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This is THE Best Challah Recipe you’ve ever had! Braided and stuffed with fresh parmesan pesto, and baked until golden brown.

best challah bread on a wire rack

If you’ve ever wanted to bring the warm, inviting aroma of freshly baked bread into your home, you’re in for a treat.

Challah is not just any bread. It’s a traditional Jewish bread, braided to perfection and often enjoyed on special occasions. We’re going to take that amazing, traditional Challah and level it up. I said this was the best challah recipe, and I meant it!

And, hey, who says we can’t make any day a special day? This recipe is a twist on the classic – the Pesto Parmesan Challah Bread. Trust me; this recipe is a game-changer!

Just the sight of this bread when it comes out of the oven will get your heart racing. It is a sight to behold!

The egg yolk that is spread over the braids creates this layered golden brown color. Darker on the raised parts, lighter inside. It’s so beautiful, I almost don’t want to cut into it. Almost haha!

Once you do dive in, you find the delicious filling. The parmesan pesto combined with the fluffy, crunchy texture creates such a delicious loaf of bread, it’s hard to believe! 

This challah bread recipe will absolutely knock your socks off. It’s a combination of simple ingredients that come together to make a bread loaf that will stick in your memory. 

Making it is a whole lot of fun too. I got Lily involved as much as I could. Braiding bread dough? Oh, you bet she was excited!

Our braiding technique needed some work the first time, but by the second time, we had it down! It was such a great way to spend the afternoon. We’re creating memories, people, and what better way than with the best challah recipe?!

Some of our other favorite baking recipes we have on our site include: Homemade Crescent Rolls, English Muffin Recipe, and Jalapeno Cornbread.

overhead of best challah recipe on a wire rack

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS:

  1. Fluffy & Flavorful: The perfect balance of ingredients guarantees a fluffy egg bread filled with mouth-watering flavors. Watch out, it might just become the main course at your next meal. Move over meat loaf; bring on the bread! Ha!
  2. Step-by-Step Guide: Whether it’s your first time or you’re a challah pro, this recipe is simple and straightforward. I want to make sure you have the best experience possible with this.
  3. A Showstopper: The braided bread doesn’t just taste great; it’s visually stunning, too! Once it came out of the oven, I just wanted to stare at it for a bit. Like, I seriously made that!

INGREDIENTS NEEDED (SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST FOR THE FULL RECIPE CARD):

Challah:

  • all-purpose flour
  • fast-acting dry yeast
  • water
  • sugar
  • eggs and egg yolks
  • vegetable oil
  • honey
  • salt

Pesto:

  • fresh basil
  • parmesan
  • pine nuts
  • garlic clove
  • olive oil
  • salt

Egg Wash:

  • egg yolk
  • water
  • sesame seeds
ingredients needed to make best challah recipe

HOW TO MAKE BEST CHALLAH RECIPE:

  1. In a large bowl or a bowl of a stand mixer, combine the warm water (105°F-115°F), 1 tablespoon sugar, and the yeast. Whisk to dissolve the yeast. Leave for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
  2. Whisk in the remaining sugar, egg, egg yolks, honey, oil, and salt. Slowly add the flour. Knead the dough until smooth with the hook attachment or by hand for 8-10 minutes.   
collage of images on how to prepare the dough for best challah recipe
  1. Place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until almost doubled in size, about two hours.
collage of images showing the rising step for best challah recipe
  1. While challah is rising, make the pesto. Pulse basil in a food processor with olive oil until a fine paste. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth. Taste and adjust salt as desired. Set aside.  
collage of images showing how to make the pesto filling for best challah recipe
  1. Divide the dough into three pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope. If the ropes shrink as you try to roll them, let them rest for 5 minutes to relax the gluten, and then try again.
  2. Flatten each rope with your hands and fill each one with 1/3 of the pesto. Seal each strand, pinch the three strands together at one end, and carefully braid, tucking the ends under the loaf.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Carefully transfer the challah to the baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic, then let it rise slightly again until soft and fluffy, about 30 minutes.
collage of images showing how to fill and braid best challah recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Whisk the egg yolk with water and brush the beaten egg over the challah. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top if using. 
  3. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown, to check to make sure it is done, you can temp it with a thermometer, it is ready at 195°F-200°F. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before slicing.
collage of images showing the finals steps for preparing and baking best challah recipe

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS RECIPE:

WHAT IS CHALLAH BREAD?

Challah is a special Jewish bread, known for its braided shape and delicious, slightly sweet flavor.

It’s traditionally made for the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. 

CAN I USE STORE-BOUGHT PESTO?

Absolutely! While homemade pesto is fantastic, store-bought can save time and still taste great.

Do what works best for you!

slices of best challah recipe on a wire rack

WHAT TO SERVE WITH THIS?

This challah pairs beautifully with soups, salads, or even just a dab of butter.

It’s also perfect for making french toast for breakfast! Minus the pesto of course, haha!

ANY ADDITIONS?

We’ve already moved this away from the traditional a bit. So why not got a little further?

