Chocolate Babka Recipe
This homemade Chocolate Babka is soft, fluffy, and swirled with decadent ribbons of chocolate ganache that melt into every groove. It’s the ultimate breakfast treat or light dessert to enjoy with the family.
Like our Banana Bread, Cranberry Bread, this Chocolate Babka recipe is one of our favorite sweet homemade bread recipes. We just know you’ll love it, too!
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Homemade Chocolate Babka
Enjoying a slice of chocolate babka is like biting into a decadent, jumbo-sized chocolate croissant, or a giant, chocolate-filled cinnamon roll, minus the cinnamon. It’s really something special. The sweet crumb is irresistibly tender, and the simple homemade ganache is such a treat.
Since the best things come in pairs, this recipe makes not one, but two chocolate babkas. You might as well make two at once – it takes about the same amount of time as making one. Babkas are one of my favorite baked treats for gifting around the holidays as they look beautiful and taste even better.
What Is a Babka?
A babka is a traditional braided bread that originated among the Eastern European Jewish communities of Ukraine and Poland. ‘Babka’ means grandmother. It is like a sweet Challah or Brioche Bread with ribbons of chocolate (or sometimes cinnamon) throughout. These swirls of ganache separate the buttery crumb into melt-in-your-mouth layers. It’s a truly delicious baked treat that we love to make for the holidays, from Easter to Christmas.
Let’s have a quick look at the ingredients you’ll need to make your chocolate babkas. Below is an overview, with the full details available in the recipe card below.
- Milk – The milk for the dough should be warm, but not hot.
- Active Dry Yeast – Don’t forget to check the dates on your yeast packets to ensure it’s not expired.
- Sugar – Sugar helps feed the yeast, and sweetens the dough.
- Flour – I’ve had the best results with regular all-purpose flour.
- Eggs – remember let them come to room temperature.
- Butter – You’ll need melted butter for the batter as well as for brushing the top of the babkas before they’re baked. You can also brush the tops with Coconut Oil after baking if you’d like.
- Salt and Vanilla – use pure vanilla extract. Salt helps to balance and enhance the flavors of the dough.
- Chocolate Ganache – a combination of heavy cream, sugar and semi-sweet chocolate chips make the decadent chocolate sauce.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have a kitchen scale, the best way to measure flour correctly is to spoon it from the bag into a measuring cup. Afterward, use a knife to level off the top. Learn more about measuring dry ingredients in our video tutorial.
How to Make a Chocolate Babka
Making a gorgeous and glossy homemade chocolate babka takes some time because you can’t rush the dough rising, but the results are worth it! Begin by preparing the dough for your babkas:
- Activate the Yeast – Combine warm milk with yeast, and rest for about 7 minutes. Whisk in flour and sugar, then cover the bowl in plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot to rise until puffed up and foamy. Doing this in a 100ºF oven can help speed up the process.
- Combine the Ingredients – Whisk in eggs, melted butter, additional sugar, salt, and vanilla. With the dough hook attachment, gradually add the remaining flour until the dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough in the mixer on low for 8-10 minutes.
- Rise – Cover the dough and let it rise until doubled. This can take about an hour in a warm oven, or two hours at room temperature.
Pro Yeast Tips: Yeast works best in a warm environment. Bring the yeast to room temperature before using it. Also, make sure your milk and oven (if using the oven for proofing) are between 100-115 degrees F. If it’s hotter than that, you can deactivate and ruin the yeast.
Making the Chocolate Ganache
While the dough is rising, you’ll make the chocolate ganache. This is based on our go-to Chocolate Ganache recipe.
- Heat the Cream – Combine heavy cream and sugar in a pan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar while the cream reaches a simmer.
- Combine – Pour the hot cream into a bowl filled with chocolate chips. Make sure that all the chocolate is covered. Place a lid over the bowl and leave it to sit for a few minutes while the chocolate softens. Next, whisk the chocolate until smooth, then let it cool and thicken.
