Kolach (Ukrainian Christmas Bread) Recipe

Ukrainian Christmas bread kolach recipe

The Spruce / Nita West

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Rise Time: 2 hrs 30 mins
Total: 3 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Yield: 1 loaf
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
159 Calories
4g Fat
26g Carbs
5g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 159
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 4%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 58mg 19%
Sodium 152mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 9%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 14mg 1%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 56mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This recipe for Ukrainian Christmas bread or kolach is a slightly sweet yeast bread that is braided and shaped into either an oblong loaf, a round braided loaf, or three separate round braids stacked one on top of the other.

In the case of a stacked kolach, a candle is placed in the middle and is an essential part of the Christmas Eve supper (Sviata Vechera). The bread isn't eaten until Christmas Day because it contains eggs and Orthodox Christians fast for Advent, including Christmas Eve.

Kolach is a symbol of good luck, eternity, prosperity, and also is featured at memorial services for the dead.

"The Ukrainian Christmas bread was soft, flavorful, and easy to make. My bread registered 205 F after 35 minutes, so I recommend applying the egg wash after 25 minutes and looking for a final temperature of 190 F to 200 F. I will make the bread again but in the traditional round shape." —Diana Rattray

Recipe Test: Ukrainian Christmas Bread
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Yeast:

  • 1 (.25-ounce) packet active dry yeast, 2 1/4 teaspoons

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water

  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature

For the Dough:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water

  • 4 cups (518 grams) all-purpose flour

  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for the glaze

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Ukrainian Christmas bread
    The Spruce / Nita West
  2. Prepare the yeast mixture. In a small bowl, mix together the yeast, sugar and lukewarm water. Let stand 15 minutes or until bubbly.

    Mug of yeast
    The Spruce / Nita West
  3. Make the dough. In a large bowl or a stand mixer, beat the eggs until thick. Beat in the yeast mixture, sugar, oil, and salt.​

    Make the dough
    The Spruce / Nita West
  4. Then add the 1/2 cup lukewarm water and mix until fully incorporated.

    Add water
    The Spruce / Nita West
  5. Add 2 cups of the flour and mix well. Add remaining 2 cups of flour and knead until dough is smooth and blistered.

    Add flour
    The Spruce / Nita West
  6. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until doubled.

    Let dough rise
    The Spruce / Nita West
  7. Punch down dough and let rise again until doubled, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Knead by hand a few times and then turn out onto a lightly floured board.

    Punch down dough
    The Spruce / Nita West
  8. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and braid. Shape into an oblong loaf and place on a parchment-lined baking pan. Or shape into a circle, joining the ends, and place in a greased 10-inch tube pan.

    Braid dough
    The Spruce / Nita West
  9. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 30 minutes.

    Braided dough
    The Spruce / Nita West
  10. Heat oven to 350 F. Bake for 25 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 180 F.

    The Spruce / Nita West
  11. Remove the bread from the oven and brush with 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water. Return the bread to the oven and bake for 5 minutes longer, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 190 to 200 F.

    Brush with butter
    The Spruce / Nita West
  12. Remove from oven and turn out of pans to cool completely on a wire rack.

    Let cool
    The Spruce / Nita West
  13. Enjoy as a lightly sweet dessert with tea or coffee after a meal or with butter for breakfast.

    Butter bread
    The Spruce / Nita West


  • This recipe will make either 1 braided oblong loaf or 1 braided round loaf. To make three round braided loaves that are stacked on top of each other, triple the recipe. The three loaves should be baked in 3 tube pans of decreasing size, 12-inch, 10-inch, and 8-inch would be perfect.
  • For faster rising, place the dough in the oven with the light on or choose the proving function if your oven has that option.

How to Use Stale Ukrainian Kolach

There are many ways to use leftover stale bread. Here are a few great ideas:

  • Make croutons for salads or casseroles.
  • Make a panzanella salad with cubed leftover bread.
  • Make breadcrumbs—pulse the bread in the food processor and freeze the crumbs to use in casseroles, meatloaf or meatballs, as a filler for crab cakes, or a coating for meat, fish, or chicken.
  • Sauté lightly seasoned breadcrumbs in butter or olive oil until crisp and sprinkle them over pasta or steamed vegetables.
  • Make French toast or a delicious bread pudding.

How to Store Ukrainian Christmas Bread

  • Store the completely cooled bread in a large airtight plastic bag at room temperature for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze the bread for longer storage. Wrap the loaf or individual slices in plastic wrap and foil, label with the name and date, and freeze the bread for up to 6 months. Defrost the bread on the countertop.