Italian Sweet Braided Easter Bread Recipe

Jump to RecipeLeave a Comment

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Italian Sweet Braided Easter Bread – festive and delicious braided brioche bread served for Easter. Beautifully decorated with colorful eggs, sprinkles, and a sweet glaze to stand as the centerpiece of your Easter table.

It’s a light and fluffy treat to enjoy as a side for Easter dinner Roasted Rack of Lamb Pistachio Crust and Oven Roasted Potatoes (Italian Style).

Italian Easter bread on a white counter.
Festive braided Easter bread ready to slice
Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Italian Sweet Braided Easter Bread Recipe

If you are looking for a traditional Italian Easter holiday sweet bread, you’ve come to the right place! This tried, and true soft sweet bread is sensational and perfect for your Easter holiday.

More Italian bread recipes here: Fast Italian No Knead Ciabatta Bread, Easy Soft Italian No Knead Bread,

Try these sweet festive recipes: Italian Easter Rice Pie Recipe (Pastiera di Riso), Ricotta Pie (Easter recipe), Sweet Focaccia with Raspberries and Balsamic Glaze, and St. Lucia Sweet Saffron Rolls (almond filling).

Simple Ingredients

For the brioche dough recipe we are using our basic Brioche Bread Recipe (Italian Style) ingredients.

For the Dough

  • Warm water
  • Warm milk
  • Eggs
  • Active dry yeast
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Bread Flour
  • Butter
  • Orange Zest
  • Vanilla Extract

For the topping

  • Dyed hard boiled eggs
  • Egg wash
  • Colorful sprinkles
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Milk
Ingredients for Easter bread on a white counter.
Ingredients for Easter bread

What is Italian Easter bread?


Italian Easter bread (pane di pasqua in Italian) is similar to a challah egg bread, Greek Easter bread (tsoureki), or paska bread (Ukrainian Easter bread).

The soft kneaded dough is twisted together, braided, and formed into a circle. This shape represents the thorn wreath worn on Jesus’ head.

More great recipes for Easter brunch or menu: Overnight French Toast Bake (Challah) and Italian Easter Pie!

Step by Step Instructions for Brioche Dough

Follow these steps to make a delicious Easter bread dough.

1-2. Dissolve the yeast in warm water. Stir gently until foamy.

Instructions for mixing yeast with water.
Dissolve yeast in water

3-6. Add the flour to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Mix the wet and dry ingredients with a dough hook.

Instructions for mixing wet and dry ingredients.
Mixing dry and wet ingredients

7-10. The dough will be very sticky and shaggy. Add the salt. Mix to incorporate. Add the butter a little at a time. Mix with each addition.

Mix on low speed for about 10 minutes until butter is completely incorporated.

Instructions for mixing Easter bread dough in a mixer.
Adding salt and butter to dough.

11-14. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. The dough is ready when it’s smooth and stretchy and can be gathered together and picked up in one piece. The dough will remain sticky. 

Place the dough in a large oiled bowl  and cover it with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for 60 minutes in a warm place.

At this point, the dough may also be frozen or stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Letting Easter bread dough in a bowl.
Moving dough into an oiled bowl and letting it rise.

How to Braid Easter Egg Bread Dough

For this sweet bread braid- make 3 ropes of roughly the same size and length.

1-3. The best way is to weigh the whole dough and divide it into three equal pieces. Or, simply use your best judgment.

Divided Easter bread dough into three portions.
Separating the risen dough into equal parts.

4-7. Start with three equal part dough balls and roll them into ropes. Gather them at the top and pinch the dough to secure it.

Simply make a long braid- as you would for braiding hair. After every braid section add one egg.

Instructions for braiding Easter bread dough with colorful eggs.
How to braid Easter bread with dyed eggs in the braid.

8-10. Transfer the braided Easter egg dough into a round baking pan. Spray tin can or oven safe glass with cooking spray and place in the middle of the circle to keep the shape.

Let the dough rise a second time before baking. Brush the dough with egg wash just before baking.

Instructions for adding dough to a baking tin.
Final Easter egg bread dough before and after the second rise (egg wash).

How to Make- Video

Let this video guide you through the process of making this delicious bread!

Finished Easter bread dough with a knife and sprinkles on a white background.
Braided Easter bread with a slice on a plate

What is the Significance of Eggs in Easter Bread?

The colorful eggs in this recipe make it festive and fun. The eggs also signify rebirth after the cold winter months. This concept relates to the religious aspect of Christ and His rebirth.

On the Italian Easter table, bread often represents a religious significance – Christ is often referred to as “the bread of life.”

Leave out the eggs, if desired, the sweet dough is perfectly delicious without them!

How to Dye Easter Eggs

My children love to dye Easter eggs with fun vibrant colors. The kids love helping with this bread since I ask them to help me with the creating the egg colors!

After you hard boil the eggs follow the directions on the package for dying and coloring the eggs. Make sure the eggs are completely dry before placing them in the bread dough.

While cooking the eggs will color the bread slightly.

What Flour Makes Brioche Bread Fluffy?

For this recipe we use bread flour. Here is why:

Let’s discuss Bread Flour! When making bread it is very important to use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour.

Why can’t you use regular all-purpose flour, you might ask.

Bread flour has an increased amount of protein or more gluten which results in a lighter, fluffier dough which produces a less dense finished product.

All-purpose flour can be used, but bread flour is always better if your goal is a “fluffier” bread.

The biggest difference is that bread flour has a higher protein content compared to regular flour.

Tips

  • Use room temperature eggs and butter (soft not melted butter), leave them out an hour or so before making the dough, This makes the dough easier to work with as they ingredients will bind together better.
  • Check the date on your YEAST. If your yeast is old and not active, you will do a lot of work for nothing 🙂
  • Mixing the dough before the butter, then add the soft butter in chunks a little at a time
  • Don’t be afraid of buttery slimy sticky dough, before all the butter is incorporated all the way it will seem very sticky- KEEP MIXING!
  • Gluten develops well in water, but fat hinders gluten development. With an enriched dough like brioche, all the fat from the yolks and butter works against its gluten development. However, it also keeps the dough super soft and rich in flavor giving it an almost cake-like texture!
  • That is why brioche dough needs to be kneaded for much longer for good gluten development. Since the dough will be slack and sticky, a stand mixer is highly recommended to knead the dough until smooth and velvety.
A slice of Easter bread on a white plate with a fork and the whole Easter bread on white parchment with a knife.

Variations

Braided breads are beautiful! If you don’t want to go trough the trouble make this dough into standard loaves. You can also lay it as a single flat large braid on a baking sheet.

Flavorings: Add ground spices and extracts to the dough – cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, even saffron, and/or almond extract. Or, try this bread: St. Lucia Sweet Saffron Rolls (almond filling)

Baking Pan

What is the best baking pan for this braided Easter bread? A few options include: springform pan”>round springform pan, cast iron skillet “>cast iron skillet, or a flat baking sheet” rel=”nofollow”>baking sheet.

Storing Easter bread

To store– Make sure the baked bread is completely cool before storing it in an airtight container. It can be kept at room temperature for a couple of days. In the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

To freeze – To keep the bread longer, freeze the baked bread (without the dyed eggs) in a freezer-safe bag or airtight container for up to 2 months. 

Slice of Easter bread on a plate with a fork.
Big slice of easter bread ready to eat

Serving Suggestions

If you want to make your presentation for this bread a little “extra” try serving it with a delicious Italian Pastry Cream, Italian Chocolate Pastry Cream (Crema Pasticcera), or Best Italian Pistachio Cream.

More delicious recipes for you:

From my table to your cucina! Mangia! (Eat!) Made with Amore, Elena

💙 MADE THIS RECIPE AND LOVED IT? 💙 Please leave a ⭐️STAR rating and COMMENT below- I love connecting with you! Tag me with your creations on Instagram and find me on Pinterest.

This Braided Easter Bread is soft, tender, festive and absolutely delicious!

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Downward shot of braided Easter bread with colorful eggs whole cake with lots of colorful sprinkles.

Braided Easter Bread Recipe (Italian)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 7 reviews

Italian Braided Easter Bread is a festive and delicious braided brioche bread served for Easter. Beautifully decorated with colorful eggs, sprinkles, and a sweet glaze to stand as the centerpiece of your holiday table.

