Pane di Pasqua is a traditional Italian Easter Bread recipe that is served with a dyed egg and sprinkles. This slightly sweet bread is twisted into a simple ring and is beautiful to serve for your Italian Easter celebration.
If you are looking for a traditional and authentic Pane di Pasqua recipe, this is it. Made with simple ingredients including eggs, butter, and yeast, this recipe is sure to be a family Easter treat you'll make year after year.
Why this Pane di Pasqua Recipe is the BEST!
This soft and flaky sweet bread will have you wishing everyday was Easter! Pane di Pasqua is a fluffy braided bread that has the best texture and is great for snacking on.
This beautiful sweet bread is a real showstopper when it comes to your Easter celebration! Baked with a dyed Easter egg and topped with sprinkles, it'll be one of the first things your guests reach for.
While making homemade bread can seem daunting, this recipe is actually quite easy to make. And, if have a stand up mixer, it's even easier with no kneading required.
You can make this recipe into six smaller bread loaves, or divide the loaf in half and make two larger loaves. I like to twist my dough together to make a ring-shape that nestles the egg.
Give this recipe a try and you'll agree that it's the best way to make traditional Italian Easter Bread.
The base for this recipe requires just a few ingredients, most of which you probably already have on hand. Here you will need: eggs, flour, milk, butter, yeast, vanilla, sugar, and sprinkles.
- Milk: whole or 2% will work here.
- Lemon: while lemon isn't a listed ingredient, some recipes do call for lemon in their Pane di Pasqua. If you like a lemony flavor, add the zest of one lemon when you add in the sugar to the mixing bowl.
- Flour: the recipe calls for 4 ½ cups of flour, but you could need more or less. I like to use all purpose flour here, but bread flour works too.
- Dyed Eggs: adding dyed eggs to the bread makes for a beautiful presentation. You can dye the eggs using food coloring or a dye kit. Also, no need to boil the eggs ahead of time because they will cook while you bake the bread.
- Sprinkles: sprinkles are an optional item, but they add a fun color and sweet crunch to the recipe.
Read on to see how easy this recipe is to make!
How to Make Pane di Pasqua
This recipe for Italian Easter Bread has a couple of steps but is quite simple to assemble. Check out my easy instructions for how to put together this traditional Italian recipe.
Step 1: in a small saucepan over low heat, warm the butter and milk until the butter is melted and the mixture reaches between 110-120 degrees. Note, that you don't want the mixture to boil or simmer, just get warm.
Step 2: remove the milk and butter from heat and stir in a tablespoon of the sugar. Sprinkle on the yeast and allow it to proof for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Step 3: in a stand up mixer, combine the remaining sugar, three eggs, vanilla, and salt. (Add the lemon zest here if you are using it). Stir to combine the ingredients. Then add in the milk/yeast mixture along with half of the flour. Mix until a dough starts to form.
Step 4: continue adding flour until the mixture forms a ball and no longer sticks to your hands. (It can take anywhere from 4 ½ to 5 cups of flour total). Continue kneading with the hook attachment for about 3-5 minutes.
Roll the dough into a large ball and place in a bowl. Cover with a towel and let the dough sit and rise for at least an hour in a warm place.
While the dough is rising, prepare the dyed eggs if using. Note that you don't have to boil them ahead of time. They will cook while they are baking.
Shaping the Easter Bread
Once the dough has risen, dump it out on to a clean dry surface. If your dough is sticky, you will need to dust your surface with flour so it doesn't stick. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Use a dough cutter or a large knife to cut the dough in half. Then cut the halves in half. Cut the remaining into thirds so that you end up with 12 even pieces of dough.
Step 1: Use your hands to roll the dough into 12 inch ropes. (Cover the dough you are not currently using with a dish towel so it doesn't dry out.) Get two long pieces of dough and pinch together the ends.
Step 2: Wrap the dough over each other to form a coil. Then bring the dough ends together and pinch shut. Form the dough into a ring and pinch to secure.
Step 3: Place the loaves of Pane di Pasqua on your baking sheets (about three per baking sheet). Make an egg wash using one egg and a tablespoon of water. Brush the mixture overtop of the bread rings.
Step 4: Sprinkle each ring with colored sprinkles. Then, nestle a dyed egg in the middle of each ring.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are golden brown in color. If you are baking more than one pan at a time, be sure to rotate them in the oven for even cooking time.
Tips for Pane di Pasqua
Pane di Pasqua is a simple bread to put together once you get the hang of it. Here are my tips and tricks for making the perfect bread every time.
- To proof the yeast, the milk and butter temperature will need to be between 110-120 degrees. It should feel like warm bath water. Be careful not to let the butter and milk boil or simmer, you just want to warm it.
- Once you stir in the sugar and yeast, the mixture should puff up and "proof". If it doesn't, you will need to start over with fresh yeast. (See instructions on how to test yeast below).
- Some variations of this recipe call for lemon zest in the dough. If you love lemon and want to add it, simply zest a lemon and add it along with the sugar in this recipe.
- No stand mixer? No problem! This recipe can be made without a stand mixer. See FAQs below on how to do this.
- Dyed eggs are a pretty addition to this recipe, but not necessary. If you are going to include the eggs, you don't need to hard boil them first as they will cook in the oven. Also, it's common for some of the dye to get on the bread as it cooks.
- If you like a sweeter bread, you can add an easy glaze to the loaves after they have baked and cooled. Simply mix together powdered sugar and a bit of water until you get a glaze with a smooth consistency. Drizzle over the cooled loaves and let sit until the glaze has set.
- Instead of making 6 small loaves, you can divide this recipe in half and make two large loaves. You will need to increase the baking time by about 10 minutes. Bake until the bread is golden brown on top.
If you have old yeast, you want to test it to make sure it is still viable before using it to make bread. To test the viability of yeast, stir together ½ a cup of warm water with a teaspoon of sugar. Sprinkle on a packet (or 2 ¼ teaspoons) of active dry yeast. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. If the mixture gets bubbly and puffs up, the yeast is still viable. If it doesn't change, then it is dead and you'll need to buy fresh yeast.
You can make Italian Easter Bread (pane di pasqua) without a stand mixer. To do so, you will need a large bowl to stir together the ingredients. Then, instead of having the dough hook knead the dough, place the dough on a floured surface and knead with your hands for 3-5 minutes until the dough is smooth. Cover and place in a warm spot to rise before rolling into rings.
Once you have baked the bread, allow it to cool and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To reheat, place in a 350 degree oven and warm for about 5-10 minutes. Discard the dyed egg to avoid any potential contamination issues.
Yes, you can make Italian Easter Bread (pane di pasqua) without yeast. Instead of yeast, use baking powder and follow this recipe for Italian Easter Bread without Yeast.
More Italian Easter Recipes!
Italians love to celebrate Easter with lots of delicious traditional recipes! Here are some of my favorites:
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating in the recipe card below and/or review in the comments section further down the page.
Pane di Pasqua
- baking sheet
- 1 cup milk (2% or whole)
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup sugar (divided)
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 ½ cups all purpose flour
For the Braid
- 6 raw eggs (dyed if desired)
- 1 egg beaten, with 1 tablespoon of water
- sprinkles for decorating
- In a small saucepan, combine butter and milk over low heat. Heat just until butter is melted and mixture reaches between 110-115 degrees. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of sugar. Sprinkle on the yeast and let sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the yeast to proof.
- In a stand mixer, mix together the eggs, remaining sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add in the milk/yeast mixture along with half of the flour. With the dough hook attachment, continue mixing and adding the remaining flour, until a smooth dough appears. (You may need to add more or less of the total amount of flour listed). Continue kneading with the dough hook for about 4 minutes.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place in a clean large bowl. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and place in a warm area to rise for about an hour. (While the bread rises, you can make the dyed eggs, if using, following the instructions on the dye package).
- Once the dough has risen, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a clean dry surface.
- Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into 12-inch long ropes. Take two of the ropes and pinch together the ends. Cross the ropes over each other to form a twist. Pinch together the ends and connect with other ends to form a ring. Repeat with remaining dough. Place three dough rings on each lined baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, whisk together one egg and a tablespoon of water. Use a pastry brush to brush the egg wash on to the dough rings. Top with sprinkles. Nestle the dyed eggs in the middle of the dough rings.
- Bake in a preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the top of the bread is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.
- Lemon zest: there are many different variations of Pane di Pasqua, some which include citrus zest. If you wanted a lemon flavor, simply add the zest of a lemon along with the vanilla in the recipe.
- Flour: the amount of flour you use will vary and can be anywhere from 4 cups to 5 cups. Use enough flour to make a soft, slightly sticky, ball of dough.
- Large bread rings: Instead of making six small rings, you could divide the dough in half and made two large rings. Nestle the eggs within the dough ring and bake for about 10-15 minutes longer.
- Decorative eggs: the dyed eggs will cook in the oven, so there is no need to boil them ahead of time.
- Storage: you can leave the bread in an airtight container on the counter for up to three days. Note, that if you do this, you will have to discard the dyed eggs or store them separately in the refrigerator.