A classic Italian recipe for Easter Pie (Pizza Giana) - a dense, delicious pie filled with Italian Meats and Cheeses with a thick crust.

My father in-law recently gave my husband Jack a priceless treasure – an envelope full of hand-written recipes from his grandmother that are over 100 years old!  Among those recipes, was a recipe for an Italian Easter Pie.

As a child, Jack has distinct memories being served Easter pie at his Nanna and Grampa’s house.  It’s full of eggs, cheeses, and Italian cold cuts and has a firm crust.  This delicious pie is traditionally served at Easter in Italian households as a way to ‘break Lent’ – hence the name – Easter Pie!

A classic Italian recipe for Easter Pie (Pizza Giana) - a dense, delicious pie filled with Italian Meats and Cheeses with a thick crust.

There are actually many different variations of Easter Pie – some with 33 layers of crust (one for each year that Christ lived) called Torte Pasqualina and that is made with greens, ham, cheese and hard boiled eggs inside.  Ours is a meat and cheese version called Pizza Giana (Giana means “God is gracious” in Italian) – and in fact, there are actually a number of names and  variations for this type of meat and cheese Easter pie – all depending on what region of the country your Italian family comes from.  There are even some dessert Easter pies!

Our Easter pie is dense, filling, savory and delicious!  It’s made with Italian meats and cheeses – all of which are easily found at your local supermarket.  You can make a pattern on the crust (we did a cross) for the holiday, or leave it plain – completely your choice!

A classic Italian recipe for Easter Pie (Pizza Giana) - a dense, delicious pie filled with Italian Meats and Cheeses with a thick crust.

Sadly, Jack’s grandmother’s old handwritten recipe was battered and yellowed to the point of not being fully-legible.  So this recipe also draws inspiration from one of our favorite Italian cookbooks, The North End Italian Cookbook, as well as what Jack could read in the handwritten recipe and his memories of the dish his grandparents made for their family growing up.

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Easter Pie - A Family Feast

Easter Pie

  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients

For the Crust:

  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper (yes I said 1 tablespoon)
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup or less warm water
  • 1 egg and one tablespoon milk for egg wash

For the Filling:

  • 1 pound whole milk ricotta
  • ½ pound pepperoni, cut into small cubes (don’t use pre-sliced)
  • ¼ pound double Abbruzese, cut into small cubes
  • ½ pound sopressata, cut into small cubes
  • 1/8 pound Genoa salami, cut into small cubes
  • ¼ pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • ½ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh cheese (such as formaggio, queso fresco, or other similar fresh uncultured cheese)
  • ½ pound thinly sliced prosciutto

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix flour and black pepper together with a fork. Cut in shortening and mix to pea sized crumbs. Make a well in the center and add beaten eggs and half the water. Mix by hand and keep adding water until a dough forms. (I should note that the traditional crust for this sort of savory pie is a stiff hard crust, not a flaky crust so the next step is contrary to the usual way to make a pie crust but is needed for the crust to be stiff). Knead the dough on the counter for 5-7 minutes, wrap in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  3. While dough is resting, in a large bowl, mix all filling ingredients except fresh cheese and prosciutto. Break fresh cheese apart with your hands and gently work it into mixture without over mixing. Set mixture aside.
  4. Take 2/3 of the dough and roll out to fit your dish or pan, having it cover the bottom and sides, spilling over the top. Lay half the sliced prosciutto on the bottom right over the dough, then cover with the filling. Lay the second half of the prosciutto over the filling.
  5. Roll out the other 1/3 portion of the dough and cover the top of the pie, trimming excess. Crimp the edges together tight using a fork to press the two edges together. For the traditional Easter pie, take the excess dough, roll out and cut two dough strips and form a cross on the top of the pie. (Or any other decoration you feel that fits your needs)
  6. Make egg wash with the egg and milk and brush all over pie top including the cross and the edges.
  7. Make four slits through pie top to let steam escapes.
  8. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Lower heat to 350 and bake for 30 more minutes. Lower heat to 300 and bake for 30 more minutes. If not browned enough, bake for 10 more minutes.
  9. Cool to room temperature, chill for six hours and serve cold wedges.
  10. Will last for up to five days refrigerated.

