Baking with brioche dough: Beautiful, delicious, and simple variations

Rich and buttery with a pillowy soft, airy texture, brioche is one of my absolute favorite breads to bake. This classic French bread is not only delicious, but it’s incredibly easy to work with, meaning even as a novice, baking with brioche is simple!

Brioche dough is egg-, milk-, and butter-enriched: It’s simple enough to act as a blank canvas for any flavors from sweet to savory. You can make cheese brioche buns or sweet chocolate swirl brioche loaves or jam-filled brioche knots!

Unlike other yeasted bread recipes, brioche doesn’t easily cling to the counter or snap back when you stretch, shape, and roll it. All that butter makes it nicely stick-free, which is a boon for the baker. You don’t even need to flour your work surface! It’s more forgiving than most buttery yeasted recipes — as stunning and simple to shape as challah — but richer and less lean thanks to the addition of dairy.

Start with a good basic brioche recipe (I use our simple master recipe). The possibilities for baking with brioche are endless, just like a good scone recipe or pizza dough.

Here are a few ideas for flavors and shapes for baking with brioche to get you started. Don’t stop there! Get as creative as you like, since the recipe lends itself beautifully to interpretation.

For the purposes of each idea listed here, you’ll need to prepare a batch of our brioche recipe through the first rise. A note: If you’re making a savory brioche dough variation, don’t leave out the sugar! The sugar is key for the rise and texture of the bread, but it’s not so sweet that it will fight with flavors like cheese or olives or pesto, so keep it in there.

Brioche is the perfect blank canvas recipe, ready for any shape or flavor from sweet to savory. Click To Tweet

If you’re looking for a more in-depth, step-by-step tutorial on how to mix and make the dough, take a look at our blog post “Brioche? Bring it on.”

Brioche dough variations

Brioche dough variations via @kingarthurflour

Pesto Cheese Brioche Loaf

To create this pretty loaf, we borrowed a technique from a traditional babka recipe. Take your brioche dough (remember: prepped through the first rise) and roll it out to a rectangle, roughly 10″ x 15″. Spread a thin layer of pesto over the top of the dough, leaving about an inch bare on all sides. Sprinkle the top with a cup of grated cheddar cheese.

Brioche dough variations via @kingarthurflour

Starting at a long end, roll the dough up into a log and pinch the seam firmly to seal it. Using a serrated knife (or a pair of scissors works well), slice (or cut) the log in half lengthwise. With the cut sides up, pinch the ends of the two halves together, then twist them around each other a few times and pinch the other ends together. Carefully transfer the loaf to a greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan, let it rise for about 30 minutes, and then bake until golden brown. My loaf took about 30 minutes to bake in a preheated 350°F oven.

Brioche dough variations via @kingarthurflour

Chocolate Chip Brioche Strips

Simple but stunning! Roll your brioche dough into a rectangle, about 12″ x 15″ in size. Cut the dough into 3″ x 15″ strips (so you’ll end up with four strips). Sprinkle chopped chocolate or chocolate chips liberally on the bottom half of each strip, then fold the top over.

Brioche dough variations via @kingarthurflour

You can also vary the filling by using melted butter and cinnamon sugar in place of chocolate chips. Sprinkle the top of the dough with sugar.

Bake the strips on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 30 minutes at 350°F until nicely golden on top.

Brioche dough variations via @kingarthurflour

Cinnamon Sugar Brioche Swirl

I call this the Dr. Seuss loaf, since it looks so ridiculously fun and swirly. Once you master the technique, you can make this brioche dough variation in any shape: muffin tin, pie dish, round cake pan, and so on. Just adjust the amount of dough needed accordingly. One batch of our brioche dough recipe yielded three mini loaves for me.

Brioche dough variations via @kingarthurflour

Roll your prepared brioche dough into a large circle about 1/8″ thick. Using a large biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough. Sprinkle each circle with cinnamon sugar (you don’t need to brush it with butter first as the dough is buttery enough that the sugar will stick), then roll the dough up into a little log (don’t pinch the ends closed).

Brioche dough variations via @kingarthurflour

Arrange the little logs in the pan of your choice; just make sure that the logs are nestled together without enough space to fall over, but not scrunched up too tightly.

