This 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!

There is nothing like a loaf of fresh, homemade bread piping hot right out of the oven. Be sure to also try our Sweet Molasses Brown BreadHomemade French Bread, and Easy Homemade Rye Bread!

Two loaves of braided challah bread on parchment paper.

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 is THE BEST.

A loaf of challah bread sliced in half sitting on top of another loaf of challah bread.

What is Challah 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. Because of the added eggs and fat, this challah recipe has a rich flavor and wonderful texture that makes it perfect for Monte 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.

Two loaves of braided challah bread on a baking sheet.

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.

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.

A close image of braided challah bread loaves.

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.

You make the dough just like any old bread dough:  proof the yeast in a little water and sugar, then mix in the remaining ingredients and knead until smooth. Then let it rise, braid the dough, and brush with egg wash before baking.

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).

The only tricky part is creating the six-strand braid, which I'll admit can be a little bit of a challenge the first time you try it. But I've included some step-by-step pictures below that will hopefully help with that!

Really though, it's not as difficult as it might seem and only takes a minute or two to braid a loaf once you have done it once or twice. And if you really struggle with it, you could always just do a three-strand braid and call it good. I won't judge.

A close image of the texture of the inside of a loaf of braided challah bread.

How to Braid Challah

  1. First, roll out six long strands of dough, line them up side-by-side, then pinch the tops together.
  2. Move the outside RIGHT strand over two strands to the left.
  3. Next, move the 2nd strand from the left to the far right. 
  4. Now move the outside LEFT strand over two strands to the right.
  5. Then move the 2nd strand from the right to the far left.
  6. Repeat until the braid is complete, then pinch the ends together and tuck them under the loaf.

Here are step-by-step photos of the braiding process for the best challah bread ever for a visual of the braiding method described above. I'm including two pictures to show how the braid progresses, but the process explained in the numbered steps above is entirely shown in just the first collage. The second photo is just a repeat of steps 2-5 so you can better see how the braid starts taking shape.

A collage of images showing step-by-step how to braid challah bread.
A collage showing steps for how to make challah bread.
An image of two unbaked loaves of challah bread that have been brushed with egg wash.

Now go on and give that six-strand braid a try! I guarantee it will be the best challah bread you have ever tried!

A loaf of braided challah bread on a baking sheet.

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Best Challah Bread Recipe

4.71 from 93 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Additional Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 50 mins
Course Bread
Cuisine Jewish
Servings 20 slices
This 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
  • 5 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 8 to 8 ½ cups all-purpose flour plus extra for kneading/dusting
  • Sesame seeds for dusting (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Proof the yeast by dissolving it the warm water with the tablespoon of sugar In a large 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, divide the dough in half for two loaves on a clean surface. 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 lined with at least 2 inches in between them so they don't touch 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 (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!

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 August, 2020.

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About the author

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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Reader questions and reviews

  1. Amy! I am so impressed with this.... bread is something I love making, but it never looks this good! Your step by step pics are fantastic! I cant wait to try to make this for our Easter Overnight French Toast where I USED to buy the Challah bread!!

    1. Thanks, Michele! I want some of that Overnight French Toast! Sounds awesome and I have actually been looking for a good recipe for something like that!

  2. thanks Amy, never came close to a six-strand braid before, usually made the challah from 3 strands...
    your explanation inspired me to give it a shot
    thanks

  3. Love love your step by step photos! This challah bread looks perfect. I love using leftover for French toast. This totally gets my inspired to make this again!

  4. 5 stars
    Amy this challah bread looks fantastic. SO light textured and flavorful. It's perfect addition to my Easter family dinner table. I love how easy this recipe is.

  5. 5 stars
    What a beautiful looking bread. I make bread about once every two weeks, but I do not stray much from my mother yeast and bread dough. It is on my list to adventure out a bit in my breadmaking world and maybe I need to start with this.

  6. 5 stars
    Oh, I envy you - 6 strands! I make the five strands very effortlessly but the six..! Have still to try. Love the brown glazed color you have on these challahs - Looks perfect.

    1. Hey! This looks great and I think I’m going to try it. However, I only wanted to make one loaf. Could I just make the bread using only half of each ingredient? 

  7. Challah is sooooo wonderful to use for French toast! I've only made it from scratch once, and it was even better fresh out of the oven! Love your braiding tutorial here - your loaves look divine!

  8. 5 stars
    Looks like a great explanation of the six strand braids. And that rich bread does make the best French toast. I hope you convince people to try it!

  9. 5 stars
    This bread looks GORGEOUS! Truly mouthwatering. I appreciate the step by step pictures of just how you braided it...very helpful.

