This beautifully baked bread is as delicious as it is pretty!

Easter bread is a sweet yeast bread with a buttery texture and a hint of citrus flavor. It’s baked with jewel-toned eggs nestled on top.

Easter is the time to bring out the family’s favorite recipes and make room for some easy, soon-to-be favorites!

Top view of a baked loaf of Easter Bread

What is Easter Bread?

Easter marks a time of celebration and renewal, it’s a holiday when families gather to rejoice in the arrival of Spring and new life.

One of my all-time favorite bread recipes is this tender sweet yeast dough, infused with a hint of citrus. I’ve slightly adapted this recipe from an old church cookbook.

  • The bread’s texture is rich and buttery, like brioche, with a bit of sweetness and a hint of citrus flavor.
  • This classic holiday bread has spiritual significance as well. The sweet, yeast-risen dough is made with colorful hardboiled eggs, which represent new life.
  • Easter bread braids can be shaped into circular shapes, representing the crown of Christ, while the three strands in the braids represent the Holy Trinity. Although this recipe is a variation of Italian Easter bread, many other versions have distinct meanings and dough shapes.
Easter Bread being brushed with an egg wash before baking

Ingredients & Variations

Yeast Dough – This rich dough is made with eggs and butter, making it moist and sweet. It is lightly sweetened and incredibly soft.

Flavor – Fresh lemon and orange zest add a light citrus flavor to this Easter bread. You can also customize it with optional add-ins like raisins, currants, chopped nuts, cinnamon, almonds, a touch of saffron, or cardamom.

Eggs – Large eggs are best for the bread dough, but medium or small eggs are great for the colored eggs in your Easter bread.

For the decorative eggs, uncooked eggs will bake alongside the bread in the oven. Once baked, the eggs will be almost hard-cooked and will continue to cook as the bread cools down.

Labeled Easter Bread ingredients

How to Make Easter Bread

Nothing is better than warm bread fresh from the oven, and this Easter egg bread tops the list.

  1. Combine yeast, warm milk, and sugar (per the recipe below). Mix in eggs, vanilla, zest, and flour, and knead to form a dough.
  2. Let rise. Punch down, and divide into 3 ropes.
  3. Shape into a braid and add the colored eggs. Let rise.
  4. Brush with egg wash and bake. Cool on a wire rack.

How to Dye Eggs with Food Coloring

For our Easter eggs, we dye hard-boiled eggs with whipped cream but in this recipe, I place them in food coloring uncooked. Let them soak in the color while preparing the dough.

  1. Fill a cup with about 2/3 cup water and 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar.
  2. Add a generous amount of liquid food coloring and add the eggs.
  3. Let them soak until they reach the desired color. Remove from the water and let dry completely before using in the bread.

Tips

  • You can use eggs that have not been dyed if you prefer. Hard-boiled eggs can also be used if you’d like firmer eggs.
  • Ensure all ingredients (including milk) are at room temperature. This will help the yeast to activate and the dough to rise properly.
  • The bread can be kneaded with a dough hook attachment on a stand mixer or by hand. If you are kneading by hand, knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.
  • Form the loaf on parchment paper and slide the parchment paper onto a baking sheet. This will make it easier to remove the bread from the baking sheet after it is baked.
  • The loaf can be glazed and sprinkles can be added if you’d like. The glaze will give the bread a shiny finish, and the sprinkles will add a festive touch.
  • The eggs will usually leak a little bit of color into the dough, this is expected. The color will not affect the flavor of the bread.
Easter Bread prepped for baking

How to Store

Once Easter bread has been served, remove the eggs and store them in the refrigerator in a bowl for up to 4 days. Keep the bread in a covered container or zippered bag at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Best Homemade Bread Recipes

Did you enjoy this Easter Bread Recipe? Be sure to leave a comment and a rating below!

Baked Easter Bread
5 from 23 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Easter Bread

This sweetened yeast-based bread has a hint of citrusy orange flavor. The colorful eggs and braids will make this bread the crown of the Easter table.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Rise Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients  

  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast 1 package
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ¾ cups all purpose flour or as needed
  • 5 uncooked eggs colored (see note)
  • 1 egg for egg wash

Instructions 

  • In a small saucepan, combine milk and butter. Warm to 120°F. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Stir in sugar and yeast. Let rest 10 minutes.
  • Add the yeast mixture to the bottom of a stand mixer. Add in the eggs, vanilla, citrus zest, and salt, and lightly mix until combined. Add 1 cup of flour and beat using a dough hook for 2 minutes at medium speed.
  • Add in remaining flour a bit at a time to make a soft dough, you may not need all of the flour. Turn the mixer on to medium-low and knead with the dough hook for 4-6 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
  • Place the dough into a greased bowl, cover and rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  • Punch the dough down and divide into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 26-inch rope.
  • Place all 3 ropes in a row on a piece of parchment paper and pinch the 3 tops together. Braid the ropes and pinch the bottom seams together.
  • Curve the rope to create a ring and pinch the end together. Tuck the colored eggs in between the ropes of dough. Gently cover with a towel and let rise about 30 minutes or until doubled.
  • While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350°F. Slide the parchment paper onto a baking sheet.
  • Beat the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the egg over the dough (avoiding the eggs).
  • Bake for 28-33 minutes or until the bread is golden.
  • Remove from the oven and cool on a baking rack.

Notes

To knead by hand, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 10-15 minutes.
The eggs will be almost hard cooked once the bread cools. Once cooled ensure eggs are stored in the refrigerator.
Eggs do not have to be colored if you’d prefer. 
To dye eggs with food coloring:
  1. Fill a cup with about 2/3 cup water and 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar.
  2. Add a generous amount of liquid food coloring and add the eggs.
  3. Let them soak until they reach the desired color. Remove from the water and let dry completely before using in the bread.
5 from 23 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 340 | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 76mg | Sodium: 188mg | Potassium: 117mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 356IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Bread
Cuisine American
close up of cooked Easter Bread with mini eggs and a title
top view and close up photos of Easter Bread with a title
easter bread with mini eggs and a title
close up of Easter Bread with a title

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Comments

  1. I am going to bake your soda bread for supper tonight. Then make the Easter Bread for Easter
    dinner. But before I do, a friend of mine who teaches cooking classes and writes/publishes
    cookbooks taught me this: list all ingredients in the order in which they will used. So I will
    rearrange the ingredients in the Easter Bread recipe (and the 20 Minute Broccoli Cheese Soup) –
    which sounds delicious – before I make them. Thanks for these recipes.

    1. Enjoy the recipes Janet! You’re absolutely right, the ingredients should be in the order they’re used. I have updated this recipe to the correct order.

    1. Hi Nancy, I would store it covered or in an air-tight container to help prevent it from drying out.