Delicious sliced warm and served with fresh butter, or used as sandwich bread the next day, this Sweet Molasses Brown Bread made with whole wheat, molasses and honey is one of our family favorites!

There is nothing like homemade bread coming fresh and hot out of the oven. Be sure not to miss our other bread recipes like Roasted Garlic & Rosemary No Knead Artisan BreadHomemade French Bread, and Easy Rosemary Focaccia Bread!

sliced brown molasses bread with oats on top

Sweet Molasses Brown Bread

Don't get me wrong, when I say "sweet", this isn't a super sweet bread like a breakfast bread or dessert roll or something. It's just a wonderful, mild sweetness from the molasses and a little honey. It's noticeable, but not overpowering.

If you have ever been to the Outback restaurant, this recipe is very close to their mini-loaves of brown bread that they bring out. The ones which we always devour instantly before pushing the cutting board that it was brought out on to the front of the booth and fixing our server with sad puppy dog eyes until he takes pity and brings us more.

A loaf of homemade brown bread sprinkled with oats, fresh from the oven.

We are the same way with these loaves of sweet molasses brown bread, which is why it's a good idea to shape it into 3 loaves that get baked on a baking sheet.

It usually means I have one loaf leftover for the freezer (this bread freezes beautifully), one loaf for sandwiches the next day, and one loaf for eating immediately while still warm! A sliced loaf of homemade brown bread, slightly sweetened and perfect for sandwiches. A slice of buttered bread made with whole wheat, with a whole loaf of fresh homemade bread behind it.

How to Make Sweet Molasses Brown bread

  1. First, combine the water, yeast, molasses, cocoa powder, oil, and honey in a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment along with 2 cups of the whole wheat flour and mix until combined. There is no need to proof the yeast if using instant yeast. If you only have active dry yeast, just proof it first in the warm water.
  2. Add the remaining whole wheat and bread flour a cup at a time, until the dough starts to pull away from the bowl, then knead for 5-7 minutes using the dough hook attachment. You can knead by hand if you don't have a mixer with a dough hook, but it will take a bit longer to develop the gluten, more like 10-12 minutes of hand kneading.
  3. Let the dough rise for an hour or two before punching down and shaping into loaves, then placing the loaves on a parchment lined baking sheet, making sure they have room to rise and bake without touching.
  4. Let the shaped loaves rise again for 45-60 minutes, then slash with a sharp knife or bread lame just before baking.
  5. Bake the loaves at 375 degrees for 25 minutes until starting to brown, then brush them each with a melted butter and sprinkle with oats before baking the last 5-7 minutes, until cooked through and a nice brown on top.
Mixing ingredients together for sweet molasses brown bread in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment.
Whole wheat bread dough ready for a first rise.
Fully risen bread dough for sweet molasses brown bread.
Three loaves of sweet brown bread, just like Outback Steakhouse serves, ready to rise before going into the oven.

Tips and Tricks for Making Homemade Brown Bread

  • Yes there is cocoa powder in these loaves, but no, they do not taste at all like chocolate. It's a small amount, but it add both color and depth of flavor to the bread without making it even remotely "chocolatey".
  • Use bread flour along with the whole wheat flour for the best texture.
  • If you want a more steakhouse experience by making mini-loaves or rolls, shape the dough into smaller mini loaves (I probably wouldn't go smaller than 9 mini-loves total) and bake for 18-22 minutes.
  • To freeze a loaf of the bread, let it cool completely, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. This sweet molasses brown bread freezes well. Just pull it out of the freezer and allow it to thaw on the counter overnight before slicing and serving.
Two loaves of copycat Outback brown bread on a baking sheet.

More Homemade Bread Recipes You'll Love

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Sweet Molasses Brown Bread

4.84 from 80 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Additional Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Servings 36 servings
Delicious sliced warm and served with fresh butter, or used as sandwich bread the next day, this sweet molasses brown bread made with whole wheat, molasses and honey is one of our family favorites!

