Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread) Recipe

Greek Easter bread with eggs
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Prep: 3 hrs 30 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 4 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 48 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
113 Calories
8g Fat
9g Carbs
2g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 48
Amount per serving
Calories 113
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 4g 22%
Cholesterol 44mg 15%
Sodium 69mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Protein 2g
Calcium 23mg 2%
*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.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Tsoureki (pronounced tsoo-REH-kee) is the traditional bread of Greek Easter. It is a rich yeast braided bread flavored with orange and a delightful spice called mahlab (also called mahlepi), which is ground from the pits of wild cherries. You can find mahlab online or at international grocery stores specializing in Greek or Middle Eastern products.

Every family has their own version of this special recipe, and this version has been enjoyed by my family for many, many years. It is a tradition to place a red-colored egg in the center of the top of the bread after it has risen before baking. This bread is delicious toasted or made into French toast.


  • 8 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for kneading)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 (1/4-ounce) envelopes dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (warmed, not hot)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 2/3 cups sugar (divided)
  • 1 2/3 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks plus 3 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest (zest of one orange)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (zest of one lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon mahlab (mahlepi)
  • 5 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 1 egg (beaten with a splash of water)
  • 1/4 cup whole sesame seeds (for sprinkling)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Preheat the oven to 280 F.

  3. Sift the flour with the salt in a large bowl and set aside.

  4. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. (Be sure it is lukewarm, not hot).

  5. Add 1/2 cup of the sifted flour and 1 tablespoon sugar to the mixture. Cover tightly and set aside until it becomes bubbly and foamy, 5 to 7 minutes.

  6. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over very low heat. Stir in the 1 2/3 cups sugar, orange zest, lemon zest, and mahlab.

  7. Remove from heat and stir in the beaten eggs. Cool slightly.

  8. Pour the yeast mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Slowly incorporate the flour until the mixture forms a smooth, wet dough.

  9. Cover the bowl and let rise until it is about double in size–about 2 hours in a warm place.

  10. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured counter and punch down. You will need to keep sprinkling the dough with flour to keep it from sticking. It will remain a loose, wet dough.

  11. Separate the dough into 4 equal parts. Shape into rounds and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

  12. Once rested, divide each round into 3 pieces. Roll the pieces out into long cords about a foot long.

  13. Braid the 3 ropes together to form a braided loaf.

  14. Place the braids on baking sheets to rise again for about 1 hour.

  15. Once the dough has risen to about double its original height, you must carefully brush the surface with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Gently press a single red egg in the upper section of one of the braids.

  16. Bake for about 1 hour until the crust is nicely browned all over.

  17. Enjoy!

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