How to Make The Cheesecake Factory’s Brown Bread

Learn how to make The Cheesecake Factory's famous brown bread at home with this step-by-step recipe.

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The Cheesecake Factory has been serving up slices of its famous cheesecakes since 1978. Perhaps just as famous is the iconic Cheesecake Factory bread—especially that soft, tender brown bread. It’s served warm in a basket along with classic French bread. It’s almost impossible to be in a bad mood once this heavenly bread arrives at the table!

Learn how to make The Cheesecake Factory brown bread at home. It’s a great beginner bread baking project.

What’s in the Cheesecake Factory Brown Bread?

ingredients for cheesecake factory brown breadLauren Habermehl For Taste Of Home

There’s more than one secret ingredient that gives The Cheesecake Factory brown bread its magical aroma, flavor and color. Here are the key ingredients that bring this bread to life:

  • Molasses gives the bread its deep brown color, rich flavor and signature aroma.
  • Honey sweetens the bread and helps the crust darken and caramelize in the oven.
  • Cocoa powder adds a subtle chocolate undertone to the bread’s flavor and contributes to the bread’s rich brown color.
  • Espresso powder helps enhance the chocolate flavor and aroma of the bread.

The Cheesecake Factory Brown Bread Copycat Recipe

Yield: 4 (12-inch) loaves


  • 2-1/4 teaspoon instant or active dry yeast
  • 1-1/4 cups water, warmed to 105-115°F
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2-1/2 cups (300g) bread flour
  • 1-1/2 cups (170g) whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal, for dusting the bottoms of the loaves
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats, for topping the loaves


Step 1: Activate yeast

In the bowl of a stand mixer (here’s our favorite mixer) fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, warm water and sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes until foamy. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, sift together the bread flour, whole wheat flour, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.

Editor’s Tip: Be sure to warm your water to the proper temperature. Somewhere between 105 and 115° is ideal. Any cooler and the yeast will not fully activate. Any warmer and you might kill the yeast.

Step 2: Combine ingredients

ingredients in a mixing bowlLauren Habermehl For Taste Of Home

To the mixer, add the honey, molasses and espresso powder. Stir to combine and then add the sifted ingredients to the mixer. Blend on your mixer’s first speed, about 3 minutes, then knead in your mixer for an additional 8-10 minutes on your mixer’s second speed. The dough is ready when it’s smooth and begins to pull away from the sides of the mixer. The dough should be slightly tacky but not sticky.

Editor’s Tip: If the dough is sticky, add a little more bread flour to the dough, a tablespoon at a time and continue to knead until smooth.

Step 3: First rise

Cheesecake Factory Brown Bread dough rising in a glass bowlLauren Habermehl For Taste Of Home

Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover. Let rise in a warm place for 90 minutes, or until doubled in size. (Here are our top bread proofing tips.)

Step 4: Shape the loaves

Cheesecake Factory Brown Bread raw dough rolled into loaf shapesLauren Habermehl For Taste Of Home

Spread a bit of cornmeal out on a piece of parchment paper. Then, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into four equal-sized portions. Roll each into a smooth log, about 12 inches long, and press the bottom of each loaf into cornmeal to lightly coat the bottom.

Transfer loaves to a parchment-lined baking sheet about 4 inches apart.

Step 5: Second rise

Cheesecake Factory Brown Bread on a baking sheet before bakingLauren Habermehl For Taste Of Home

Gently brush the loaves with water and sprinkle lightly with rolled oats. Cover loosely with a clean towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 60 minutes. Loaves are ready when the dough is puffed and doubled in size.

Step 6: Bake

Cheesecake Factory Brown BreadLauren Habermehl For Taste Of Home

Preheat the oven to 350°. Uncover the loaves and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Remove and let cool for at least 20 minutes prior to slicing.

Serve warm with pats of butter. (Here’s how to soften butter quickly if you’ve forgotten to pull it out ahead of time!)

Editor’s Tip: Wondering how to tell when these dark-colored loaves are fully baked? Tap them. They should sound hollow, and they should be darker around the edges, particularly at the base. You can also use an instant-read thermometer and remove the loaves when they reach an internal temperature of 190°.

Finish the meal with more spot-on Cheesecake Factory copycat recipes.

How to Store Cheesecake Factory Bread

The loaves of bread are best eaten the same day they are baked. However, leftover bread may be stored tightly wrapped for up to 3 days.

Uncut loaves may also be frozen, stored in an airtight container for up to 3 months. To defrost, transfer to the refrigerator to thaw overnight. Loaves may be rewarmed in the oven for 5-10 minutes at 350°.

How to Make Brown Bread Croutons

Cheesecake Factory Brown Bread Croutons on a kitchen counterLauren Habermehl For Taste Of Home

In the unlikely event you end up with stale brown bread, don’t throw it away. Instead, turn the leftovers into brown bread croutons. (You can also revive stale bread with this method.)

To prepare, cut the baguette into 1/2-inch cubes and toss with 4 tablespoons of melted butter and 1/4 teaspoon of coarse salt. Spread the seasoned bread cubes into a single layer on a sheet pan (here are the best sheet pans according to our Test Kitchen) and bake in a 350° oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring halfway through to ensure even browning. Transfer the hot croutons to a bowl and toss with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Spread back onto the sheet pan and let cool completely.

Toss the brown bread croutons in a salad (like this Cheesecake Factory-inspired Cobb salad) or store in a covered container for up to 2 days until ready to serve.

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.