This Jalapeno Cheddar Bread features chunks of cheddar cheese and diced jalapenos mixed into a classic rustic bread. This bread makes fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches!!
This Jalapeno Cheddar Bread post is sponsored by Cabot Creamery, but the recipe and opinions are entirely my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Spiced!
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The smell of freshly baked bread has to be one of the best smells in the entire world. Ok, the smell of bacon sizzling on the stovetop is up there, too. And the smell of a fresh batch of chocolate brownies is also on that list. But there is just something magical about homemade bread!
I know a lot of folks share that love for fresh bread, but the thought of yeast just scares them away. That’s where this Jalapeno Cheddar Bread recipe comes in. Yes, it is yeasted – almost all bread is. But this is an easy homemade bread recipe!
This recipe for Jalapeno Cheddar Bread is just a slight twist off of a Dutch oven bread recipe that I’ve been using for years. It doesn’t require a stand mixer – that’s right, no stand mixer! All you need is a large mixing bowl, a wooden spoon, a handful of ingredients and some time to let the yeast do what yeast does.
I recently taught a neighbor how to make homemade bread using this exact same recipe. She had attempted homemade bread in the past (ahem, Covid), and some loaves were great while others were a bit lacking. The loaves we made were fantastic! So let’s jump right in!
Jalapeno Cheddar Bread
Proofing the Yeast
The first thing you’ll need to do when making this Jalapeno Cheddar Bread is proof your yeast. Say what? That sounds complicated. Nope, not at all. It simply means mix your yeast into warm water and let it rest for 5 minutes. That’s it. You just proofed yeast. (The only challenge here is making sure your yeast isn’t expired.)
Add that yeasty water into the bowl with flour and a bit of salt, and you’ve got the 4 basic ingredients for homemade bread – water, yeast, flour and salt. Very simple. It’s hard to believe that something as magical as homemade bread can come from such simple ingredients!
Let the Dough Rise
Cover that bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1½-2 hours at room temperature. Yes, bread baking takes time, but most of the time is inactive. The yeast is doing all the work for you while you do chores around the house…or stream the latest show on Netflix.
Fold the Dough
A couple generations ago, it was generally accepted that you need to “punch down” dough after it rises. Over time, we’ve learned that it’s actually better to gently fold the dough instead of punching it.
Just turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, sprinkle some flour on top and gently press the air out of it. From there, just fold the dough into thirds, rotate it and fold it again. Do that a couple times, and you’re all set. Easy peasy.
Let the Dough Rise a Second Time
Just put that folded dough back into the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap again and walk away. The yeast will do the work for you, and you can come back in 1-1½ hours.
Add in Cheese and Jalapenos
This next step is where the fun starts! Gently flatten the dough out again and then top it with whatever sort of fillings you’d like. For this Jalapeno Cheddar Bread, I used cubes of Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese and diced jalapenos. I seriously love Cabot’s Seriously Sharp Cheddar, and we always keep multiple bars of it in the fridge!
This cheddar is aged for 14 months, and it has an unforgettable taste. It has a ton of flavor, and the sharpness is perfect. We use it for everything from afternoon snacks to sandwiches to tacos to bread! If you haven’t tried Cabot cheese, then put it on your grocery list this week. We’re huge fans of Cabot Creamery – not only are they an amazing company that does things the right way, but they make some pretty fantastic cheese, too!
Those cubes of cheese will melt slightly in the oven, but they mostly hold their shape. That means when you slice into this bread, you’ll end up with chunks of cheese studded into the bread itself. Not only does it look cool, but it tastes great, too!
Let the Dough Rise a Final Time
Once the cheese cubes and jalapenos have been incorporated throughout the dough, just place the dough on a piece of parchment paper that has been dusted with cornmeal. Lower that dough (parchment paper and all) back into the bowl and walk away for 30-45 minutes.
Ah, but before you walk away, stick a 5.5-quart Dutch oven into the oven and turn the oven on. We will be baking the bread in that Dutch oven in the next step.
Bake the Bread
Next up: baking the bread. Carefully remove that Dutch oven from the oven (it will be very hot!). Lift the parchment paper and dough from the bowl and lower it down into the Dutch oven. Put the top on and carefully put the whole thing into the oven for 45 minutes.
Be prepared – your house will begin to smell like homemade bread, and your belly will begin to growl. That just comes with baking homemade bread!
