Italian Easter bread features a tender, sweet dough baked with a colorful egg in the center. Top with simple syrup and colorful sprinkles!
Every family has their own special holiday traditions, and one of ours is making these festive and scrumptious braided Italian bread loaves for Easter!!
Deliciously tender and lightly sweet, the braided baskets are like a festive present for each of your guests!
Italian Easter Bread
Pane di Pasqua, which literally translates to “Easter bread,” has long been a staple on spring holiday tables across Italy.
While we prefer a sweet Easter bread, you could easily make a savory version. Vegetables, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes — the options for additions are nearly endless!
And if you need an entrée to steal the show, you can’t do better than Papa’s Braciole recipe!
Recipe Tips and Tricks
Take your time.
While this Italian Easter bread recipe may be time consuming, the finished product is well worth the wait! Don’t rush the process — a double rise is key to the delicious, tender crumb.
Use fresh yeast.
It’s important to have a really fresh yeast. I keep mine in the freezer in a mason jar for optimum freshness.
Don’t boil the eggs!
They will cook through in the oven, so all you need to do is color them first. If chilled, set them on the counter while you prepare the dough to bring them to room temperature.
Every part of this Easter bread with eggs can be eaten fresh from the oven. If you’ll be making this recipe ahead of time, remove each egg from the center and keep them in the refrigerator. Then, pop them right back in the middle before serving.
Kitchen Tools You Will Need
- Stand Mixer with the dough hook attachment
- Medium Saucepan – This pan is wonderful! It heats evenly and is easy to clean too.
- Rimmed Baking Sheets lined with parchment paper
- Mixing Bowls – You will need a variety of sizes for this Italian Easter bread recipe, and this set has them all!
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Italian Easter Bread FAQ
What is best way to store Sicilian Easter bread?
First, gently remove the eggs and store them in the refrigerator for up to a week. Your pane di pasqua can be kept at room temperature for 4 to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Either way, place it in a zippered storage bag or airtight container to prevent it from drying out.
How do you make simple syrup?
No need to spend money at the store. Just combine equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.
Stir occasionally until it starts to bubble and the sugar is dissolved. Then, let it cool to room temperature. You can use the syrup immediately or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Can I double this Easter bread recipe?
Technically, yes — I would recommend making several batches at once since there’s only so much room in your mixer!
But as long as you have space in the oven, you can easily bake more than one tray at a time.
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
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Italian Easter Bread + Video
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter , divided (4 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon)
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast, (2 1/4 teaspoons is one packet of yeast)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup simple syrup, See Notes for instructions
- Nonpareil sprinkles
- 6 large eggs, uncooked and colored
- Combine milk and 4 tablespoons of butter in saucepan over low and cook until butter melts. Pour butter mixture into bowl of stand mixer.Allow mixture to cool to 110°-120°F. Add yeast and sugar. Stir to combine. Allow mixture to stand for 10 minutes so yeast can bloom.
- Meanwhile: Beat 2 eggs and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water, whisking to combine. Set aside.
- Add 2 beaten eggs, vanilla extract and 2 cups of flour to the stand mixer bowl. Combine with the dough hook attachment. Add more flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough is not sticky anymore. I use a total of 4 cups but the amount can vary depending on the altitude and temperature where you live. Knead bread dough with the dough hook until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Turn out onto floured surface and knead until you have a smooth ball.
- Place 1 tablespoon butter in large glass bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Place dough in greased bowl and flip to coat both sides with melted butter. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, punch down to release gas bubbles, then divide into 12 pieces.Roll each piece to form a 1 inch thick rope about 12-14 inches long. Braid two ropes of dough together, pinching the ends, then loop into a circle.
- Place circles of dough on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let them rise until doubled in size, about 60 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush each bread ring with egg wash and set a dyed uncooked Easter egg in the center of each ring, gently pushing down to make an indentation in the bread. Bake until Easter bread rings are golden brown, approximately 20-25 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet.
- Remove from pan and place on cooling rack. Brush each Easter bread with simple syrup (see notes) and sprinkle with Nonpareil sprinkles. Serve and enjoy!
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published April 2012. Updated and republished March 2022
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