Become a Better Cook in 4 Days!

Italian Easter Bread (also known as Pane di Pasqua) is a traditional bread made for the Easter holiday. Delicious!

This pretty Italian Easter Bread (or Pane di Pasqua) has been on my culinary bucket list for years! And I have to thank my husband Jack for helping me perfect this recipe so we could share it here with all of you today!

But really – this Italian Easter Bread is so pretty and delicious, we might be adding this to our Easter menu from now on! The bread itself is fluffy and light – somewhat similar to a brioche – with a hint of slightly sweet orange, lemon and anise flavors.

Italian Easter Bread (also known as Pane di Pasqua) is a traditional bread made for the Easter holiday. Delicious!

Nestled inside the braided dough is a colored Easter egg that cooks while the bread bakes. Once the bread is baked and cooled slightly, a sweet sugar glaze flavored with additional anise extract is brushed on top and coarse pearl sugar is sprinkled on top for additional sweetness and decoration.

Italian Easter Bread (also known as Pane di Pasqua) is a traditional bread made for the Easter holiday. Delicious!

This Italian Easter Bread is a classic recipe to make for the Easter holiday, and it is delicious served at breakfast or with your Easter dinner! The eggs symbolize rebirth – both in the Christian religious sense with the Easter holiday, but also to mark the Spring season.

Italian Easter Bread (also known as Pane di Pasqua) is a traditional bread made for the Easter holiday. Delicious!

There are many variations of this Italian Easter Bread – some made in a single braided loaf, some with or without the egg in the middle, and others using colored sprinkles instead of the pearl sugar used in our recipe.  Every Italian family seems to have their own special recipe for the holiday!

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Italian Easter Bread (Pane di Pasqua) - A Family Feast

Italian Easter Bread (Pane di Pasqua)

  • Prep Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 4 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 small loaves


Note: This Italian Easter Bread will go stale very quickly so it is best served the day it is baked. Store any leftovers tightly covered in an air-tight container or bag.


  • 1¼ cups whole milk
  • 2 ½ teaspoons dry yeast
  • 2 whole eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Zest of one large navel orange
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon anise extract
  • ½ cup butter softened, 1 stick
  • 44 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • Olive oil to oil bowl

Colored Eggs

  • 6 teaspoons white vinegar
  • Liquid food coloring, your choice of colors
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 6 raw eggs left in shell


Egg wash

  • One beaten egg
  • 1 teaspoon water


  1. Heat milk on stove or in microwave until it is exactly 110 degrees F.
  2. Mix in yeast and let bloom for 10 minutes.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat eggs and add sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is pale in color.
  4. Add salt, zests, extracts and butter and mix.
  5. Slowly add two cups of flour with mixer running on low.
  6. Replace paddle with dough hook and continue adding the remaining 2 cups of flour alternating the milk and yeast mixture to produce a soft slightly tacky dough, adding the last half cup of flour only if needed. Turn the mixer to medium and knead for five minutes. The dough will be very soft and tender.
  7. Pour into a large oiled bowl, cover with plastic and a dish towel and let rise in a warm place for about two hours or until doubled in size.
  8. While dough is proofing, color eggs.
  9. In six tea cups or coffee mugs, place one teaspoon of white vinegar each and 15 drops of food coloring each, using six different colors. Pour in ½ cup of boiling water per cup, stir and add one raw egg in shell to each cup. Let sit five minutes then remove and dry, then place back in refrigerator until later. Discard colored water.
  10. Make glaze by combining water, sugar and anise extract. Bring to a boil to dissolve sugar and remove from heat. Cool and refrigerate until later. Save this simple syrup and the pearls for after bread is baked.
  11. After the dough has doubled in size, pour out onto a floured counter and divide into 12 pieces by cutting in half, cutting each half in half then cutting each quarter into thirds.
  12. Roll each piece out into logs, 14 inches long.
  13. Take two logs and twist them together pinching both ends then pinching the two ends to each other to form a twisted circle. Repeat for the remaining five.
  14. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper and place three per pan evenly spaced leaving room to proof.
  15. Cover with plastic and a dish towel and proof in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 – 1 ½ hours.
  16. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  17. Beat the egg and water to make an egg wash and brush each loaf, being careful to not let it drip down to the pan.
  18. Press one colored raw egg into the center of each loaf, gently pressing down so it fits snug.
  19. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.
  20. Place on cooling racks over a sheet pan and while still warm, brush all over with the simple syrup, letting it drip down to the pan under the rack and sprinkle the tops with the sugar pearls.
  21. Cool and refrigerate until ready to serve. (Because of the egg, these must be refrigerated.)

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

You may also like:

Easter Pie

Easter Pie - A Family Feast


Pierogi - A Family Feast

Perfect Holiday Ham

Perfect Holiday Ham - A Family Feast

Noodle Kugel

Noodle Kugel - A Family Feast

Italian Easter Bread (also known as Pane di Pasqua) is a traditional bread made for the Easter holiday. Delicious!

  • Share
  • Pin
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Meet The Author: Martha

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Recipe rating

    What type of comment do you have?

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • Jennifer R. wrote:

    Hands down the BEST Easter Bread recipe out there! I’ve been using this recipe for 3 years, and my niece always asks for it. Very simple recipe to follow, and the details are spot on. I didn’t have pearlescent sugar and replaced it with sprinkles, the taste is still incredible. I’m always asked for the recipe and send everyone this link. My husband has been asking for meat pie and that will be the next recipe I try from Martha. Thank you so much for this classic!

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome Jennifer! Happy Easter!!

  • Rhonda Yagey wrote:

    Have you ever put dough in fridge overnight and baked in the morning?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Rhonda – My apologies for the delay in responding. We’ve haven’t tried refrigerating the dough overnight before baking.

  • Sophie’s Choice wrote:

    You may want to edit this recipe- you do not include the actual addition of the yeast mixture into the other ingredients. I made this yesterday and it is DELICIOUS.

    • Jack wrote:

      Hi, this is Jack. This is totally my blunder and is now fixed. Thank you so much for pointing it out and for your nice comment.

  • A Family Feast ® is a registered trademark of A Family Feast, Inc. All content, including recipes, text, visual elements, and photographs are copyright © A Family Feast, Inc. 2012-2020, unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.