Italian Easter Bread

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Italian Easter Bread 2Easter is here!  Now that Ben and I have our own family, we are excited to start our own holiday traditions.  This bread made its mark with us this week, and I won’t be surprised if we continue making it every year for Easter now.  When I first saw this, I was very intrigued by the egg in the center.  Other Italian Easter breads make one large loaf, and spread the eggs around the outer edge.  I love that this recipe yields six smaller loaves, with one egg in the middle of each.  And, it cooks while in the oven!  No need to hard-boil it first!

Judah Easter EggsNot only did I have fun making and shaping the dough, it was a fun project for Judah and I to color the eggs together.  This was his first time dying Easter eggs and he thoroughly enjoyed it.  He took control right away, and hardly made a mess!  (What a surprise!)

The bread bakes up insanely soft, and is on the sweeter side.  It reminds me of the Hawaiian bread you can buy in the grocery stores.  So, if you like that, you will LOVE this.  Don’t you love how beautiful it is!?  I’m thrilled to tell you that the method is super simple!  You’ll be impressing your Easter guests with little laboring…trust me.  😉

Italian Easter Bread

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 6 loaves

Serving Size: 1/2 loaf

Italian Easter Bread

  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups warm milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups flour
  • egg wash (1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water)
  • 6 dyed, uncooked, Easter eggs (will cook in the oven)
  • Sprinkles

Mix together the yeast, milk, salt, butter, eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add 2 cups of flour and beat until smooth, with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, continue to slowly add the rest of the flour just until a dough forms. Switch to the dough hook attachment and knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour as needed so that it is tacky, not sticky. Alternatively, the dough can be kneaded on a floured work surface, by hand. Transfer to an oiled bowl, turning once to coat both sides. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner. Punch down the dough and divide into 12 equal pieces (about 3.5 oz each). Roll each piece into a 14-inch rope.

Twist two ropes to form a "braid", then join the ends to loop into a circle while pinching the tips together. Place on the prepared baking sheet.

Repeat with remaining dough ropes. Cover with a clean towel and let rise again until nearly doubled, about 1 more hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the tops of the dough "nests" with the egg wash. Decorate with the sprinkles.

Place one egg in the center of each nest, pressing down lightly to secure. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Note: The eggs can be eaten by cracking and dipping the bread in them, however, I would recommend discarding them if not consumed within a few hours.

Source: Adapted from The Italian Dish



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  1. Judah is quite the helper! Look at him go! He truly is the cutest little peanut – I love seeing pictures of him! And these Easter Breads look amazing! You are quite the baker 🙂

    • We did this bread but it was shape in the size of our hand we had a lot of fun glad you brought it back I will do it the Easter with my grandchildren

    • I made this for my family. My ropes did not look as good as Nikki’s, but it really turned out delicious!! I highly recommend this!!! My family LOVED it!! I actually just made 1 large ring instead.

  2. These are so neat! Not to mention beautiful. What a special presentation for Easter. Hope you guys have a blessed one!

  3. That is simply beautiful, Nikki. Makes me want to celebrate Easter just to serve it!

  4. This is the strangest, neatest, and prettiest Easter dish I think I’ve ever seen! And look at your helper, so grown up!

  5. I love this! So cute, and I’m actually in Italy right now and will be on Easter.

  6. Oh my goodness, I love your adorable little sous chef! He is suc a good boy for keeping it clean…always a good rule to practice when cooking and cleaning as you go! He must know his mommy’s ways!! What a beautiful and fun bread to eat!!!

  7. They look great! Thank you, I am going to make these this week. My nonna used to talk about them but I never remember her making them. She said that when she made them the boys would usually get a donkey shape with an egg on it’s tummy and for girls a goose shape with the egg on the neck. Your’s look so pretty with the egg nestled in the twists and I love the sprinkles. She made lots of other things for Easter which I don’t have any of the recipes for either but this recipe looks like a good place for me to start and to try and remember some lovely traditions. Happy Easter.

  8. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I’ve been looking to replicate the one my aunt used to make for us, and I think this will do.
    Can you tell me approximately how long the bread lasts? I’d like to make a few days before Easter, but don’t want it to taste stale on Sunday.


    • Hi Michelle, I’m not really sure how long it will last, but I do know it tastes best within a day or two. I gave all but two of the loaves away the day I made them, and then my family ate the two I kept within 2 days. If you plan to eat the egg, you definitely need to eat it the same day.

      If you can, I would try and make it no earlier than Saturday, although you can probably get away with making it Friday (just won’t taste AS fresh). I stored mine in a ziplock bag on the counter and it was somewhat soggy the next day, so it is probably better to just cover loosely with foil. 🙂

      Hope this helps!