Shaping and Baking a Babka
When your dough has doubled in size and your chocolate ganache is ready, it’s time to shape and bake the babkas. Line a pair of loaf pans with parchment paper and give them a quick greasing with some butter. Here’s how easy the loaves are to assemble:
- Roll – First, divide the dough in half, and turn it out on a floured surface. Roll each half into a rectangle, roughly 12” by 16”.
- Chill – Spread about a third of the chocolate ganache over each dough rectangle. Next, roll the dough up into logs starting with the short side, wrap them in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Twist – After 15 minutes, remove the chilled rolls from the fridge. Use a sharp knife to cut the log in half lengthwise, leaving the top half-inch intact. Next, twist the two halves together. Repeat with the second roll, then transfer the dough to your lined loaf pans. Let the loaves to rise one more time.
- Bake – When the dough has risen and looks puffy, brush the top of the babkas with melted butter. Bake the babkas for 30 minutes at 350ºF, until the tops are golden brown.
Pro Tip: If you’d like to give your baked babka loaves a glossy sheen, brush them with coconut oil when they’re still hot from the oven. You can even drizzle or spread the last of the ganache over the top.
Technically, it’s sweet braided bread that’s also sometimes considered a cake. We’ll call it both.
Homemade babka is best when served slightly warmed up, or at room temperature.
Brioche and babka are very similar. A babka is often filled with chocolate, cinnamon, or other sweet fillings and shaped into a loaf, while brioche is twisted and baked into a knot.
Overbaking is the main reason a babka would be dry. Also, make sure not to overproof your dough which exhausts the yeast and results in tough and dry bread.
What Do You Eat With Chocolate Babka?
With its buttery crumb and decadent chocolate filling, a babka can be eaten as either a dessert or as a sweet treat at breakfast. Slices of babka pair perfectly with a warm cup of coffee or tea.
These babkas also make a great addition to a brunch table and more than satisfy as an afternoon snack. It’s rare that a babka lasts long enough to go stale in our house. But if it does? Well, that’s my excuse to turn leftover slices into Bread Pudding or French Toast.
A freshly baked chocolate babka is hard to beat. If you need to store your babkas, however, they do keep for a couple of days. I suggest storing it without the added chocolate sauce on top. Here’s how to do it:
- To Store: Seal the cooled chocolate babkas in an airtight container, or tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. Store loaves at room temperature and enjoy them within 2-3 days.
- Freezing: You can freeze the baked and cooled babkas, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 months. Thaw the loaves in the fridge or at room temperature before serving.
- To Reheat: If you’d like to warm up babka slices, you can zap them for a few seconds in the microwave. You can also pop them into the toaster oven wrapped in foil.
We’ll admit, a perfect chocolate babka takes a bit of time, but the payoff is so worth it. We hope this recipe becomes a new holiday tradition for you!
More Homemade Bread Recipes
Chocolate Babka Recipe
This homemade Chocolate Babka is a buttery, braided bread swirled with decadent ribbons of chocolate ganache that melts into every groove.
Ingredients for Chocolate Babka:
- 3/4 cup warm milk (NOT hot)
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 4 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, room temp
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted, divided (3 Tbsp for batter, 1 Tbsp to brush tops)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Coconut oil to brush over babkas, optional
Ingredients for Chocolate Ganache:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips**
How to Make Chocolate Babka:
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, add warm milk, sprinkle top evenly with yeast and let sit for 7 min. Whisk in ½ cup flour and 2 Tbsp sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm oven (100˚F) for 25-30 min or at room temp 35-45 min until puffed.
Whisk in eggs, 3 Tbsp melted butter, remaining 2 Tbsp sugar, salt, and vanilla. Using the dough hook on speed 2, add the remaining 3 cups of flour (1/2 cup at a time, letting it incorporate between additions). The dough should feel barely sticky to the touch but should not stick to the sides of the mixing bowl. Add an extra 1-2 Tbsp flour if needed. Once all flour is in, continue kneading on speed 2 for 8-10 min.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm oven for 1 hr or at room temp 2 hrs, until doubled in size. Meanwhile, make the chocolate ganache (instructions below).
Once the dough has risen, divide it in half. Generously dust flour on a clean work surface and place 1 piece of dough in the center. Sprinkle dough with flour and roll into a 12" wide by 16" long rectangle. Spread with 1/3 of the ganache. Roll the dough up tightly starting with the shorter side.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 min. Cut each chilled roll in half lengthwise with a sharp knife, keeping the top 1/2" of the roll connected. Twist halves together a few times.
Butter and line 2 loaf pans with parchment paper. Carefully transfer the dough to the prepared pans. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30-45 min or at room temp for 1 to 1½ hours or until puffy. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Brush loaves with remaining 1 Tbsp melted butter and Bake at 350˚F on the center rack for 30 min or until golden brown. Brush hot loaves with coconut oil to give them a sheen or spread the remaining chocolate ganache over the tops.
How to Make Chocolate Ganache:
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine heavy whipping cream with 1/4 cup sugar, stirring until dissolved and cream reaches a simmer then remove from heat.
Add chocolate chips to a medium bowl and pour the hot cream over the top, wiggling the bowl around to ensure the chocolate chips are covered. Cover the bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Uncover and whisk starting from the center and moving outward until a smooth chocolate sauce has formed. Cool completely to room temperature or until the sauce has thickened. To speed set, refrigerate the ganache for 10 minutes at a time, whisking to check the consistency.
Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review
Made this yesterday and it’s delicious! Came out beautiful!! I’ll post pics on Instagram. Tastes like those chocolate croissants from traders joes and I LOVE those!
That’s just awesome! Thank you for sharing your wonderful review, Lee!
Hi Natasha, Made your Babka for the first time, and it came out great! Two thumbs up from my husband and he keeps going back for another piece. Your instructions are always so easy to follow.
Thank you, Michelle! That’s great. I’m so glad you find my instructions helpful.
This was a mess definitely need a video to watch I now have a gooey mess in my frig hopefully it will firm up not for a novice
Hi Mary Ann! I’m glad you gave this recipe a try! I always recommend prepping all the ingredients and reading through the entire post before starting it. I hope you love the outcome!
Dear Mary Ann
instead of 1 cup of heavy cream, use half a cup. Works great and no gooey mess.
I was gifted a bread machine and wondered if anyone has Made this recipe in a machine? If so, any suggestions, recommendations? I always trust Natasha’s recipes, so would love to adapt it!!!
Great recipe! Perfectly tender, moist and full of chocolate goodness! So delicious with a cup of coffee! Thank you!
Wonderful to hear, Kathy! Thank you for sharing.
Hi, I have yet to try this recipe but a video would really help please!!
Hi Natalie! This recipe does not have a video at this time. Sorry. I hope you still try the recipe.
I cannot get over how delicious this was! Everyone loved it so much, thank you for sharing this recipe!
Yay, that’s excellent feedback! Thank you so much for sharing that with us.
I always make babka for Christmas and this recipe is the best! The filling is so delicious! Thank you for sharing this recipe!
You’re welcome! I’m so happy you enjoyed it, Anna!
Love your recipes, having a Polish grandmother, lots of them, such as the Babka recipe, bring back delicious memories.
Hi Patricia! Thank you! So glad you love my recipes.
I have found a new weakness!! This is so good!! I mean bread & chocolate together?! It’s too hard to resist!!
Haha! Yes, that combination is marvelous! 🙂 So glad you loved this recipe.
love all your recipes….when I feel really brave, I would like to make the bobka!!
I hope you try it and love it very soon, Harriet!
Hi Natasha, I just made this babka for a Christmas gift. It turned very festive and delicious! I doubled the recipe and made four babkas, will definitely made it again. Thank you for your lovely recipes.
I’m so glad you loved it, Tanya! Thank you for sharing.
I just recently discovered you so I am looking forward to try some of your recipes. Today I made your babka and it turned out great. I used nutella and also cinnamon walnuts as a filling. I am Croatian and my dough for nut roll is similar except I always add some lemon and orange zest and little bit of rum. It gives a nice aroma. Can’t wait to try something else. Happy cooking!!
Hello Renata, thank you for your great review. I hope you’ll love every recipe that you will try!
If making only 1 loaf, would you do just 1 egg, or keep 2 eggs?
Hi Lisa, I would scale proportionally.
Thank you! When I make challah bread and I 1/2 the recipe I still keep 2 eggs, so that’s why I wanted to make sure ❤️
I have a question – I have a Smart Breville oven that has a proof function. At what temperature should I set it for the bread to rise?
Hi Susana, we have that listed in step 1: “Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm oven (100˚F) for 25-30 min or at room temp 35-45 min. It will be puffy” I hope that helps.
Can I make it without the ganache I don’t have cream or chocolate rn
Hi, I think that would still work. You might also consider adding a cinnamon roll filling.
I’m planning to make this and freeze, and warm up in the oven.
Is it possible to freeze the ganache too? And of course I’ll warm it up and spread it on when the babka comes out of the oven?
Hi Lisa, I haven’t tried freezing the ganache, and I worry it will separate when defrosting. If you happen to experiment, however, I would like to know how it goes!
How long will the ganache be good for, in the fridge?
I haven’t tried freezing or refrigerating the ganache for a long period of time, and I worry it will separate when defrosting. If you happen to experiment, however, I would like to know how it goes!
Hi Natasha, I would love to try making your chocolate babka but, can’t find any active dry yeast anywhere, can I use instant yeast instead? Thanks
Hi Annie, I haven’t tested that but it should work to substitute. You could skip the initial 7 minutes of proofing since instant yeast does not need to be proofed.
Would it work with whole-wheat flour?
Hi Natalia, I honestly have not tested it with whole wheat flour to make suggestions of other substitutions. Whole wheat swapped 1:1 will make for a dry and dense babka.
Thank you so much for your recipe. Love it
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
I am looking forward to making this. I do have a question. I heard recently that adding room temp water rather than warm water and allowing the dough to raise more slowly will make your breads more tender. Any knowledge of that? Also I heard of a step called tangzhong process that basically is making a slurry mixture with the liquid and flour first (cooked) and then add to bread ingredients. This too is supposed to make the bread better. Any knowledge or thoughts about that? Thanks! I value your insight.
Hi Cindy, you can do that and I do that with several of my yeast dough recipes. It’s a little slower process and I didn’t find it necessary here but it wouldn’t be wrong to do it that way.
Is using the dough hook in a stand mixer a substitute for kneading the dough?
It definitely helps with the process since kneading is so labor-intensive.
I just made this today and it’s delicious! The steps are so easy to follow and worth the wait. Thank you! How long will it last covered at room temperature?
Hi Shannon, This can keep well at room temperature for a couple of days. If you wanted it to stay fresh longer, you could freeze it unglazed then thaw, warm slightly in the oven and glaze before serving.
Yes, Babka, is a Polish Bread or cake whatever. I was always wanting to make it and one day i will get a chance to. Yours looks delicious.
I hope you try it soon, Marie! Thank you for the great review.
love your recipes! they are well explained and I love that you add pictures and videos to them, Thank you ! I made the Easter bread, very delicious and right now I am making the Babka with chocholate !
I’m so happy to hear that! Thank you for sharing your great feedback.
Oh it was so tasty!!! glad i doubled up the recipe 🙂
The only thing I did differently – I added cut-up prunes and walnuts on top of the chocolate ganache.
That added a little crunch and fruity aroma to this delicious Babka
Also, next time i’d make 1/3 less of chocolate ganache as have a bunch left over.
I’m so happy you enjoyed that. Thank you for sharing that with us!
