This homemade Brioche bread has a soft and fluffy texture, and a sweet buttery flavor. It’s absolute heaven when it comes out fresh and warm from the oven. This recipe will yield 3 loaves, so you can stash some in the freezer.

Brioche - Fluffy piece on parchment with knife

What is it?

Part bread and part pastry, brioche is a French bread classified as a Viennesoirie. The bread is enriched with butter, eggs, milk, and a touch of sugar, and has the most amazing rich flavor and airy texture. There’s a fair amount of hype around Brioche, and for good reason.

It’s incredible on its own, torn into bite-sized pieces and maybe spread with a little swipe of butter, but also as an ingredient for other recipes. For example, brioche is one of the best breads for Bread Pudding and also for French Toast

Brioche Recipe - Being Torn Apart with Hands to Show Fluffy Texture

What’s great about this recipe

3 loaves from one batch – Brioche is not hard to make, but it does have a lot of steps. It’s an investment of your time, and it’s nice that you get 3 loaves from the effort. I always freeze some for later.

Fluffy and tender – You can see from the photos how soft and fluffy the crumb is. The butter and eggs really work their magic.

Rich flavor – You can taste how buttery the bread is in every bite, and the bread has a subtle sweetness that tastes of dairy.

Adapted from Julia Child and James Peterson – Julia Child and James Peterson are two of the best chefs of all time, and this recipe is adapted from their methods. It’s a consistent method that produces fluffy and rich loaves, and I provide step by step photos of the process.

Do you need a stand mixer?

The short answer is no, you do not need a stand mixer. But it certainly is a lot easier and more consistent if you have one.

Brioche is easy to make from scratch, but in my opinion, a lot of that ease hinges on using a stand mixer to make it. There are a few comments below from folks reporting that kneading by hand worked well, but ideally a mixer is used. There is a lot of kneading, the dough is quite wet and sticky, and the butter ideally needs to stay cool.  

How to Make It:

Combine warm milk, yeast, an egg, and flour in a bowl:

Yeast, Milk, Eggs, and Bread Flour in a Stainless Steel Bowl - How to Make Brioche

Mix these ingredients together with a sturdy spatula, and you’ll end up with a very wet and sticky dough:

Sponge for First Part of Dough in Mixing Bowl

This mixture is actually called a sponge.

What is a sponge?

It’s a precursor to the dough, and adds a deep flavor and a lovely texture to the bread. It’s considered the equivalent of adding another rise.

Sprinkle a cup of flour over the sponge, to cover it:

Flour on top of the Sponge

Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, and when you come back, there should be cracks in the dough, like this:

The flour cracked as the sponge rises from the yeast

This lets you know that the yeast is active and working well.

Add sugar, salt, eggs, and flour to the sponge:

Eggs and Sugar Added to the Dough for - Brioche Loaf

Fit the bowl onto the stand mixer and mix it all together using the dough hook.

You will get a richly colored beige dough that’s relatively smooth, which indicates that gluten and the dough strength has been developed.

Now, add softened butter, a few pats at a time, and incorporate them into the dough:

French Brioche - In Dough Form in Stand Mixer with Pats of Butter and Dough Hook

It’s important that you use properly softened butter that’s not too firm and not too soft, in order for it to incorporate well. Ideally it should be at about 72F.

When the butter has been mixed in, the dough should be soft and slightly sticky:

Dough Being Kneaded in the Stand Mixer with Dough Hook

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then let rise at room temperature for 2 hours, until doubled in size:

Risen Dough In Stand Mixer Bowl made with lots of butter and eggs

Turn the dough upside down to redistribute the yeast slightly, then cover again and refrigerate overnight. The overnight refrigeration will develop the flavor of the brioche, further the dough strength, and also make it easier to handle when you divide the dough for the pans.

Divide the Dough

Divide the dough into 3 sections, then each section into 6 pieces.

Roll each piece into a ball, and place 6 dough balls into each loaf pan (this makes 3 loaves total):

Dough Balls in Loaf Pan Ready to be Proofed

Cover with plastic wrap, then let rise for 2 hours. The dough balls initially will look like they won’t fill the pan, but look how much they puff up:

6 Balls of Brioche Roll Dough in a Loaf Pan ready to be baked and Brushed with Egg Wash

Brush the brioche with egg wash, if desired, and bake the loaf for about 30 minutes, until golden all over:

Brioche Bread - On a Wooden Board Made from Scratch to be sliced or torn into buns

One thing I’ve noticed with brioche, is it is quite sensitive to hot spots in the oven. So partway through baking, the top will likely need to be covered with aluminum foil to keep it from browning too much. 

If you have a really top-notch oven that bakes evenly, you may not need to cover it, but just keep your eye on the loaves.

When the loaf has reached 190F inside, it’s done. You can pull it apart into rolls, or you can slice the loaf and enjoy.