  • Mix in chopped olives with the pesto for a Mediterranean touch.
  • Add sun-dried tomatoes for a tangy flavor boost.
  • Grated mozzarella can offer a cheesy twist.
  • Consider sprinkling poppy seeds instead of sesame seeds for variation.
  • Fresh berries or apple slices can be served on the side for a sweet contrast.
  • Caramelized onions can add a savory depth to your bread.
  • For a sweet variant, swirl in some cinnamon sugar and raisins in place of the pesto.
  • Drizzle a bit of melted butter on top for an extra rich finish.
  • Consider a cream cheese spread for added indulgence.
  • A hint of lemon zest in the pesto can offer a refreshing twist.

ANY SUBSTITUTIONS?

Always! Check these out.

  • Use bread flour instead of all-purpose for a chewier texture.
  • Olive oil can replace vegetable oil for a richer taste.
  • Swap out pine nuts with walnuts, pecans, or almonds in the pesto.
  • Whole wheat flour can be used for a healthier twist.
  • Maple syrup can be a sweet alternative to honey.
  • If you’re out of fresh basil, spinach can be a delightful replacement in the pesto.
overhead image of sliced best challah recipe on wire rack

HOW TO STORE:

Refrigerator: Wrap the bread in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge for up to a week. It’s great for leftovers!

Freezer: Place the bread in an airtight container or a Ziploc bag. It can be stored for up to a month.

To enjoy, thaw at room temperature and warm slightly in the oven.

DANA’S TIPS AND TRICKS:

  • Ensure your water is at the correct temperature for activating the yeast – too hot or too cold can hinder the process.
  • Don’t rush the proofing process; giving the dough time to rise ensures a fluffy bread.
  • Use a dough hook or your hands to knead the dough to a soft, elastic consistency.
  • If your dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour, a tablespoon at a time.
  • Before braiding, letting the dough rest for a few minutes can make it easier to handle.
  • Always preheat your oven to ensure even cooking and that golden brown finish we all love.
Upclose image of a slice of best challah recipe so you can see the filling

There’s something truly magical about making bread at home, especially one as special as challah. Our Pesto Parmesan twist is sure to delight both the eyes and the palate.

So, roll up those sleeves, braid some dough, and let’s make any day a special bread day with the best challah recipe! 

If you’ve tried the BEST CHALLAH RECIPE, let me know how it turned out in the comments! You can follow me over on PINTEREST, INSTAGRAM OR FACEBOOK to find some more of our mouthwatering recipes! 

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5 from 2 votes

Best Challah Recipe (Pesto Stuffed Braided Bread)

Author Dana at ThisSillyGirlsKitchen.com
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Rise Time 2 hours 30 minutes
This is THE Best Challah Recipe you’ve ever had! Braided and stuffed with fresh parmesan pesto, and baked until golden brown.
Servings 12 servings

Ingredients
  

For the Challah

For the Pesto

For the Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • sesame seeds for garnish, optional

Instructions

  • In a large bowl or a bowl of a stand mixer, combine the warm water (105°F-115°F), 1 tablespoon sugar, and the yeast. Whisk to dissolve the yeast. Leave for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
    3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, .25 ounces fast-acting dry yeast
  • Whisk in the remaining sugar, egg, egg yolks, honey, oil, and salt. Slowly add the flour. Knead the dough until smooth with the hook attachment or by hand for 8-10 minutes.
    1 large egg, 3 large egg yolks, 2 tablespoons honey, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 3/4 – 4 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until almost doubled in size, about two hours.
  • While challah is rising, make the pesto. Pulse basil in a food processor with olive oil until a fine paste. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth. Taste and adjust salt as desired. Set aside.
    2 cups fresh basil, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan, 1/4 cup pine nuts, 1 garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Divide the dough into three pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope. If the ropes shrink as you try to roll them, let them rest for 5 minutes to relax the gluten, and then try again.
  • Flatten each rope with your hands and fill each one with 1/3 of the pesto. Seal each strand, pinch the three strands together at one end, and carefully braid, tucking the ends under the loaf.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Carefully transfer the challah to the baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic, then let it rise slightly again until soft and fluffy, about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Whisk the egg yolk with water and brush the beaten egg over the challah. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top if using.
    1 large egg yolk, 1 tablespoon water, sesame seeds
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown, to check to make sure it is done, you can temp it with a thermometer, it is ready at 195°F-200°F. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

Notes

  • Ensure your water is at the correct temperature for activating the yeast – too hot or too cold can hinder the process.
  • Don’t rush the proofing process; giving the dough time to rise ensures a fluffy bread.
  • Use a dough hook or your hands to knead the dough to a soft, elastic consistency.
  • If your dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour, a tablespoon at a time.
  • Before braiding, letting the dough rest for a few minutes can make it easier to handle.
  • Always preheat your oven to ensure even cooking and that golden brown finish we all love.

Nutrition

Calories: 346kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 80mg | Sodium: 369mg | Potassium: 100mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 349IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 3mg
Nutrition Disclaimer
Course Baked Good, Breads
Cuisine American

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5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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