I made this twice today, because I thought I did it wrong my first go-around. Both times I got to the correct dough consistency at 2.5c of flour, not 3. Adding more would have made it too stiff and I had a hard time rolling the first batch already (the batch I made in my mixer). Currently waiting for the hand-mixed batch to prove, either way I am hoping my co-workers enjoy them…..oh and I made one a nutella one😊
Hi Amy! I hope that batch is perfect for you! Thank you for the great review!
I love the swirls in the babka recipe and the use of chocolate as topping.
You’re so nice! Thank you!
I have a question on baking pans. Can this be made in different pan not loaf?
Hi Elena, you could probably wrap this into a cake pan or even lay the babka onto a lined baking sheet, just be sure to pinch the edges together well to seal.
I made this chocolate bead yesterday, and fell in love with it! I want to try to make it with Nutella, do you think it’ll work?
Hi Nata, I haven’t tried that but I think it could work well 🙂 If you experiment, let me know!
i baked it the second time with Nutella and it was amazing!!! next time i will try it with poppyseed filling:] i love how fluffy and soft the dough is
Yay! I’m glad to hear that Nata, thanks for sharing!
Natasha, can i substitute butter instead of whipping cream?
Hi Viktoriya, I have only tried making ganache the traditional way – with heavy whipping cream. You might google to see if there are ganache recipes with butter. I think it could work possibly since it would be like a buttery chocolatey cinnamon roll type of filling but I just haven’t tested it to recommend it.
I made this receip . Very nice. Delicious
I’m happy to hear that Claudia! Thanks for sharing!
Hi Natasha, I can’t wait to try this! My question: in your instructions it says to butter and line pans with parchment paper. Do you butter them just so the parchment would stay in place better?
Hi Alena, yes that is correct and a couple of the sides are not lined, but only buttered so it makes it much easier to lift the babka out of the pan if it is buttered and lined.
Do you think I can freeze the second loaf? Would it taste fine after defrosting?
Yes, you can freeze it and let it defrost on the counter afterwards. It should still taste great
Hi Lana, Yes, I think it would still taste fine. With any bread, it is best to freeze as fresh as possible (the same day it is baked after it is at room temperature) so it defrosts as fresh tasting as possible. It would probably hold up better in the freezer and defrosted if you don’t spread the chocolate over the top.
Can you make the dough the day before?
Hi Jessica, this dough has worked with my overnight cinnamon rolls (or a very very similar dough anyway), so I do think it would work well to refrigerate before the last rise then let it rise for the last time at room temperature (it will take longer since it will be starting as chilled dough) then bake as directed.
I made this last weekend – it’s fantastic! I followed your recipe exactly except I omitted the coconut oil for glaze. The dough was really easy to work with. I am planning to make this again soon but decided that I’ll only make 2/3 of the ganache because although it’s delicious on top of the babka it was kind of messy. Thank you for a truly wonderful recipe!
You’re welcome Elizabeth! I’m glad to hear how much you enjoy the recipe. Thanks for sharing your wonderful review!
Natasha – going to try this soon to cold outside so time to bake, and make something good from you
I hope you love it Richard! Please let me know what you think!
Looking very delicious and tasty. I think the best with hot chocolate or cappuccino.
That is the perfect combination with this delicious recipe!
I loved your recipe! Thank you. My only changes: I rested the dough overnight in the refrigerator before rolling it – and I added a half a box of pulverized Nabisco chocolate wafers to the ganache (after it was spread on the babka dough.)
You’re welcome Lorelei! I’m glad you enjoy the recipe. Thanks for sharing your great review with other readers!
ooooh, I’ve always wanted to try a babka! I think you’ve just given me my final-weekend-before-Christmas project! Thanks!
My pleasure Melanie! I hope you love it!
Hi Natasha! I love making your recipes because they always turn out good but my aunt once made a babka that had cinnamon in it and I really like how it tasted, do you know how much I would have to add to your recipe or if I should add any? Thank you!
