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Italian Easter Bread

Buona Pasqua!  I've made this Easter bread for years for my kids. It's a sweet bread, made with milk and sugar and has an Easter Egg in the middle! There's a lot of Italian recipes for Easter breads, some are savory and some are sweet. This one is fun.

Italian Easter Bread

for a printer friendly recipe, click here
makes 6 individual loaves
  • 1 package Rapid Rise yeast
  • 1.25 cups scalded milk, cooled to room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3.5 cups flour (approximate)
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
  • 6 dyed Easter eggs
  • sprinkles

tip: the Easter eggs do not need to be hard boiled. They cook when the bread bakes. I usually just dye the eggs right out of the fridge, without hardboiling them. Saves time. Just be careful they don't crack!


In a large mixer bowl, combine yeast, warm (not hot) milk, salt, butter, eggs and sugar. Add about half the flour and beat until smooth with dough hook.   Slowly add the remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Don't worry about how much flour it ends up being, just keep adding until the dough is not sticky anymore.  Knead until smooth with either dough hook attachment or turn out on floured board and knead. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.

Punch dough down, divide into 12 pieces. Roll each piece to form a 1 inch thick rope about 14 inches long and, taking two pieces, twist to form a "braid", pinching the ends,  and loop into a circle.

Place on a greased baking sheet or line your baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Cover and let rise until double, about an hour again. Brush each bread with beaten egg wash. Put on the sprinkles. In the middle of each bread ring, gently place an Easter egg, making an indentation with the egg.

Bake at 350 degrees until golden - about 20 - 25 minutes. Cool on rack.


** Note:  For an updated version of this bread, see my most recent Easter Bread post.  It's made with golden eggs and pearl sugar:

Another cute idea for Easter is making these Edible Egg Nests for your table:


 You might also like to try Italian Easter Torta (Torta Pasqualina): 

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Reader Comments (168)

I absolutely love you site. It all brings back so many memories of my childhood and the foods we ate...thank you so much., I am passing this on to my children and my grand children=...making memories for them and of their heritage.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterconnie

My cousin just sent me this link. Yours is the recipe she used this year. We grew up making Torrelles every Easter. It's interesting in that the recipe I've always used, which came originally from my Great Aunt who grew up in Calabria, is completely different from yours. Really, practically the only thing they have in common is the fact that an egg is baked in the middle. The dough is totally different. I wonder if the difference is a regional thing?

April 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRosemarie


Why don't you share your Easter Bread recipe with us. Always interested in different ones.

Does your family make Cassata?


April 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRon Roefaro

Hi Ron,
I don't recall anyone in my family ever making Cassata. I've cut and pasted the Easter Bread recipe I use below.

Zizi Betty's Torrelles

Approx 13-15 eggs (6 for dough, 1 for brushing, another 6-8 for centers.)
3/4 C. Veggie Oil
3/4 C. Sugar
6 TSP Baking Powder
1 Tbsp Vanilla
3 1/2 C. Flour
Pinch salt

Take approx 6-8 eggs and hard-boil them. You can also color them like Easter Eggs.
Beat 6 eggs, sugar and oil together, then add vanilla.
Add 2 cups of the flour and salt.
Keep slowly adding flour while stirring/kneading until you reach proper consistency.
Artistically wrap/braid bread around hard boiled eggs. Get creative with the designs. :)
Beat last egg in cup, brush it on torrelles just before placing them in oven.
Bake 350 degrees until golden brown.

April 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRosemarie

Also worth noting: I've read through all the other comments, and several people state that they don't eat the egg in the middle if the torrelle is over a day old. This is very silly and wasteful in my opinion. We leave them covered on the counter and take several days to finish them, and the egg in the middle is always fine to eat.

April 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRosemarie


Wow, your recipe for Easter Bread is different... no waiting for it to rise twice... should cut down on the prep time. It looks like the baking powder is providing the lift to the dough. Does it add any metalic taste to the dough?

I am going to try it... if it works for me, it would cut the All-Day Easter Bread making process.


April 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRon Roefaro

Hi again Ron,
Yeah, the dough takes no time at all to prepare. The most time consuming part is hard-boiling the eggs. You don't taste the baking powder at all, and actually the dough expands quite a bit when it's baking. The thing you really taste in the bread is the egg in the dough. It's a very protein rich bread. Also, it has a somewhat scone-like consistency. It's really quite excellent with coffee in the morning. I imagine if you substitute butter for oil than the consistency would change quite a bit. I've never tried that personally since I like it so much just the way it is.

