September 4, 2013

Vegan Challah

by IsaChandra

Makes 2 really big loaves
Total time: 3 hours || Active time: 45 minutes

Vegan Challah

In some ways, Jewish cuisine is the ultimate comfort food. Even the words can be comfort to my ears; matzoh, babka, cholent. Ahhhh. On the other hand, vegans aren’t exactly clamoring for gefilte fish recipes. But no one will argue with a bowl of matzoh ball soup or some fresh baked challah. I know I wouldn’t!

As a vegan, you get a lot of questions. And most of them I like to answer. Except two. The first being: if you were stuck on a desert island with only a cow, blah blah blah. And the second. Grrr, the second!

“What foods do you miss?”

Nails on a chalkboard! I guess, my main gripe, is that it is so besides the point. Let’s talk about all of the wonderful things we do eat. Sacrifice has never entered the equation for me. In fact, I even have a little rule for myself; if I ever feel like I’m missing something so greatly I can’t stand it, I can go ahead and eat it. And guess what? I’ve never had to use it!

I think there are two reasons. Firstly, being vegan isn’t a diet. Not for me. It’s my belief system. And unless some day I decide that it’s okay to eat my cat, I won’t be eating animals any time soon.

Secondly, let’s have some perspective. Even a vegan in the most rural area of America has about a million more choices than a huge majority of earth’s population. And I don’t mean to get all global about it, but damn I’m a vegan and a Jew and that’s what we do.

So there really isn’t much that I “miss.” I mean, yes, I wish life was more convenient on the road. I wish that I had a gazillion vegan ice cream parlors on my block. (I also wish that Bobby Flay would bring me breakfast in bed every morning.) However, I can’t really say I miss any of that.

But [dramatic blogger pause]

I miss challah.

I miss challah so bad. I’m only human! But it isn’t any old challah, it’s the kind I grew up with. Not fresh baked at home, but from any number of the Jewish bakeries deep in the heart of Brooklyn. My family were not the types to make their own, and why should we; does anyone make better challah than Leon’s Bake Shop in Marine Park? Lines were long, cookies were by the pound, everything was tied together with a humble string in a humble box, because what counted was inside.

And the challah. Oh, the challah!

So fluffy and doughy. So cuddly and perfect that it even looks like a hug. Fun to say, fun to eat and such an inviting golden amber with that gorgeous yolky yellow poking through.

But honestly, even if Leon’s weren’t long gone, I’d still want to create my own vegan version. And this one satisfies every nook and cranny of my memory. The original idea to use bananas was actually from an old user-submitted recipe on the website, but it’s undergone a million alterations in the past decade or so. The end result is..challah! Crusty and toasty on the outside, buttery and soft inside, and, yes, that beautiful yolky yellow.

What gives this challah its, uh, challyness, is a few factors. For the color, a little turmeric does the trick. Don’t worry, you can’t taste it! Coconut oil is the magic that brings butteriness. And bananas add a slight sweetness, as well as standing in for the leavening of the eggs, producing a beautiful puffy loaf. It’s a modern miracle!

I hope you’ll give these loaves a shot! They’re definitely a bit of work for a special occasion, but they are so very worth it, whether you grew up with challah or not. Shana tova, everyone!

Recipe Notes

~ The bananas don’t taste make the challah taste banana-y exactly. They’re really just replacing the eggs for texture. I don’t know why bananas work…but they do. Make sure yours are nice and over-ripe, with plenty of black spots.

~ Making a braid isn’t hard, but definitely youtube “3-strand challah braid” if that part scares you. I know, it’s so lazy for me to tell you to look it up. But really, a video is going to help more than my writing will. I also made this silly little video on Instagram, which is probably not helpful at all.

~ Instead of egg wash, we’re glazing the bread with a mix of maple syrup and non-dairy milk. It’s a little tip I picked up from the fabulous cookbook Voluptuous Vegan. It doesn’t get quite as shiny as an egg wash, but it gets the job done.

~ This works well in a large stand mixer, if you’d prefer!

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup refined coconut oil
1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup warm water
1 additional tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons dry active yeast

2 very overripe bananas

7 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
1 tablespoon salt

For brushing:
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons plain non-dairy milk (I used almond)
2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Add water and turmeric to a small sauce pot. Bring to a boil. Keep an eye so that it doesn’t boil too long and evaporate. Immediately turn off the heat. Add the coconut oil and 1/2 cup sugar to the pot, and stir to melt coconut oil. You want the mixture to cool so that it isn’t hot to the touch, but is still warm. So let it sit while you work on the rest of the recipe.

In a very large mixing bowl, mix together the warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar. Sprinkle in the yeast and set aside to get all yeasty. Note: make sure that the mixing bowl is large enough to hold all of the flour and additional ingredients for this recipe, because this is where you’ll be mixing everything.

In a separate bowl, mash the bananas very well, until they appear pureed. The coconut oil mixture should be cooled enough now, so proceed with the recipe.

Add the mashed banana to the yeast bowl, along with the coconut oil mixture. Give a stir just to combine. Begin adding the flour a cup at a time, adding the salt along with the first cup. Mix after each addition, and begin to knead with your hands when a dough starts to form. Once all 7 cups have been added, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter, and begin to knead like crazy for 10 minutes or so, or until dough is nice and smooth. Add up to another 1/2 cup of flour as needed, until the dough is no longer tacky. Form dough into a ball.