Bake until golden brown in a 350°F oven. If you’d like to gild the lily, sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top of the dough before baking.

Brioche dough variations via @kingarthurflour

Classic Brioche Buns

A classic and very useful brioche dough variation is the simple oversized bun. The rich flavor of brioche and light, soft crumb make it an ideal contender for a sandwich bun, whether you’re making burgers or chicken salad.

Simply shape your risen dough into six balls and bake them in a lightly greased bun pan. Our recipe gives you more detail here.

Brioche dough variations via @kingarthurflour

Traditional French Mini Brioche

One of the prettiest brioche dough variations is a traditional miniature round. To achieve the striking fluted edges, you’ll just need to bake your dough in ridged brioche specialty pans.

Brioche dough variations via @kingarthurflour

To make it even fancier, you can top the brioche with pearl sugar, sparkling sugar, chopped nuts, or even sprinkles!

Brioche dough variations via @kingarthurflour

This is just the beginning of the list of ideas for brioche dough variations! Here’s even more inspiration; tell us in the comments how you’re baking your brioche!

  • Bake your brioche in a Belgian waffle iron for a sweet brioche waffle bread. Drizzle with melted butter and maple syrup.
  • Cut triangles out of brioche dough, add a teaspoon of jam to the base, and roll them up like tiny crescent rolls. Sprinkle the warm rolls with confectioners’ sugar.
  • Roll your dough into three long logs, braid them, and arrange the braid in a circle with the ends pinched together. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with cheese and chopped garlic, then bake.
  • Three little words: Brioche French Toast.
  • Make brioche bread pudding with your leftovers if they start to go stale. The egginess of brioche lends itself wonderfully to soaking up the custard in bread pudding recipes.
  • Bake your brioche in traditional fluted pans, then slice off the tops, hollow out a bit of the inside, and top with a scoop of ice cream for a twist on a sundae.

Posie grew up on a farm in Maryland and spent her summers in Vermont. As an editor for King Arthur and Sift magazine, she feels lucky to bake every day and connect through writing. She loves homemade bread warm from the oven, raw milk cream, ...


  1. Melissa Mitchell

    Is it possible to make brioche with dairy substitutes? My son is allergic to dairy, but our family loves all things brioche.

    1. PJ Hamel

      Melissa, we’ve used Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks as a substitute for regular butter in brioche in the test kitchen — give it a try, we think you’ll like it. PJH@KAF

  2. Gail Laird

    Is it possible to make brioche without a stand mixer? I do not have one b ut would love to make this dough and use it in so many ways.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Gail, brioche is one of the few doughs that requires a stand mixer or a bread machine to be properly mixed. (Often times recipes call for kneading in a stand mixer or bread machine for 15-20 minutes at high speeds, which just isn’t possible to do using only your hands.) Instead, you might want to try making a dough like the one in this Chocolate Babka recipe. It’s still rich, tender, and moist like the brioche but more approachable to make by hand. If you decide to give it a try, we wish you good luck! Kye@KAF

  3. Lynn Smith

    I made pumpkin pie by your recipe,this year! With your few easy changes to my old recipe I revived comments like” this is the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever eaten” “ I want more of that pumpkin pie”thank you!

  4. Abbie

    What coukd make my brioche dough into a cale batter consistency? I mixed and mixed thinking it would come together eventually – but it became a more pourable consistency. It never became elastic! As it rose, it became foamy and not possible to punch down. It was mixed a LOOOOONG time. Possible i absentmindedly got a measurement wrong? Incorporated butter to fast or too hot? Or possible sabotage by my three year old (might have added some extra salt – though i think i got there in time). Im exhasperated. Any ideas would help :/ thanks