A classic Italian recipe for Easter Pie (Pizza Giana) - a dense, delicious pie filled with Italian Meats and Cheeses with a thick crust.

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Italian_Tomato_Sauce - A Family Feast

 

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    Comments

  • Alice wrote:

    Our version uses ricotta, ham, sausage, and mozzarella or tuma cheese, and grated cheese. Only a few more weeks until Easter pie time!

    • Martha wrote:

      Sounds delicious Alice!

  • Melissa wrote:

    Sounds amazing and I want to make it for my family this coming Easter but curious if it can be served hot?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Melissa – If served hot right out of the oven, you won’t get the nice clean-edged slices like we show in the photos. But it would still taste delicious!

  • Theresa Panico Delahunty wrote:

    Hi guys, I come from a family of 8 , my parents where from Naples Italy,I am the youngest of the 8, my mother made her pizza Geiana with small chunks of procutto ,dry sausage,suppersarda,salarmi,ham,eigther recotta in the basket te or French mozzarella all in chunks,But from we’re from we make a SWEET DOUGH and fill it with beaten eggs and pBlack pepper,I v been making it now for 47 years , it is just delisous.

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Theresa – Thank you so much for the suggestion – it sounds fantastic! I do have to say – I love hearing everyone’s family stories and their memories about Easter Pie! Have a wonderful holiday and thank you for writing to us!

  • Richard Rufi wrote:

    This is exactly what we grew up having every Easter. My Dad would make 3 of them to make sure we had enough left for Easter. (I have his recipe on a 3 by 5 card and I still make it for Easter) He even put the pepper in his crust, but he did a lattice top and not a full crust top. I will be making my Easter pies tomorrow.

    • Martha wrote:

      Such wonderful memories Richard! That recipe card is a true treasure! I love the idea of a lattice top in your version. Have a wonderful holiday and thank you for writing to us today!

  • Deneen Strobel wrote:

    Lovely recipe, never heard of an Easter pie until today so I looked it up and I will be enjoying this with my family on Easter Sunday, Thank you! Can’t wait to try it!!

    • Martha wrote:

      We hope you love the pie Deneen! Happy Easter!

    • Stephanie wrote:

      I am 65years old, a friend posted photos of 5
      Easter Pies….. I had never heard of them.
      Being Greek, with many Italian friends, surprised….

      I am making this next week, that is
      Greek Easter (orthodox) to break the fast ✝️🖤

      • Martha wrote:

        We hope you love the recipe Stephanie! Happy Easter!

  • Marguerite wrote:

    I researched formaggio and I found an almost endless list of types of formaggio from it is Italian for cheese, to it is a fresh mozzarella, to a list of regional types of formaggio… Since one of your ingredients is mozzarella, I am now totally confused.

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Marguerite – For our recipe, I’d suggest looking for the fresh mozzarella balls. Hope that helps!

  • Janice wrote:

    Hi Martha!
    So glad I found you…I didn’t really save any of my Mom’s recipes and you have them! Yeah! This brings back so many good memories from childhood. Thank you. I will try to make this for the upcoming holiday to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection.
    Many blessings to you and the family,
    Janice

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you Janice! We’re glad you found us! Hope you enjoy the recipes!

  • Enid McKitrick wrote:

    This looks absolutely delicious. But what is double abbruzzese?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Enid – It is a hard, spicy pork sausage somewhat similar to salami or pepperoni. If your deli doesn’t carry it, you can substitute more of the salami or any other spicy, hard sausage. Hope that helps!

  • Pam wrote:

    I made this recipe for Easter and it was fantastic! I have made these meat pies before but this one is by far the best! Everyone loved it. Thank you for sharing your family recipe!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks so much Pam! We’re so glad you all enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for taking the time to write to us today!