Clean the mixing bowl, and lightly grease it with some canola oil. Add the ball of dough, spinning it into the bowl to get it lightly coated in oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and set aside to rise for about an hour and a half. It should double in size.

Grease two baking sheets and set them aside. Also, make sure you have plenty of space for rolling out the ropes to create the braids.

When dough has doubled, punch it down, knead lightly and divide in half. Take one half and divide it into thirds. Roll each third into a long rope, 18 inches or so.

Now place the three ropes on the baking sheet the long way, and…braid! Pinch the ends together to form butts.

Ok, now create the second loaf in the same way. Let the loaves rise for about 30 minutes. They should get nice and puffy. No need to cover them for this part.

When loaves have risen, preheat oven to 375 F. Mix together maple syrup and milk in a small container. Brush loaves with the mixture and sprinkle with poppyseeds.

Bake breads on separate racks for about 40 minutes, rotating the pans between racks halfway through. Bread should be browned and golden outside. If you tap them, they should sound hollow.

Let cool for a bit, maybe 30 minutes or so, and then they are ready to slice and serve! I love them warm and doughy like that.

If not using immediately, wrap well in plastic and keep stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

  • September 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm: Karen

    Hurray, Isa! I can’t wait to try this next week for Shabbat. Do you think ripe bananas that have been hanging out in the freezer would work okay, or are those better saved for regular ol’ banana bread?

  • September 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm: choirqueer

    Everything about this post made me so happy I pretty much broke my face smiling. Thanks for breaking my face, Isa.

    • September 4, 2013 at 9:24 pm: IsaChandra


  • September 4, 2013 at 5:31 pm: Abby @ The Frosted Vegan

    This is bloowwwwing my mind, you go!!

  • September 4, 2013 at 5:38 pm: Patricia Sjöberg

    L’shana tova, Isa! A happy year of vegan baking and cooking lies ahead!

  • September 4, 2013 at 5:41 pm: Ashley

    My oven isn’t big enough for two cookie sheets. Can I make one and let the other sit or will that mess with the fluffiness? Or can I halve the recipe?

    • September 4, 2013 at 6:00 pm: IsaChandra

      I would make one, let the other stay in a ball. Then while one is baking, form the other braid and let it rise. Then bake the second!

  • September 4, 2013 at 5:46 pm: Jenny

    I can’t adequately convey how grateful I am for this recipe. I’ve been making vegan challah for years, but it never seemed quite right… SO excited to try this.

  • September 4, 2013 at 6:00 pm: rachel

    now to make vegan challah bread french toast!

    • September 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm: IsaChandra


  • September 4, 2013 at 6:05 pm: Liz

    Thank you, Isa, thank you! As Foreigner said, “I’ve been waiting, for a girl like you…to bring me a vegan challah recipe…” And now you have!!! Shana Tovah!

    • September 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm: IsaChandra


  • September 4, 2013 at 6:11 pm: Lori MacDonald

    “Happy Rosh Hashana”, thank you for the recipe:)

  • September 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm: Ellie

    So excited! I’m not Jewish, but grew up in an area with a large Jewish population–we got the High Holidays off school and would babysit for little Jewish kiddos during the services–and we always had Challah there! I can taste it now. If only my bananas weren’t so stubbornly green, I’d be making this tonight!

  • September 4, 2013 at 6:27 pm: Bren

    So excited to make this! The *one* thing I ever think about sometimes is my Mom’s brisket.

    I’ve tried and failed a few times to come up with something that at least approaches it’s melt in my mouth flavour. Which is silly, because my big rule on successful faux vegan stuff is that it should never be a replacement, it should be something that works just as well (or preferably better) in the same situation. I don’t need a fake rubber hotdog at a family BBQ, so I make something that tastes great, cooks on the bbq and fits nicely in a hotdog bun. But I still can’t resist trying to shoot for a reasonable brisket replacer.

    • September 4, 2013 at 6:32 pm: IsaChandra

      I totally understand. I feel the same way, it’s hard to make a melt-in-your-mouth vegan meat. But we shouldn’t stop trying! There’s fun in that.

  • September 4, 2013 at 6:39 pm: Tracy

    Listen, it’s pretty often you write a post and I consider commenting “we must be sisters somehow”! The way you treat food is how I believe it should be treated. The way you flavor food speaks to my heart. Ad your explanation here to the question of what you miss-I could not have articulated it better. It’s just the way I feel. I love food! And I love the connection I feel to others who love it as I do. Thank you for doing what you do. You are appreciated! And bread? Nothing but love.

    • September 4, 2013 at 7:49 pm: IsaChandra

      Thanks, sis.

  • September 4, 2013 at 6:39 pm: Emma

    Firstly, love your attitude on veganism :) Secondly, challah!! Fantastic! I’m not Jewish but my family all loved challah and there was a local place which made a great one so I grew up eating it :) Excited to have it back in my life.

  • September 4, 2013 at 6:49 pm: Alissa

    Thank you so much for this!!! Will be making a round one tomorrow :)

  • September 4, 2013 at 6:55 pm: Whitney

    This looks delicious! I am new to the vegan lifestyle (made the switch due to a long list of food allergies). So far I have had a lot of success with many of your recipes and I will definitely be trying it this weekend!

  • September 4, 2013 at 6:59 pm: Kristina

    I am so looking forward to trying this. Have never had the non-vegan version, so I won’t have anything to compare it to, but from the description and from things I have heard over the years, I really am excited to try this!!

  • September 4, 2013 at 7:06 pm: Liz

    Isa, can this be made as a round challah?

    • September 4, 2013 at 7:49 pm: IsaChandra


  • September 4, 2013 at 7:22 pm: Kiran @

    Beautiful loaf of challah.. Love the braiding :)

  • September 4, 2013 at 7:30 pm: Dawn

    One day, I will figure out how to deglutenize this. I realize that’s a possibly a pipe dream, but it’s my pipe dream. It’s gorgeous!!!

  • September 4, 2013 at 7:59 pm: Mel

    I’m going to try this recipe this weekend. And I would actually love a vegan gefilte fish recipe! I’m probably a total weirdo, but I always loved that stuff.

  • September 4, 2013 at 8:05 pm: Rachel

    All I have on hand is virgin coconut oil. Is this still okay to use? I’m very excited to try this!

    • September 4, 2013 at 9:22 pm: IsaChandra

      It will taste coconutty, I think.

  • September 4, 2013 at 8:21 pm: Randi (laughfrodisiac)

    Yessss! Thanks! Can’t wait to try this. I’m nervous about the bananas and coconut oil (for some reason, my family can always tell when I’ve used them in anything) but I trust you of course. Happy New Year!

  • September 4, 2013 at 8:59 pm: Lauren Krohn

    Looks gorgeous and is quite literally making my mouth water. I know you get a million “can I replace this with…” and I swore that wouldn’t be me, but the one food in the vegan universe I can’t eat is the banana. Do you think a flaxseed replacer would work instead/ silken tofu? This fellow vegan brooklyn jew wants her vegan challah!

    • September 4, 2013 at 9:22 pm: IsaChandra

      Can you try sweet potato? Someone else made that suggestion on my Instagram. 1/2 cup pureed cooked sweet potato.

  • September 4, 2013 at 9:43 pm: Sarah

    Thank you for not putting tofu in it! gonna make it this week…cool weather makes you need warm bread!

  • September 4, 2013 at 9:57 pm: SM

    sounds lovely.
    how about adding saffron to get the yellow…

  • September 4, 2013 at 10:47 pm: Jenn

    O.M.G. This is Friday’s post-RH services pre-Shabbat project! Shanah tovah!!

  • September 4, 2013 at 10:51 pm: Rivkee

    I wish I’d seen this yesterday. Well, there’s always Succot.
    Shanah Tovah!

    • September 4, 2013 at 11:17 pm: IsaChandra

      Yes, it’s hard to time correctly for the holidays. But yes, challah for yom kippur? Or Hannukah?

  • September 4, 2013 at 11:08 pm: Esa SM

    Ooh, Leon’s! Now I’m extra psyched to make this recipe!!

  • September 4, 2013 at 11:33 pm: Tom

    Your mentioning Leon’s brought back great memories. Their challah was legend (and their chocolate cake!!).
    Thanks for all the recipes, I don’t feel I’ve lost anything either being vegan (except the guilt).

  • September 5, 2013 at 2:06 am: AllisonDubya

    Definitely doing this for hanukkah, but will probably make it much, much sooner! I’m not Jewish, but my husband and inlaws are, and I’ve had real Challah and have made vegan challahs in the past, but man, this looks ah-freakin-mazing! We’re going to get together at the end of the month to celebrate all the holidays since schedules are crazy, and I think I need to time it out so I have some overripe bananas. Thanks for the amazingness, Isa! So excited! :-)

  • September 5, 2013 at 2:16 am: Melanie


    Is there any reason why I can’t half the recipe and just make one loaf?

    • September 5, 2013 at 4:06 am: IsaChandra

      Nope, do it! I just figure, the second loaf isn’t much more work so I do two.

  • September 5, 2013 at 4:07 am: Jessi C

    Isa, I am so happy to have this recipe. I am a huge fan and you keep making me more fanatic (in a total chill noncreepy way)!

    But I can’t imagine that I’m the only one who dreams of gefilte fish! Maybe you could help us out in time for pesach?

    • September 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm: IsaChandra

      Oddly, I’ve gotten a few requests for a gefilte recipe since putting this up. But NOT IT!!! Haha.

  • September 5, 2013 at 3:25 pm: Hanna

    Oye…another receipie for multiple loaves. Just two people here and no bowls big enough to hold 7+ cups of flour etc. Just once I’d like to not have to use math… other than that…looks great.

    • September 5, 2013 at 4:40 pm: IsaChandra

      Dude, just halve it. Sheesh.

  • September 5, 2013 at 6:00 pm: Lauren Krohn

    Isa- thanks so much for the sweet potato substitution idea! (and thank you instagram reader/viewer) L’shanah tovah!

  • September 6, 2013 at 4:13 am: Amanda B

    It is unbelievable. It’s been verified by 20 non-vegan jews. Two uneaten store bought loaves sat beside it crying for attention. You make me happy.

    • September 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm: IsaChandra


  • September 6, 2013 at 9:07 am: india

    Until today I hadn’t even heard about challah! AND now I miss challah too. Thank God you came up with a vegan recipe so I didn’t have to yearn for it for too long!

    • September 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm: IsaChandra

      “AND now I miss challah too” Cute!

  • September 6, 2013 at 10:51 am: Adriana

    Has anyone tried making this with gluten free flour? Friend of mine has a daughter who is now dairy, gluten and egg free and is desperate for a good challah recipe. I shall give it a go using gluten free flour, but if anyone else has attempted this, please let me know. Thanks.

  • September 6, 2013 at 12:09 pm: Minatomachi

    My family used to make houska. This bread is similar, so I’ll be happy to try it!

  • September 6, 2013 at 10:57 pm: Gale Feldman

    This looks so delicious, Isa!!! Not being a baker, I have what might be a silly question. Would it totally trash the recipe to swap out regular flour for something whole grain – like spelt, whole wheat, etc.? Do you think it would make it too heavy? Regardless, I’ll have to try making it anyway! (Oh – let’s just be honest. I’ll have to try…sweettalking my hubby who does not have an intimate relationship with the smoke alarm…into making it. ;) )

    • September 7, 2013 at 3:30 am: IsaChandra

      It would definitely make it heavy and un-challah like. And spelt doesn’t have enough gluten to make this recipe work properly. You might end up with a nice whole grain loaf, just not challah.

  • September 7, 2013 at 3:21 am: Julia

    Oh my god. I used unrefined coconut oil, and this was still SO good. I halved the recipe since there aren’t enough people here to eat two loaves of bread quickly enough, and everything was perfect.

    Tip: if your bananas aren’t ripe enough, put them in the oven at like 150 F for an hour or so (just check it frequently), and they will ripen. This is a very exciting trick that I just learned.

  • September 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm: Debra

    I made this last night. It was absolutely delicious and looked amazing! Great instructions, easy to follow. Going to make some vegan French toast with it this morning. Thank you!

  • September 7, 2013 at 10:51 pm: Anita

    Thank you! I just made 3 round loaves (my first attempt at Challa in a century and a half!). They are so perfect! I made one plain, one raisin and one smaller with apples & raisins like my Grandma used to do. Shana Tova Isa, & Mituka for sure!!!!

  • September 7, 2013 at 11:39 pm: Beata

    Challah, or as we used to call it ” chałka”, my Polish childhood – must try this one, thank you :)

  • September 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm: VictoriaT

    Isa you are magnificent! I am beyond excited to make this and then French Toast, Monte Cristos and a thousand other treats. Wondering if you think this bread would freeze well? I

  • September 8, 2013 at 12:46 pm: VictoriaT

    Isa you are magnificent! I am beyond excited to make this and then French Toast, Monte Cristos and a thousand other treats. Wondering if you think this bread would freeze well?

    • September 8, 2013 at 8:46 pm: IsaChandra

      I hope so because I have some frozen, too!

  • September 8, 2013 at 9:35 pm: BettyG

    I’ve not tried the recipe yet, BUT I did want to chime in and say that a nice vegan way to get a shiny finish is to do a starch wash after the bread comes out of the oven. Boil some corn starch (say a 1tblsp) with some water (say 1/3 cup) and brush that on the still hot loaf.

  • September 9, 2013 at 9:20 pm: Stephen Lukas

    As a nice German Lutheran gentile teenager growing up in Toronto’s Jewish area, we lived next door to a plaza with the quintessential Jewish bakery. We noshed challah by the boatload: as in, stuffed our faces. I miss challah too. I have all your books. I bake all your stuff. And now I will bake this too. I’ll probably call in sick and bake it tomorrow. Then I’ll eat it. All of it. Then I’ll call in sick the day after too. An inspiring recipe, and particularly inspiring words about “vegan is your value system.” Agreed. In spades. Big smooch from this Halifax faygala.

  • September 10, 2013 at 4:51 am: chels

    what what! vegan challah! this means vegan challah french toast, dude! also… your writing makes me laugh. I love your blog for realz.

  • September 10, 2013 at 2:37 pm: Jules

    For anyone looking to make one loaf but who does not enjoy math, here is the ingredient list with all amounts halved:

    3/4 cup water
    1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
    1/4 cup refined coconut oil
    1/4 cup sugar

    2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. warm water
    1/2 additional tablespoon sugar
    1 1/4 tablespoons dry active yeast

    1 very overripe banana

    3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
    1/2 tablespoon salt

    For brushing:
    1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
    1 tablespoon plain non-dairy milk (I used almond)
    1 teaspoon poppy seeds

    • September 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm: IsaChandra

      You are a hero among men :)

  • September 11, 2013 at 1:11 am: Katlynn

    Hi Isa! I was really sad for awhile because I thought I wouldn’t be able to bake my famous yummy yeast breads for my vegan boyfriend… and then you posted this recipie! the challah is in the oven right now and I will be making it again in a week when I see my boyfriend… thank you so much!
    P.S. what is the egg/banana substitute ratio so I can do that with other favorite recipies? and what about a good butter substitute for baking? thanks so much!

  • September 11, 2013 at 2:05 am: Jill

    Well I never knew refined coconut oil was a thing, so I used the regular stuff from Trader Joe. I now call this Tropical Challah and am happy eating it all day long. It was especially fun to make the braid Shana Tova, Ms. PPK.

  • September 11, 2013 at 7:45 pm: emma

    hi Isa, if i made this with spelt flour would it still work/ somewhat taste like challah? thanks!

    • September 11, 2013 at 9:29 pm: IsaChandra

      Not really , sorry!

  • September 12, 2013 at 5:38 pm: Marcella

    My son’s preschool celebrates Shabbat every Thursday with challah that he can’t eat- thanks for giving me a recipe I can make for him to bring to school so he can participate!

  • September 12, 2013 at 11:22 pm: Rachel

    OMG!!!! this is ammmaaazzzinnngggg!!!! Seriously satisfied every challah craving I’ve had over the past decade. You rock.

  • September 13, 2013 at 11:20 am: Rachel

    Would this work with whole wheat?

  • September 13, 2013 at 12:03 pm: Sylvan

    This Texas Pagan girl just made Challah at 4am (insomnia FTW!) and having eaten half a loaf inside of 20 minutes just standing in the kitchen, I can say with authority that this stuff is MAGIC.

    Since my BFF usually eats at least some of my baked goods and she’s allergic to bananas, I went with 1/2 cup pumpkin (it’s what I had), and it turned out beautifully. I did notice that my loaves got done a lot faster than 40 minutes, but my oven is kind of schizo so it was probably running hot.

    As always, Isa is my hero.

  • September 13, 2013 at 4:34 pm: Kate

    Sometimes when you halve a recipe, you need to use a little more than 1/2 the yeast. Yeast is a bit like that. With two teenager boys in the house, I don’t often have to halve recipes these days :) . So, if you halve the recipe, might want to add a little extra yeast (or give the yeast a little extra time to grow).

  • September 15, 2013 at 8:49 pm: Tanja

    Hurray! One thing I’d have to give up is pulla – challah’s Finnish cousin, and similar other eggy Scandinavian breads. I doubled the sugar and added a tablespoon of lightly crushed cardamom seeds to the dough, and shaped them into 16 little round rolls. Fantastic! Next time I’m going to use saffron instead of turmeric, and add sultanas to make Lucia buns. You have really made my year!

  • September 15, 2013 at 9:02 pm: Jessie

    WOW!! I made this for a break fast celebration last night (for Yom Kippur) and it was incredible! Everyone (primarily non-vegans) loved it and couldn’t get enough. It really tastes just like challah! Thank you thank you for this!

  • September 15, 2013 at 9:25 pm: Rachel

    Would it make 4 smaller loaves? How long do you think it would need to cook?

  • September 16, 2013 at 2:10 am: Rachel

    Isa, I’ve read your blog for three years, and — as much as I hate to disparage my old faithfuls, spaghetti no’s and mango fried rice — this was seriously the best post yet. It was just so charming — I couldn’t quit smiling that guilty sort of smile you get when you take too deep a swig of a really bubbly champagne and can’t quite get it down with finesse. Happy new year yo.

  • September 17, 2013 at 2:04 am: Shannon

    I’m not Jewish and I’ve never actually eaten challah bread before. But I made this today and it is a big hit! Delicious! Thank you for making me realize I need challah in my life. :)

  • September 18, 2013 at 6:54 am: steph

    Will you please please pleaaaaaase publish a Jewish vegan cookbook?!?! You have so many amazing Jewish recipes and I would love to have a book of all my favorite comfort food! And do you have a good cheese blintz recipe? I’ve been trying to figure out one for years and no real luck so far. (Wayward’s blintzes from a few years ago were the best I’ve found so far.) Thanks for this amazing recipe!!!

  • September 19, 2013 at 11:33 am: AllisonDubya

    This stuff is amazing! It was delicious even though I burned the bottom (I think the oven was too hot…). I’m not Jewish, but my husband is and he grew up with some delicious challahs in his day and he couldn’t stop ripping pieces off and stuffing them in his face! I froze one loaf after the second rising because I wanted to bring a loaf to his grandparents this Sunday, so after that I can tell you how well it freezes.

    Question: How do you pronounce challah? I’ve always heard it pronounced like ” ‘Holla! “, but my husband’s grandfather pronounces it like “holly” but with the hacking “ch” sound. Which lead me to invent a new Chanukkah song… “Deck the halls with loaves of challah, fa la la la la la la la la la…” I’m a dork.

    Side note, the baby had her first challah last night. She loved it and chose pieces of challah over the seitan meatloaf on her tray every time, her former favorite, so you have the approval of my 10 month old! :-) Thanks for all the amazing recipes, Isa. You rock!

  • September 22, 2013 at 5:44 pm: E.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this, Isa!!! I eat non-vegan challah once in a while, but now I won’t have to! But the real reason I’m commenting instead of just doing a little dance by myself over here is that actually, I would love a vegan “gefilte fish” recipe! If you can think one up, your audience for it may be small but it will be happy!

  • September 23, 2013 at 2:24 am: Gaby

    Thank you SO MUCH for this post! I feel the pain of missing challah and matzoh balls…SO MUCH! But no longer, haha!

  • September 23, 2013 at 3:43 pm: Stephanie

    I made this last week and it was a big hit in my communal Sukkah. The only thing that went wrong is that they over-rose and spread out into flatish disks and lost my beautiful braiding. I used three cups of whole wheat and they were still delicious.

  • September 23, 2013 at 6:01 pm: AllisonDubya

    Hey Isa! Just so’s you know’s, the dough freezes great! I froze one of the loaves last week after the braiding and second rising, but before brushing and baking, left it out for several hours to unthaw, then baked as usual and it was even more scrumptious than it’s brother because this time I didn’t burn the bottom! Thanks for the recipe, Isa. There was a death in our family yesterday and to be able to bring a loaf of freshly baked challah to comfort our family with was a small, but nevertheless tangible and comforting, blessing. My parents-in-law both said that it was delicious it was almost like cake. And that it tasted buttery and they could hardly believe it was vegan. My grandfather-in-law would have loved it, but he enjoyed it with us in spirit. Thanks again.

  • September 26, 2013 at 5:35 pm: MamaKelleCat

    Can we make this GF-ized????? Ideas??

  • September 29, 2013 at 11:36 pm: Rebecca

    I am so excited to see this recipe. SO EXCITED!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Isa!!

  • October 2, 2013 at 4:18 am: Maddie

    I made this tonight for french toast tomorrow. But of course I snuck a taste of the end, and it’s awesome! I suck at hand kneading bread and always end up using too much extra flour and ending up with dense loaves, so I made this in my mixer. It came out perfect. So if anyone else has the same problem, just mix for 5 minutes on low, and then 2 minutes on med-low. Other than that I followed the recipe exactly and it’s beautiful.

  • October 4, 2013 at 5:32 am: Allie

    I just made these tonight for Shabbos tomorrow and I’m so happy with how they turned out! I put vegan chocolate chips into one because chocolate chip challah rocks. Thanks for the awesome recipe!!!

  • October 15, 2013 at 12:38 pm: Rebecca

    Hi! What type of gluten-free flour would you suggest for this recipe? You seemed to nail the vegan part of the diet quite well. Hopefully, you have a nice alternative for the flour! Thanks :)

  • October 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm: Bernie

    I made this on Sunday and used the stale leftovers to make your Fronch Toast recipe this morning. It felt like it was giving me a hug on this cold fall morning. I’m still smiling!

  • October 25, 2013 at 10:12 pm: Rivkah

    Wonderful Challah! The banana is barely perceptible, and I kind of like that. The color is lovely. Basically, it’s challah. Thanks!

  • November 6, 2013 at 10:22 pm: Sam

    Absolutely delicious! I love asking people to guess the secret ingredient (bananas!).

  • November 10, 2013 at 1:25 am: Corrin Radd

    I used white whole wheat flour, added 8 tbsp of vital wheat gluten, and replaced half the fat with applesauce and it turned out great.

  • November 23, 2013 at 7:25 am: Katherine

    I have never seen/tasted/heard of challah but decided to just make it anyway, figuring with no non-vegan version in my mind to compare it to, it couldn’t go very wrong. Well, it was yummy. I made it on the same day as the Glam Chowder and figured, hey, I have bread and soup! They go together! Not yet fully understanding that it’s a really sweet briochey bread that tastes sort of like a croissant. It is tasty though, and we went ahead and dipped it in our soup anyway and it was a delicious combination, so break the rules and do it.

  • November 25, 2013 at 2:02 am: Rebecca

    I am so excited to make challah for ThanksHanukkah (HanukkahGiving?). If I were to make this into challah rolls instead of loaves, does anyone know how long I’d bake them for?

  • November 26, 2013 at 10:15 am: Riverdale Vegan Cafe

    Do you find it’s harder to find vegan Jewish foods in the States? We’re based in Inverness in Scotland, UK, and although we embrace vegan foods completely, we have a relatively small Jewish community – but I think we might have to try your Challah recipe.

  • November 27, 2013 at 6:45 pm: Grace

    Thank you so much for the recipe – I’m portuguese, and Challah is very close to what my family calls ‘portagee sweet bread’ (similar also to Hawaiian bread). I’m so excited to try it out! My mom’s sweet bread is something I hope to no longer miss!

  • December 30, 2013 at 8:18 pm: Lindsay

    Is it tablespoons or teaspoons of yeast? I’m a novice baker but tablespoon sounds like too much. I went through three small packets of redstar to get enough yeast.

    • January 2, 2014 at 7:09 am: IsaChandra

      It’s tablespoons! There’s a lot of flour. I use the jars of yeast instead of packets.

  • January 6, 2014 at 4:26 pm: Elli

    I made this challah over the weekend with great success and paired it with a chickpea-noodle soup. I was a little reluctant with the non-traditional ingredients, but it was very, very good and comparable to the stuff I used to eat from the kosher bakeries. My omni parents really loved it. The only comment I have is that there was a mild hint of banana in both taste and smell, and if your bananas are TOO ripe, you get flecks of black banana bits in the bread. Otherwise, very solid recipe. Thanks, Isa!

  • March 17, 2014 at 7:03 am: nefeli

    this recipe is …. over 9 thousand!!!!lots of thanks, it worked out perfectly!i’m thinking of using this as a base for tsoureki hmmm lets see what happens with that….hehe

  • March 18, 2014 at 6:52 pm: Tracy

    Wow. I have never had the non-vegan version of this bread, but it can’t be any better than what this is. I am only just learning to make bread at home and was hoping that I wasn’t over-reaching with this. It worked amazingly well. I used bananas from the freezer with no issue. The only issue has been not eating all of it at once! I shouldn’t be surprised though, I have all of your cookbooks and have never been disappointed. Loving the new one “Isa Does it” so much that I have to be careful not to make everything all at once!

  • April 21, 2014 at 5:02 am: Brittney

    I have the ability to easily fast banana, so I do wonder why you didn’t use egg replacer? I did read bananas added the sweetness. I guess I’ll play with your base recipe and see if I can get it to work.

  • June 24, 2014 at 1:41 am: ELZ

    thanks so much for the awesome recipe, gonna try it for shabbat this week. Can I substitute the coconut oil for another oil, canola oil maybe?

  • July 15, 2014 at 6:28 pm: Sue

    Thanks sooooooop much for this. I am planning on cooking It this week wish me luck!

  • July 16, 2014 at 11:17 pm: amanda hepner

    I’ve used chia seed in place of egg and it works well.
    Question, i am baking some for my son, to have at school (he goes at our temple). Every friday, his class shares a loaf, but he is the only vegan in his class and I want to make his challah into balls so we can freeze them and pull one out each friday, for him. Should i freeze the balls after baking them then ket them thaw the day before or freeze them before, and bake them the morning of? Any advise is appreciated.

  • July 22, 2014 at 2:51 am: Leah

    Congratulations Isa! You won the Challah test kitchen! I did a Challah test kitchen of 4 vegan challah recipes, and yours is by far the best! I’m not even a bread person, and I couldn’t stop eating it. The banana totally works, and I was a sceptic. Thank you and congratulations on a total WIN!!!!!! (And the maple syrup + non-dairy milk wash = GENIUS!)

  • August 15, 2014 at 5:14 pm: Julie

    This is an awesome sweet challah recipe! I made it with oil the first time, and since then I’ve used coconut milk instead of the coconut oil, but kept everything else the same. As an oil-free recipe that works awesomely!
    The glaze on top is excellent, and to quote my nephew “I love this honey bread!” :) Thank you Isa for sweetening up our Shabbat!

  • September 19, 2014 at 5:54 pm: Ymit Handellsmann

    L’Shana Tova! I love your recipe, though we have family members who are allergic to tree nuts. (Coconut is included in this) what other oil would you recommend in lieu of the refined coconut oil? Thanks and be well.

  • September 21, 2014 at 7:10 pm: Kate

    Thank you so much for this wonderful looking challah recipe. Any suggestion of a substitute for coconut oil as my daughter is allergic to coconut? Thank you!

  • September 23, 2014 at 1:09 pm: danni

    a. rad
    b. thanks
    c. you rock
    d. your writing is so…jewish (ie funny)! and vegan!

  • September 24, 2014 at 12:16 pm: Emily

    I am going to make this tonight in honor of Rosh Hashanah. I only have whole wheat flour (I don’t buy white anymore, but maybe I should get some for occasions like this) and I know you mentioned in the comments that it won’t really be challah with whole wheat but…. we’ll see!!! I also only have unrefined coconut oil, so it might taste a little silly, but I’m sure, yummy.

  • September 25, 2014 at 10:43 am: Plant Food Princess

    Gorgeous! Can’t wait to try. L’shana Tova!

  • September 26, 2014 at 10:55 pm: Jackie K

    Thank you for saving Rosh Hashana. The texture was perfect, not dry, and even that small bit of tumeric for color would have made grandma proud. I subbed in 1 cup of pumpkin like another commenter suggested because my house is banana haters. Also we apparently were out of white sugar, I used brown and it worked fine. To whoever has packets of yeast instead of jars, 3 worked just fine for me. Round challahs only needed to bake for 25 minutes, but my oven may also have been schizo. Thanks for a fantastic recipe! I’m glad you experiment so I don’t have to!

  • September 27, 2014 at 4:47 am: Birgit

    Perfection! You made Charlie very happy :) Thank you!

  • September 27, 2014 at 6:51 pm: Erin

    For other high altitude bakers — this worked GREAT for me at 7,000 feet. Here are the changes that worked for me: I added about 6 tbs of water, a BUNCH more flour (until the dough wasn’t tacky anymore — a good deal more than 1/2 a cup but I didn’t measure. I reduced yeast by 1/3 to 1.7 tbs. Instead of waiting 90 minutes for it to double, I punched it down after 45 minutes (oh, it was doubled!), then let it double again, punched down again. I also baked in a convection oven. It took less than 40 minutes. Hope this helps someone!

  • September 28, 2014 at 9:09 pm: Leah

    I’ve doubted that this recipe could work ever since you posted it. However, I’ve pretty much never been let down by your recipes, and 3 years without challah is too long. I made this for Rosh Hashana dinner last week, and I’m glad to report that it’s amazing! It tastes almost exactly like my grandmother’s challah.

    Thank you so much. I always love when you veganize Jewish food.

  • November 26, 2014 at 8:50 am: Shimon

    Huge hurtle over come thank you!

  • February 6, 2015 at 3:04 pm: Shay

    Why does this come out greenish? How can I avoid that?

  • March 27, 2015 at 10:55 pm: Krissy

    This vegan from Marine Park and her brother, have been missing Challah. Although not Jewish, I grew up at the Y on Nostrand, where my Mom worked. I attended nursery school there and celebrated Shabbat every Friday. Challah and I have so many happy memories together.

    Imma try to find me some overripe bananas and make this ASAP! Thanks for this beautiful post! <3

  • April 5, 2015 at 7:00 pm: Johanna

    Made this and turned out amazing!!! Thanks!

  • June 5, 2015 at 6:33 pm: Daniel Treviño

    Hello Isa,
    Thank you for this recipe!! Ours just came out of the oven! I followed your recipe with minor changes. Instead of refined coconut oil, I used an equal portion of coconut milk. I also found that I needed much more than 7.5 cups of flour to get the dough from being so tacky. I didn’t measure but I am pretty sure I ended up using about 8.5 cups flour total. My bread was also done cooking in only 20 minutes. I opened the oven to rotate as specified in your recipe and found that it was completely done! We haven’t tasted yet, as we are waiting for Shabbat tonight, but the aroma in our home is heavenly!! Thank you for this recipe!

  • August 3, 2015 at 7:59 pm: Ann Marie

    You need to make this….

  • August 28, 2015 at 1:55 pm: Amy R.

    Have you thought about writing a cookbook for vegan Jewish cooking? I would buy it (along with all your other cookbooks … )

  • September 13, 2015 at 1:35 pm: Rachel

    I made this last night and it came out great!
    I somehow didn’t realize that I only had one packet of dry yeast left, so I had to make just halft recipe. The challah looked great and the taste and texture were also really good. Mine did taste a little banana-y but I don’t mind that. I was wondering if maybe the banana I used wasn’t ripe enough or maybe it was too large… I’ll try it again soon.
    But anyhow, thank you so much for this recipe!

  • September 14, 2015 at 12:08 am: Rachel

    Hi I was going to make this in a circular form for the new year, does coconut sugar work? I am trying to stay refined sugar free, thanks so much for the recipe. L’shanah tovah

  • September 14, 2015 at 4:20 pm: EL

    Yes please to a vegan Jewish cookbook!

  • November 29, 2015 at 6:19 am: Chaya Mushka

    I made this challah and it was amazing. I always follow recipes exactly the first time around, and I’m glad I did with this one. It’s just perfect.

    That said, I would like to make it every week but I cannot use coconut oil so often. Is it important that the fat in this challah is saturated, or do you think replacing the coconut oil with canola would work, too? I could also use vegan shortening if its important that the fat be solid at room temp. If you haven’t tried a different oil, I can just do some experiments myself.

    Thank you for the wonderful recipe.

  • December 11, 2015 at 6:00 pm: Shadow

    I’ve baked this so many times. This is the perfect vegan challah. It is a very delicious way to use up leftover bananas, but time consuming. I’ve made it with whole wheat flour and that is really, really tasty, but the texture isn’t quite right. I’ve also tried adding chocolate chips but that seems to mess up the recipe. Also, I have made the dough, then refrigerated it before baking and it turned out fine. Makes wonderful french toast, tastes great with jelly, and is good in kugels. And no way should you leave it in the oven for 40 minutes: mine is always done in less than 10!

  • January 15, 2016 at 2:48 pm: Elisheva

    My kids loved this, but they definitely tasted like banana. The kids called it banana bread challah, and gobbled it up. The texture was great. I would add less turmeric because it looked slightly fluorescent. I guess I’m still searching for the perfect vegan challah, because I personally wasn’t too keen on the banana taste.

  • February 15, 2016 at 1:26 am: La

    Fantastic challah! Thank you so much.

  • March 29, 2016 at 3:42 am: Tiffany

    hi Isa! I made this challah recipe yesterday and it was amazing!! Thank you!

    I made half the recipe and used coconut sugar. My challah browned pretty fast after 20 min. So I just covered it with foil and it was fine to bake for another 20 minutes.

  • July 2, 2016 at 8:30 am: Jeni Stivale

    Made this Challah tonight for Shabbat. OH MY GOSH! It was so good. I actually bake Challah, like on a regular basis. I’m sort of known for my Challah. It’s pretty darn good. Tonight I made 3 loaves, 2 regular (one of them with sesame seeds, one was cinnamon, honey reason) and one (I cut this recipe in 1/2) of them was this recipe as I needed a vegan alternative for a guest. This was SO good that people actually liked it as much (if not more) than the traditional loaves! Btw: I brushed mine with coconut oil and topped with salt and poppy seeds. I also baked them how I bake my other loaves, @ 350 for 25 mins and then turn oven off and let them bake another 10.
    It turned out great this way. I HIGHLY recommend this recipe.

  • August 9, 2016 at 8:27 pm: christel

    i made this; divine…….. so beautiful

  • September 30, 2016 at 9:16 pm: Heather

    I’ve made this recipe many times. I love it. You really perfected it! Awesome work girl :)

  • October 15, 2016 at 10:40 pm: Doug Faber

    Just made this. It’s DELICIOUS. We went vegan about 2 years ago and Challah was one of the few foods we really missed. Now we don’t need to miss it! Yay! Thank you! Thank you! We’re serving it tonight with the chickpea, rice and cabbage soup from Isa Does it! (Another fabulous recipe)

    Have you tried proofing the yeast in warm almond milk, rather than warm water? I was thinking about trying that next time. In my pre-vegan days I used the recipe from The Silver Pallet cookbook. In that recipe the yeast is proofed in warm milk and melted butter. “Back in the pre-vegan days” I thought that was – without exception – the best challah recipe. It had been a thanksgiving staple in our family. Now your recipe wil take center stage.

  • January 26, 2019 at 9:59 pm: Maggie

    I made this last weekend and it was a hit! It was my boyfriend’s favorite of all the bread’s I’ve made recently. I brought a loaf to work and it disappeared in less than ninety minutes. I put some leftovers in the freezer and made them into French toast this morning and it was absolute heaven. Served with homemade coconut whipped cream, sliced bananas, and a drizzle of maple syrup. My boyfriend was beside himself. So delicious. Thank you, Isa!

  • March 9, 2019 at 2:46 am: Roz

    My daughter and I are both vegan, and I haven’t made challah for years. This was my first venture back into baking challah for Friday nights. I couldn’t be more grateful for the wonderful recipe (the crust on this is divine, and the flavor is just right) OR for the right-on way you talk about veganism and food!