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Traditional Easter Bread

Nathan Congleton / TODAY
Cook Time:
1 hr
Prep Time:
25 mins

Chef notes

An orange zest, vanilla and cardamom glaze add incredible fragrant flavor to this sweet celebratory bread. The sprinkles on top also add color and make it feel extra festive.

Technique tip: Make the dough the night before to better develop the flavor and texture. It's also great to make as individual little loaves for each place setting for Easter dinner. And, this recipe makes incredible French toast the next day.

Swap option: If you're short on time, use store-bought crescent roll dough.


Easter bread
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1/2 ounce (2 packets) dry active yeast
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3 large raw eggs, divided
  • 6 hard-boiled colored eggs
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon colored sprinkles


For the Easter bread:


Place sugar, milk, shortening, cardamom, vanilla and orange zest in a small sauce pot and slowly warm to melt the shortening. Once the wet ingredients are warm (not hot), whisk in the yeast and transfer to a stand mixer bowl with a dough hook attachment.


Turn mixer on low speed and slowly add in half of the flour, all of the salt and 2 of the raw eggs. Work the dough in the mixer until all of the eggs are absorbed then slowly add in remaining flour and continue to mix on low for 10 minutes until dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl (dough will be slightly sticky).


Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic and allow it to rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (about 30-40 minutes).


Once the dough has risen, punch down the dough in the bowl and transfer to a floured work surface and cut into 2 equal size pieces. Roll each piece into a 36-inch rope then twist the pieces together, making sure to pinch the beginning and end of the braid so it does not come apart in baking. Place the braided bread onto an oiled baking sheet and attach the ends to make a circle if desired.


Preheat your oven to 375°F.


Lightly oil the colored hard-boiled eggs and arrange within the braids. Cover the dough with plastic and allow it to rise one more time until it doubles in size (about 20 minutes).


Whisk together the remaining egg and heavy cream and gently brush the dough with the egg-wash mixture.


Bake for about 25 minutes or until the bread is cooked and evenly golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

For the glaze:

Whisk together the sugar, lemon juice and colored sprinkles.

To assemble:

Once the bread has cooled and top with the glaze.