Italian Easter Bread (Traditional Recipe) + Video

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Italian Easter bread features a tender, sweet dough baked with a colorful egg in the center. Top with simple syrup and colorful sprinkles! If this is the first time that you’re making this golden brown bread, you’re going to be hooked! 

italian easter bread topped with colored eggs and sprinkles


Every family has their own special holiday traditions, and one of ours is making these festive and scrumptious braided Italian sweet bread loaves for Easter!!

Deliciously tender and lightly sweet, the braided baskets are like a festive present for each of your guests! We have an entire menu for your Easter dinner.

This is one family tradition that I look forward to each year. It’s amazing how a ball of dough can turn into the most delicious fluffy braided bread.

You can easily add different colors right on top of the finished bread to make it look unique and fun.

The soft pieces of dough paired with the Easter eggs are a must-make recipe.

This isn’t something that you can just head to the grocery store and bough, and why would you want to? 

You can make this for Palm Sunday, or as a delicious bread to have on your dinner table.

Once the dough forms, you’re well on your way to enjoying that baked braided wreath. 

woman's hand kneading batch of dough

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!

You can change the flavor of this type of bread by adding sweet toppings or fun citrus flavoring like lemon zest or orange zest.

This change gives this recipe a whole new life! 

Looking for Easter cookies? Try these soft sugar cookies.

Create more traditional Italian treats at home with my recipes for struffoli (crispy honey balls), pignoli, and wedding cookies.

And if you need an entrée to steal the show, you can’t do better than Papa’s Braciole recipe!

overhead: wedges of sweet bread dough on floured counter

Sweet Easter Bread Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Take your time. 

While this sweet 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 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 Easter sweet bread dough to bring them to room temperature.

You can have the kids help with the colored eggs, and use natural dyes for the color. The eggs just fit so perfectly in the shape of a wreath! 

  • Serve immediately. 

Every part of this Italian Easter bread with eggs can be eaten fresh from the oven.

You can top it with melted butter, or let it cool completely on a wire rack and top with something sweet. Serve with milk or a cup of cold orange juice! 

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.

braiding ropes of bread dough on floured wood surface

Kitchen Tools You Will Need

brushing egg wash on italian easter bread before baking

Easter Sweet Bread FAQ

What is best way to store Italian Easter bread? 

First, gently remove the eggs and store them in the refrigerator for up to a week. Your sweet Easter bread can be kept at room temperature for 4 to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Either way, place Italian Easter bread in a zippered storage bag or airtight container to prevent it from drying out. You can also wrap the bread in plastic wrap to keep it soft. You’ll need a freezer bag if freezing. (I learned this lesson from last year when some air got into the container!) 

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 of Easter sweet bread at a time.

When should I eat this Italian Easter Bread recipe?

You can make it and eat it anytime that you want. That’s the beauty of this traditional Italian Easter bread recipe. Once you make it, you can enjoy it throughout the day.  

It’s even good the next day, just keep that in mind. I like to follow the recipe card, knowing that I’ll get to enjoy this recipe for a few days as long as I store it properly.

With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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loaves of braided bread topped with colorful sprinkles and an Easter egg

Other Easy Easter Recipes

italian easter bread with yellow dyed egg in center

Italian Easter Bread (Traditional Recipe) + Video

Donna Elick
Italian Easter Bread features a tender, sweet dough baked with an Easter egg in the center. Your family will love this classic bread recipe!
5 stars from 3 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Rise Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Course Bread
Cuisine Italian
Method Oven
Servings 6


  • 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!


Donna’s Notes

Simple Syrup can be made by combining 1 part sugar and 1 part water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until it comes to a boil and sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Store in refrigerator until ready to use (keeps for several days).


Serving: 1 | Calories: 649cal | Carbohydrates: 98g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 311mg | Sodium: 138mg | Sugar: 41g | Fiber: 3g | Calcium: 121mg | Iron: 6mg

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.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled pinterest collage for easter bread recipe

Originally published April 2012. Updated and republished March 2024

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  1. This looks adorable. I'm sure the kids would love it. Question for you though. You are baking an egg that is already hardboiled? How does the egg taste after that? Is it just for appearance at that point? Or would you still eat the egg?

    1. The egg is uncooked, but dyed when you place it in the oven. It cooks in the oven. It will come out hard cooked, or soft cooked depending on how long you bake your bread. If you are serving right away the egg is fantastic to eat, otherwise you need to remove the egg from the bread and refrigerate. When you are ready to serve, place the egg back on the bread.

    2. Ok, that makes sense. It didn't occur to me that you were dying uncooked eggs. That is very cool. Thanks for the reply. I knew I'd forget to ask you later. 🙂 Hope your day is a great one!

  2. never thought to make easter bread for easter? Duh! Its a genius idea and the bread looks so utterly delicious

  3. This is so amazing, love the post! I can't help but fall for all these versions of Easter breads, but the pastel center piece eggs are just so adorable. So when are you mailing me a loaf? 🙂

  4. What beautiful Easter breads! I like that you can make different variations on the dough as well. I've pinned this on my Easter board. Happy Easter!

    1. Simple syrup can be made by adding 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water to a saucepan and cook until it comes to a boil and sugar is melted. Cool to room temp. Enjoy!

    1. Simple syrup can be made by adding 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water to a saucepan and cook until it comes to a boil and sugar is melted. Cool to room temp. Enjoy!

  5. My mother in law always used to make these and send them to us, some she made in a different shape. Happy Easter!

  6. Lovely Easter bread Donna. If you felt like adding it to the Food on Friday: easter foods collection that would be fab! Cheers from Carole's Chatter

  7. Dumb question…. Is the simple syrup mixed with the egg for the egg wash?? I have read this recipe 10 times and not sure if I am missing something. Just can't see where to ass simple syrup.

    1. Not dumb at all do NOT mix as simple syrup with egg wash. Do it this way when your ready to bake the bread brush with egg wash, when it's done and you pull it out to cool brush with the simple syrup and sprinkles

  8. Where do I add the simple syrup?? Is it with the egg wash?? I have read recipe a bunch of times and not sure if I am missing something. Sorry rookie Easter bread maker LOL

  9. am making these as we speak!!! recipe is clear and easy, just my style. will serve them at my son's house with dinner tomorrow, Easter Sunday.. Happy Easter!!

  10. as an italian its better to use…icing sugar,squeeze of lemon and little water..mixing it.needs to be stiff…and mom makes these every easter….itailian background….this is a must at easter..we also make into the infinity shape with two eggs…for families to prosper….

  11. Hello: I am wondering if anyone knows if these can be frozen after baked. I would imagine you would not put the egg in it. I am Italian and grew up around several WONDERFUL Italian ladies. I saw it done with the egg and without. I have made them for years without the egg but never tried freezing them. ANY help appreciated. Thanks

    1. I just had this conversation with a friend who has been making these with her family for years… she actually makes some without the egg in the middle & does freeze the bread so she can have some throughout the year..

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