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Abbie, your dough consistency problems could be caused by a few different factors, which we’re happy to outline here. It sounds like there may have been a measuring error (too much liquid or not enough flour), or the flour could have been too soft. Most other brands of flour are weaker (or “softer”) than King Arthur Flour, which means more of it needs to be added in order to get the same results. We recommend using King Arthur All-Purpose Flour for best results if you’re not already doing so. It also could have been that the butter was too soft or added too quickly. It’s best to let each chunk incorporate before adding the next. You could also blame it on the weather: if it was particularly hot or humid outside, it may have melted the butter and added additional moisture. In these cases, you can try chilling the dough briefly and adding additional flour. (If all else fails, you can blame it in your three-year-old!) If you’d like some help teasing out which one might have been the main culprit, you can call our Baker’s Hotline at 855-371-2253. We hope to help make the next batch a success. Kye@KAF

  5. Ida Mae Kelley

    can these recipes for brioche breads be made with gluten-free flour? They all look wonderful!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Brioche isn’t suitable for a gluten-free conversion, but don’t fear! We have options for you. You might like another subtly sweet, yeasted dough that can be shaped similar to what’s shown here: our Gluten-Free Cinnamon Roll recipe might be just what you’re looking. Give it a shot and see what kind of shapes you can make. They’re all bound to be delicious! Kye@KAF

  6. Bev Maloney

    King Arthur Brioche dough mix makes wonderful Ensamada’s. With a few little tweeks, they are as good as what you buy in the bakeries. I add a little sugar and a little more butter to the dough. When it has risen the second time, I seperate the dough and roll into 12 inch ropes. Roll up the rope and tuck the end in the bottom. Place them in small Brioche tins and bake. when they come out of the oven, brush the tops with butter then dip in sugar then in finely grated cheddar cheese. They are delicious.

  7. Cora Santos

    Thanks for the lovely ideas Ricardo… I will try them. My parents are from Brazil. I enjoy baking and combining both American and Brazilian recipes.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for asking, Gretchen! Those are Mini Brioche Sundaes (yum!). To make them, first bake Mini Brioches using our Classic Brioche recipe. Once cool, slice off the top knot and scoop out about a tablespoon of the inside of the bread. Fill with vanilla ice cream and top with warm caramel sauce. Place the top-knot back and dust with confectioner’s sugar (if desired). We’ll have this added to the Classic Brioche as a baker’s tip so anyone who wants to make these charming desserts can. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  8. Eric

    I love the idea of the chocolate chip strips! After the dough comes out of the fridge and gets rolled out, would it need to rise further once it’s cut and filled, or should it go right in the oven?

    1. Posie Harwood, post author

      Yes, it should have another quick rise (20 minutes or so, just until it gets slightly puffy). Enjoy! -Posie

    2. Pia Owens

      Joanne Chang’s recipe from the Flour cookbook calls for pastry cream with chocolate on top. (At Flour bakery, the pain au chocolat uses brioche instead of croissant dough — it’s basically this, but the pastry cream makes it a little more delicious!)

  9. Ricardo Neves Gonzalez - Petrópolis - RJ - Brazil

    Nice Post!!
    Here at Brazil a tropical country, Brioche dough needs much more atention when you prepare it.
    I bake with maximum of 45% butter, cut the yeast 50% and another good tip is to divide and shape the dough, imediately after the developed phase ends.
    I cut the first rising because the milk enriched bread doughs tend to accelerate the fermentation here at Brazil.
    I bake breads with lower temperature and for 25% more time then others.
    Some variations i use is to turn dough at floured Surface, make a Great rectangle and cut the dough with round cutter.
    I cut breads at pans spaced 3 cm one from the neighbor. I prepare a Ratatouille with eggs mixed with cream, when the misture is hot and mix together parmesan cheese and mesan Provence herbs. I pour the Ratatouille oves the breads and sprinkle a mix of Parmesan cheese with bit of herbs.
    Bake it for 18 to 20 minutes at médium oven.
    The same you could do to a sweety version Just mixing zest rind of Sicilian Lemon and brush top with a glaze made of sugar, water, lemon zest and crushed walnuts. It comes out superb from the oven and then sprinkle Confectioner Sugar on top of breads.
    Another good version is Saucison Brioche when we put a Sausage paired with mozzarella cheese and rolled and filled inside bread dough, all assembled at English Cake pans!!

    1. Candy McMillan

      RNG, Nice comment!
      I will definitely try your Ratatouille and Lemon versions, lovely ideas that a bound to please. Thank you for sharing!

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