What is a good substitute for challah bread?

Quick Answers

Some good substitutes for challah bread include brioche, challah-style white bread, egg bread, sourdough bread, multigrain bread, and even regular white bread or French bread. The key is to find a bread with a rich flavor and light, eggy texture similar to challah.

What Makes Challah Bread Unique?

Challah is a traditional Jewish egg bread that is light, fluffy, and slightly sweet. It has a distinctive golden color and braided shape. The unique qualities of challah come from its list of ingredients:

  • Eggs – Challah contains a high number of eggs compared to other breads. The eggs give it color, richness, and a custard-like texture.
  • Oil or Butter – The added fat makes challah moist and tender.
  • Sugar or Honey – A touch of sweetness balances out the eggy flavor.
  • Yeast – Yeast gives challah its rise and airy texture.
  • Bread Flour – Bread flour has more gluten-forming protein than all-purpose. This gives challah its chewy texture.

When combined and braided, these simple ingredients create the beautiful spiral loaf that is challah.

The Best Substitutes for Challah


Like challah, brioche is an eggy, buttery, yeast-leavened bread. Traditional brioche contains even more butter and eggs than challah. It has a rich, almost cake-like crumb. Brioche can be shaped into rolls or loaves and makes an excellent stand-in for challah in recipes.

Challah-Style White Bread

Many grocery stores sell loaves labeled “challah bread” or “challah-style.” These are essentially egg breads made with a similar dough to challah. They have added eggs, oil or butter, and sometimes sugar. The texture is light and eggy. While not as rich as true challah, these make a great substitute when you can’t find traditional challah.

Egg Bread

Any bread recipe made with extra eggs can substitute for challah. Look for recipes for egg bread, like French toast bread or Slavic paska bread. These contain whole eggs instead of just yolks like challah. But they have a similar light, tender crumb and rich eggy flavor.

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough is an unexpected but excellent challah substitute. The fermentation process gives it a chewy, springy texture much like challah. Sourdough also has a delicious tangy flavor that pairs well with many of the same dishes as challah. Choose a brioche-style sourdough loaf for even closer similarity.

Multigrain Bread

Hearty seeded breads make a more nutritious substitution for challah. Look for whole grain loaves with add-ins like oats, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, millet, etc. The egg and oil/butter keep these multigrain loaves moist, not dry and crumbly.

White Bread or French Bread

In a pinch, plain white sandwich bread or French bread can work instead of challah. They won’t have the same richness, sweetness, or texture. But they mimic the lightness of challah. For French bread, look for a lighter, eggy brioche-style loaf rather than a crusty baguette.

How To Adapt Recipes When Substituting for Challah

When using a substitute bread in place of challah, you may need to tweak the recipe slightly:

  • Add eggs or butter – If your bread seems a little dry, mix an extra egg into the recipe or brush melted butter over the top before baking.
  • Increase sugar or honey – If your bread tastes bland instead of sweet, add a tablespoon or two more sugar or drizzle with honey.
  • Play with shape – Try braiding loaf breads or shaping round breads into spirals to mimic challah.
  • Adjust bake time or temp – Dense whole grain breads may need a longer bake time or lower oven temperature than soft challah.

Recipes That Use Challah

Here are some popular recipes that typically use challah. Try making them with one of the substitute breads instead:

French Toast

Thick slices of challah dipped in a sweet egg mixture become the perfect French toast. Brioche and egg breads also work well. Adjust any French toast recipe to suit the texture of your substitute bread.

Bread Pudding

Old challah turns into decadent bread pudding when baked in a custard of eggs, milk, and sugar. Stale brioche, sourdough, or white bread can be used. You may need to adjust bake time or add more butter depending on the moisture level of the bread.

Stuffing or Dressing

Cutting challah into cubes makes an amazing Thanksgiving stuffing. Look for a lighter, eggy artisan loaf rather than dense whole grain bread for your stuffing cubes. Brush with melted butter before baking for maximum richness.


Challah’s eggy flavor and chewy yet tender crumb are perfect for homemade croutons. Almost any type of bread can substitute here. Tear into crouton-sized pieces, toss with oil or butter, and bake until crisp.

Bread Bowls

Hollowed-out mini challah loaves create edible bread bowls for dips, soups, and more. Try shaping brioche, sourdough, or even doughy white bread into bread bowls instead. Just be sure to proof and bake the dough thoroughly so it doesn’t collapse when filled.


In Jewish cuisine, challah rolls often stand in for sandwich bread. Brioche buns are an easy swap. Or use sliced loaves of egg bread, sourdough, or challah-style white bread for a satisfying sandwich on the go.


Challah toasts beautifully for bruschetta and crostini. Substitute with a sliced French bread baguette or ciabatta loaf. Look for one with a light, eggy flavor rather than dense and crusty.

Bread Pizzas

Thinly rolled challah dough makes a quick pizza crust. Try baking up mini bread pizzas on naan, pita, or flour tortillas for an easy weeknight meal. Top with sauce and cheese and broil until bubbly.

Choosing the Best Substitute for Your Needs

The type of challah substitute you choose will depend on the recipe requirements:

Substitute Bread Best For
Brioche Recipes that need a super-rich, eggy bread like French toast
Challah-style white bread Sandwiches, toast, or eating plain
Egg bread Bread pudding, stuffing, or absorbing lots of liquid
Sourdough A distinct flavor profile like bruschetta
Multigrain A nutritional boost
White or French bread In a pinch substitution when no challah is available

Consider the taste, texture, moisture level, and purpose of your chosen recipe. Then decide whether an ultra-rich eggy bread or neutral yeasty loaf would work best as your challah stand-in.

How To Make Homemade Challah

For the perfect taste and texture, nothing truly compares to homemade challah. Here is a brief overview of the challah making process:


  • Flour – Bread or high-gluten flour
  • Yeast – Active dry or instant
  • Eggs – Usually 3-5 eggs per loaf
  • Liquid – Water, milk, juice, or honey
  • Sugar – Granulated or honey
  • Salt
  • Fat – Vegetable oil, butter, or oil
  • Egg wash – An extra egg beaten with water to coat the loaf before baking


  1. Proof the yeast by dissolving it in warm liquid.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients like flour, sugar, and salt.
  3. Add the proofed yeast, eggs, oil or melted butter, and remaining liquids.
  4. Mix and knead the dough until smooth and elastic.
  5. Cover and let rise for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.
  6. Punch down and divide into strand pieces. Braid together.
  7. Cover and proof for another 30-60 minutes.
  8. Brush loaves with egg wash.
  9. Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes until deep golden brown.

The process takes some time but yields the most authentic, delicious challah. For added richness, swap water for milk and increase eggs and oil. Try braiding two or three strands together. Top with seeds or spices for variety.

Where To Buy Challah

When buying rather than baking challah, visit one of these sources:

  • Jewish bakeries or delis – The best place to find authentic challah, as it is a traditional Jewish bread.
  • Grocery store bakery – Many large supermarkets now sell fresh-baked loaves labeled as challah.
  • Specialty bakery – Bakeries focusing on artisan bread may offer challah along with other enriched breads.
  • Farmer’s market – Look for bread bakers selling challah and other yeasted breads.
  • Online – A few brands sell par-baked loaves you finish baking at home.

Check the ingredients for hallmarks of challah like eggs, oil, sugar, and honey. Opt for loaves with braided shapes for aesthetics. Buy fresh and eat within a few days or freeze extras to enjoy later.


Challah is one of the most delightful enriched breads, with its tender crumb, sweet flavor, and beautiful braided form. When challah is not available, turns to another eggy, yeast-leavened bread. Brioche, egg bread, or challah-style loaves sold at many grocers can work in most recipes calling for challah. Adjust bake times or add extra eggs and fats as needed. For best results, bake challah from scratch. The heavenly taste and texture are well worth the effort.

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