Traditional Italian Easter Bread Recipe

Easter bread
Till Westermayer/Flickr
  • Total: 45 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Yield: 24 servings (4 small loaves)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
97 Calories
6g Fat
10g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24 servings (4 small loaves)
Amount per serving
Calories 97
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 43mg 14%
Sodium 76mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Protein 2g
Calcium 25mg 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.)

This is an Italian-American family's traditional Easter bread recipe, but most "old world" cultures have their own similar versions. This rich and aromatic bread served with a simple icing makes for a festive and delicious Easter treat.


  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup water (100 F)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons anise extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more as needed)

Steps to Make It

  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water with a small pinch of sugar. Let sit 10 minutes.

  2. After the 10 minutes, whisk in the rest of the ingredients, except for the flour.

  3. Once everything else has combined, stir in the flour, one cup at a time, to form a wet, sticky dough.

  4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 5 minutes, adding flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the surface, to form a smooth and elastic dough. Place in a lightly oiled bowl. Lightly oil the surface of the dough, and cover the bowl with a damp towel. Place in the oven with the light on. The dough needs to rise until doubled in size, which will take between 6 to 12 hours. This is a slow rising dough and may be left overnight.

  5. When doubled, punch dough down and turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into four pieces. Shape into four small oval loaves. If desired, each piece can be cut into three strips and braided to give it a traditional Easter bread appearance.

  6. Place loaves on a silicon mat or parchment lined baking sheets. Cover very loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise for 2 hours. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and cool on wire racks.

  7. Once cooled completely the loaves can be served as is, or frosted with a simple lemon icing.