Whole Wheat Vegan Challah

vegan challah
Challah is one of my favorite breads. A kind of butterless brioche, it has the same flaky texture and lightness as brioche minus the butter. It also has a gorgeous braided look that’s pretty easy to achieve with just a tiny bit more effort than is required to shape any old bread.For a vegan, the chief challenge in baking a perfect challah tends to be the eggs that are such a predominant part of any challah recipe. Tastewise, I had always detested the eggy smell. But the eggs also help form the bread’s delicate structure, which made it just a tad scary to contemplate baking a challah without them.By now, though, I’ve veganized enough baked goods to never say die. So onward I pressed with my most trusted egg substitute, flax seed powder, which I thought would perform well in this bread because it is rich in fats, like eggs, but also has a deep nuttiness that would go well with the whole wheat I was planning to use in place of all-purpose flour which, to me, tastes like chalk.I did use some bread flour, which is also refined, mainly because using only whole wheat would make the bread too dense and heavy, which, in a challah, would be self-defeating.The result was beyond my expectations. Not only was the challah extremely flaky and delicious, but it looked absolutely gorgeous with a golden-crisp crust.

In fact, it was a small miracle.
vegan challah

Whole-wheat Vegan Challah Bread: Eggless Bliss
Cook time
Total time
Whole-Wheat Vegan Challah Bread
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: Jewish
  • 2¼ tsp or 1 package active dry yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • Mix the yeast and the warm water in a mixing bowl and leave alone for five minutes to ensure the yeast is alive. If it froths and bubbles, it is!
  • Add to the bowl:
  • ½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 4 tbsp ground flax seed
  • + 6 tbsp water, whisked together
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Mix on medium-low speed until blended. Add:
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1½ cup bread flour
  • Knead on medium low speed in a stand mixer for about 5 minutes or about 10 minutes by hand. The dough should be elastic and smooth.
  1. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, turn it once to coat the top with oil, then cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 2½ hours in a warm place.
  2. Punch down the dough, knead a bit, and then refrigerate for about 4-5 hours until the dough has doubled.
  3. Divide the dough into three balls and let them rest, covered with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap, for about 15 minutes.
  4. Roll each ball into a rope about 12 inches in length. Dust with flour.
  5. Place the three ropes side-by-side. Now pinch together the top ends and carefully braid the three, like you'd braid your hair. For instance, pick the left rope and place it between the right and the middle rope, then pick the right rope and place it between the left and middle ropes, and so on.
  6. Pinch together the ends and tuck them under the bread.
  7. Transfer the loaf to a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal.
  8. Brush the top of the loaf with some olive oil which will give it a lovely glaze after baking.
  9. Cover the loaf with oiled plastic wrap and set it in a warm place to rise. In about an hour, it would have nearly doubled in size.
  10. Brush the loaf again with olive oil, sprinkle some sesame seeds over it, then place it in a preheated 375-degree oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  11. Cool the loaf on a rack before cutting in.
  12. Enjoy!

I am sending this vegan challah recipe over to Mansi‘s Weekend Breakfast Blogging: Balanced Breakfast event. Thanks, Mansi, for hosting this!

For another great eggless, dairyless bread, try my Whole Wheat French Bread, which includes a step-by-step guide, or my butterless Avocado Brioche.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    wow, challah without eggs… i hate that eggy smell too, ick… i bet this would make an awesome french toast – without the eggs & dipped in spiced soy milk! yummy, great picture.

  2. says

    this looks awesome vaishali! and it’s wggless and whole-wheat! perfect:)

    btw, this would be a great addition to the WBB-Balanced Breakfast event on my blog…do check it out and send this in if you like!:)

  3. says

    Wow you are so innovative! and BRAVE! I think I will try to make this for my vegetarian Mom while she is here for the next two weeks. Thanks for the recipe…it looks beautiful!

  4. says

    Bee, Suganya, Miri- Hope you ladies do try it.

    Remya, Sunita, Richa,Happy Cook, Trupti, Sagari, Chocolatecoveredvegan, Sandhya, Dhivya: Thanks for your kind words.

    Alpa, I agree it would make great French toast.

    A cook@heart: Just try it- I know you’ll enjoy baking.

    Mansi- thanks for reminding! I have emailed you already!

  5. says

    I recently got in to challah as well. My girlfriend used to work as a nanny for a Jewish family and the mother always made fresh challah bread. I would always hear about this fresh, chewy bread that you just tore chunks from and snacked on. Well just a few days ago I found a frozen Whole Wheat Challah bread in Fairway, a large gourmet/health/regular grocery store and it is delicious! This one has eggs in it, but I’m not a vegan. I like this recipe though, I may have to make this! By the way, challah is great with a schmear of peanut butter on it! Thanks for sharing!

