment. To celebrate, she made this bread to share and now it is served at many of my family functions.—Robin Haas, Cranston, Rhode Island
Though this recipe takes a bit of time to make, it's completely worth it. The braids are a special breakfast treat on occasions like Easter or a family birthday. People will take seconds and thirds! —Debbie Ewald, Oak Grove, Missouri
I'm fond of baking and since Challah is not available where I live, I've created my own version to serve at Christmas and Easter. It is delicious and not as much work as you would think. There is a subtle chocolate flavor and when served warm the chocolate chips may be still melty. Leftovers are great for French toast or bread pudding.—Lorraine Caland, Shuniah, Ontario
Once you’ve made your dough, you’re ready to get started. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and divide it into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope, using even pressure so the ropes are the same width from end-to-end. When you’re finished, all three ropes should be the same length.
Pro Tip: You may need to lightly flour your hands, especially if your dough is on the soft side. But you don’t want to add too much, which can make the dough slide back and forth on the counter. Add just enough flour to your hands or the work surface so the dough doesn’t stick.
Step 2: Criss-cross the ropes
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Arrange the ropes on a greased, unrimmed baking sheet. Make sure each rope has an equal length and none of them are longer than the baking sheet. Pinch the ropes together at one end and tuck the ends under so they look nice and neat. Then, begin braiding by crossing the right rope over the center rope. Then, cross the left rope over the center. Continue alternating, right and left over center, until the braid is done.
Pro Tip: Braiding the bread directly on the baking sheet means you won’t have to move the braid before baking it! That decreases the risk of stretching the dough once it’s finished.
Step 3: Finish the Braid
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Finish alternating the ropes, right and left over center, until you’ve reached the end of the dough. Pinch the ropes together and gently tuck the ends underneath the braid to give the bread a clean, finished look.
Baking Braided Bread
Brush the top with an egg wash—1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon of water—to give it a glossy look. Sprinkle the top with your textured toppings (like sesame or poppy seeds) and pop into a preheated oven. Follow the recipe’s baking instructions for time and temperature (or, the package instructions if you’re using store-bought dough).
Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing it. Braided bread makes an excellent addition to the dinner table with flavored butter, but it also makes great sandwiches and it’s a fun way to present French toast for brunch.
Lindsay is a professional chef, recipe developer, writer and developmental editor. After years of working in restaurant kitchens, she turned to writing to share her skills and experience with home cooks and food enthusiasts. She's passionate about using local, organic ingredients and teaching others how to incorporate seasonal food into their diet. Lindsay still cooks professionally for pop-up events, writes for several publications and is the co-author of two books about Ayurveda.