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+ servings
Two sliced challah bread over a wooden serving board.

Parmesan Pesto Challah Bread Recipe

A beautiful braided bread, this challah bread recipe is all you need to make a perfectly fluffy loaf filled with pesto and topped with sesame seeds! So soft on the inside but wonderfully golden on the outside thanks to the egg wash, you'll be wishing you made two loaves!
Course bread
Cuisine Jewish
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Proofing 2 hours 5 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 5 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 173kcal
Author Danielle Wolter


For the Challah

For the Pesto

For the Egg Wash


  • In a large bowl or a bowl of a stand mixer, combine the warm water, 1 tablespoon sugar, and yeast. Whisk to dissolve the yeast. Leave for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
  • Whisk in the remaining sugar, egg, egg yolks, honey, oil, and salt. Slowly add the flour. Knead the dough until smooth with the hook or by hand for 8-10 minutes.
  • Place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until almost doubled in size, about two hours.
  • While challah is rising, make pesto. Pulse basil in a food processor with olive oil until a fine paste. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth. Adjust salt as desired. Set aside.
  • Divide the dough into three pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope. If the ropes shrink as you try to roll them, let them rest for 5 minutes to relax the gluten, and then try again.
  • Flatten each rope and fill with pesto. Seal up each strand, pinch the three strands at one end, and carefully braid.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Carefully transfer challah to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Cover loosely with plastic, then let it stand until soft and fluffy, about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Whisk the egg yolk with water and brush over challah. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.


  1. Don't want to make pesto? Store-bought pesto is perfectly fine.
  2. Be careful to not over knead or add too much flour to the bread as it can cause the loaf to be dense.
  3. Be patient, the dough can take longer to rise if you have a cold kitchen.
  4. Don't have time to wait for the dough to rise? Leave it in the fridge and let it do a slow rise overnight in the fridge.
  5. If your yeast isn't bubbling, it has expired. You'll need new yeast and there isn't anything you can do to fix it.
  6. Water that is too hot will kill your yeast and too cold will not activate your yeast. Be sure to use warm water.


Serving: 1piece | Calories: 173kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 365mg | Potassium: 48mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 286IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 1mg