The Challah Bun, a culinary delight steeped in tradition and culture, is a testament to the rich history of Jewish cuisine. This bread, known for its beautifully braided appearance and soft, rich texture, has transcended its religious origins to become a beloved staple in bakeries and homes around the world. The Challah Bun’s roots can be traced back to ancient times, where it was traditionally baked to commemorate the Sabbath and Jewish holidays, symbolizing both celebration and reverence.

Challah Bun

Made with a simple yet enriching dough that includes eggs, sugar, flour, yeast, and oil, Challah is distinguished by its golden crust and tender crumb. The dough’s elasticity allows it to be intricately braided, a process that not only contributes to its aesthetic appeal but also to its cultural significance. The braiding of the Challah Bun holds deep symbolic meaning, with different shapes representing various aspects of Jewish heritage and religious practice.

Over time, the Challah Bun has evolved, with variations in recipes incorporating different flavors and ingredients, yet its essence remains unchanged. It serves as a bridge between past and present, a culinary artifact that carries the weight of history while continuing to adapt and flourish in modern gastronomy. The Challah Bun is more than just bread; it’s a celebration of cultural identity, craftsmanship, and the simple joy of sharing a meal with loved ones.

Prep time20 minutes (Plus 1-2 hours for dough rising)
Cook time30-35 minutes
CourseBreakfast, side dish
Servings4 persons

Kitchen Tools Needed

  • Mixing bowl
  • Dough whisk or wooden spoon
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Kitchen scale (optional, for precise measurements)
  • Pastry brush
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper or silicone baking mat
  • Sharp knife or dough scraper
  • Kitchen towel or plastic wrap (for covering the dough)
  • Wire rack (for cooling)
Challah Bun

Ingredients for Challah Bun

  • 2 teaspoons (7g) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup (240ml) warm water (around 110°F or 45°C)
  • 4 cups (500g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 for egg wash
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons (10g) salt
  • Sesame seeds or poppy seeds (optional, for topping)

How To Make Challah Bun?

Prepare the Yeast Mixture

  • In a small bowl, dissolve the active dry yeast and 1 teaspoon of the granulated sugar in warm water. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, or until it becomes frothy, indicating that the yeast is active.

Mix the Dough

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, the remaining sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the frothy yeast mixture, 2 eggs, and vegetable oil.
  • Using a dough whisk or wooden spoon, mix until a shaggy dough forms. Then, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface.

Knead the Dough

  • Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic, adding a little more flour if necessary to prevent sticking.
  • Form the dough into a ball.

First Rise

  • Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it to coat all sides with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

Shape the Buns

  • Punch down the risen dough to release air bubbles. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.
  • Divide the dough into equal-sized pieces (for 4 servings, consider making 8 smaller buns or 4 larger ones). Roll each piece into a rope, then braid or shape as desired. Place the shaped buns on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving space between each bun.

Second Rise

  • Cover the shaped buns with a kitchen towel and let them rise again for about 30 minutes, or until puffy.

Preheat the Oven

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) during the second rise.

Apply Egg Wash and Toppings

  • Beat the remaining egg and brush it over the tops of the buns for a shiny, golden crust. If using, sprinkle sesame seeds or poppy seeds on top.


  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the buns are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  • If the buns are browning too quickly, tent them with foil.


  • Remove the buns from the oven and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Challah Bun

What To Serve With Challah Buns?

