Italian Easter Bread (Pane di Pasqua)

Learn how to make the sweet Italian yeast bread recipe to celebrate spring.

Italian Easter bread

Grant Webster

Hands On Time:
30 mins
Rise Time:
2 hrs
Bake Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 5 mins
1 braided bread ring

Pane di Pasqua is an Italian Easter bread recipe made with orange juice, orange zest, and anise. It is braided, formed into a ring, and topped with dyed Easter eggs. It has a soft texture that's similar to Challah bread. It is thought that the eggs on top of the bread symbolize rebirth, good luck, and renewal. Some recipes also call for colorful sprinkles to be added to the top of the bread before it is baked. This Pane di Pasqua recipe will walk you through how to make the Italian Easter bread including tips for forming the shape.


  • 1/2 cup warm milk (105°F to 115°F)

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)

  • 1 tablespoon orange zest

  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

  • 3 eggs, divided

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

  • 1 teaspoon ground anise

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 4 to 5 cups all purpose flour

  • 6 hard cooked eggs (dyed, if desired)


  1. In a large bowl stir together the milk, sugar, and yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk together the orange zest, juice, 2 of the eggs, melted butter, ground anise, and salt.

  3. Stir the orange juice mixture into yeast mixture until combined. Stir in as much of the flour as you can. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.

  4. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that is smooth, elastic, and slightly tacky (3 to 5 minutes total).

  5. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning to grease surface of the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size (1 hour).

  6. Punch down dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface; divide into thirds. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

  7. Roll each portion of dough into a 24-inch long rope. Place the ropes about 1 inch apart on the prepared pan.

  8. Starting in the middle of ropes, loosely braid by bringing the left rope under the center rope. Next bring right rope under the new center rope. Repeat to the end.

  9. On the other end, braid by bringing alternate ropes over center rope. Press ends together to seal; tuck under. Shape the braid into a ring.

  10. Carefully tuck the dyed eggs into the braid (avoid placing the eggs too close to the edge of the ring as they may continue to move as the dough rises). Cover; let rise in a warm place until nearly double (about 1 hour).

  11. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl whisk together remaining egg and 1 tsp. water. Gently brush dough with egg wash, being careful not to touch dyed eggs.

  12. Bake about 35 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when lightly tapped (190ºF internal temperature). Let cool 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Cool completely.

To Hard Cook Eggs: Gently place 6 eggs in single layer in large saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. Cover saucepan. Bring just to boil on high heat. Remove from heat. Let stand 12 minutes. Pour off hot water and quickly cool eggs by placing them in a bowl of ice water until completely cooled.

To Dye Eggs: For each color you want to use, mix 1/2 cup boiling water, 1 tsp. vinegar and 10 to 20 drops of color in a medium bowl. Add hard-cooked eggs and let sit in dye for about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove eggs from dye. Allow eggs to dry.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

307 Calories
8g Fat
46g Carbs
11g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 306.5
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8.2g 11%
Saturated Fat 3.8g 19%
Cholesterol 150.5mg 50%
Sodium 266.3mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 46.3g 17%
Dietary Fiber 1.7g 6%
Total Sugars 5.8g
Protein 10.9g
Vitamin D 0.9mcg 4%
Vitamin C 5.9mg 30%
Calcium 45.6mg 4%
Iron 3.2mg 18%
Potassium 154.5mg 3%
Fatty acids, total trans 0.2g
Vitamin D 35.7IU
Alanine 0.5g
Arginine 0.6g
Ash 1.4g
Aspartic acid 0.8g
Caffeine 0mg
Carotene, alpha 0.6mcg
Choline, total 119mg
Copper, Cu 0.1mg
Cystine 0.2g
Energy 1282.7kJ
Fluoride, F 0.9mcg
Folate, total 134.4mcg
Glutamic acid 2.6g
Glycine 0.4g
Histidine 0.3g
Isoleucine 0.5g
Leucine 0.8g
Lysine 0.5g
Methionine 0.3g
Magnesium, Mg 19.1mg
Manganese, Mn 0.4mg
Niacin 3.5mg
Phosphorus, P 148.4mg
Pantothenic acid 1mg
Phenylalanine 0.6g
Phytosterols 0.2mg
Proline 0.9g
Retinol 97.3mcg
Selenium, Se 29.6mcg
Serine 0.7g
Theobromine 0mg
Threonine 0.4g
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 0.5mg
Tryptophan 0.1g
Tyrosine 0.4g
Valine 0.6g
Vitamin A, IU 363.3IU
Vitamin A, RAE 99.1mcg
Vitamin B-12 0.4mcg
Vitamin B-6 0.1mg
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) 0.6mcg
Water 54.1g
Zinc, Zn 1mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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