  9. SO so cute!!! And I love Judah helping you!

  10. These buns are so pretty and festive! So perfect for Easter morning breakfast!

  11. Can you tell me what type of baking sheets you use – and those nifty sheet protectors, too?

    • Hi Courtney, My favorite baking pan is this half sheet pan. I love the size of it because it fits large cookies and dough recipes like this. 🙂 I’m planning to get another one soon. I also like Pampered Chef’s baking sheet. They are very heavy duty and seem to bake evenly.

      The liner is a silicone mat called Silpat. Just make sure you order a size that fits your baking sheet. I’ve linked to the half sheet pan size. Hope this helps!

  12. I love that you and Judah did this together. I think that makes it even better than it otherwise would’ve been!

  13. Hi Nikki, I am going to make this for my Easter dinner! Thanks so much for sharing…

  14. This bread is so pretty! Great Easter egg holder idea, and one that will taste great too! 🙂

  15. What an adorable lil helper you have and this bread is so very beautiful. I now know what to bring for an Easter brunch at a friend’s house.

    Congratulations on the top 9 in Food Buzz!!

  16. Wow! Until I read the recipe this I thought the bread had chocolate eggs in it. I love the idea of baking them in the oven to cook and then dipping the fresh warm bread in the egg.

  17. Nikki, these look fantastic!!

  18. I love your Easter Bread. I have seen it in magazines before, but not a nice as yours. I must give it a try this weekend with my kids. Thanks for the great post:) Happy Easter.

  19. I made this bread literally 30 minutes ago, and OMG! It is amazing. Reminds me of the years as a kid making this with my nonnie, but being just too young to remember the recipe. Thank you for helping me recreate my easter tradition for my very first hosting experience!

  20. These look amazing! I’m usually terrified of yeast, but this simple dough may be a great way to conquer my fear. I think I’ll be up early tomorrow morning to try making this for Easter brunch. Can I borrow your little helper for egg dying? He looks like a pro!

  21. Thanks so much for this recipe. My husband’s Great Aunt made one large loaf and I have not been able to replicate it, but I think this will be close. I had the boys write their names on the eggs before coloring and am planning on using these as “name plates” for Easter dinner. I think it will be so cute!

    Thanks again.

  22. Made these yesterday and impressed just about everyone in the family including me! The dough was very easy to work with. But I just love the flavor, texture and appearance. This is definitely going to be one of our new Easter traditions!

    • I’m so glad you loved these! I checked out your post, and am very intrigued with the lamb-shaped butter!? Neat! That would definitely fit these rolls well. 🙂 Happy Easter, Ann!

  23. Happy Easter ! I made the Italian Easter bread this morning and this recipe is a definitely a “keeper” ! I made twelve smaller breads and gave some to my neighbors. They were all thrilled – and the little girls that live next door to me were in “awe” of the little birds nests breads ! Ü Thanks again ! BTW I posted a photo on my blog !

  24. Looked very nice when I made them, they taste a lot like the King Hawaiian rolls and are very sweet. Not my preference, but everyone else like the rolls I made this Easter. Would be better with a little more salt, I would double the salt. But they baked beautifully for me.

  25. I made these on Good Friday and they were delicious. To people wondering how long they last they were okay on Easter after a few seconds in the microwave.
    This was such an easy/forgiving bread dough that I’m tempted to make it more often and just shape it into rolls!

  26. I just stumbled on this recipe after looking all over in the spring for one! I was searching for “poupa con l’ouva” though – what my Sicilian grandparents called this bread. I have such fond memories of fighting over the egg with my siblings on Easter, so excited to make this Easter, or not!

  27. Hi! Is it at all possible to use a bread machine to help me out with the dough? 🙂

  28. Do you prepare the yeast first or just start right in?

  29. I can’t wait to try these this year for my annual Easter dinner! If you make them the day before, do they need to be reheated? Thinking more for the sake of the egg than the bread… Suggestions? Thanks!

    • I wouldn’t eat the egg the next day, and instead discard them if not eaten within a few hours from when you baked them. The bread will be fine, though. You could reheat the bread in the oven for a few minutes if you wish.

  30. If I were to make it earlier in the day, do you think I could still use the egg? And would you reheat it or just go with it the way it is?

    • Hi Rachel,
      As I stated in the recipe notes, if not planning to consume the egg within a couple hours, then discard it. 🙂

  31. Is there a way to make this with end product having a hard boiled egg in the center? Instead of a runny one

  32. Marrietta says:

    Could you freeze the dough and make the bread in a couple of weeks?

