The fluffiest and most buttery Korean cream cheese garlic bread that just melts in your mouth. Made entirely from scratch, this bread is loaded with garlic and filled with sweet cream cheese.
By this point it’s no secret that I absolutely adore Korean food and culture. South Korea is famous for its incredible street food that’s always loaded with flavour. From Korean Corn Dogs to Homemade Strawberry Milk, I just can’t have enough!
This garlic cream cheese bread is hands down one of the most delicious treats I’ve ever had and is now one of my top Korean recipes. It’s buttery, soft, extra garlicky, smooth and has a surprisingly sweet flavour. I guarantee that once you try the Korean version, plain garlic bread will never be enough anymore!
What is Korean garlic bread?
Korean cream cheese garlic bread is an extremely popular Korean street food. Its name comes from the main ingredients used to make it: cream cheese, garlic, and bread.
In Korean, it's known as 크림치즈 마늘빵 (keurimchijeu maneul ppang), which literally translates to ‘cream cheese garlic bread’. Another common name for this treat is 육쪽 마늘빵 (yukjjok maneul ppang), which means ‘six-sided garlic bread’.
Unlike traditional garlic bread, this Korean-style version uses individual dinner rolls or soft milk buns. The rolls are then cut into 6 wedges, filled with sweet cream cheese, and soaked in a garlic and butter mixture.
Here's a video of how this glorious garlic bread is made on the streets of South Korea.
Korean garlic bread vs regular garlic bread
Regular garlic bread is typically made with regular bread slices or entire baguettes. The bread is then brushed with olive oil or butter, minced garlic, and herbs. Classic garlic bread is entirely savoury and has a strong garlic flavour. It can be served as a side dish or appetiser, but rarely as a main dish.
If regular garlic bread is a side dish, Korean garlic bread is the main event! It’s usually made from individual dinner rolls or buns, then cut into 6 wedges. Each bun is then filled with a sweet cream cheese paste and dipped in a mixture of melted butter, sugar, garlic, and herbs. Unlike regular garlic bread, the Korean version is a combination of sweet and savoury. Although it can be served as an appetiser, it’s mostly eaten as a snack between main meals.
What does it taste like?
Korean cream cheese garlic bread is both sweet and savoury. It tastes of fresh garlic, rich salty butter, and herbs. This is then enhanced by silky smooth and sweet cream cheese, which takes the flavours to a whole new level.
Overall, this Korean-style garlic bread is really unique in terms of texture and flavour. It’s not a shy snack, as it has a lot of garlic! However, the intense garlic flavour is toned down a bit by the sweet cream cheese filling.
Since the bread rolls are made from scratch, they are incredibly soft and fluffy. The cream cheese mixture makes the base of the buns taste almost like a custard, with a little chewiness. After baking, the top of the garlic breads will be crispy, so you get the best texture combination ever!
Why this is the best garlic bread
- Made entirely from scratch: Everything in this Korean garlic bread recipe is made from scratch. The bread rolls are homemade, so they are incredibly soft and fluffy. Although you can use store-bought dinner rolls as well, making your own rolls is definitely better for this recipe.
- Authentic recipe: this Korean garlic bread recipe is identical to how they make it on the streets of South Korea. Extensive research and testing has gone into developing the most authentic flavour and texture. I am also proud to say that this recipe has gained the stamp of approval from my Korean friend and fellow foodie, YeoJun.
- Loaded with flavour: There is no shortage of garlic when it comes to this recipe. The more, the better! This intense flavour pairs very well with the smoothness of sweet cream cheese, which helps balance out the flavours.
- Incredibly soft: The homemade milk buns are incredibly soft, light and just melt in your mouth. Combined with the cream cheese filling, the buns become even softer and almost custard-like inside.
I like to think of this recipe as having 3 different components: bread buns, cream cheese filling and garlic topping. Here’s what you will need to make this decadent Korean-style garlic bread:
- Bread flour – strong white bread flour works best for this recipe. The high gluten content in this flour yields the best texture in bread buns. You can also use all-purpose flour, but the dinner rolls might not come out as fluffy and springy in texture.
- Yeast – I like using instant dry yeast because it’s very quick and easy. However, you can also use fresh yeast, just triple the quantity in the recipe (6 grams instant dry yeast = 18 grams of fresh yeast).
- Water or milk – you can use either water or milk for this recipe. However, milk can make the dough take a bit longer when kneading.
- Sugar – plain, granulated sugar works best.
- Butter – use unsalted butter at room temperature for best results.
- Salt – fine salt works best.
Cream cheese filling
- Cream cheese – I recommend using full fat cream cheese. Low fat versions have a higher content of water, so the paste can become too runny.
