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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    Comments

  • Joseph wrote:

    for some reason I just decided to see if a recipe for Easter meat pie like My MOM used to make every year was available ,,,we always went to Claros market an upland Ca. for the ingredients cost a ton to get them your recipe has I think nailed I don’t remember sliced prosciutto , just all chunk meats maybe cappacolla ,spelled wrong , and provolone. it was very dense the crust seems to be rite will let you know ,that crust she made was the best ,,,,Im almost sure this is what She made …from Napoli Calabria ,,

    • Martha wrote:

      I hope ours is half as good as the one your mother used to make!

  • Raymond Lebert wrote:

    I have a question about the eggs used in the filling” are these eggs hard boiled and then chopped?”

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Raymond – No, the eggs are not cooked/boiled ahead of time. The white pieces you see in the photos are chunks of cheese. Hope that helps!

  • Frank DeSimone wrote:

    I enjoy theses recipes and would like future ones.Thanks Frank

  • Courtney Canzolino wrote:

    How big of a pan did you use?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Courtney – We made this in 9-inch round casserole with 2 1/4-inch high sides. If you have a 9-inch cake pan with higher sides, that would work too. You can really mound the meats and cheeses up in the pan before putting the crust on top. Hope that helps!

  • Karen wrote:

    Delicious Pie

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Karen!

  • Maria wrote:

    Awesome made both. Family loves Easter this is traditionally Italian Easter

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Maria – so glad you enjoyed the recipe! Happy Easter!

  • Annie Brooks wrote:

    This looks absolutely delicious. My father’s family is big on the Easter tradition. We make the same filling, but with no top crust. The cross on top is usually a piece of blessed palm that is easily removeable. I think it’s wonderful that you posted this.
    Buona Pasqua⛪️

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you Annie! Happy Easter! 🙂

  • Elizabeth wrote:

    I have been searching for this for a long time!

    • Martha wrote:

      We hope you love the recipe Elizabeth!

  • Richard wrote:

    we all have our family recipe for our easter pies this one sounds close to ours. we always have a side salad with it. Any suggestions for different sides?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Richard – Instead of a salad, how about some green beans (we have several good green bean recipes on our site) or maybe some roasted Brussels sprouts? Asparagus or zucchini might be another nice option too. Hope that helps!

  • Jamie H wrote:

    What kind of a pan do you use for this that makes it so deep? My pie plates are only maybe half as tall as this.

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Jamie – We used a round, 1-quart baking dish from Ikea that had higher sides than a deep dish pie plate. (You can see it in the photos – I don’t think it’s available from IKEA anymore unfortunately). But any round baking dish with sides about 2-inches high would work! Hope that helps!

  • Janet wrote:

    Pie was good but tasted very salty. Followed directions to the T not sure if I did something wrong, plus the ricotta seemed dry. Any suggestions for next time?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Janet – It’s always so hard to say without being in the kitchen with you! Perhaps the meats that you used were extra salty. Did you use a full-fat ricotta? (This also isn’t a super soft and gooey, cheesy pie…) Or it’s possible, if it was dry it may have been a little over-baked (every oven is different!)? Either way, I’m sorry you were disappointed in the recipe. Thank you for writing to us.

  • Martha Altier wrote:

    Giana is not the word for God is gracious, it’s a slang Neapolitan word for piena, which means full (of stuff). So in other words, a full pizza, una pizza piena. The proper name for this Easter pie is pizza rustica. Please be sure to do proper research and consult a real Italian before propagating false information.

  • Lois Caruso Velez wrote:

    This is my grandmother’s recipe..also over 100 years old from the Caserta region of Italy. I make it without a top crust to save some calories. But that’s wishful thinking !

    • Martha wrote:

      LOL – I always say that calories don’t count on the holiday! Thanks for writing to us today Lois!

  • Angela wrote:

    I like your recipes and thank you.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you Angela!

  • Laura wrote:

    This looks really similar to what my Nonna used to make and I can’t wait to try it for this Easter. But we called it Pizza Chiena. Chiena is dialect for full or stuffed, in the sense that you can’t fit any more in it. So it was a stuffed pizza. I’ve never heard the definition you gave before. Very interesting.

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Laura – I hope our recipe is as good as the one your Nonna used to make! 🙂

  • Paulette Bacco wrote:

    I’m Italian and I like to see recipes from. different regions

    • Martha wrote:

      We hope you’ll give the recipe a try Paulette!

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