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Whole Wheat Challah | Eggy, tender with the bonus of whole wheat!

Whole Wheat Challah

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Whole wheat challah is an egg-based, tender wheat bread. Three strands of dough are braided to make the classic challah loaf!

Eating a warm, chewy slice of whole wheat challah bread with a pat of butter is truly a delightful experience. The taste is nothing short of sensational. This challah recipe is easy to make, too!

Slices of Whole Wheat Challah on a slate tray

Whole Wheat Challah

Challah wasn’t commonplace in Ames, Iowa, where I grew up. But long after I left home, my mom, inspired by her neighbor, started baking these lovely braided loaves.

One month, during his cardiology fellowship, Bill was assigned a rotation in nearby Des Moines. We were living only 30 miles from my childhood home. We’d often visit my parents’ house to give them their grandson fix and enjoy some home cooking.

This is where I fell for her rich, slightly sweet, eggy bread. But I’ve been depriving myself for years as I try to avoid white flour. Not attempting to make a whole wheat challah recipe was a huge oversight! I printed out a few recipes and gave it a go.

Whole Wheat Challah loaf on a slate tray

How to Braid a 3-Strand Bread

  • I’m a huge fan of braided breads. Once you get the rhythm of plaiting, it’s a cinch. Growing up with 3 sisters in the age of long straight hair, I had plenty of practice.
  • I have made a six stranded challah, but there’s no way I could explain that without leaving you utterly confused. I stick to 3 stranded versions for the most part. Start by rolling out 3 ropes, a little thicker in the middles and tapered at the ends.
  • Lay them out on a lightly floured surface lined up side by side with one set of small ends facing you. Pinch the strands together at the end furthest from you.
  • Take the strand on the far right and cross it over the middle strand. Next, take the far left strand and cross it over the new middle strand. Then go back to the far right strand and cross it over the middle strand, and so on.
  • When the loaf is fully braided,  pinch together the loose strands at the end closest to you and tuck them under. Repinch the ends at the far end and tuck those under the loaf as well. Your loaf is now ready for the final proofing.
  • If you need visual cues, there are plenty of YouTube videos to help with the process. Tori Avery has these terrific braiding tutorials on her blog.
3 slices of Whole Wheat Challah on a slate tray with a red handled butter knife

Double Glazed Challah

Challah is known for its glossy surface. This is a result of brushing the loaves with an egg wash before baking.

A trick I learned from Dorie Greenspan is to glaze once before baking, then reglaze after the loaf has baked for about 15 minutes. Since the loaves expand and rise from the heat of the oven, a second application of the glaze will ensure full coverage. I hope this recipe will inspire you to try a braided loaf of whole wheat challah!Whole Wheat Challah Pinterest collage

More Braided Breads You’ll Love:

Tools Needed to Make Whole Wheat Challah

Yield: 2 loaves

Whole Wheat Challah

Whole Wheat Challah

A rich egg bread made with whole wheat.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages instant yeast, I use Red Star Platinum
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water


  1. Mix the yeast and water together in the bowl of a stand mixer, and let stand for about 5 minutes. With the paddle attachment, mix in 3 eggs, sugar, butter, salt, the whole wheat flour, 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, and oatmeal. Switch out the paddle attachment for the dough hook and knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes, adding more all-purpose flour as needed.
  2. Shape the dough into a ball, and place in an oiled bowl, flipping it around to oil the surface of the dough. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm area until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  3. Punch down the dough, cover and let rise again till doubled, about an hour.
  4. Punch down dough again, then the dough in half. Cut one-half into 3 equal pieces and roll each piece into a rope, about 12 inches long. Pinch 3 ropes together at the top and braid them. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
  5. Place the braided challah on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the loaf with a dry cloth, and let rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 350º.
  7. Brush the loaf with the egg beaten with water, and bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, 20-30 minutes, brushing loaves with egg wash again at the 15-minute mark.
  8. Cool before slicing.

Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1657 Total Fat: 58g Saturated Fat: 32g Trans Fat: 2g Cholesterol: 362mg Sodium: 1317mg Carbohydrates: 246g Fiber: 21g Sugar: 37g Protein: 45g


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37 comments on “Whole Wheat Challah”

  1. Oh my this looks good! I love the addition of whole wheat flour and was surprised to see oatmeal! :@)

  2. Challah is so similar to our tsoureki! I love your whole wheat version, makes it more healthy!

  3. Oh the Challah, I keep on saying to myself I have to give it a go…
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Baking Challahs is actually something I specialize with. And I bake challahs every week (usually with white and whole wheat flours)
    Your looks FANTASTIC !!

  5. You have inspired me to try this beautiful braided loaf! The tutorial by Tori Avery is fantastic. Thanks for sharing this!

  6. I love challah bread and this is an absolute beauty!

  7. Oatmeal is a great addition to this beautiful-looking bread!

  8. Love the memories evoked by challah…So glad you landed on this lovely recipe….As always your artisanship in the kitchen is stellar! Bravo!

  9. Yes braided loaves are gorgeous and you are a pro, always beautiful! I adore Challah but I have never seen a whole wheat version, so will have to try.

  10. There is nothing like warm, fresh bread.
    Thanks for sharing

  11. I love baking my own bread but never tried to make Challah. Your version is not only healthier but looks gorgeous.

  12. I grew up on Challah and love it to this day. However, I avoid it like you now because of the refined carbs.

    While carbohydrates are essential for health and are our bodies we’re better off with “smart carbs” like fruits, vegetables, legumes, low-fat dairy, and whole grains. The White, refined foods can be part of a healthy diet, but moderation is key.

    So for this recipe I’m giving 2 thumbs up. Now I can love my Challah and eat it too! Thanks to you! I can’t wait to try this.

  13. How badly I wish I had a loaf of this right now!

  14. This looks beyond delicious, Liz. I love esp. that you have used wholewheat flour here. So much healthier!

  15. I’m going to have to give in and learn to make Challah. No one, not one bakery around here sells it or takes orders for it. Crazy right! This is a beautiful loaf Liz and I do want to make one.

  16. Hi Liz, your challah looks perfect, I bet this is delicious!

  17. Lizzy,
    I love whole wheat bread. I don’t have a lot of practice braiding – with the wild, curly hair, there wasn’t much braiding going on.

  18. Liz what a beautiful loaf I would love a slice right now, I must try this at some point.

  19. Mmmmm… Its breakfast time right now, what Id do for a slice of this beautifully braided bread.

  20. This challah could not look more perfect! You are a fantastic bread baker!

  21. I really liked this recipe. It was very tasty, but a little too sweet- sweeter than white challah bread that I’ve made. I will definitely make this again, but take down the sugar a little. Thank you for the recipe!

  22. Challah isn’t common in Ohio either but it really should be! I love this whole wheat version, esp. for if I want to make healthier french toast or bread pudding!

  23. We make a very similar bread here in the Easter, which is called Tsoureki and includes mastic. We never had one with whole wheat flour, so this is extremely useful, as Panos’ dad only eats whole wheat products as part of his low-sugar diet. Excellent work dear Liz! Thank you!

  24. I understand to mix the salt with the dry ingredients, but someone not so experienced may wonder. You might want to adjust your instructions to include adding the salt. I’m making this recipe right now! I’m loving the inclusion of oatmeal, can’t wait to see how it tastes.

  25. Has more than one person made this recipe? I’m researching Whole Wheat Challah recipes for a healthier version, This one has a nice twist, pun intended, with the addition of oatmeal.,

  26. Is the oatmeal cooked previously? or is this rolled oats?

  27. I love making my kids french toast with challah bread and this was the first time I actually made my own bread. It came out great and i love the addition of the oats!

  28. This is my go-to for Sunday morning french toast! 

  29. Excited to try this recipe- I see that you use rolled oats (not cooked before), does it matter if it’s old fashioned oats, or quick oats??

    • Hi, Christine,

      I used the old-fashioned oats. I’ll make a note of that in the recipe. I haven’t tested this with quick oats, but now you have me curious. Happy baking~

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