  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale

For the brioche bread

  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) warm water at 110 – 115 degrees F
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) warm milk
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (2 packages)
  • 3 1/4 cups (400 grams) bread flour
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (82 grams) sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup, 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces

For the topping 

  • 67 hard boiled and dyed Easter eggs
  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
  • Colorful sprinkles of choice
  • 1 cup powdered Sugar
  • 3 teaspoon milk

Instructions

For the Brioche Bread 

  1. Stir the warm water and yeast together and allow the yeast mixture to sit for 2 minutes.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment add the flour. In a separate bowl, combine all of the ingredients except for the salt and butter. Mix wet ingredients well and add to the flour.
  3. Mix the ingredients on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until the dough has come together.
  4. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides as needed, pushing the dry ingredients into wet patches. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for 3-4 additional minutes. The dough will be stretchy and sticky.
  5. Add the salt. On low speed, add the butter a little at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough.
  6. Then, continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. It is important for all of the butter to be mixed thoroughly into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer to break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.
  7. Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn the mixer to medium speed and beat for another 8-10 minutes, or until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny. Continue beating until the dough turns smooth and silky. 
  8. Then, turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat for 1-2 minutes. You should hear the dough making slapping sounds against the sides of the mixer bowl. Test the dough by pulling it and stretching it thin.
  9. You want the dough to stretch, but also give a bit. If it feels too loose, easily breaks off into pieces, or looks shaggy, continue to mix on medium speed for 2-3 additional minutes. It’s ready when it’s smooth and stretchy and can be gathered together and picked up in one piece. The dough will remain sticky. 
  10. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl  and cover it with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for 60 minutes in a warm place. At this point, the dough may also be frozen or stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  11. Optional: place dough in fridge overnight to allow the dough to proof and develop flavor.
  12. Deflate the dough and place it onto a floured surface. Divide Easter Bread dough into three equal pieces and form balls. Using hands roll each ball into a long roll about 36 inches long. Next, braid the long strands, pinching the top to secure it. Place 1 egg for every braid section, creating total of 6-7 sections for 6-7 dyed eggs. Seal the ends together creating a ring.
  13. Next, carefully place the dough on parchment paper over a baking sheet, spring form pan, or cast iron skillet. Spray an oven safe cup (or tin can) with cooking spray and place in the middle of the circle to keep the shape during the second rise. 
  14. Cover the bread lightly with plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot (75-85 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal) for 45-60 minutes, or until the bread is nearly doubled in size.
  15. Preheat oven to 350F. Brush risen easter bread with egg wash and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown color. Let cool. 
  16. Make glaze. Combine powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Drizzle glaze over the bread and add sprinkles. Enjoy! 

Notes

Storing Easter bread

To store– Make sure the baked bread is completely cool before storing it in an airtight container. It can be kept at room temperature for a couple of days. In the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

To freeze – To keep the bread longer, freeze the baked bread (without the dyed eggs) in a freezer-safe bag or airtight container for up to 2 months. 

  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
  • Category: Sweet
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

You May Also Like

About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

14 Comments

  1. Good day Elena, I’m just curious on this recipe for the Easter bread -have you experimented with making two smaller loaves from this one recipe? I’m wondering what temperature and timeframe might be appropriate in trying this.

    Thanks so much and have a blessed upcoming Easter.

      1. I nailed it!!! I’ve tried every Italian Easter bread to replicate my grandmother’s and until now were always duds. This truly was my last attempt at making one, the dough seemed too slick and I was losing faith… then it blossomed in the rising … Unbelievable how on point this texture and flavor is to what she used to make, wish I could show you!!! I can’t wait to try again and again.






  2. I made this for Easter it was gone in 1 hour! Every family member was losing it. It’s so soft and sweet. Very unique and delicious. It was my first time attempting this, it took patience and it was so fun I made it with my 4 year old daughter. Will now be our Easter tradition, I also love the Catholic symbolism!






  3. I made this for Easter this past weekend and it was soooo good. The bread was perfectly light, fluffy and sweet. Everyone loved it, thanks!






    1. Amanda, I am so happy to hear everyone loved it! We make it all year around (leave out the eggs).

  4. Awesome recipe! I made for Easter and gave up my previous go to recipe with many more eggs. This was light and flavorful. I even made another batch of dough and made cinnamon rolls with it.






    1. So happy you loved it! Yes, the dough is versatile you will have to try my Sweet Saffron Rolls (St. Lucia buns) next!