Sourdough Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread (‘Crack’ Bread)

5 from 6 votes
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How to make irresistible Sourdough cheesy pull-apart bread (aka ‘crack’ bread) with just 4 ingredients and in under 30 minutes! This warm ooey-gooey melty cheesy, herby bread is delicious as an appetizer or side and super duper versatile too! 

Pull apart cheese sourdough bread in an oven dish

In the move from London to Oxford, my sourdough starter didn’t make the trip and, although I’m in the process of getting a new one going, my cravings for sourdough bread certainly haven’t abated. Thus, this sourdough cheesy pull-apart bread recipe was born – on a day I particularly craved something cheesy, carby, and sourdough-y.

Having turned my attention to Christmas cheesy pull-apart loaves this past Holiday season (like this bread roll wreath with camembert and cheese Christmas Tree Loaf), I decided I’d step away from the festive theme with something just as delicious – this cheesy, herby ‘crack’ bread. Using only 4 ingredients: a fresh sourdough loaf, cheese, oil, and herbs/spices, you can create a fun, flavor-packed sourdough appetizer worthy of parties, celebrations, or even just a delicious side for a mid-week meal. 

A hand holding a piece of pull-apart bread stuffed with cheese

I’d liken this sourdough pull-apart bread to a loaf of cheesy garlic bread, heavy on the cheese. However, rather than relying on garlic, there are tons of ways to season this pull-apart ‘crack’ bread – including with za’atar blend, as I used in this one. 

In fact, this cheesy pull-apart bread (aka ‘crack’ bread) is super versatile. Swap out the herbs, spices, and even cheese for different flavors every time you serve this treat. In fact, I’ve included some of my favorite recipe variations below!

You might be wondering how a simple combination of bread, cheese, and some herbs could possibly earn the nickname ‘crack’ bread – and yet it has. Adults and children alike will be scrambling to get a piece (or five) of this warm, herby, cheesy pull-apart bread.

Pull apart cheese sourdough bread in an oven dish

And while this method works with various types of loaves, it’s a step and half above and beyond with sourdough. This is not only for the superior flavor, but it also holds together best as bits are being pulled off. So next time you’re wondering what to do with sourdough bread – this is it!

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The Ingredients

  • Bread: I used a pre-baked sourdough loaf for the fantastic flavor and ease. You could also use another crusty loaf – like crusty tiger bread, a walnut cob, etc.
  • Olive oil: or another neutral cooking oil like avocado oil. You could also use melted butter (salted) instead. 
  • Herbs/Spices: for this particular cheesy sourdough loaf, I used a homemade za’atar blend. Keep reading for more flavor variations, though, as you can experiment with the herbs/spices. 
  • Cheese: ooey gooey melty cheese is a must. I used a combination of mozzarella and strong cheddar.
Ingredients for pull-apart bread

Flavor Variations

  • Garlic & herb: combine melted butter or olive oil with garlic powder, fresh minced garlic, or garlic confit, and 1-2 tsp Italian Seasoning.
  • Chili cheese: combine the oil or butter with a little chili paste or minced chili and salt. Combine with cheese like Pepper Jack cheese or Mexican chili cheese.
  • Everything bagel: fill with the garlic and herb filling, then top with everything bagel seasoning.
  • Pizza bread: use the garlic and herb filling with some confit tomatoes also stuffed into the bread or a little tomato puree or marinara sauce, topped with mozzarella or a combination 3-cheese mixture.

Several ingredient add-ins can be added to the sourdough pull-apart cheesy bread, including:

BONUS TIP: For a dairy-free option, use olive oil or dairy-free butter and your favorite melty vegan cheese, like this stretchy vegan mozzarella.

How To Make Sourdough Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread

First, prepare the spice blend, by combining the za’atar and olive oil in a bowl and mixing well. This will help the spices to adhere to the bread.

Zaatar mixed with oil

Then, slice the sourdough loaf. First slice the loaf across – as if you’re going to cut medium-thick slices from the loaf but leaving 1/2-inch at the bottom of the loaf (you don’t slice all the way through). Then slice the other way, an inch or so apart, so you have a crisscrossing grid pattern in the bread.

Steps for cutting pull-apart bread

Brush down in the bread cracks (‘pockets’) with the za’atar oil combination, adding a little to the top too. You could also use a turkey baster to distribute this mixture easily.

Then, stuff each pocket with a little cheese (as you can see in the images).

Steps for filling pull-apart bread

Place the cheesy sourdough bread on an oven-safe dish with a cover (a dutch oven works best) or wrap tightly in foil.

This is because we’re using pre-baked bread and so we don’t want to burn it in the oven. If you’re using a homemade/par-baked loaf, then you may not need this.

Cheese stuffed bread ready to bake

Bake the cheesy sourdough bread in the oven at 375ºF/190ºC for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake for further 15 minutes.

Once ready, serve immediately while warm! Guests/family can pull sections away from the loaf, and enjoy!

Pulling out a piece from cheese stuffed bread

How To Serve

This sourdough cheese bread works amazingly as a table centerpiece for parties and on the party nibbles table. Serve alongside several dips, pizza sauce, salsa, and a fresh salad for a delicious sourdough appetizer or game-day snack.

You can also serve this pull-apart cheesy bread as a side for dishes like spaghetti bolognese (vegan), soups and stews, white fish and salad, etc.

