At the end of the year, seemingly each and every grocery store in America has ceiling-high displays of brightly colored boxes filled with panettone. Many think it’s simply the Italian version of fruitcake, and they’d be half-right. The northern Italian Christmastime treat is made from a sweet brioche-like bread studded with dried fruit or chocolate chunks. While you can eat it the Milanese way—a thick slice with your morning coffee—most Americans enjoy this as a sugar-dusted fruity dessert. You can, of course, make your own panettone, but this is something usually left to the experts.
Keep in mind that this is a very limited seasonal item and that many loaves sell out weeks prior to Christmas. From the most traditional panettone to a new and colorful take on the classic, here are the best mail-order panettone options for your holiday spread.
Olivieri 1882 Classic Panettone
Comes in a giftable box
Made from a family recipe
Olivieri 1882 is ready to help you celebrate Easter with Italian Colomba Cake in traditional and non-traditional flavors. Be sure to order early in the Lenten season!
Unlike many panettone makers, Nicola Olivieri and his team of bakers make panettone throughout the year. Olivieri 1882 has been making panettone since, well, 1882, with Nicola being the sixth generation to run the bakery. All of the bakery's loaves are produced with natural fermentation, and in the classic version, Nicola quadruples the amount of egg yolks usually in used a standard panettone recipe. We taste-tested a regular and a chocolate-chip loaf, and they both had a pillowy lightness with excellent distribution of the mix-ins. We especially loved the plumpness of the dried fruit in the classic version.
But what we really love about Olivieri 1882 is that they make other seasonal versions like the current Valentine's Day panettone, plus a vegan panettone. We can't wait to try the peach and basil loaf, and we think pumpkin panettone is far better than your regular pumpkin bread. Nicola also makes various pandoro, and the 2022 version is made with candied lemon paste.
Price at time of publish: $85
Flavors: Regular; Triple Chocolate; Apricot Salted Caramel; Rhum Chocolate; Grappa Nardini; Gianduja Chocolate; White Chocolate and Berries; Sour Cherry, Lemon and Pistachio; Pear and Chocolate; White Chocolate, Olive, and Rosemary; Apple, Raisin, and Cinnamon; Balsamic Vinegar; Pumpkin and Dark Chocolate; Peach, Amaretto, and Chocolate; Coffee and Chocolate | Sizes: 900 grams | Allergens: Wheat, egg, milk
"When beach season rolls around, we bake our Panettone Estivo, or Summer Panettone. This recipe calls for less egg yolks so it’s a bit lighter, and it’s packed with peach, apricot, pineapple, and strawberry that we candy by hand. Our customers love to bring panettone estivo to their barbecues or eat them at the seaside." — Nicola Olivieri, pastry chef and owner of Olivieri 1882
Bauducco Panettone Original Specialty Cake
Made with natural fermentation
Available in three flavors
Unsure of freshness
Chances are, you’ve seen this bright yellow box before in stacks at your grocery store. But don’t think that its mass-market quality makes this a pass for panettone. Bauducco’s claims to make its panettone using the same treasured family recipe, complete with a 52-hour rise. You might be surprised to learn that this is made in Brazil. Carlo Bauducco was born in Turin, Italy, in 1906, and immigrated to São Paulo post-World War II. In 1952, he started his own panettone-making business using his family’s recipe, and the rest is history. The panettone is available in the fruit-studded regular version, a chocolate-chip version, a vanilla version, and mini panettones.
Price at time of publish: $15
Flavors: Regular, Chocolate Chip, Vanilla | Size: 750 grams/1.6 pounds | Allergens: Wheat, milk, soy, eggs
"[Panettone] should be kept in a cool and dry place at about 18/22 degrees Celsius (64/68 degrees Fahrenheit). Never put it in the freezer or in the fridge. In terms of freshness, with the right type of natural fermentation, a panettone can last for up to six months. In terms of serving, I recommend heating up the oven to about 100 degrees Celsius (215 degrees Fahrenheit). Switch off the oven, and then place the panettone inside for a minute. This way it’s warm and fragrant." — Nicola Olivieri, pastry chef and owner of Olivieri 1882
Biasetto Traditional Artisanal Panettone
Made in Italy and shipped within a week
Uses sustainably sourced ingredients
Can stay fresh for up to two months
Handmade in Padova, Italy, these panettone are about as traditional and delicious as any panettone can get. Pastry chef Luigi Biasetto even won an award for his panettone at the 2021 Artisti del Panettone competition in Milan. He makes each loaf from Italian flour, Piemontese butter, Tuscan acacia honey, Ugandan vanilla, homemade candied fruit, and his 90-year-old sourdough starter before putting the dough through a 36-hour rise. The result is super-soft, and very tall, bread with deep flavor that will help you understand why people love panettone.
Once the loaf is baked, Biasetto’s panettone quickly makes its way to your door with the loaves arriving in the United States in about a week. Since this is made so close to shipping, a loaf can stay fresh for up to two months if stored properly.
Price at time of publish: $60
Flavor: Classic | Size: 1 kilogram/2.2 pounds | Allergens: Flour, eggs
"Some parts of Italy prefer a tall, dome-shaped panettone, while others embrace a squatter cake. In the South, it's common to see 'gluttonous' versions filled with cream or topped with glazes. Local butters and honeys sourced from the region also can impact flavor." — Nicola Olivieri, pastry chef and owner of Olivieri 1882
Settepani Chocolate Panettone
Two chocolate versions
Freshly made artisanal panettone
Stays fresh for up to three weeks
If you’ve ever had a chocolate-chip panettone and thought, “This could use more chocolate, and/or some Nutella,” then this is the panettone for you. Made by Brooklyn-based bakery Settepani, these 2-pound loaves have melted dark chocolate and chocolate chips mixed into the dough, and then the finished bread is topped with delicious chocolate ganache and more chocolate chips. To make it even better, all of the chocolate is from renowned chocolate-maker Valrhona. The Italian-born chef behind Settepani, Nino Settepani, still uses the same starter as when he opened the bakery in 1992, so you know you’re getting panettone perfection. Settepani also makes a regular panettone and a Nutella version.
Price at time of publish: $75
Flavors: Regular, Chocolate, Nutella | Size: 2 pounds | Allergens: Wheat, eggs
Best with Cherries
Tommaso Muzzi Amarena Fabbri Cherries Panettone
Made with Fabbri sour cherries
Beautiful hand-wrapped packaging
Available in two sizes
Made by one of oldest Italian bakeries
Denser than regular panettone
If you’ve ever been in an Italian-focused shop, you’ve no doubt seen the blue-and-white jars of Fabbri Amarena cherries. The Delft-like jars are packed with the wild cherries that are only grown in Bologna and Modena, and filled with syrup. For the holidays, Fabbri partners with Tommaso Muzzi, a pastry shop that was founded in Umbria in 1795, to make its cherry-laden panettone. It’s important to note that these loaves are a little denser than regular panettone, but they’re still delicious. If a whole kilogram sounds a bit much for you, Muzzi does make these in smaller loaves. And if you’re a huge fan of Fabbri, you can get the small loaf bundled with a jar each of cherries, strawberries, and ginger.
Price at time of publish: $36
Flavors: Cherry | Sizes: 17.6 ounces, 35.2 ounces | Allergens: Eggs
Vergani Gluten-Free Panettone
Made in Italy
Comes in two versions
Not as tall as gluten-full panettone
Vergani has been making picture-perfect panettone in its Milan shop since 1944, and its gluten-free version stands up to its flour-based loaves. To make this sans gluten, Vergani utilizes rice flour, rice starch, and potato starch in its well-balanced dough, and the loaves rise for a full 72 hours. While the finished loaf isn’t as tall as other panettones, it’s still fluffy and soft, and filled to the brim with candied citrus. Or you can get it stuffed with chocolate chips.
Price at time of publish: $46
Flavors: Regular, Chocolate | Size: 1 kilogram/2.2 pounds | Allergens: Wheat, eggs, milk
"With leftovers we make a torta putana, a traditional cake from Veneto. The panettone pieces are combined with eggs and milk, baked in the oven, and then dusted with powdered sugar and served with Chantilly cream on the side. It’s heavenly!" — Nicola Olivieri, pastry chef and owner of Olivieri 1882
From Roy Panettone
Made with wild yeast
Stays fresh for up to one month
Takes up to a week to arrive
Developing the right methods for your panettone takes years, and for renowned pastry chef Roy Shvartzapel, it took working under some of the world’s most famous chefs and studying panettone under pastry master Iginio Massari. A box of From Roy Panettone is an incredible treat that started with wild-fed mother yeast in San Francisco. Each 8-inch-tall loaf takes 40 hours to make, which allows that yeast to produce beautiful air pockets, and all the ingredients meld together into the most-nuanced and flavorful loaf.
Price at time of publish: $85
Flavors: Orange Raisin, Chocolate, Pistachio Cherry, Pumpkin Maple Pecan | Sizes: 1 kilogram/2.2 pounds | Allergens: Wheat, egg, tree nuts
Tre Marie Il Pandoro Magnifico Traditional Italian Christmas Cake
Made with French butter
If you’ve ever wondered what the other comically tall Italian holiday bread is, you’re probably thinking of pandoro. This bread originated in Verona and is modeled after the surrounding mountains. Pandoro is known for its eight-pointed star shape, and the finished loaf is often dusted with powdered sugar. Inside is a richer, eggier dough than panettone, which I think is best when it’s without additional flavorings. This version from Italian bakery Tre Marie is made with 100 percent French butter from the Charentes-Poitou region, so it’s rich. Tre Marie does also have a slightly less pricey regular version.
Price at time of publish: $48
Flavors: Regular | Sizes: 1 kilogram/2.2 pounds | Allergens: Wheat, egg, milk
Artisanal Biasetto Traditional Artisanal Panettone is everything you could want in a “fresh from Italy” holiday loaf. If you want the most chocolatey loaf, Settepani Chocolate Panettone has you covered.
How are you supposed to eat panettone?
Ever since they were invented in the 15th century, panettoni have been eaten in whatever way you’d like. It started as a dessert bread complimented with a glass of sweet wine, but now you can eat it for breakfast or an afternoon snack. It can be toasted or not, and drizzled with any sweet sauce or syrup you fancy. It can also be used in place of any sweet bread for a great bread pudding or for French toast.
Why is panettone so expensive?
Making a well-risen, delicate loaf of any flavorful bread takes a lot of skill, and this is no different with panettone. The best versions are made with a sourdough starter, which itself needs constant care, and then it can take up to three days before the loaf can be baked in an oven. This is on-par with the best French croissants or artisanal chocolates.
Should panettone be refrigerated?
No, you don’t need to keep your panettone in the fridge. Those that are shipped can stay fresh at room temperature for weeks before you cut into them. Keep it in a tightly sealed bag after slicing, and it should stay fresh for days or even weeks.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Siobhan Wallace has been a commerce editor with Dotdash Meredith since 2021. She has written two cookbooks, and once sampled a dozen panettoni side-by-side to determine which was the best.
- Nicola Olivieri, pastry chef and owner of Olivieri 1882