15 Christmas Breads You'll Want to Bake Throughout the Holiday Season   

Celebrate the season with homemade breads including stollen, panettone, cinnamon buns, gingerbread, and other festive treats.

chocolate cinnamon swirl bread
Photo: Con Poulos

Christmas bread has a lot of different interpretations. The most traditional iterations involve sugar and spice, and often—but not always—yeast, and ultimately have strong cultural associations and country ties. Consider German stollen, Greek Christopsomo, Italian panettone, and Mexican three kings bread (and its French pastry-equivalent galette des rois).

One thing we can all agree on is that Christmas bread is celebratory, whether or not we observe the holiday. In the spirit of seasonal cravings (as well as good will and sharing!), we gathered our best breads to bake at Christmas, ranging from iconic recipes to festive tear-and-shares—with a flurry of quicker loaves that use baking powder when you don't have time to watch the (yeasted) buns rise for good measure.

01 of 15


iced christmas bread

Densely delicious, stollen is studded with dried fruits and candied citrus peel and fragrant with almonds. This version from Martha's mom is braided, allowing frosting to pool in every decadent crevice.

02 of 15


Bryan Gardner

We can't resist buttery panettone (who could eat just one slice?). This iconic Italian sweet bread is made from the ultimate enriched dough.

03 of 15


christmas bread

Scented with orange zest and anise, the yeasted Greek bread Christopsomo translates as "bread of Christ" and is sometimes decorated with an X (for a Christian cross). X is the first letter in the Greek word for Christ and was used as an early abbreviation—hence X-mas.

04 of 15

Yeasted Cheese and Sour Cherry Coffee Cake

coffee cake

Sure, it's called cake but it's leavened with yeast and it eats like an enriched breakfast bread, conjuring visions of the best kind of cheese Danish. A filling of sour cherries and cream cheese strikes the perfect balance.

05 of 15

Cinnamon Rolls

cinnamon rolls
Lennart Weibull

Our inviting cinnamon rolls are made extra-fluffy with the addition of mashed potatoes. A cream cheese frosting means that they are essential holiday breakfast food.

06 of 15

Almond Berry Coffee Cake

almond berry coffee cake
Courtesy of James Merrell

When you don't have time for yeast, this raspberry-inflected batter makes a very convincing sweet loaf. The raspberries (you can use frozen) offer a sweet tartness for the dark blackberry jam and addictive streusel topping.

07 of 15

Chocolate Kugelhopf

rustic dessert bread
Courtesy of Chris Court

There are as many spellings as there are variations on this theme of a sweet, yeasted bread baked with plumped up raisins and flaked almonds. This version adds chocolate and we just think it is delightful when toasted.

08 of 15

Marzipan Stollen

marzipan stollen
Bryan Gardner

With a marzipan heart and fruit soaked in Cognac, this luxurious stollen can be enjoyed for many days. Slice it thinly and accompany each piece with strong cups of coffee.

09 of 15

Swedish Cardamom Rolls

morning buns
Lennart Weibull

The deeply aromatic combination of ground cardamom and orange zest makes these tender and sweet Swedish buns, glazed with honey and butter, mouthwatering.

10 of 15

Coffee Cake Crown

coffee cake bread

In Scandinavian countries, yeasted breads and buns flavored by warm saffron are baked to celebrate St Lucy's day on December 13th. Shaped into a crown, the lightly sweetened breakfast bread is a holiday favorite.

11 of 15

Apple Honey Challah


Challah is a deliciously eggy Jewish bread and symbol of sweet things to come. Adding apples and honey makes the fluffy, tearable bread extra-good.

12 of 15

Garlic Herb Dinner Roll Wreath

dinner roll wreath
Chris Simpson

Who said Christmas bread has to be sweet? Savory garlic and herb dinner rolls shaped into a wreath are perfect for the holiday table.

13 of 15

Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl Bread

chocolate cinnamon swirl bread
Con Poulos

It's the holidays! It's okay to be decadent. Chocolate is not paired often enough with evocative cinnamon, and in this decadent filling for a braided, babka-inspired bread, the combination is divine.

14 of 15

Brioche à Tête

brioche a tete

Butter-rich brioche is the purist's breakfast bread. This is just right for a discrete dunk into coffee on Christmas morning, but consider serving it with fresh fruit, whipped cream, good butter, and preserves, too. Any leftovers will make the best French toast, ever.

15 of 15

Chocolate-Swirl Gingerbread

chocolate bread brownie

Singing with spices (the necessary ginger, as well as black pepper and cloves), this molasses and chocolate-inflected gingerbread is baked in a sheet pan, and ready in just 30 minutes.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles