Little Caesar’s Italian cheese bread recipe is a closely guarded company secret. But with a little sleuthing (and a whole lot of reading on Reddit) you now have the best possible cheesy, doughy, savory copycat recipe anyone could ever dream of making at home.
Cheesy, buttery, salty parmesan-y and that oh so soft dough. Can you make it yourself?
But you’ll need to stick to a few key points:
- Real made from scratch dough only here. Since dough is what we do, you should be excited about this.
- Use meunster cheese as the primary cheese and unfortunately you’ll also need a can of cheap powdered parmesan. I wish you could skip that but it’s what’s used on the original recipe.
- In the stores, Italian cheese bread is baked in very, very well seasoned square cast iron pans which helps get the crust golden and buttery. Cast iron isn’t a make or break tool here but if you have some, you’ll find it helpful for the crust.
- Big shocker but there’s very little garlic in this recipe so don’t get tempted to go crazy. There’s also no Italian seasoning–just some oregano in the spice blend.
- Don’t skip the nonfat dry milk powder. I know it’s annoying to buy an ingredient to only use a little bit of it but milk powder helps so much with texture here. If you don’t want to buy any, bum some from a friend or neighbor or get the smallest bag you can. Alternatively, you could probably swap warm milk for the water to activate the yeast but I didn’t test it.
The process: How to make Italian cheese bread dough
Step 1: Measure out warm water and activate the yeast. If you have active dry or instant, they both will activate in water so use the same steps. Stir the yeast in to 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of water (gram measurements are in the recipe card below) that’s about 110 degrees. Add 1 tablespoon sugar of your choice. I used organic cane sugar.
Let the mixture sit until the yeast starts to get a thick foamy look to it and looks less like brown water. About 5 minutes should be fine. Once you see foaming, go ahead and move on.
Step 2: Transfer the foamy yeast mixture to a larger bowl and add the dry ingredients: flour, milk powder, and salt. Add the salt last so it doesn’t come into direct contact with the yeast. Stir to combine–the dough will look quite shaggy and dry at first.
Take out the spoon and use your hands to mash the dough around in the bowl until it smooths out some–about 10 or 15 turns in the bowl. Lightly flour your work surface with no more than 1 teaspoon of flour and knead the dough 10 to 15 times to smooth it further and return it to the bowl.
If the dough sticks, use very tiny bits of flour on your hands only. Try not to put more on the board and knead gently.
Step 3: Cover the dough and let it rest until it doubles in size. About 45 minutes in a very warm place (80 degrees). If your space is cooler, just watch the dough and not the clock. It could take up to an hour and a half or more and that’s okay.
Step 4: Preheat your skillet. About 15 minutes before your dough is ready (or after it’s risen for 30 minutes) preheat an 8-inch cast iron skillet in a 400 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes. If you don’t have cast iron, just go ahead and generously butter the bottom and sides of an 8×8 baking dish. If you think it will stick, line it in parchment paper and set it aside.
Step 5: Prep the cheeses and spices. While the skillet pre heats, grate the meunster and mozzarella cheeses and get the parmesan out. Mix the garlic powder, salt and oregano together in a small bowl and set aside.
Step 6: Remove the hot cast iron from the oven and add 1 teaspoon oil and 1 tablespoon melted butter into the bottom and swirl it around to coat, then transfer the dough directly in to the hot pan. Gently and carefully press the dough out toward the edges. It will still be about an inch thick in the pan. That’s fine.
Step 7: Layer the cheeses over the dough alternating with the melted butter. Add the parmesan on top followed by the spice blend and a drizzle more of butter concentrating around the edges of the pan (so the crust gets golden brown) and transfer back to the oven. Bake at 400 until bubbling and golden and the dough is cooked through–about 20 minutes.
Let the Italian cheese bread rest in the pan 5 minutes, before transferring to a cutting board. Rest an additional 5 minutes before slicing.
The best Little Caesar’s Italian cheese bread (Copycat)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon instant nonfat dry milk powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 6 ounces muenster cheese
- 2 ounces part skim mozzarella
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- In a small bowl add the warm water and yeast. Stir to combine, then add the sugar. Let the yeast sit until foamy and appears thickened. About 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the yeast to a large bowl and add the flour, salt, and instant milk powder. Stir to form a shaggy dough, then use your hands to turn the dough over on itself in the bowl, kneading it lightly to bring it together–about 8 to 10 folds.
- Lightly flour your countertop and turn out the dough. Knead until smoother but still slightly tacky–8 to 10 more kneads then return it to the bowl. Cover and let it rest until doubled in size. About an hour.
- After the dough has been rising for 30 minutes, preheat your oven to 400. Place an 8" cast iron skillet inside to pre heat.
- While the skillet heats, grate the meunster and mozzarella and set aside. Pre measure the parmesan and set aside.
- In a small bowl blend the oregano, salt and garlic powder and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup and set aside.
- Once the dough is doubled, removed the hot skillet from the oven and carefully add 2 tablespoons of the melted butter.
- Working quickly and carefully, transfer the dough to the skillet and use your fingers to press it toward the edges but not up the sides of the pan.
- Add the meunster and mozzarella followed by the parmesan and herbs.
- Pour the remaining melted butter over the cheese and try to get a bit around the edges of the pan.
- Return to the oven and bake until golden and bubbling around the edges–about 20 to 25 minutes. You may need to put the skillet on a cookie sheet to catch spills.
- Cool in the pan 5 minutes then transfer with a spatula to a tray or cutting board. Let cool 5 more minutes then cut and serve.