Hi Linda and thank you for the compliment 😬. Cinnamon in babka sounds delicious. I would recommend following this tutorial for using cinnamon.
Hi Natasha, can I use a Pyrex loaf pan for baking the babka or will it mess with the baking time? Let me know what you think, Thanks
Hi Ali, in general, glass baking dishes bake faster and sometimes even need the heat reduced. I haven’t tested a glass plan for this recipe but if you do, it may be done baking up to 10 minutes earlier.
How do you cover it up for the night? Just with plastic wrap?
Hi Tina, if you don’t put chocolate sauce on them, you can easily wrap in plastic wrap. If you do, a container with lid is better so it doesn’t squash your chocolate topping 🙂
Natasha I appreciate your blog but the ads are getting ridiculous. It’s hard to even scroll to get to the next step. Sorry, have to be honest with you. Thanks for all the recipes you post.
Thank you so much for your feedback. We are working on a plan to improve our readers experience since it is very important to us! We won’t be able to get rid of ads since those are how we are able to provide our recipes to our readers without charge :). Thank you for being patient! 🙂
Natasha this was so delicious, Your website is always my go to for inspiration!! U rock!!!( the ads are not bad, keep doing what your doing!!)
I’m so happy to hear that! Thank you for sharing your great review!
love this recipe its like cosonac
I’m happy to hear that! 🙂
i love this recipe because i am Romanian and they have the exact recipe and it is called cozonac i am so glad that you shared this recipe
I hope you love this recipe Alina! Please let me know what you think when you decide to make it!
Thank you so much for this recipe! I’ve seen many babka recipes, but know that this one will taste wonderful as you take the time to really find/create the best recipes! Looking forward to making it soon.
My pleasure Katya! I hope you love the recipe. Thanks for following and Merry Christmas!
Quick questions- have you ever made these into mini-babki (so instead of 2, making them into smaller 4)? How would you adjust baking time?
Hi Katya, I haven’t tried that only because it might be difficult to roll, cut and twist them when they are that small. You would definitely have to adjust the baking time but without testing it myself, I could only guess what that adjustment would be. Sorry I can’t be more helpful!
Hmmmm… what if you did nutella instead of ganache?
I haven’t tried that but I think that would be a tasty substitution! Let me know if you test that out 🙂
This babka is really tempting ! I’m going to try this for the kids during the holidays. Could you just tell me exactly what temperature you have in mind when you write “a warm oven”, please ?
Hi Kat, it should be no more than 100 degrees F. If it is too hot, it will start baking and deactivate the yeast.
Sounds delicious! I just made your overnight cinnamon rolls last week and they were a hit. Do you think this babka can also be refrigerated overnight and then allowed to rise in the morning before baking?
Hi Ana, this dough has worked with my overnight cinnamon rolls (or a very very similar dough anyway), so I do think it would work well to refrigerate before the last rise then let it rise for the last time at room temperature (it will take longer since it will be starting as chilled dough) then bake as directed.
Wonderful, I’ll give it a try!
Please let me know how it turns out Ana! 🙂
That looks awesome Natasha, need to try it ASAP!
It’s so easy and delicious. Please let me know what you think of the recipe Riya!
Wow Natasha! This looks sooo good!
It really is Katya! I hope you enjoy it.
Ah I will start right away
this sounds tasty
can´t wait to try!!!
I hope you love it Lena! Please let me know what you think.
Oh my it was good
it was the right day I made it
my Grandma came to visit us as she tried it she really wanted to know where I got it!!!
And I just shared the recipe with her and your website too!!!
Thank you it was really tasty also it reminded me of my childhood my mom usually made them but then she lost that recipe!!!
You’re welcome Lena! I’m glad to hear you both enjoy the recipe so much. Thanks for sharing your great review!
Omg that looks so good. Yes yes. I need that with my morning coffee. I will make it right now. So tomorrow I can enjoy it for breakfast. Thank you.
You’re welcome Vicki! I hope you love the recipe!