Ingredients
  

  • 2 ½ cups warm water
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons instant yeast
  • cup molasses
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 Tablespoons oil
  • cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons table salt
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3-4 cups bread flour
  • 3 Tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • Old-fashioned oats for sprinkling on top

Instructions
 

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the water, yeast, molasses, cocoa powder, oil, honey, salt, and 2 cups of the whole wheat flour. Mix until combined.
  • With the mixer running, gradually add the rest of the flour starting with the whole wheat, then adding the bread flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl (you may not need the last cup of flour). Knead for 5-7 minutes. The dough should be soft and slightly tacky.
  • Transfer the dough to a large, lightly greased bowl, then cover with a sheet of plastic wrap lightly sprayed with cooking spray, or cover with a light dish towel.  Let rise until doubled in size, 1-2 hours.
  • Punch down the dough and divide into two or three evenly-sized pieces (depending on how large you want your loaves).  Shape into tight oval loaves and place onto parchment-lined baking sheets, making sure they have space to rise without touching each other. Lightly cover with plastic wrap lightly sprayed with cooking spray or a light dish towel and let rise again until puffy and doubled in size (another 45-60 minutes).  Right before baking, you can use a very sharp razor, knife or bread-slashing lame to cut three slashes across the top of each loaf, if desired.  
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake the loaves for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and lightly brush with the melted butter, then sprinkle with the oats and bake for another 5-7 minutes, until browned and cooked through.  Cool before slicing.

Notes

The oats are more for appearance and texture, but they do tend to fall off when slicing the bread.  I keep them anyway because I enjoy the look and texture they give to the loaves.
If desired, the dough could be shaped into 12-14 rolls or 6-8 mini-loaves instead of larger loaves, just decrease the baking time depending on the size you are shaping the bread.
Recipe only slightly adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

Nutrition

Calories: 110kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 140mg | Potassium: 100mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 30IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

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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. I don't have a bread machine so I'm not certain! But since it makes more than one loaf my concern would be that that amount would be too large for a bread machine and you might need to cut it in half?

  1. I made this according to the directions but the loaves ended up mostly wide and low and texture and taste was very dense    Should I have used loaf pans?  Kneaded in my stand mixer.  First rise was beautiful.  Second not so much.  Suggestions?

    1. Loaf pans could definitely help you achieve taller loaves, but that's strange that the second rise didn't work. To me, that sounds like the yeast spent all their energy on the first rise. Could it have overproofed the first time? Or I would check the yeast expiration date. But that doesn't sound like the actual problem if the first rise worked fine. I'm sorry, but this one has me a bit stumped!

  2. I'm making this recipe for Thanksgiving and was wondering if you have tried freezing dough balls for rolls, then thawing for the second rise before baking? Just trying to see what I can get away with making ahead of time. Thank you!

    1. I haven't tried that with this recipe, but I have with others and it has worked just fine. I'm fairly confident you would be okay using that approach for Thanksgiving!

  3. Is it possible to cut this recipe in half. At my vacation home I only have a small artisans mixer
    Since is the best bread I’ve ever had I don’t want to be without it on vacation, and my mixer just can’t hold up.
    Truly Best recipe I’ve ever had for bread. And I’ve been baking for 35 years. Brings me back to the bread my mom used to make.

  4. This is by far my fav bread recipe ever.  It is my “go to” recipe if I want to impress someone.  We mill our own flour.  I love to use white wheat as it’s less dense.  I work in an office with 6 doctors and a couple others that I make this for. Goes great with a jar of our homemade apple butter.  This is a “never fail”.  Always get raves when I make it.  It’s so easy too. Thanks for this keeper.

  5. We love this bread Best one I’ve ever had. And we have tried a lot. I was wondering if this recipe can be cut in half. The whole recipe seems to much for my mixing stand. 

  6. Can you please check the sodium content as listed. Your information lists the sodium at 11 mg per serving, but that is impossible with the 2 teaspoons of salt indicated in this recipe. The closest you can get to the 11 mg is with only 1/4 tsp of himalayan pink salt and even that puts you closer to 14mg. It is misleading for someone looking for a low sodium bread option.

    1. With yeast breads, sometimes you just need to add a little extra flour. The humidity in your environment can affect that.

  7. I made this recipe and it was absolutely delicious! I made 2 loaves, thank you the recipe! I was wondering, have you ever tried it in a loaf pan? If so, what size pan would you use?

      1. Made this in 2 loaf pan’s 1.5qt. For same bake time and with active dry yeast instead of instant and they turn out amazing!
        I let the yeast foam for 10 minutes with the sugar and water and just do everything else the exact same. I’ve also doubled the recipe and it turns out perfect every time in loaf pans! Thanks for an amazing recipe!

  8. I tried this, they are in the oven now but they were wide and flat after 2nd rise, definately bigger but when I made the loafs after 1st rise, the dough was pretty sticky. Could it be that I 'fluffed' my flour too much when I measured it and I didn't end up using enough flour?

    1. That could be part of it, especially if the day was humid. Sometimes you need a little more or a little less flour depending on the weather when making bread.

  9. This recipe is definitely a keeper!! I made half of the recipe and turned it into 4 mini loaves (using my Pampered Chef 4-mini-loaf stoneware pan). It is very tasty and we absolutely loved it!! Thank you!!

  10. Wow, I wasn't expecting so much dough. What a pleasant surprise to have so much of this delicious bread. Not too dense, rich flavor. Thank you for the recipe!

  11. YES this works for a bread maker! The loaves have a nice chew, rich deep flavor, crumbs minimally when sliced, yummy flavor. I cut the recipe in half and used the dough feature. When it was done (1 hour) I divided the ball into three equal loaves and placed in lightly greased small pans. I covered them and let them rise another 20-30 minutes on the warmer on my stove then baked in the oven at 365 for 20 min or so. Uhm all i can is EXCELLENT flavor. Let's just say this is so good I had to make it 2 more times so there'd be some for the meal for which it was intended. I think I'll give these away for Christmas so there's somethings hearty. 

    1. Thank you so much for sharing, Mara! I'm so glad you love it so much and that it works well in your bread maker. I appreciate you providing your experience and insight for other readers who have had the same question!

  12. Hi, made this bread recipe to give to neighbors for holloween.  Followed the recipe as indicated but added Fleishman dough enhancer (I add this to all my bread recipes), and did not add the oatmeal on top.  Note that I made this recipe in the Nutrimill Artiste mixer.  It rose beautifully in the first rise.  For the second rise, I divided into three loaves, and then put them into well buttered 8 1/2 x 4 loaf pans.  I then baked in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes, buttered the tops, then baked for additional 5 minutes.  This is an amazing bread with great flavour and texture for breakfast, brunch or simply snacking.  Great recipe and I would totally recommend this recipe for beginners.  Good job! 

  13. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! Mixed and kneaded it by hand as I do not have a stand mixer. Not gonna lie, overproved it on the 2nd rise. Was spreading out, not up😬 A quick internet search told me to knock the air out by kneading a few times, reshape and proof again. Worked like a charm! Can't wait to try more of your recipes!

  14. This bread looks delicious. I am wondering if the 3 TBSP butter used in the recipe is salted or unsalted? Thanks

  15. 5 stars
    This was 5 star recipe, easy and delicious. Depending on your elevation level consider baking at least 5 more minutes. I shared my loaves with my uncle and best friend in Hawaii. I'm sending the recipe to her now. Thank you so very much. Looking forward to trying more if your easy and tasty recipes.

  16. 3 stars
    I was not able to form loaves the dough was very loose, it did bake ok in a rather odd shape.
    What did I miss? Also I found the molasses very over powering, can I reduce the quantity?

  17. We make "no knead" bread all the time. I was wondering if you would use the same ingredients and just let it sit out on the counter until the next morning like you would do with any "no knead" bread. Thanks

    1. Yes and yes although the color and flavor of the bread will change. But it will definitely work if you happen to be out of whole wheat flour.

  18. 5 stars
    Thank you! This is my go-to from now on!!! Amazingly soft and fluffy and not a sweet dessert bread - I used just whole wheat bread flour, not the mix of the two. Turns out so lovely!!