Brioche Bun - On a Wooden Board Homemade from Scratch

Homemade English Muffins, English Style Scones, and Homemade Soft Pretzels are some of my other favorite breads to make from scratch. Enjoy!

I also use this Brioche in my Brioche French Toast with Orange Macerated Strawberries.

Recipe FAQ and Tips

Can you freeze brioche?

Absolutely! You may freeze the bread in a fully baked state, tightly wrapped, for up to 2 months. You can also freeze the dough unbaked, after it has done the cold rise in the refrigerator. Then thaw the dough overnight in the fridge, and bake it fresh.

How do you thaw frozen brioche?

If it’s fully baked, simply leave it at room temperature for about one hour, until it has thawed. If it’s not baked from the first rise, thaw the dough in the fridge overnight, then bake it fresh.

How do you store brioche?

Keep at room temperature for 2 days, in the fridge for 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Keep the bread stored in an airtight bag so it doesn’t dry out.

Did you enjoy the recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page. Or, follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest!

A Piece of Brioche on wooden board

Homemade Brioche

This homemade brioche is worth the effort, with a soft and fluffy texture, and a buttery sweet flavor.
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Ingredients

For the Sponge:

  • 1/3 cup warm milk (110 degrees F)*
  • 2.25 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg at room temperature**
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (10 ounces, by weight), divided

For the Dough:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 7.5 ounces all purpose flour, by weight (1.5 cups, measured)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter at 65-70 degrees
  • butter for greasing optional

Instructions 

  • Start with the sponge. Place the milk, yeast, egg, and 1 cup of flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix the ingredients with a spatula until combined (it will be very sticky).
  • Sprinkle the remaining cup of flour on top, covering the sponge completely, and let it rest in a warm place for 30 minutes (no need to cover the bowl with plastic wrap).
  • After 30 minutes, check that there are cracks in the flour (see blog photo). The cracks let you know that the yeast are alive and well.
  • Add the sugar, salt, eggs, and 1 cup of the flour to the sponge. Fit the bowl on your stand mixer, and using the dough hook, mix on low for 1 minute, until the dough starts to come together. With the mixer still running on low, add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour.
  • When the flour has been incorporated, increase the speed to medium, and mix for 15 minutes. After 10 minutes have passed, if the dough seems too loose, add 3 additional tablespoons of flour, to help the dough form into a cohesive piece. Make sure you don’t skimp on kneading the dough for 15 minutes.
  • Turn the mixer down to medium low speed and add the butter, a couple pats at a time, waiting until each installment of butter is absorbed before adding the next. When all the butter has been added, bump the speed up to medium high for a minute, then reduce to medium and knead the dough for 5 minutes. The dough will be soft and slightly sticky.
  • Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature for 2 hours, until it has doubled in size.
  • Using a spatula, gently turn the dough upside down and compact it back to its original volume (we are redistributing the yeast, but take care not to "bash down" the dough too much).
  • Cover the bowl again with plastic wrap and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 8 hours.
  • With a sharp knife, gently slice your dough into 3 sections. Cut each section into 6 pieces. You may gently roll those pieces into balls, but you can also leave them sort of square.
  • Get three standard loaf pans***. If using nonstick bakeware, you can skip greasing, but if using uncoated bakeware, I recommend greasing with butter. Place 6 balls each into each pan, then cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 2 hours.
  • When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375F, and bake the loaves for about 30 minutes, until the interior measures 190F using an instant read thermometer. If during the baking process your brioche browns too much, loosely cover the loaves with aluminum foil. Enjoy!

Notes

*You can heat the milk in a saucepan, or microwave it for about 20 seconds, to warm it to 110F.
**You may warm the egg in a glass of warm water, if you’re in a hurry.
***The size of the loaf pan is flexible. I’ve used the standard 8.5×4.5 but have also used pans that are slightly bigger and slightly smaller. It should still take around 30 minutes, but as stated in the recipe, go by temperature for doneness.
You may brush the loaves with egg wash right before baking, if desired. This gives it a more glossy and shiny look.
Freezing instructions: Personally, I bake all three loaves at once, then freeze the bread in a fully baked state. Then later I just thaw the loaves on the counter for an hour or so, and use it. However, you can also freeze the dough unbaked, after it has done the cold rise in the refrigerator. Then you can thaw the dough overnight in the fridge, and bake it fresh.
Storage: Keep at room temperature for 2 days, in the fridge for 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Keep the bread stored in an airtight bag so it doesn’t dry out.
Recipe adapted from James Peterson in his 2009 cookbook Baking, whose recipe is adapted from Julia Child’s brioche in Baking with Julia.

Nutrition

Calories: 118kcal, Carbohydrates: 14g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 47mg, Sodium: 78mg, Sugar: 2g

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.

Post updated in November 2019. Originally published February 2011.