Cheese Bread Recipe with Spinach Pesto

Recipe Pin
3 hours
28 servings

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As it bakes, this Cheese Bread recipe fills your kitchen with warm, enticing aromas of garlic, oregano, and Feta and Parmesan cheeses! Picture pulling a golden, braided loaf from your oven, with the plush texture of focaccia and stuffed with a zesty spinach and feta pesto. It’s not just bread; it’s a meal-making masterpiece that rises, shines, and turns any dinner into a special occasion. Ready to bake magic?

Spinach pesto garlic bread.

Craving a homemade cheese bread that rises to the occasion? Say hello to your new baking project—a loaf so good it’ll make your oven proud. Picture yourself pulling out a golden, braided masterpiece, its focaccia-like texture begging for a bite. This isn’t just any cheese bread. We’re talking about a yeast dough that’s been rolled, stuffed, and lovingly braided with a punchy spinach pesto; not pesto sauce, but rather a dry pesto that’s made using fresh spinach, garlic, oregano, Parmesan, butter, and a smattering of feta. Give it a second rise, and this bread emerges from your oven looking like a golden ticket, ready to jazz up your meals or steal the show all on its own.

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Imagine pulling a loaf of cheesy garlic bread from your oven, its texture reminiscent of focaccia and your kitchen smelling garlic bread divine. If you are a beginner bread baker, you just may want to read through my method for a fragrant Dutch Oven Beer Bread and also the steps for making THE BEST BURGER ROLLS, also known as Devilish Butlers!

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Why You’ll Love This Recipe!

·         Unique Texture – The focaccia-like crumb is soft and chewy, offering a satisfying bite not found in typical bread recipes. The combination of feta and Parmesan gives a rich, layered cheese flavor irresistible to any cheese enthusiast.
·         Great for Pairing – It pairs beautifully with wines or beers, enhancing your dining experience during special occasions or casual meals.
·         Comfort Food – There’s something undeniably comforting about this homemade bread’s warm, cheesy, and herbaceous flavors.
·         Leftover Potential – This bread remains delicious for days, transforming into great leftovers for sandwiches, toast, or even as a base for other recipes. Imagine it as savory garlic bread, cubed for fondue, or transformed into an epic grilled cheese.


Ingredients In Cheese Bread

This bread is flavored using not one, but two salty cheeses. The remaining intense flavorings are helped along by the use of fresh garlic, salted butter, honey, and dried oregano.

An image displaying all ingredients required to back a cheese bread with spinach, feta, and garlic.
  • Feta Cheese – Choose a milder feta for a subtle flavor or a sharper variety to give the bread a bolder taste. Stay away from crumbled feta and opt for a small block.
  • Parmesan Cheese – This hard, salty cheese adds a nutty depth to the spinach pesto.
  • Fresh Spinach – Key for a fresh, slightly earthy background note in our pesto. Frozen spinach will not work in this method.
  • Dry Oregano – Brings a hint of earthiness that complements the garlic and cheeses beautifully.
  • Fresh Garlic Cloves – Vital for achieving the classic garlic bread taste within our cheese-stuffed bread.
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See recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.

The cheesy crust of a slice of bread.

Variations

  • Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Pesto – Replace the spinach pesto with a sun-dried tomato and basil pesto before rolling for a Mediterranean loaf. This version pairs beautifully with chopped, low-moisture mozzarella.
  • Olives and Rosemary – For those who enjoy a more savory and earthy flavor, mix chopped green olives and fresh rosemary into the dough. Replace feta with a sharper cheese like Asiago to complement the olives’ briny flavor.
  • Caramelized Onion and Gruyère – Add caramelized onions and swap feta and Parmesan for Gruyère cheese to create a sweet and savory bread.
  • Spicy Jalapeño and Cheddar – Add finely chopped jalapeños and sharp cheddar cheese to the dough before rolling. This combination is great for those who appreciate a bit of heat with their cheesy bread.
  • Roasted Garlic and Herb – Intensify the garlic flavor by using roasted garlic instead of raw, and scatter a variety of herbs like thyme, sage, and parsley before rolling. Opt for a milder cheese like shredded Havarti to let the roasted garlic shine through.
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Tip: Choosing Feta

The type of feta can influence the bread’s flavor; pick according to your preference for a sharper or milder cheese bread.


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This recipe has not been tested with other substitutions or variations. If you replace or add any ingredients, please let us know how it turned out in the comments below!

How to Make This Cheese Bread

Images that show the process of weighing ingredients to make cheese bread.

Proof the Yeast and Prep All Ingredients

Step 1. If your oven has a proofing feature, turn it on, or simply use the oven light. Place a sheet of parchment paper long enough to fit your baking sheet on a clean work surface. Set the baking sheet nearby for later. In your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix 1 cup of warm water (95°F to 110°F) with 3 tablespoons of honey until dissolved. Add a packet of active dry yeast (about 5 grams), stir, and let it proof for 10 minutes. You can also do this step in a large mixing bowl if you prefer to knead by hand.

