No Brioche? No Problem. Soft, Sweet Breads to Try

Brioche Substitute

There are so many delicious recipes that you can make with brioche.

Buttery, rich and syrupy French Toast or bread pudding loaded with nuts, raisins and warm spices like cinnamon or nutmeg are just two decadent examples of recipes that shine with the use of brioche bread.

Brioche’s unique combination of tender crumb, buttery richness and slightly sweet flavor make it ideal for many of the most popular breakfast and dessert recipes.

Sometimes though, it’s not always easy to get your hands on a fresh loaf of brioche or maybe you just aren’t a fan of the bread.

Either way, there are several options you could try as a brioche bread substitute that comes close to the texture and taste of the original.

We’ll cover our top picks of options that you can try right away. Although nothing’s like the real thing, our substitutes come close!

1. Challah Bread 

Challah bread is a staple of Jewish cuisine and loosely translated means loaf or cake. However, most challah bread is not sweet or if it is, only slightly and of all the substitutes you could try for brioche, it’s probably the best alternative.

Ingredients Compared to Brioche

Like brioche, challah is made with sugar, yeast, flour, and eggs. It also contains oil (usually canola or other suitable vegetable oil). For religious purposes, challah bread doesn’t contain any dairy products, so if you’re lactose intolerant or vegan, it’s a great choice.

Texture Compared to Brioche

While not as dense as brioche, challah is quite capable of absorbing liquids without you having to worry about the bread losing structure. This makes it ideal for French Toast or bread pudding.

Taste Compared to Brioche

In terms of taste, challah bread is fairly similar since it is made with a large amount of eggs like brioche bread.  

Brioche Challah
Ingredients Sugar, yeast, flour, eggs, dairy Sugar, yeast, flour, eggs, oil
Suitability for Lactose intolerant or vegan No Yes
Texture Dense Not as dense, good liquid absorption
Taste Similar due to eggs Similar due to eggs

2. King’s Hawaiian Bread

While most think of the sweet rolls in the orange packaging in the grocery store as being a gift from the tropics, King’s Hawaiian bread is actually an adapted version of Portuguese sweet bread.

King’s founder, Robert Tiara, lived next door to a Portuguese family and after tasting the bread, immediately fell in love with it. Having been trained as a baker, it didn’t take long for Mr. Tiara to produce a version of the bread that wouldn’t go stale after only a few days.

Over 70 years later, it’s more popular than ever and it just so happens that it can make a great susbstitute for brioche.

Ingredients Compared to Brioche

Like brioche, King’s Hawaiian has eggs, sugar, butter and flour.

Texture Compared to Brioche

King’s Hawaiian bread and rolls are sturdy and are well suited as a substitute in sweet dishes like French Toast or bread pudding.

Taste Compared to Brioche

In terms of taste, the only thing to be aware of is that King’s Hawaiian is somewhat sweet with hints of tropical tang compared to brioche.

Brioche King’s Hawaiian Bread
Ingredients Sugar, eggs, flour, butter Sugar, eggs, flour, butter
Texture Dense Sturdy, good for sweet dishes
Taste Classic bread taste Somewhat sweet with hints of tropical tang

3. Portuguese Sweet Bread (Massa Sovada)

Portuguese sweet bread is traditionally eaten during Christmastime and also during Easter when a variation of it is prepared with in an egg which is known as Folar da Pascoa.

It’s usually prepared as a round loaf or also rolls. In Portugal, it’s typically served plain or with butter.

Ingredients Compared to Brioche

Like brioche, Portuguese Sweet Bread is usually made with sugar, eggs, yeast, flour and milk. Some variations of Portuguese Sweet Bread contain lemon or vanilla, which is not usually found in brioche.

Texture Compared to Brioche

Portuguese Sweet Bread tends to be soft and airy but also fairly sturdy. Since it is a sweet bread, it can work well as a substitute for brioche in bread pudding or French Toast.

Taste Compared to Brioche

Portuguese Sweet Bread is sweeter than brioche so you’ll need to keep that in mind when using it as a substitute.

Brioche Portuguese Sweet Bread
Ingredients Sugar, yeast, flour, eggs, milk Sugar, eggs, yeast, flour, milk, lemon or vanilla
Texture Dense Soft and airy, sturdy, good for sweet dishes
Taste Classic bread taste Sweeter than brioche

4. Pullman Loaf (Sandwich Loaf, Pan Bread or Pain De Mie)

The pullman loaf is a bona fide piece of Americana having first been used in the kitchens of railroad cars. The legend goes a railway operator called the Pullman Company developed special pans for baking bread that would produce bread loaves with square sides.

The benefit of doing this was it maximized the output of bread while keeping the storage of the baking tins to a minimum in the crowded kitchen cars of the train. Not long after this invention, the use of square pans was adopted by bread makers in Europe where the popularity of the crustless bread continued to grow.

Ingredients Compared to Brioche

Like brioche, a pullman loaf contains flour, yeast, sugar, butter, eggs and milk.

Texture Compared to Brioche

Pullman sandwich loaf is lighter and fluffier than brioche but by slicing the bread thicker, this can help compensate for some of the density lost compared to brioche. Even so, pullman loaf should work well with French Toast but not quite as well as brioche for recipes like bread pudding.

Taste Compared to Brioche

The soft crumb texture of the pullman loaf is made even more tempting by its delicate flavor profile. It’s quite neutral compared to the eggy richness of brioche so you will need to consider that when using it as a substitute.

Brioche Pullman Loaf
Ingredients Sugar, yeast, flour, eggs, butter, milk Sugar, yeast, flour, eggs, butter, milk
Texture Dense Lighter and fluffier, can be compensated by slicing bread thicker
Taste Classic bread taste with eggy richness Delicate flavor profile, quite neutral compared to brioche
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