  • Mary wrote:

    I probably should have asked this before I started LOL, but what if you can only fit in half the filling? I’ve got it looking lovely in a regular pie pan but the dough only seemed to fit half the stuff. Do I do each temperature increment at a shorter time?
    I guess at this point I’ll just let you know how it turns out!

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Mary – You might have already figured this out…a smaller pie will probably just take less time to cook! Hope the recipe worked out for you!

  • Brenda wrote:

    Hi Martha. My grandparents were born in Italy and every year at this time my grandmother would make “Easter Pizza”. It has become a family tradition and the recipe is passed down from one generation to the next. My mother taught me and I taught my daughter and sons. and now my granddaughters. Everyone looks forward to it and it is shared with family and friends. <3

    • Martha wrote:

      What a wonderful tradition Brenda and great family memories!! As I get older, more and more I appreciate our old family recipes and I hope someday my own daughter will enjoy making them too! Thank you for writing to us today. Happy Easter!

  • Therese wrote:

    can this be frozen?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Therese – I suppose any foods can be frozen but it won’t be as good as freshly baked. I probably would not choose myself to freeze this pie…. Hope that helps!

    • Alice wrote:

      It can be frozen. Wrap it very well and don’t keep it in the freezer for too long.

      • Martha wrote:

        Thanks Alice!

  • Rachael wrote:

    This looks delicious, very similar to Timpano! Can’t wait to try this. I’ve made Timpano in my dutch oven before and highly suggest that!

    • Martha wrote:

      Great idea Rachael! Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Karen wrote:

    I’m not sure of the spelling, but my husbands family is from Naples, and they always called this a (phonetically spelled ). Shy-own

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Karen! We haven’t heard of that name ourselves from our family recipes and the cookbooks we looked at before making this pie. Very interesting!

  • Dianna wrote:

    This looks so good I really want to try it. I’m a little confused though – are the “whole eggs” hard cooked or are they fresh?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Dianna – Sorry for the confusion. It’s regular, uncooked eggs. I will update the recipe so it’s less confusing. Thanks for writing to us and I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  • Sherry wrote:

    What a great story. I love old hand written recipes. I am trying to collect some from my family to frame as kitchen art. You might try photocopying the recipes that are so faded. Sometimes the copies come out darker than the originals and you can actually read them.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Sherry – great suggestion! And – I love your idea of framing the recipes as art! Thanks for writing to us today!

  • mrsblocko wrote:

    This pie looks amazing! My husband would go crazy for all the meats inside it. I’m curious what type of pan you baked it in. It looks like a deep dish pie pan, but what diameter? Do you think I could get away with making it in a cake pan as I only have the more shallow style pie pans?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi – We made this in 9-inch round casserole with 2 1/4-inch high sides. I think a cake pan would definitely work – you can really mound the meats and cheeses up in the pan before putting the crust on top. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  • Jeanuar wrote:

    I may have to try this for my husband this Easter. He is Italian but does not have any of this type of tradition. Usually we get invited to our neighbors on Holy Saturday for a pasta dish from his Italian traditions.
    I found you through your smoothies, and then you got me with that oatmeal cranberry cheesecake square. I too am from southeast MA and love cranberry season.

    • Martha wrote:

      We’re so glad you found us and I hope you enjoy all of the recipes! Thanks for writing to us this evening!

  • Dana Wallac wrote:

    Thank you so much! My Italian friend thought it was a type of cheese so glad I asked:)

  • Dana Wallac wrote:

    Hi – what is Abbruzese that is called for in Easter Pie? I have searched the web and it just says it is a region in Italy?? Please help. – Dana

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Dana – We found it at our local supermarket – and it’s basically a variation of sopressata. If you can’t find either, any hard salami made from ham will work in the Easter Pie. I hope that helps!

      • Theresa Hoyt wrote:

        I use procuto salami and pepperoni! u have to use cured meats!

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