Your Guide to 22 Types of Italian Bread
Who knew there were this many types of Italian bread? Read on to learn which are best with butter and which shine as a sandwich bread.
This flatbread is one of the most iconic Italian breads. It’s baked flat on a sheet pan, and it gets its rich flavor from the addition of olive oil. Simple focaccia tastes great as-is for a snack, and it’s an excellent bread to serve with soup. We also love fancying it up by making it with toppings and enjoying it as an appetizer (like this fantastic Focaccia Barese).
Ciabatta is a rustic Italian loaf that’s filled with tons of irregularly-shaped air pockets. It’s super crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside, making it an ideal choice for making sandwiches. You can buy it of course, but consider learning how to make ciabatta bread from scratch. The dough is wetter than most bread doughs, so many recipes are no-knead, like our No-Knead Ciabatta recipe.
These breadsticks are so crunchy, it’s impossible to avoid snacking on them as you cook dinner! You can make them with any pizza dough recipe (or store-bought dough, if you’re running short on time). Then, roll the dough sections into wobbly little sticks before baking them in a 400°F oven. When they puff up and crisp, they’re finished!
This Italian Easter Bread was traditionally made after the Easter feast to use up all the leftovers. The bread is a complete meal in itself: The dough is stuffed with salami, cheese and sometimes hard-boiled eggs before it’s baked. It has a hole in the middle because it’s made in a ring pan, but you can use a Bundt pan in a pinch.
Learn more about different types of bread beyond Italian breads.
Classic Italian Bread
When you think of classic Italian bread, a soft, fluffy loaf probably floats to mind. It has the perfect texture for a salami sandwich, but it also tastes fantastic when slathered with butter and enjoyed as a snack. This homemade bread is easy to pull off, too: Try starting with our recipe for Mom’s Italian Bread.
Some might argue that panettone is a cake, but it’s actually a traditional Italian Christmas bread. This dry, sweet bread is enriched with sugar, studded with raisins and nuts and puffs up like a souffle when it cooks, towering as high as a double-decker cake. If you have any leftovers, use them to make panettone bread pudding.
These small rolls are similar to ciabatta in the sense that they’re crusty on the outside and tender on the inside. Unlike ciabatta, they’re not rustic. Instead, their elongated shape is specifically formed to give them a refined look. They’re perfect for making sandwiches, and the leftovers make fantastic croutons.
These flatbreads are one of the most popular street foods in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. The dough is cooked to order on a hot griddle until it resembles a thick tortilla. Then, it’s folded in half and stuffed with cured meats like prosciutto, cheeses and vegetables.
At first glance, you might think that someone forgot to put the sauce and cheese on a pizza! Don’t worry; the preparation is purposeful. This classic bread is similar to focaccia, but it’s not enriched with olive oil. Pizza bianca is chewier and less moist, but it makes a perfect snack (especially if you sprinkle it with a little sea salt and rosemary).
These rose-shaped rolls are extremely difficult to make, but they’re totally worth it. They contain more yeast than normal bread and they’re baked in a steam-injected oven, causing them to puff up and become hollow inside. The outside is delightfully crusty and the inside can be stuffed with nduja (a spicy spreadable Italian sausage) or sweet jams.
This rustic Italian loaf is wide, round and flat. It’s not baked in a bread pan, creating a rustic, irregular shape. It’s made with a starter called biga (similar to sourdough starter). It takes a long time for the dough to develop, but it finishes with a lightly fermented flavor. It’s the perfect bread to serve on the side of an Italian pasta dish.
The Italian word casareccio translates to “homemade,” so there are many versions of this bread depending on the household. It’s generally crusty on the outside and spongy on the inside. It’s the ideal bread to serve on the side of any meal: salad, soup, pasta meat, fish—it all works!
At first glance, you would swear that cornetto were croissants! They’re Italy’s version of the classic French pastry, and they’re usually enjoyed for breakfast. The major difference is that cornettos are made with lard instead of butter, and the dough contains sugar to make it sweet. They can be enjoyed plain, but they’re often stuffed with jam or sweet cream.
This cheese-stuffed bread is typically enjoyed during Easter. The savory egg dough is loaded with cheese—sometimes Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano, or a combination that also includes Gruyere. It’s flavorful enough to be enjoyed on its own, but it pairs particularly well with ham.
Traditional Tuscan bread is simple but delicious. It has a soft and chewy texture, but it’s traditionally made without salt, making the bread a little bland on its own. Pair it with salty meats and cheeses, though, and it’s absolutely perfect for a snack or light meal.
You’ll find these super thin, crunchy flatbreads in Sardinia. The dough is baked twice—once until it puffs up like a pita, and a second time after it’s sliced in half horizontally to create two crispy rounds. Carasau can be seasoned with olive oil and enjoyed as a snack, topped with tomatoes and cheese to create a pizza-like dish or softened with water to turn it into a wrap.
This twice-baked bread is quite unique. It looks a little bit like a bagel, but it’s flatter and with a crunchier texture. That’s because the bread is toasted after it’s baked, making it reminiscent of crostini. It’s traditionally topped with tomatoes and enjoyed as a light meal or snack, but you can top it with any number of toppings. It would make a great bread for avocado toast!
Coppia Ferrarese is a unique-shaped bread that comes from the province of Ferrara. Coppia means “couple,” representing the two pieces of dough intertwined to create an “x” or star shape. It’s made with lard and rolled before it’s baked, so each piece of dough contains several crispy layers. It’s the perfect bread to serve with a charcuterie platter or a cheese board.
The French have brioche, and the Sicilians have brioche tuppo. The top of the roll is a little bun (the tuppo), which is usually removed and eaten first. Then, the rest of the roll is stuffed with fruit-flavored granita or gelato. Does that make it breakfast or dessert? Who says you can’t eat dessert for breakfast!
This crunchy Tuscan flatbread was traditionally enjoyed by farmers as they worked the fields. It’s very portable, and there are two varieties: thin and crispy like a cracker, or thicker and semi-soft like focaccia. Either way, the dough is always a little on the salty side, so it’s best enjoyed alone.
This crusty loaf looks like a cross between baguette and ciabatta, but it’s made with a starter called biga that gives it a sourdough-like flavor. It bakes up crispy on the outside and remains very light and airy inside. It’s an everyday bread that can be consumed with a variety of different dishes, and it also makes a fantastic sandwich bread.
Some would argue that biscotti are cookies, but the original recipe was more of a sweet biscuit. The biscuits were baked twice so they would last longer, and over time the sugar quantity was increased to make them more cookie-like. They’re best enjoyed as a snack or breakfast, whether they’re plain or filled with nuts and other sweet toppings.