  • Classic Chicken Soup: A steaming bowl of traditional chicken soup pairs beautifully with the soft, rich texture of Challah buns, making for a comforting and satisfying meal.
  • Honey and Apples: Serving Challah with honey and slices of apple is a nod to Rosh Hashanah traditions, offering a sweet and crunchy contrast to the soft bread.
  • Variety of Spreads: Cream cheese, butter, or a selection of homemade jams and jellies can turn a simple Challah bun into a delightful treat at any time of the day.
  • Egg Salad or Tuna Salad: The mild flavor of Challah makes it an excellent base for savory salads like egg or tuna, providing a satisfying lunch option.
  • Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese: For a more luxurious option, top Challah buns with cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers, and red onion for a classic and elegant pairing.
  • Charcuterie and Cheese Board: Accompanying Challah buns with a selection of fine cheeses, cured meats, nuts, and fruits makes for an impressive and indulgent spread, perfect for gatherings.
  • Avocado Toast: Elevate your breakfast or brunch by using Challah buns as the base for avocado toast, adding toppings like poached eggs, radishes, and a sprinkle of chili flakes for extra flavor.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Serve Challah buns alongside a platter of roasted vegetables like carrots, zucchini, and bell peppers for a healthy and colorful side dish.
  • Soups and Stews: The absorbent nature of Challah makes it ideal for dipping into hearty soups and stews, soaking up all the delicious flavors.
  • French Toast or Bread Pudding: Transform leftover Challah buns into decadent French toast or bread pudding, making the most of the bread’s rich texture and flavor.

How to store leftover Challah buns?

  • Cool Completely: Before storing, ensure Challah buns are completely cooled to room temperature to prevent condensation and mold growth.
  • Wrap Tightly: Wrap each bun individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. This helps to maintain freshness and prevents the buns from drying out.
  • Airtight Container: Place the wrapped buns in an airtight container. This step is crucial for keeping the bread soft and preventing it from absorbing odors from the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Refrigerate for Short Term: For short-term storage, place the airtight container in the refrigerator. Challah buns can be kept refrigerated for up to 5 days.
  • Freeze for Long Term: For longer storage, freeze the wrapped buns. Freezing preserves their quality for up to 3 months. Ensure the buns are tightly sealed to prevent freezer burn.
  • Thaw Properly: To use frozen Challah buns, thaw them at room temperature while still wrapped. This allows them to reabsorb any condensation and helps maintain their original texture.
  • Reheat for Freshness: Once thawed, refresh the buns in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 5-10 minutes. This helps to restore the crust’s crispness and the interior’s softness.
  • Avoid Direct Sunlight: Store the buns in a cool, dark place to prevent the bread from becoming stale due to exposure to heat and sunlight.
  • Use Bread Bags: If available, use breathable cotton bread bags for short-term storage, which can help maintain the perfect balance of moisture to keep the Challah buns fresh.
Challah Bun

Variations and Substitutions

  • Whole Wheat Flour: Substitute half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour for a heartier texture and added nutritional benefits. This will give the Challah buns a more robust flavor and a slight increase in fiber content.
  • Gluten-Free Option: Use a high-quality gluten-free flour blend in place of all-purpose flour to make gluten-free Challah buns. Add xanthan gum if the blend doesn’t include it, to help mimic the texture of traditional Challah.
  • Vegan Version: Replace the eggs with flax eggs (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons water per egg) and use a plant-based milk for the egg wash. Swap the honey with maple syrup or agave nectar for sweetness.
  • Sweet Additions: Incorporate raisins, dried cranberries, or chocolate chips into the dough for a sweet twist. These additions can create delightful flavor profiles suitable for dessert or a special breakfast treat.
  • Savory Flavors: Mix in finely chopped olives, sun-dried tomatoes, or fresh herbs such as rosemary and thyme to the dough for a savory variation of Challah buns. These can be excellent for sandwiches or as an accompaniment to a meal.
  • Dairy-Free: Use a neutral oil, such as canola or avocado oil, instead of butter to keep the Challah buns dairy-free. This substitution ensures that the buns remain moist and tender without using dairy products.
  • Seed Toppings: Before baking, sprinkle sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or everything bagel seasoning on top of the egg wash for added texture and flavor. This creates a visually appealing and flavorful crust.
  • Sourdough Challah: Incorporate a sourdough starter into the dough instead of commercial yeast for a tangy flavor and the health benefits of natural fermentation. Adjust the amount of flour and water as needed to accommodate the sourdough starter’s hydration level.
  • Different Sugars: Experiment with different types of sugar, such as brown sugar, coconut sugar, or honey, to alter the sweetness and flavor profile of the Challah buns. Each type of sugar can add a unique depth of flavor.
  • Multigrain Variation: Add a mix of seeds and grains, like sesame seeds, flaxseeds, and rolled oats, to the dough to create a multigrain Challah bun. This not only adds texture but also increases the nutritional value.

Tips and Tricks

  • Proofing the Yeast: Ensure your yeast is active by proofing it in warm water with a pinch of sugar. If it doesn’t foam and bubble within 10 minutes, the yeast may be expired, and you should start with a new packet to ensure your dough rises properly.
  • Temperature Matters: Use ingredients at room temperature to help the dough rise more consistently. Cold ingredients can slow down the yeast’s activity, while too warm ingredients can kill the yeast.
  • Kneading Technique: Knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic. This develops the gluten, giving the Challah buns their characteristic chewy texture. If the dough is too sticky, add flour one tablespoon at a time until manageable.
  • First Rise is Crucial: Allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft-free environment until it has doubled in size. This first rise is essential for developing the flavor and structure of the Challah buns.
  • Braid with Care: When shaping your Challah buns, be gentle. Overworking the dough during braiding can deflate it. If making braided buns, keep the braids loose to allow for expansion during the second rise and baking.
  • Egg Wash for Shine: Brush the buns with an egg wash (beaten egg with a tablespoon of water) before baking to achieve a glossy, golden crust. For a richer color, use just the yolk; for a lighter shine, use just the white.
  • Do Not Overbake: Keep a close eye on the baking time. Challah should be golden brown when done. Overbaking can dry out the buns, so if they’re browning too quickly, cover them with foil until fully baked.
  • Cooling is Key: Let the Challah buns cool on a wire rack to prevent the bottoms from becoming soggy. This also helps the crumb structure set, making the buns easier to slice.
  • Slice with a Serrated Knife: When it’s time to serve, use a serrated knife to cut the Challah buns. This will help you get clean slices without squishing the bread.
  • Refreshing Leftovers: If the Challah buns have become slightly stale, wrap them in foil and warm them in the oven at 350°F for about 5-10 minutes. They’ll taste freshly baked!
  • Experiment with Flavors: Don’t be afraid to add ingredients like orange zest, vanilla extract, or cinnamon to the dough for a flavorful twist. Challah is adaptable and can beautifully carry both sweet and savory flavors.
Challah Bun

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Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ’s

Yes, you can make eggless Challah buns by substituting the eggs with a combination of ingredients that provide moisture and binding. Options include silken tofu, unsweetened applesauce, or a commercial egg replacer. Keep in mind that the texture and flavor may differ slightly from traditional Challah.

Your Challah dough has risen enough when it has doubled in size. A simple test is to gently press your finger into the dough; if the indentation remains, the dough is ready for the next step. If it springs back immediately, give it more time to rise.

Dense Challah buns can result from several factors: not kneading the dough long enough, not allowing the dough to rise sufficiently, or adding too much flour. Ensure you’re following the recipe closely, especially regarding kneading time and rise time, and be careful to add flour gradually as needed.

Yes, Challah buns can be frozen after baking. Allow them to cool completely, then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil or place them in a freezer-safe bag. They can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature and reheat in the oven for best results.

Challah buns are versatile and can be served in many delicious ways. They’re fantastic when lightly toasted and spread with butter, jam, or honey. They also make excellent bases for sandwiches or can be used as the bread in French toast recipes. For a simple pleasure, enjoy them fresh and warm from the oven.


Challah buns, with their rich history and cultural significance, are more than just bread; they are a celebration of tradition and culinary craftsmanship. These delightful buns, known for their soft, pillowy texture and beautiful, intricate braids, offer a versatile culinary experience, blending seamlessly with both sweet and savory accompaniments. Whether served during a festive meal, used as the foundation for a savory sandwich, or simply enjoyed with a spread of butter, Challah buns embody the essence of communal dining and the joy of sharing food.

Their adaptability to various dietary preferences and the possibility for creative variations ensure that Challah buns remain a cherished staple in kitchens worldwide. The process of making Challah, from kneading to braiding, invites bakers into a meditative practice, connecting them to generations past and fostering a sense of continuity and connection through food.

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