Also, I just noticed in the instructions I forgot to mention adding the baking powder. You'd add it in around the same time you are adding the flour and salt. Oops! :)

Have fun with it. Let me know how it turns out. :)

April 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRosemarie

My Nunnie was from Italy & taught me as a young girl how to make Italian Easter bread, along with many other Italian recipes & I believe I was around 13 at the time. However when I became a young adult & was just starting a family she sadly passed away & I never got the chance to have her show me again how to do it. I did get copies of all her recipes & although I could close my eyes & see the memory of the day she had shown me how I was afraid that I might mess the recipe up somehow without her there to walk me through it. Her recipe also called for the refrigerated block of yeast which cannot be found where I'm living. So I came across your website. Although I really wanted to make her exact recipe (& was unsure how to substitute the refrigerated block of yeast with the dry yeast) I decided it was time to give up the frustration & just give your recipe a try. I have to say I was so very pleased with the results. I made a double batch for Easter this year & they came out so beautiful & very delicious! I just wanted to say Thank You & that I too love to cook & bake & share with friends & family so I absolutely LOVE your website!

July 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNiki

I am soooooo happy to have found your site !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My grandfather raised me and he was an Italian Grandfather.... I miss him so much... he raised me as if I was his own,., best father in the world. My grandmother who was not Italian, but American Indian, but she did so much to continue his heritiage.. annnnyywayyyyy... When I saw this post it made me wish for Easter, I do have some of the things grandma made but your site gives me warm fuzzies from my childhood.... thank you so very much.....

September 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoxanne Russomano

Every time I stop in to find or review a recipe,,, I just feel the need to tell you thank you ...... you are my only connection to my Grandfather and his heritege....... thank you....

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoxanne

I grew up with these every year. Either made by my grandmother Nunny or my mom. Will have to start the tradition again. Pretty sure this is the same recipe as I remember the scolded milk!

March 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

I made the Easter egg bread last year and has become one of my favourite baking items. I make a batch weekly for my elderly Italian parents and love the big smiles when thy bite into bread. Love your blog.

March 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSilvana Dunlop

Hi, I would like to make your Italian Easter Bread recipe; however, I need to make it in large quantities (15-16 large loaves). Is there a way that I can safely increase your recipe without causing problems? Thanks so much! I made the recipe as is and the bread is "squisito e fantastico!"

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJo

I just came across this last night when my daughter posted a picture of it and it jogged my memory of wonderful past memories when my dear grandmother would make this. (She was from Calabria). I would like to make this the night before and bake it the next morning. What about having it all ready to bake and putting it in the frig for the night, then in the morning letting it rest for a time to get to room temp and then bake? Do you have some helpful ideas on that?

March 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDianne

i made this last year and cannot wait to make it this year!

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarisa

I did a trial run of this bread and everything turned out perfect except for the eggs! They weren't cooked all the way through. Any suggestions?
Thank you :)

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTamara

From The Italian Dish:

Tamara: I have never heard of the eggs not being cooked. That's almost impossible! I have no idea why that would happen. Has never happened to me! Sorry, but I'm stumped.

March 28, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

From The Italian Dish:

Dianne: You can make the bread the night before and refrigerate it but I would not do the final assembly with the eggs until the morning. The bread will still rise some in the fridge overnight, and it will rise too much and disturb the eggs.

March 28, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

What a delight to find your blog (I've already added it to my favorites!). My Grandma used to make these (we called them Pupa Ca'Lova in our Sicilian family) every Easter. We have not had them since she passed in 1996. The second I saw your beautiful photos my heart just filled with an overwhelming sense of family and happy memories. I am going to make these tomorrow as a surprise to bring to my family's Easter celebration this Sunday. Happy Easter (and, thank you).

March 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGina

Thank you so much - they turned out wonderful!!! Family loves them and we will make every Easter :

March 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterD family

made these and my 82 yr old mom was impressed. The texture was perfect the eggs cooked and a total delight. Will use this and make every year. My mom and grandmother made theirs like rabbits but the basket shape is so easy to do

March 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

My mom makes this bread every Easter, it is delicious! We lost our recipe so thank you so much for this site.

March 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteranonymous

Great Blog!! I love this website!

March 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPattiann

This recipe was fantastic . I took to an Easter Vigil celebration and everyone loved it.

March 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterColleen

Wow this was the hit of my Easter dinner. Not only did it look beautiful on my dinner table, it was such a sweet yummy bread. Thanks so much for the wonderful recipie. I love all of your recipies!

April 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTricia

Hi Elaine,
Last week I printed this recipe out for Easter. Since I have never made this before and Easter morning will consist of me going to church first, I thought I better make a trial run of this recipe. The recipe was very easy per your instructions and that bread was absolutely delicious reminded me of a flakey brioche bread, tender and sweet. I was hestitate about the raw colored eggs but your instructions were correct the eggs are good and done, in fact I am making egg salad tonight with them for my husband. I do have a question since Easter will be a very busy could I make and form the dough and refrigerate the night before and bake them Easter Day? If so any specific methods I need to use. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful and delicious recipe and I will make this every Easter whether dinner is here at home or away.
Thank you for sharing,

March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSherry

From The Italian Dish:

Sherry: I would not form the dough rings the night before, because they will rise too much (even in the fridge). The eggs will pop out. I would make the dough the night before, let it do its first rise, punch it down and refrigerate it. In the morning, before you go to church, I would have everything set up for baking when you come home. After church, you will have to take the dough out, assemble the breads and then let them rise again. You can speed up this second rising by placing the pans in a warm oven or somewhere else warm in the house. But assembling them the night before will not work well. If you have everything set up before church - the pans out, lined with parchment, egg wash bowl and brush ready, etc. it will be faster than you think. Hope this helps!