  10. 5 stars
    Your challah loaves are so beautifully braided! I've always wanted to try to make my own, but I'll admit the braiding is a little intimidating. You make it look so easy! I'll definitely have to give it a try now that I have your handy step-by-step photos to go by.

  11. 5 stars
    Thank you! The step by step braiding instructions were perfect & so helpful! This is my 1st challah & it’s beautiful & delicious!!

  12. 5 stars
    The pictures of each step and instruction makes this a breeze. I had a lot of confusion on a couple of steps because the description seemed to not braid at certain points. The pictures really helped. Takes awhile if you don’t normally make bread - and even if you do there is a decent amount of proofing time and then rolling and braiding. Great recipe. I wish I could share the picture of how it came out.

  13. This was so.yummy! Thank you! Found a KitchenAid trick. If you add six cups of flour and let it run five min with the hook, you can add cups 7 + 8 over the next five min and it rises beautifully 😀 with a great deal less kneading.

  14. thank you so much for details on the braiding process. I've never tried to make it but this time I will; can't wait!

  15. I've used this recipe a few times and everyone raves about how good my Challah looks and tastes. I make two variations - I substitute a 1/4 cup of the sugar with honey and I add a little bit of simple syrup to the egg wash for a touch of sweetness. Lastly, I've been using the 2 over 1 under technique for the six strand, always from the far right. I've found that it works well for me.

    Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Hi Richard, I made the bread tonight and thought the texture was perfect, but the bread waist sweet enough. I’m going to try your method and add syrup to the egg wash. What type of syrup and how much? Thanks!

      1. *The bread wasn’t sweet enough. I think it will be perfect if I can figure out how to make it a little sweeter! 

          1. How much sugar and water would you recommend? I’ve never added a simple syrup but I think this is the touch of sweetness the challah is missing right now. Thank you!!

  16. Hey! This looks great and I think I’m going to try it. However, I only wanted to make one loaf. Could I just make the bread using only half of each ingredient? 

  17. One loaf in the oven and other rising. These are massive! Testing it now to use for Xmas eve bread pudding with rum sauce 

    1. I haven't done a full 48 hours, but I have done overnight and it works well. I think it would probably be okay to make it that far in advance though.

  18. Thank you so much for this recipe.
    It was so easy to follow through.
    I was worried about the loaves when I was done baking, that they might waste but most of it is gone now.

  19. Beautiful recipe!
    This was my first attempt at a yeasted bread and it turned out great. The step by step photos for the braiding were super helpful.
    Thanks!

  20. I forgot to add salt, and I’ve already braided my bread and it’s about to go in the oven. What should I do?

    1. There's not a whole lot to do at this point, other than you could sprinkle some coarse salt over the top of the bread (like a pretzel). Lesson learned for next time!

  21. This was the first time I tried baking Challah bread. In fact I've never made any braided bread before. Your instructions made it incredibly easy. My loves came out beautifully. And the taste superb! My family said it was the best bread I've ever made and when are you making more! Thank you!

    I would like to make hamburger buns with this dough. I was wondering if you had any advice on how much dough I should use per bun. Thanks Again.

    1. I'm so happy you enjoyed this recipe! For buns it really kind of depends on how large you like them, but what I have done in the past is either halved the recipe and made around 10 buns or I make the full recipe and do one loaf of the braided challah and make buns with the remaining dough. I haven't weighed the dough though - just eyeballed it by dividing first in half, then into five smaller pieces that all look about the same size. I hope that helps!

    1. I would braid and immediately freeze the dough before it has time to rise. Then when you want to bake it, pull the loaf out, let it thaw and rise, then bake like normal.

    1. Yes to the bread flour and I think rapid yeast would work but have to admit that I haven't used it much. Please let me know if you try it that way!

  22. 5 stars
    I have now made this Challah well over a dozen times with fantastic success. Since we are not big bread eaters I typically half the recipe and make one round and one three braided instead of six.

  23. 5 stars
    I have never made challah bread before. This was my first time it was very easy to make the dough. When it came time to braid the dough I had to have my boyfriend read it to me so I could understand it but by the second loaf it came easy. It looks gorgeous and smells amazing!!

  24. I always make bread home but this dough came out very hard. It was almost impossible to make the strands, so i made one and the other one baked in individual pieces.
    Also, adding the flour to the liquids made a complete mess in my kitchen using the Kitchenaid stand mixer, so if I’ll ever try this again, I’ll definitely use less flour and add the liquids and eggs to the flour, not vice versa…
    I was very disappointed at how heavy the dough felt even after baking it… no fluff… 😟

  25. 5 stars
    Delicious recipe. I tend to half the recipe then make it into 3 smaller loaves as there are only two of us in the family! Also use my bread machine on the dough setting for the stages before braiding.