Step 2. Weigh 520 grams of all-purpose flour for accuracy, or measure 4 1/8 cups using the dip and level method. See my NOTES on measuring flour in the bottom of the recipe card.

Step 3. Weigh or measure the feta cheese—120 grams or 2/3 cups divided. You’ll use it twice in this cheese bread recipe: once in the dough and once in the spinach pesto, 60 grams or 1/3 cup for each.

Step 4. Once the yeast is proofed, add 1 egg, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and half the feta to the mixture, crumbling it as you add it. Mix on low for 1 minute to combine everything for your cheese bread recipe.

Images that show the process of mixing ingredients to make cheese bread.

Assemble the Dough and Pesto

Step 5. Add all the flour at once and start mixing on low. As the dough kneads and forms a ball, it will pull away from the sides of the mixer. Once it forms a cohesive ball, stop the mixer, detach the dough hook, and cover the bowl with a damp cloth. Place it in the oven to let it rise for 1 hour.

Step 6. Weigh or measure 300 grams or 2 1/2 cups of fresh spinach, using both leaves and stems for no waste. Place the spinach on a large cutting board and chop finely for the pesto.

Step 7. Melt 15 grams or 1 tablespoon of butter in a large non-stick pan and then turn off the heat. Add 3 roughly chopped garlic cloves, 30 grams or 3 tablespoons of Parmesan, a few hefty pinches of dried oregano, and the remaining feta, crumbled, into the pan. Use a bench scraper to transfer the finely chopped spinach into the pan. Stir with a spatula to coat the spinach. This is a DRY pesto, so unlike traditional pesto sauce. Set aside.

Step 8. Next, flour the work surface next to your parchment paper. Scrape the dough onto the floured area and roll it into a 15 x 22-inch rectangle. Its shape doesn’t need to be perfect but use a ruler to ensure accurate dimensions.

Images that show the process of shaping the dough to make cheese bread.

Form a Loaf, Rise and Bake

Step 9. Spread the spinach pesto evenly across the dough. Start at one long side and roll it up snugly, like a rug, without tightening too much. Pinch the ends to seal. Then, using a sharp kitchen knife, slice the rolled dough lengthwise to create two long ropes, preparing it for the next steps.

Step 10. Center the two dough ropes on the parchment paper (leaving grabbable parchment at both ends), pesto sides up. Pinch together and tuck the ends under to start. Alternately cross the ropes over one another, keeping the spinach pesto side up. Adjust by gently shaping the dough into a stubby twist or braid. Your final loaf should measure about 15 inches, give or take, slightly shorter than your baking sheet. Carefully move the parchment and dough onto the baking sheet. Allow it to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Step 11. Preheat your oven to 375°F. The braided effect may be distorted due to the second rise, but the dough is structured to bake mimicking focaccia. If the dough is mis-shaped, use a bench scraper to push in gently and straighten the sides. Whisk an egg in a small bowl, then brush it over the loaf using a pastry brush. Finish by sprinkling with 30 grams or 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese over the top.

Step 12. Bake the loaf in a fully pre-heated oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and very aromatic. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool slightly before slicing.

Sliced cheesy bread on a wood cutting board.

Complementary Recipes and Pairings

  • This cheese bread pairs wonderfully with tomato soup, serves as a robust partner to a charcuterie board, can be sliced for crostini, used as a base for a decadent sandwich, or simply enjoyed alongside a crisp Caesar salad.
  • Wine Pairings – A full-bodied Chardonnay or a light Pinot Noir complements the rich flavors of the bread.
  • Beer Pairings – Opt for a creamy stout or a balanced pale ale to enhance the cheesy goodness.

Jenny’s Pro Tips

  • Optimal Proofing Temperature – For the best rise, ensure your proofing environment is warm but not too hot. A consistent temperature around 75°F is ideal.
  • Evenly Distributing Ingredients – When adding your spinach pesto or any filling to the dough, make sure it’s spread evenly to prevent any areas from becoming too bulky.
  • Scoring the Dough – Before applying the egg wash, consider lightly scoring the top of your dough with a sharp knife. This not only adds a professional touch but also helps control the expansion of the loaf as it bakes, preventing cracks and ensuring a more uniform shape.

FAQs When Baking Cheese Bread

How do I achieve a soft yet crispy crust baking cheese bread?

Bake the bread uncovered on a baking sheet or in a suitable dish without wrapping it in foil. This method helps achieve a crispy texture on the outside while keeping the inside soft.

Can I prepare the dough for cheese bread in advance?

Yes, you can prepare the dough ahead of time. In fact, you can freeze the dough after shaping it. When ready to use, let it thaw overnight in the fridge, then proceed with the final proof and baking.

Can I use different types of cheese in the bread?

Yes, you can customize the cheese based on your preference. Milder cheeses like fontina or goat cheese are recommended because they allow the garlic flavor to stand out.

More Homemade Bread Recipes to Embrace!