- Powdered sugar – adds sweetness to the cream cheese. Powdered sugar is a must to make a super smooth filling.
- Butter – use unsalted butter and leave it at room temperature at least 1-2 hours before so it softens.
- Fresh garlic – a LOT of fresh garlic. I used two full large garlic bulbs, but you can adjust it to personal preference.
- Sour cream – makes the topping much creamier. It can also be replaced with heavy cream.
- Mayonnaise – I highly recommend not skipping the mayo, because it adds a lot of flavour. For the most authentic version, I like to use Kewpie Mayonnaise.
- Sugar – any type of sugar will work. If you want a less sweet version, leave this out in the topping.
- Salt – Fine salt works best in this recipe.
- Herbs – for the most authentic flavour, use a combination of parsley and oregano. But you can also use your favourite herbs such as thyme, basil, or cilantro.
How to make Korean cream cheese garlic bread
When making this recipe, you can make the bread buns from scratch or use store bought dinner rolls. For the freshest and most authentic taste, I recommend making the bread from scratch. You can even make them in advance and freeze until ready to use.
However, if you’re tight on time you can use store bought buns or dinner rolls and still get amazing garlic bread.
Making the bread dough
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a spatula until a rough dough forms.
- Start kneading the bread either by hand or using a stand mixer with dough hook.
- Once the dough seems supple and soft, shape it into a smooth ball. Let it prove in a warm place until doubled in volume.
- Divide the proofed dough into 6 equal pieces.
Shaping the bread rolls
Now we can begin shaping the bread rolls. Work with one piece of dough at a time, covering the remaining with plastic wrap.
- Take one piece of dough and flatten it into a disc.
- Fold opposing sides over each other, overlapping in the centre.
- Start rolling the dough from the bottom to the top to create a roll.
- Apply pressure on the roll with palm, while making a rotating motion. This will give it a perfectly round shape.
Filling & baking
After shaping all the rolls, they’re ready for the second proofing. Place all the rolls on a lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap or a wet kitchen towel. Let them proof until double in size, then bake until pale golden in colour.
- Cut 6 wedges into each bun (like a pizza), without cutting completely through the base.
- Mix the cream cheese and sugar, then place in a piping bag. Pipe some of the cream cheese mixture into each slit in the buns.
- Prepare the garlic butter sauce. Dip the entire bread bun into the mixture.
- Place the buns back on the baking sheet and pipe more cream cheese on top. Bake until golden brown in colour.
Success Tips & Tricks
- Use a kitchen scale: Although you can use cup measurements, I strongly recommend using a kitchen scale for this recipe. Being off by even a few grams can affect the quality of your Korean cream cheese garlic bread.
- Knead the bread dough well: The secret to fluffy and airy bread rolls is good kneading. You can knead the bread by hand or by using the dough hook attachment on a stand mixer. For both methods, ensure the dough is supple, lump-free and not sticky. A well kneaded dough should spring back when you press your finger into it.
- Shape the bread rolls tightly: Shaping the dough is very important and helps make extra soft and fluffy bread rolls. See the section on Shaping the bread rolls for step-by step instructions with photos.
- Proofing the bread twice: For the softest bread rolls ever, you need to be patient and proof the dough twice. Proof it once after kneading, then a second time after shaping the bread buns.
- Do not use egg wash: Brushing the rolls with egg wash before baking essentially seals the bread making it less porous. This makes it harder for the garlic sauce to seep into the bread, so no egg wash is needed. The final Korean cream cheese bread rolls will be shiny and golden in colour from the butter sauce.
- Do not cut the bread rolls completely: When cutting the rolls, make sure the knife doesn’t cut all the way. The base of the rolls needs to stay intact, so be very careful when cutting. You basically only want to create some slit ‘wedges’, but not cut the rolls into separate pieces.
- Creamy garlic sauce: The sauce needs to be more like a garlic butter custard, thicker in consistency. To do this, use room temperature butter and combine all the ingredients into a thick paste. Then microwave only for a few seconds at a time until it reaches the consistency of custard.
- Use a piping bag: The sweet cream cheese filling needs to go inside each of the wedge slits of the bread buns. The only way to properly do this is by using a piping bag fitted with a ½-inch round or star-shaped nozzle. Pipe as closely to the base as possible, along the entire length of each slit.
How to store
There are a few options for storing Korean garlic bread:
Baked cream cheese rolls
The fully completed Korean garlic bread will hold well for up to 5-7 days. To store, place in an airtight container and refrigerate. For longer term storage, freeze in airtight containers for up to 1 month.