If you happen to have an instant-read thermometer, then stick it into the middle of the bread after ~40-45 minutes. The bread is done at 200°F, so if it’s a few degrees short, just put it back in the oven and test it again in a few minutes.
Let the Bread Cool
In the words of the late Tom Petty, “the waiting is the hardest part.” I don’t think he was referring to homemade bread in that song, but the words still ring true. Once that Dutch oven comes out of the oven, let the bread cool for ~5 minutes and then carefully lift the parchment paper out and place the bread on a wire rack.
You’ll want to wait until the bread is completely cool before you slice it. If you don’t wait, the warm bread could rip and tear rather than giving you nice slices. Of course, maybe you just want to rip off chunks of warm cheesy bread and eat it like that – I won’t judge you!
When it’s fresh (the first day or two), we usually just eat this bread by itself. After that, we’ll spread a bit of butter on top and toast it lightly. Oh, and this Jalapeno Cheddar Dutch Oven Bread makes fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches. I was tempted to cube this bread up and turn it into croutons, too, but we ended up eating it all before that could happen. Oops.
Storing Homemade Bread
To store this Jalapeno Cheddar Bread, just let it cool fully and then place it in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days. The texture will start to dry out after a couple of days, but it will still be great as toast or as grilled cheese sandwiches.
Homemade bread also freezes quite well. Just wrap any unused portion tightly in plastic wrap and then place it in a freezer bag. It can be frozen for up to 6 months or so. This recipe make a large loaf of bread, and we often just freeze half of it for later. Or we share it with friends – I’ve never had anyone turn down the offer of freshly baked bread!
I do hope you enjoy this Jalapeño Cheddar Bread recipe as much as we do. The bread itself is fantastic, but the cubes of cheese studded throughout the bread really takes it to a whole new level. The jalapenos add a fun spicy kick, too! (I chose to deseed the jalapenos. The flavor from the jalapenos is noticeable, but it’s not overly spicy.)
If you don’t have any Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese in the fridge, then add a bar (or two!) to your grocery list and make a batch of this bread next week. These cold winter days are just perfect for making homemade bread! Happy baking!
Jalapeno Cheddar Bread
- Using a small bowl, add warm water and yeast; stir until well combined. (Note: The water should be warm to the touch, but not hot.) Let mixture sit for 5 minutes.
- Using a large mixing bowl, add flour and salt; stir until well combined.
- Pour yeast mixture into mixing bowl; stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. (Note: The dough should come together. It will be slightly sticky, but if the dough stubbornly sticks to the side of the bowl, add 2-3 more tablespoons of flour. If dough feels too dry, add 1 more tablespoon of water.)
- Cover bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise until it approximately doubles in size (~1½-2 hours).
- Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Pat dough out into a flat disc. Fold dough into thirds, similar to how you might fold a letter. Rotate dough 90° and repeat process.
- Transfer dough back into bowl, cover and let rise until approximately doubled in size (~1-1½ more hours).
- Transfer dough back to a floured work surface. Gently press air out of dough.
- Cut 4-5 slices from one of the jalapenos and set aside. (Note: These will be used on top of the bread later.)
- Remove the seeds and ribs from the remaining jalapenos and dice into small pieces.
- Place diced jalapenos and cheese cubes on top of dough and fold dough several times until jalapenos and cheese are incorporated into the dough.
- Generously sprinkle cornmeal onto a piece of parchment paper. Shape the dough into a ball and place onto parchment paper. Place dough (on parchment paper) back into mixing bowl.
- Cover bowl and let dough rest for 30-40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450°F. Place a covered enameled Dutch oven into the oven as it preheats.
- Remove Dutch oven from oven.
- Uncover dough. Using a sharp knife, score dough lightly. (Note: I like to make 4 cuts in a square on top of the dough. Each cut is ~½” deep into the dough.)
- Sprinkle shredded cheese and the sliced jalapenos on top of the dough. (Tip: If dough is too dry, brush it lightly with water so that the cheese and jalapenos will stick.)
- Lift parchment paper with dough on it out of mixing bowl and carefully lower both into the hot Dutch oven.
- Cover Dutch oven with lid and place in oven. Bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove cover from Dutch oven and continue baking for 5-10 more minutes or until top of bread is golden brown in color. (Tip: If you have an instant read thermometer, remove the bread from the oven once it reaches 200°F.)
- Let bread cool completely before slicing.
Looking for more cheesy bread recipes? Check out some of these other favorites, too: