How to Make Korean Cream Cheese Garlic Bread

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This Korean cream cheese garlic bread has a sweet cream cheese filling and savory garlic butter topping. It's delicious!

Korean cream cheese garlic bread is the decadent snack you didn’t know you needed. This Korean street food is made of a small pull-apart milk bread boule stuffed with sweet cream cheese and crisped in the oven in a garlic butter parsley sauce. Like many South Korean foods, this dish ignores traditional lines between sweet and savory, adding sugary sweetness to a savory snack.

Cream cheese garlic bread is easy enough to make at home if you buy store-bought buns, but making the bread from scratch with milk powder results in an extra-delicious chewy bread.

Korean Cream Cheese Garlic Bread Recipe

Ingredients

For the buns:

  • 4-3/4 cup bread flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered milk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 3-1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1-1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon room temperature water
  • 1 egg + 1 teaspoon of water (optional egg wash)

For the garlic butter wash:

  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup), melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons garlic, minced (about 6 to 8 cloves, or 4 to 5 if you’re less fond of garlic)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons dry parsley flakes

For the cream cheese filling:

  • 1-1/2 packages (12 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

Tools

You’ll need parchment paper, a sheet pan (or two!), several mixing bowls, a double boiler setup or microwave, and a whisk. A stand mixer is optional, but it’ll be helpful when you’re making the dough.

Directions

Step 1: Prep the buns

Add the flour, powdered milk, salt, sugar and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; stir on low speed to combine. Add the egg and butter to a medium-sized bowl and beat lightly, then add in the water and stir.

Step 2: Make the dough

Add the egg mixture to your dry ingredients. If you’re using a stand mixer to knead the dough, switch your attachment to the dough hook and knead until smooth and no longer sticky. (Here are more essential bread-making tools.) If you’re using your hands, lightly flour a kneading surface and knead until smooth and no longer sticky.

Step 3: Rise the dough

Wash and oil your bowl, then turn your smooth dough in the bowl a couple times to coat it with oil. Cover with a dishcloth and place in a warm spot in your kitchen. Let the dough rise for up to two hours, until doubled in size.

Step 4: Shape the buns

Divide the buns into six equal parts, each about 5 inches in diameter. Roll and shape into six round balls. Then, pulling each ball open like a flower, curl the dough under itself and pinch it together so that you make a smooth top surface. Lightly oil each ball.

Line your baking sheet with parchment and place the balls with equal space between them. You may need two baking sheets, depending on the size of your buns.

Step 5: Rise the buns

Cover your buns with a dishcloth and rise for 60 to 90 minutes. While they are rising, begin prepping the butter garlic wash and cream cheese filling.

Step 6: Make the butter garlic wash

Combine the butter, egg, milk, honey, garlic and parsley flakes in a stainless steel or heatproof bowl or the top compartment of a double boiler. If using a bowl, place it on top of a pot with 4 inches of hot water that has been brought to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the mixture, stirring constantly, until the ingredients have softened and combined. Mix thoroughly and turn off the heat.

Be careful not to allow the egg to curdle or cook by stirring constantly, and lower the flame or turn off the heat accordingly. You can also microwave on low in a microwave-safe bowl and remove every 15 seconds to stir, until incorporated.

Step 7: Make the cream cheese filling

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Combine 12 ounces of plain, room-temperature cream cheese with 3 tablespoons sugar (these are our Test Kitchen’s favorite cream cheese brands). If you like your snacks sweeter, go for 4 tablespoons. Place in a piping bag or prepare a small cheese knife or spoon for stuffing the bread.

Step 8: Bake the buns

Bake the buns for 13 to 15 minutes at 400°, then remove and cool on a wire rack.

Step 9: Assemble the bread

Cut each bun into six equal triangular sections—like cutting a pizza—but do not slice all the way through. Instead, leave the bun attached at the bottom so it can be pulled apart when eaten. Pipe or spread cream cheese evenly into each of the six cracks, between each triangular pull-apart section of the bun.

Then dunk each bun into the butter garlic wash, making sure to coat the interior of the bun and fill each nook and cranny with buttery goodness. Use a spoon to evenly distribute the wash. Shake off any excess butter.

Step 10: Bake

Bake the buns in the oven at 400° for 6 to 10 minutes until golden, but not brown. Enjoy this sweet and savory treat!

Korean Cream Cheese Garlic Bread Tips

What is Korean cream cheese garlic bread?

Korea’s over-the-top version of traditional garlic bread is a street snack made with a small brioche or milk bun coated in buttery garlic and filled with sweetened cream cheese. Made to be eaten without silverware, the six-sectioned bread is easy to pull apart, dipping each piece in the extra cream cheese in the center of the custardy bread. In fact, the Korean name, yuk-jjok maneul-bbang (육쪽마늘빵), means six-piece garlic bread.

According to Alex Sohn, creator of Korean cream cheese garlic bread pop-up Calic Bread, this treat has been a favorite in the South Korean city of Gangneung for decades. However, in 2019, the bread made a splash at a variety of department store food halls and restaurant chains across South Korea, exploding into a full-blown social media trend by 2020. You can now purchase the snack from street vendors across the country, especially in Seoul.

With its convenient, easy-to-carry size, it’s the perfect treat for two to share while shopping or on a picnic—or for you to devour on your own if you’re hungry.

What is the difference between Korean cream cheese garlic bread and regular garlic bread?

While regular garlic bread is usually made with Italian bread, a baguette or loaf bread, this version is made with a rich bun, often using a brioche or milk bun recipe. Not only is the bun itself sweeter than an Italian garlic bread, but the fillings are much sweeter and more dessert-like than a traditional garlic bread’s flavor profile. Also, while Italian garlic bread is usually buttered and toasted or baked, this Korean garlic bread is stuffed and baked. The filling in the Korean bread is much more custardy due to the extreme amount of delicious butter wash, made with milk and egg. The butter wash softens the bread and, combined with the cream cheese, creates a custard-like filling.

Find more inspired garlic bread recipes.

What should I serve with Korean cream cheese garlic bread?

This tasty treat is perfect on its own, but you can also serve it as an appetizer or side dish with one of our Korean-inspired recipes, like Korean Beef and Rice or a Stir-Fry Rice Bowl.

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Dakota Kim
Dakota Kim is a food, TV and culture writer living in Los Angeles.