Freshly baked cheese stuffed bread

How To Make Ahead & Store

Make ahead: you can prepare the unbaked loaf in advance using softened butter in place of melted butter or oil with your herbs of choice and cheese. Wrap the bread in tin foil for up to 10 hrs before baking (in the tin foil to begin). Add a few extra minutes as you’ll be baking it from chilled.

Store: this sourdough cheese bread is best enjoyed warm, straight from the oven. However, any leftovers can be stored wrapped tightly in the fridge for between 1-2 days.

Reheat: most of the time this isn’t an issue as the entire loaf is gone before your eyes within minutes (I mean, it IS ‘crack bread’). However, if you have some leftovers, you can reheat them in a microwave. This method works well with sourdough bread as it maintains the crustiness of the loaf’s exterior. With less crusty bread types, it may produce ‘soggy’ bread – so be careful.

A piece of cheese stuffed bread

Recipe Notes

  • Use a sharp serrated knife to cut the loaf. It’ll make things easiest. When cutting the second direction of cuts it can be a bit fiddly, if any pieces fall out, fill up the cavity and pop them back in.
  • Avoid pre-shredded cheese: it’s usually covered in an anti-caking coating to stop it from sticking together, but it also impacts the melting ability.
  • This sourdough cheesy pull-apart bread recipe can easily be sized up and down, based on the size of the sourdough loaf you have.
  • If you have a small loaf or a large Air Fryer then you may be able to cook the crack bread that way too. I suggest 12-15 minutes at 200ºC/400ºF.

Other Bread Recipes

If you try this sourdough cheesy pull-apart bread recipe (aka ‘Crack’ bread), then let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments. I’d also really appreciate a recipe rating and would love to see your recreations – just tag @AlphaFoodie.

Sourdough Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread (‘Crack’ Bread)

5 from 6 votes
By: Samira
How to make irresistible sourdough cheesy pull-apart bread (aka 'crack' bread) with just 4 ingredients and in under 30 minutes! This warm ooey-gooey melty cheesy, herby bread is delicious as an appetizer or side and super duper versatile too! 
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 people

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 bread loaf I used sourdough but other crusty loaves like tiger bread or a walnut cob would work.
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil or melted butter
  • 3 Tbsp zaatar check notes for more options
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese or other melty cheese
  • 1/2 cup cheddar or other melty cheese

Instructions 

  • Prepare the spice blend, by combining the za'atar and olive oil in a bowl and mixing well. This will help the spices to adhere to the bread.
  • Slice the sourdough loaf. First slice the loaf across – as if you're going to cut medium-thick slices from the loaf but leaving 1/2-inch at the bottom of the loaf (you don't slice all the way through). Then slice the other way, an inch or so apart, so you have a crisscrossing grid pattern in the bread.
  • Brush down in the bread cracks (‘pockets’) with the za’atar oil combination, adding a little to the top too. You could also use a turkey baster to distribute this mixture easily.
  • Stuff each pocket with a little cheese (as you can see in the images).
  • Place the cheesy sourdough bread on an oven-safe dish with a cover (a dutch oven works best) or wrap tightly in foil.
    This is because we're using pre-baked bread and so we don't want to burn it in the oven. If you're using a homemade/ par-baked loaf, then you may not need this.
  • Bake the cheesy sourdough bread in the oven at 375ºF/190ºC for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake for further 15 minutes.
    Once ready, serve immediately while warm! Guests/family can pull sections away from the loaf, and enjoy!

Video

Notes

  • Use a sharp serrated knife to cut the loaf. It’ll make things easiest. When cutting the second direction of cuts it can be a bit fiddly, if any pieces fall out, fill up the cavity and pop them back in.
  • Avoid pre-shredded cheese: It’s usually covered in an anti-caking coating to stop it sticking together, but it also impacts the melting ability.
  • This sourdough cheesy pull-apart bread recipe can easily be sized up and down, based on the size of the sourdough loaf you have.
  • If you have a small loaf or a large Air Fryer then you may be able to cook the crack bread that way too. I suggest 12-15 minutes at 200ºC/400ºF.

Flavor Variations:
  • Garlic & Herb: Combine melted butter or olive oil with garlic powder, fresh minced garlic, or garlic confit, and 1-2 tsp Italian Seasoning.
  • Chili Cheese: Combine the oil or butter with a little chili paste or minced chili and salt. Combine with cheese like Pepper Jack cheese or Mexican chili cheese.
  • Everything bagel: Fill with the garlic and herb filling, then top with everything bagel seasoning.
  • Pizza Bread: Use the garlic and herb filling with some confit tomatoes also stuffed into the bread or a little tomato puree or marinara sauce, topped with mozzarella or a combination 3-cheese mixture.
Several ingredient add-ins can also be added:
BONUS TIP: For a dairy-free option, use olive oil or dairy-free butter and your favorite melty vegan cheese, like this stretchy vegan mozzarella.
Course: Appetizer, Side
Cuisine: American
Shelf life: 1-2 Days

Nutrition

Calories: 264kcal, Carbohydrates: 33g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 13mg, Sodium: 379mg, Potassium: 97mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 175IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 140mg, Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. Joëlle says:

    5 stars
    An easy receipt I wanted to try since a long time. Thanks for sharing all steps for this receipt. I’m looking forward to do it.

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Thank you for your comment, Joëlle. Hope you give this recipe a try soon 🙂