    • I’m sure you can, although I haven’t done it for this recipe. If I were to try it, I would freeze it after shaping the wreaths by wrapping individually in plastic wrap and then a freezer bag. Then, thaw it overnight and let it complete it’s second rise at room temperature the day you plan to bake it (may require more than 1 hour for this rise as stated in the recipe). Again, this is just what I would try but I can’t say it works for sure as I haven’t done it.

  33. Judith Barnett says:

    I love Easter breads. And Easter is such an important family holiday!!

  34. Thank you for the recipes, I will totally enjoy making this bread for Easter.

  35. Wow glad I found this recipe..I grew up eating this, was my grandmothers recipe, asked all my family members for it and non had it.. Thank you,,,!!!! I madeit and brought back great memories

  36. Italian Easter Bread has Anise oil, Anise seeds, or anise extract & lemon or orange zest. Without the flavors, it’s just basic sweet dough recipe with dyed eggs.


  38. Is there a way to make these with hard-boiled eggs, instead of runny? My family isn’t a big fan of the runny eggs. 🙂

  39. my heart soared when i saw this!! my grandmother made these every Easter, one for each of her 25 grandchildren…the only difference was that she would cross two strips of dough over the egg, for the basket handles. a wonderful memory…thank you so much!

  40. Hi can I make the dough a day before and bake them the next day ?

  41. I found you after a google search for Easter bread — your photography is GORGEOUS! I’m so jealous. 😉 I use a d7000 too but I need more practice and tutorials because I do NOT get these types of shots. I love it.

    And … now scrolling back up to read the recipe. 😉

  42. I just made these! I must say they are excellent and beautiful, and they came out WAY bigger than I thought they would! I know it’s Easter bread, but I think I’ll make them for Christmas with Christmas sprinkles for gifts this coming Christmas. Thanks for a great and easy recipe!

  43. We made these for Easter and they were a big hit. Place on separate plates on the table and made it look professional. In lieu of cooking the eggs we placed the colored egg in the center of the bread just before serviing. They fit in the center of the bread just fine and didn’t have to worry abolut spoilage. Thanks again for such a clever idea.

  44. Marrietta says:


    I did your Italian Easter bread a week before my event. I did everything up to the first rise, made the twists placed them all on a cookie sheet and froze them. After they were frozen I wrapped them individually in plastic wrap then put them all in a plastic bag. On the day of the event, I let them thraw and do their last rise. They were outstanding and I got nothing but compliments about the bread. Thanks so much for the recipe.


    • I love it! Thanks for sharing your freezing steps, Marrietta. And, glad they were impressive to your guests! 🙂

  45. I so enjoyed stumbling across this! My family has been making a version of these, called Cadulas, for generations. My great grandmother brought the tradition over with her from Italy. I just loved seeing your family’s version of them.

  46. Thankyou for sharing this wonderful recipe. It has been a household tradition since i was a little girl. Today I made this recipe with my mom! Happy Easter!

  47. can u leave the dough overNight and bake in morning? And should u make nests or leave in bowl till morning?

    • Nikki Gladd says:

      Hi Gina, you can refrigerate the dough overnight but let come to room temp before baking. I’m not sure I understand your second question?

  48. I made this recipe this year and it was AMAZING! My only question is: What type/brand of white sprinkles did you use? Mine melted a bit in the oven. Thanks for sharing yo0r recipe. I will absolutely make these again!!!!

    • Nikki Gladd says:

      Hi Lisa,
      For the photos in this post, I can’t remember exactly what brand but they were nonpareils rather than the jimmies type sprinkles. Hope this helps!

  49. Can I do this in a food processor. I only have a hand mixer and it will never work. I can knead it by hand but the original mix I would use the food processor if you think itbwouldcwork

    • Nikki Gladd says:

      I have mixed bread dough in a food processor before, so this should work. Although, I have not specifically tested it on this recipe.

  50. I have made Italian Easter Bread for many years and I love this recipe. It’s easy and delicious. I love the texture and taste. Mill be making it from now on.

  51. Hi Nikki,
    I’ve made this twice in the past, once with the egg and once without. When I made it with the egg, it came out barely hard-boiled. I followed the instructions to the T and am just wondering: did your eggs come out completely hard-boiled and do you have any tips on making sure the egg is cooked without overcooking the bread? Thanks.

    • Hi Katie,
      No, the eggs will not be completely hard-boiled. In the recipe notes, it instructs to consume the egg by dipping the bread in it. So, it is a little runny. If you want it completely cooked, you might want to hard boil it separately and dye it then place on the already baked bread. 🙂 Hope this helps!

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