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After trying this recipe, I would love to hear your thoughts! Consider leaving a star rating in the recipe card located below or sharing your feedback in the comment section. Your reviews and comments are highly valued and appreciated.

Cheese Bread Recipe with Spinach Pesto

Jenny DeRemer
As it bakes, this Cheese Bread recipe fills your kitchen with warm, enticing aromas of garlic, oregano, and Feta and Parmesan cheeses!
No ratings yet
Servings: 28 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Double Rise Times, 1 Hour Each 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours
Course Bread
Cuisine American, Southern
Servings 28 servings
Calories 180 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 

  • 1 cup water warm; between 95°F to 110°F
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2/3 cups (120 grams) feta cheese halved; cut from a block and not feta crumbles
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
  • 4 1/8 cups (520 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 packet (5 grams) active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups (300 grams) spinach fresh, well chopped leaves and stems
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) butter salted; melted
  • 3 cloves garlic rough-chopped
  • 6 tablespoons (60 grams) parmesan cheese halved; grated
  • 1 large pinch oregano dried

Instructions
 

  • Activate your oven's proofing feature or just use the oven light. Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit a large baking sheet. Lay the parchment on a clean surface and place the baking sheet nearby. In a stand mixer with a dough hook, combine 1 cup of warm water and 3 tablespoons of honey; give it a quick stir. Add 1 sachet (5 grams) of active dry yeast, stir, and let it proof for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can mix and knead by hand in a large mixing bowl.
    1 cup water, 3 tablespoons honey, 1 packet (5 grams) active dry yeast
  • Weigh 520 grams for precise measurement or measure 4 1/8 cups of all-purpose flour using the spoon and level method. See my NOTES on measuring flour below.
    4 1/8 cups (520 grams) all-purpose flour
  • Measure 120 grams or 2/3 cups of feta cheese, halved. You will use 60 grams or 1/3 cup in the dough and the same amount in the spinach pesto.
    2/3 cups (120 grams) feta cheese
  • Once the yeast is proofed, add 1 egg, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and half the feta, crumbling it as you add it. Mix on low for 1 minute.
    2 large eggs, 1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) Kosher salt, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
  • Add all the flour to the mixer and mix on low. Once the dough forms a cohesive ball and pulls away from the sides, stop mixing, remove the dough hook, and cover the bowl with a damp cloth. Let it rise in the oven for 1 hour.
  • Measure or weigh 300 grams (2 1/2 cups) of fresh spinach, using both leaves and stems. Chop finely on a large cutting board for the pesto.
    2 1/2 cups (300 grams) spinach
  • Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large non-stick pan, then turn off the heat. Transfer finely chopped spinach, 3 chopped garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons (30 grams) of Parmesan, dried oregano, and remaining feta (crumbling it as you add it) into the pan. Stir to coat for a dry spinach pesto. Remove from burner and set aside.
    1 tablespoon (15 grams) butter, 3 cloves garlic, 6 tablespoons (60 grams) parmesan cheese, 1 large pinch oregano
  • Flour the work surface next the parchment. Roll the dough into a 15 x 22-inch rectangle, using a ruler for accuracy. The shape does not need to be perfect, but the size is important.
  • Spread spinach pesto evenly on the dough. Roll from one long side, snugly but not too tight, and pinch ends to seal. Use a sharp knife to cut the roll lengthwise into two long ropes.
  • Center the two dough ropes on parchment, ensuring space at the ends. Pinch together first, then tuck the ends under to start. Alternately cross the ropes, keeping pesto side up. Shape into a twist or braid about 15 inches long. Transfer to the baking sheet and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Preheat your oven to 375°F. Although the braided pattern may look distorted given the rise, it's designed for a finished bake that mimics focaccia's texture. Whisk the remaining egg, then brush it over the loaf, and top with the remaining 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese for a golden crust.
    2 large eggs, 6 tablespoons (60 grams) parmesan cheese
  • Bake the loaf at 375°F for 40 to 50 minutes until golden brown and aromatic. Once baked, transfer it to a wire rack to cool slightly before slicing.

Notes

Storing Leftovers – After baking, if you have leftovers, wrap the loaf tightly in plastic film and place in the fridge. The loaf will last for 2-3 days. Makes GREAT toast!
Freezing – For longer storage, you can wrap the leftover fully baked bread in foil and freeze it for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, simply thaw and slice to enjoy.
Make Ahead – Prepare the dough and shape it. Freeze after wrapping and placing inside freezer-safe bag. When ready to use, let it thaw overnight in the fridge, then proceed with the final proof and baking.
How to Measure Flour – For precise baking results, using a kitchen scale to weigh flour is most reliable, as it avoids the common issue of overpacking seen with volume measurements. If using volume, the spoon and level method is recommended: spoon flour into the measuring cup and level off the excess with a flat edge to prevent compaction. Avoid dipping the measuring cup directly into the flour container to prevent unintentional excess and ensure more consistent outcomes.

The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.

Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 180kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 7gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.02gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 176mgPotassium: 169mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 2062IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 95mgIron: 2mg
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