Plain bread rolls
Storing plain bread rolls (without cream cheese or garlic) allows you to make them much longer in advance. After baking the bread rolls, let them cool down completely. Place them into an airtight container and freeze for up to 3-4 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then bake for 2-3 minutes until hot. Continue the process by filling the buns with cream cheese and dunking them in the garlic sauce.
Since this amazing Korean cream cheese garlic bread can be stored for a longer period, it’s great for making ahead. It’s also perfect for reheating and it tastes just like freshly baked. To reheat, place on a parchment paper lined tray and bake for 5-8 minutes at 350°F (180°C).
To reheat frozen garlic bread, bake it at 350°F for 12-15 minutes or until it’s hot throughout.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, this recipe works well with ready-made bread rolls as well. You can try the following: brioche bun, dinner roll, bread roll or milk bun. Just make sure they’re plain white bread without any filling.
Authentic Korean cream cheese garlic bread requires sugar to be added in the cream cheese filling. However, you can leave sugar out to make entirely savoury garlic bread.
I don’t recommend using a pastry brush for this recipe. The buns need to be completely submerged in the butter sauce, so it gets inside every slit. This would be difficult to achieve with a pastry brush, so get your hands dirty!
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Korean Cream Cheese Garlic Bread (크림치즈 마늘빵)
- ½ cup water, lukewarm (130 grams)
- 1 ½ tablespoons plain sugar (20 grams)
- 1 packet instant dry yeast (7 grams)
- 1 ½ tablespoons butter, softened (20 grams)
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 2 ⅓ cups white bread flour (300 grams)
Cream Cheese Filling
- 1 cup cream cheese, full fat (200 grams)
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar* (50 grams)
- 1 ½ sticks butter, softened (150 grams)
- 2 ½ tablespoons plain sugar* (30 grams)
- ½ cup fresh garlic, minced (60 grams)
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley or oregano
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise*
- ¼ cup sour cream (50 grams)
- 1 tablespoon fine salt
- In a large bowl add the lukewarm water, sugar, and yeast. Mix well to combine, then set aside for 5-10 minutes.
- Add in the softened butter and salt, mixing again to combine.
- Sift in the flour and use a wooden spoon to combine until a dough forms.
- If using a stand mixer, use the dough hook attachment to knead for 5-10 minutes or until smooth. If kneading by hand, sprinkle a little extra flour on the work surface. Knead the dough by stretching it away, then pulling it back together. Repeat until the dough is no longer sticky and looks smooth, for around 15 minutes.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then place in a warm to proof for at least 1-2 hours. The dough needs to double in volume.
- Once proofed, place the dough on the work surface. Gently press down on the dough to flatten it, then shape it into a log. Use a pastry scraper or knife to cut out 6 equal pieces of dough. Work with one piece at a time, covering the remaining with plastic wrap.
- Start rolling the dough on the shorter edge to form a small roll.
- Cup palm over the roll, then gently press on the dough in a rotating motion. This helps shape the dough into perfectly round rolls. Repeat process for the remaining rolls.
- Place all rolls onto a baking tray, leaving at least 3-4 inches between each roll. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Proof in a warm place for 30minutes
Cream Cheese Filling
- In a bowl combine the cream cheese and sugar, mixing with a hand mixer or spatula.
- Place the cream cheese mixture in a piping bag fitted with a round ½-inch nozzle. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
- In a medium bowl combine the butter, sugar, garlic, oregano, heavy cream, mayo, and salt. Mix everything well and leave at room temperature until ready to use.
- Before using, microwave the mixture for 15-20 seconds, until it looks like a paste. Keep a close eye on it whilst microwaving so it doesn't become too runny.
Baking the garlic bread
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F (180°C). Bake the rolls for 10-12 minutes or until golden.
- Let rolls cool down for 10-15 minutes until warm to the touch.
- Using a serrated bread knife, make 6 cuts on the top of each roll, like cutting into a pizza. Leave the base uncut, about ½-inch in thickness.
- Fill the rolls with cream cheese in between each cut. Start from the edge and pipe towards the centre. Reserve about ¼ of the cream cheese for later.
- Dunk each roll face down into the garlic butter. Spread the butter with a pastry brush, getting it into every groove.
- Place the rolls back onto the baking tray. Pipe a generous dollop of the remaining cream cheese in the middle of each roll.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for 6-8 minutes or until light brown in colour.
- Enjoy hot, fresh out of the oven!
- I recommend using a kitchen scale in grams for more accuracy. The cups used for the conversion are standard US customary cups (1 cup flour = 136g). There are many different types of cups across the globe, which is why I strongly recommend using grams instead.
- Sugar can be left out in the cream cheese filling and garlic butter sauce for a fully savoury recipe.
- Nutritional value is estimative and it's calculated per serving (this recipe makes 6 buns).