June 24th, 2013

Easy Stuffed Bread with Pesto

This weekend was my son’s birthday.  This bread is his favorite {He affectionately calls it just “meat bread”}.   I knew he would ask me to make for his birthday- he usually does.  Fresh bread flavored with rich pesto, cheese and your favorite meats – YUM.

Bread braids are amazing – they look so pretty an so impressive, and of course we all love bread stuffed with goodies.   We sometimes make this bread for a casual main dish served with a simple Caesar salad or fruit.  I also love to make this for parties and fill up a basked with small slices cut on the diagonal.  I promise it always goes fast and everyone loves it.



This bread is great warm out of the oven, but you can serve it cold also.  My kids loved taking a slice of this bread to school in their lunches.  If you’re planning a picnic, you can make small personal loaves and even customize the “stuffing” to individual tastes.



There’s just so much fun in this bread.  So how do you make bread braid easy?  My secret . . . frozen bread dough.  And since I’m giving out my secrets, another one of learned is that you can defrost frozen bread dough in the microwave to really keep it quick and easy {I love easy!}  I have and sometimes do make my own bread dough, but the frozen works great and saves time!

Below are the basics for a basic loaf of Stuffed Bread with Pesto – Change it up to meet your taste.  My son’s version is a little boring – pesto, ham, turkey, cheddar, and mozzarella.  {I have to admit, through the years I often made the basic version because someone didn’t like olives, someone didn’t like peppers . . .  you know what I’m talking about.}  Use your favorite cheese, peppers, onions, sun dried tomatoes {drained well}, olives . . .  stuff it with a little or load it up!  I promise this really is easy.  The bread dough is very forgiving.  Once it rises and you bake it, everything melds together and just works and looks great.


Easy Stuffed Bread with Pesto


1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed (or make your own bread)
deli meat such as ham and turkey (about 1/3 pound)*
grated cheese such as cheddar and mozzarella


Roll your dough out on a lightly floured surface to form a rectangle (approx. 8″ x 14″).  Transfer to a large baking sheet lined with a silPat or parchment paper.  Cut slits in down each side of the dough with you kitchen shears, about 1 1/2 inches in and about 1 in apart.

Spread a layer of pesto on the bread dough.  You can be a generous as you like here.

Sprinkle a little cheese down the center and then layer with ham, more cheese, turkey, and again more cheese.  Note:  if you want to add veggies or olives, add them between the layers of meat.

To make the braid and enclose the filling, crisscross the side strips one at a time.  Start at the top and bring one strip over the center and then another strip from the other side until the length of the filling is totally enclosed.  Pinch the ends close.  Don’t worry if you have pesto and cheese poking out – I think the bead looks yummy with the cheese and pesto baked on top.

Let the bread braid rise in a warm place until double.  (A warm oven works well).



Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Brush with a little melted butter first if you want a shine to your bread.

Important:  Allow to cool on a wire rack – if you leave it on the tray it will sweat and get soggy on the bottom.  Allow to cool at least 10 minutes and then cut it on the diagonal to serve.




*For party bread or to use as an appetizer, you don’t need as much meat.  If making a main dish out of the bread, you can pile it on.

To thaw in the microwave, open the package and place it in the microwave on defrost for approx. 8-10 minutes or until soft. {All microwaves are different – just check until it is soft and ready to roll out.}  I will put all three loaves in at the same time if making multiple braids.

To make individual sandwiches, cut your dough in half or thirds and fill as outlined above.

Pesto freezes well.  Place the leftover in ice cube trays or other small servings and freeze.

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3 Responses to “Easy Stuffed Bread with Pesto”

  1. Mmmm, it looks delicious. Such a pretty braided loaf.

  2. Making this at our next family gathering..also pinning it, thank you 🙂

  3. I’ll take one with extra olives please! 🙂


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