March 5, 2014 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Growing up my grandma would make these every year to give out to the family. At 85 and on oxygen she would still be cranking the out. Now me and my mother use the same recipe and make them every year still.

March 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate

Hi I was wondering if anyone new the a recipe for the other Italian Easter bread.. It was called Spinda (spelling I am not sure how to spell it) it was made with Anise. My gmom use to make it and we can't find the original recipe.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSue

How many gram is 3.5 cups flour ?

March 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMonique

These are beautiful! Would I have any problems doubling the recipe? I know things like that matter in baking, so I wanted to ask. I love your blog!

April 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVA

From The Italian Dish:

VA: You can double the recipe easily.

April 3, 2014 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Hi there I'm in Australia ,would like to know how much the yeast ways ?

April 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAngela galati

I think I might need a little help with the recipe. How much is 3.5 cups of flour? For the milk is that one and a fourth cup? I know I should know this but I am not sure. Help

April 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNonnie

From The Italian Dish:

Angela: 1 package of instant yeast (Rapid Rise) is 2-1/4 teaspoons, which weighs 1/4 of an ounce, which is about 7 grams.

Nonnie: 3.5 cups of flour is three and one half cups of flour. The milk is one and a fourth cups. Hope this helps.

April 15, 2014 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I found your recipe a few years ago and having been making these breads for Easter ever since. I make a lot of them and give them to friends and family but I do make one large one rather than small ones. They come out beautiful and everyone loves them. Thanks!

April 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMary

I just finished making your Easter breads and they are in the oven as I write this. They were super easy to make and they look fabulous. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

April 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJosie

Hello! I made this bread this year and it was fantastic! My only hiccup was when cooking the bread the dyed eggs bled onto the bread and got spots on them. Any tips on how to avoid this from happening?

April 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEllen

My first time to make these. Perfect and delicious. Thank you for the recipe, they will be an added favorite for many Easter celebrations to come.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPamela

IMy sister make a family bread recipe for Easter every year. The is flavored with Anise seed. We usually use 15 pounds of flour to make enough bread for members of our family. That side, I discovered the sweet Easter breads on your site. Of course I made them, they are beautiful and delicious.

My question to you is can the unbaked breads, without the eggs, be frozen and then baked at a later time. Easter week is always so busy and I would love to give these beautiful breads as gifts.

I love your blog and have every recipe I made from your recipe index.

Thank you so much, Diane

March 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

From The Italian Dish:

Diane: You can freeze the dough if that is what you mean. After it rises, punch it down and wrap in floured plastic wrap and freeze. Then you can bring it to room temperature again and form it into the braids and bake it. I hope this helps. You can also just make the dough the day before, let it rise and then refrigerate it until the next day and then bring it to room temp and continue on.

March 14, 2015 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I'm so grateful for this recipe. I've been searching for it for years. You have brought back so many childhood memories for me. It's a fabulous recipe. The breads came out perfectly.

I love your blog!

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSilvia Del Priore

I just finished making this recipe and these beautiful breads turned out WONDERFUL! I am so excited to take them to Easter dinner this year! Thank you so much for sharing such a great recipe.

April 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

I have to say, I search the internet every year for the past.... at least 3 years for THIS post so I can make the bread for my family at Easter. The first time I made it my Aunt (who is old school Italian) was so impressed and said it tasted just like what she always had at easter growing up... not too bad for an Irish girl over here hu? Well thank you for the recipe, you've given me some great family memories by way of baking.

April 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Can I add anise flavoring and orange zest, and if so, how much of each? Thank you for this wonderful recipe.

March 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPATRICIA CITARELLA

Followed the recipe and it came out delicious! Reminded me of the bread my mom would buy at the bakery in Little Italy. Only problem I experienced was the dye from the egg and the sprinkles bled on the bread while baking. Any suggestions on how to make it look like ur picture without any color bleeding? I tried putting egg in middle half way while baking, but still no luck. Plz advise.

March 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLindaBE

The bread looks beautiful after it's been baked, but this is not the traditional Easter bread that I'm used to eating in the Northeast. The bread I'm used to eating has alot more eggs in it and raisins. It's a heavier bread. This one is more like a Hawaiian bread or a sweet bread.

March 20, 2016 | Unregistered Commenteranonymus

I made the gluten free Easter bread using Cup4Cup flour. Wow! The texture is not the same as Nonna’s, naturally, but the taste is all there. I think I will try their brioche recipe and use the flavorings from the Easter Bread (anise seeds and anise oil) and see if the bread turns out lighter and not as dense.

March 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSister Julianna

I have been eating the every year for 65 years

March 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDisCenza

Thank you for the clear concise directions! I am now a fan & following.

March 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNurse G

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