    The Peanut Butter Boy

  6. says

    You must be wondering why a comment for an older post… I just love this recipe. I use flax seeds a lot too, and this looks like something I would totally enjoy.
    Am making it today. Will let you know how it goes…
    Man, it does take a while to make it, does’nt it? :)

  7. Anonymous says

    Thanks so much for this receipe. I made it yesterday and it “kinda” came out fine. It tasted very good but didn’t rise as much as I thought it should, and in the 2nd & 3rd kneading the dough sorta split into sections, as if someone had cut slits in it, and I had a hard time kneading it all together. I kneaded by hand; would that have been the cause? Also, couldn’t find flax seed powder at Whole Foods, only flax seed meal which I used. Maybe next time I will pulvarize it into powder. Anyway my vegan company was thrilled with it.

  8. says

    Thanks!! I made this recipe and it was great- I’m certainly going to make it again. The only thing I didn’t like was the crust (too dry to my taste).
    One simplification: I used a bread machine for the kneading and first rising; and then I had to punch it down again an hour after putting it in the fridge. I then left it there to rise again overnight (about 7 hours).
    I posted my modified version (in Hebrew) on my blog (with a link here of course!):

  9. says

    Hi, Vaishali- Saw the challah that veggie girl made on her blog- I tried to use whole wheat flour in another recipe but it turned out a bit dense. This looks amazing- thanks for the recipe!!

  10. says

    This bread is what convinced me to go vegan…I knew if I could make an eggless challah, I could make anything vegan. This bread always brings compliments…my Jewish friends are delightfully surprised (and confused!) that the bread has no eggs. Thank you.

  11. says

    Hi! This looks so great, I love challah but have never had a whole wheat version though I always prefer whole grain breads. I’m not really a practicing Jew but my friend and I are doing a relaxed shabbat dinner tonight so I’m making this right now. I ended up using quinoa flour instead of bread flour because it’s all I had so I hope that doesn’t mess it up. I’ll let you know how it goes out!

    ps. I love your blog!

  12. says

    Anonymous, I would reduce the whole wheat flour to half a cup and substitute the bread flour for 2 cups of all-purpose flour.
    This is because all-purpose flour has more gluten than whole-wheat, but less than bread flour, so reducing the amount of whole wheat and increasing the amount of all-purpose flour balances out the gluten content. (Gluten is what gives your bread its structure). Does that make sense?

  13. Anonymous says

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I am new to being a vegan and am starting a new chapter in my life, in general. I appreciate you having created this recipe and sharing it. I will try it tomorrow.


  14. says

    SO DELICIOUS, but so much flour is unnecessary. With my last (big) loaf, I doubled it, but with the same amount of yeast, 4 TB oil, 4 TB sugar, and leaving out almost 2 cups of flour. Beware of dough that is too dry, it will not rise!

  15. Scgilles says

    I just found your blog tonight and I am so excited about trying a bunch of your recipes! I was thinking about trying the Challah bread but I needed to know if you thought I could replace or omit the oil. Thanks!

  16. says

    Scgilles, welcome! The oil is rather important for the texture, so I wouldn’t recommend replacing it. You might try reducing it by a tablespoon or so, but if possible I’d still just go with the recommended amount– it’s not a lot considering it’s a whole, rather big loaf of bread.

  17. AikoVenus says

    Thank you so much! I thought that I would never be able to make something like this because challah is such an eggy bread.

  18. says

    I am a observant Jew and have been eating challah my whole life. I have been trying to go vegan for a while and this recipe has brought me one step closer. I have made this a few times and it has come out great each time! Thank you so much for sharing this.

  19. Anonymous says

    Can this dough be refrigerated overnight after the first rising? Should anything be modified in the recipe in order to do so? Thanks.

  20. says

    Hi Vaishali,
    I was searching for vegan whole wheat challah and this recipe was on top of google search results. :-) Have one question, can I substitute flaxseed with applesauce or is there any other substitute for flaxseed? please let me know.

  21. ali says

    Can you make a suggestion how we can make your vegan challah recipe Gluten Free as well..?

    I am allergic to eggs and gluten, and am dying to have an awesome challah recipe. I haven’t had any in years!

    But have no idea what flour blend would work….( It has to contain oat flour though..) Or if the proportions of ingredients would change at all because of the swap out to gluten free flours..

    If you could create a tasty yummy oat flour based vegan challah recipe for us gluten free and vegan peeps, your recipe would be made by tons of people and sooooo appreciated.

    My attempts have been sucky. :)

    Thank you!!!!

    • says

      Hi Ali, you might want to stick with a premixed gluten-free bread flour recipe to begin with. You won’t be able to shape it into a braid, because gluten-free flour doughs are more of a batter, but you might get a decent. flaky bread.
      I will try my hand at one, hopefully sooner rather than later. Thanks for your message! :)

  22. alli says

    Thanks for writing!
    Unfortunately all pre-made Gluten Free bread mixes contain RICE FLOUR and I’m allergic to rice…
    I would love an oat flour based challah dough that would be fluffy and sweet and reminiscent of real challah.
    And BTW..I’ve heard of and seen pictures online of vegan oat flour based gluten free challah dough that can be braided, but there are no recipes…
    (check out challahluya.com and look for her vegan gluten free water based challah. It looks delish!
    Everyone is hoarding their secrets..
    Please develop one soon??

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