Try your hand at making a beautiful loaf of Greek Easter bread for a traditional addition to your Easter spread this spring.
Greek Easter Bread (Tsoureki) Recipe photo by Taste of Home

If you’re Greek, nothing says Easter quite like a loaf of tsoureki (tsoo-REH-kee) at the center of your dining table. Greek Easter bread, one of the most traditional Greek recipes, is often enjoyed around the spring holiday in Greece and among Greek communities in other countries.

Variations of this bread are eaten year-round, but the classic recipe has deeply religious connotations and symbolism. At Easter, the bread is typically adorned with hard-boiled eggs dyed red to symbolize the blood and sacrifice of Christ. Additionally, the bread is typically shaped using three strands of braided dough to symbolize the Christian Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

While the process of making tsoureki is a little more involved than some of our other favorite Easter bread recipes, it yields a stunningly beautiful, symbolic and delicious result that’s well worth the effort.

What does Greek Easter bread taste like?

Like Jewish challah bread and French brioche, tsoureki is an enriched sweet bread often shaped into a braided plait. In terms of flavor, however, tsoureki is usually flavored with mastic, mahleb and orange. These flavors give the bread a uniquely spiced flavor and aroma that’s distinct from challah and brioche. Italian Easter bread has colorful eggs baked into the braided bread like tsoureki, but it’s flavored with aniseed and chopped dried fruit.

Greek Easter Bread Ingredients

  • Yeast: Active dry yeast serves as the leavening agent in this Greek Easter bread. If you need to use instant yeast instead, you’ll reduce the amount of yeast, and instead of blooming it in water, you’ll add right to the dough. Here’s more on how to use yeast for all your baking needs.
  • Milk: When used in recipes for homemade bread, milk brings a little extra fat and moisture to the dough. This helps the baked bread develop a tender crumb and soft texture.
  • Sugar: With most breads made with active dry yeast, you need just a pinch of sugar to feed the yeast. In this recipe, the sugar does double duty by feeding the yeast while it ferments and adding sweetness to the bread.
  • Eggs: Many enriched doughs use eggs, which help make bread light and fluffy. The fat in the yolk inhibits the production of gluten, ensuring that loaves made with eggs can expand and rise more than those without eggs. Eggs also help develop a richer colored in baked breads.
  • Butter: Like our favorite buttery rolls recipe, this Greek Easter bread is made with butter, which enriches the bread with fat to make the loaves tender, soft and flavorful.
  • Orange zest: Orange zest perfumes the tsoureki with a lovely citrus scent and a subtle orange flavor.
  • Mahleb and mastic: These two spices feature notes of cherry, almond, rose and pine, and they are traditional flavorings in authentic tsoureki. These spices can be difficult to find, however, so you can omit them if you do not wish to source them.
  • Flour: No need buy a special type of flour for this recipe! You can make a perfect Greek Easter bread with regular all-purpose flour.
  • Hard-boiled eggs: Dyed with a vibrant hue of red, hard-boiled eggs are what give Greek Easter Bread its signature appearance. While they’re not necessary for flavor, symbolically, the eggs are important for this recipe since they represent the blood and sacrifice of Christ on Easter.


Step 1: Mix the dough

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Add the milk, sugar, eggs, butter, orange zest, salt, mahleb and mastic (if desired) and 3 cups flour. Beat the ingredients until smooth, then stir in enough remaining flour (usually 2-1/2 to 3 cups) to form a soft, smooth dough.

Editor’s Tip: Follow these tips on how to proof yeast as a primer. If you have a stand mixer, you can use it to make Greek Easter bread if you prefer. Start by combining the ingredients together on your mixer’s first speed, then increase to your mixer’s second speed to mix the dough until smooth.

Step 2: Knead the dough

Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and knead until it is smooth and elastic, six to eight minutes.

Editor’s Tip: To test whether you’ve kneaded the dough enough, try performing the “windowpane” test. Pinch off a ball of dough, then flatten and hold it between your thumb and first two fingers. Begin to spread the dough apart slowly; you should be able to stretch it without tearing it to form a thin membrane you can almost see through.

Step 3: First rise

Place the Greek Easter bread dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about one hour.

Step 4: Divide and braid

Punch the dough down, and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into six equal portions, and shape each into a 12-inch rope. Place three ropes on a greased baking sheet, and braid into a classic three-strand plait. Pinch the ends to seal, and tuck them under the loaf. Repeat process with the remaining three ropes. To finish, nestle three hard-cooked eggs into the braid of each loaf.

Editor’s Tip: For an attractive and professional presentation, use a kitchen scale to divide your dough into portions that are of equal weight. Using strands of equal size and weight will help the bread rise and bake evenly with a more uniform appearance.

Step 5: Second rise

Cover dough loosely with a tea towel or plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. During the final 20 to 30 minutes of rise time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Editor’s Tip: Not seeing a rise? Here’s what you can do when your bread isn’t rising.

Step 6: Bake

Brush the loaves with beaten egg, and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove promptly, and cool on wire racks.

Greek Easter Bread on a Baking Sheet on Baking Tray with Knife on White Painted Wooden SurfaceTMB Studio

Editor’s Tip: Did you know you can test bread for doneness just like meat by using an instant-read thermometer? For enriched breads, like Greek Easter bread, a reading of 190° taken in the center of the bread at its thickest point will indicate that it is fully baked.

Greek Easter Bread Variations

  • Add cardamom: Some recipes for tsoureki include cardamom as an ingredient. If you’d like to add it, start with 1/4 teaspoon, and adjust according to your taste preferences.
  • Dried fruit: While not traditional, sometimes you will see Greek Easter bread with dried fruit. Try kneading up to 1/2 cup dried cranberries, cherries or raisins into the dough.
  • Nut allergy: If you have a nut allergy, you can omit the almonds from the Greek Easter bread topping.

How to Store Greek Easter Bread

Store leftover tsoureki bread (without the boiled eggs) in a sealed bag or a tightly covered container for up to three days or in the freezer for up to one month. After that, it’s best to use it up in baked French toast or bread pudding. Store the hard-boiled eggs in the fridge.

Greek Easter Bread Tips

Greek Easter Bread on a Round Wooden Tray with Knife on White Painted Wooden SurfaceTMB Studio

Can you eat the eggs on Greek Easter bread?

Yes! The eggs that bejewel a loaf of Greek Easter bread are definitely edible. However, because the eggs are first boiled and then baked in the bread, they may be a little drier than a typical hard-boiled egg. If you don’t want to eat them plain, you can remove them from the loaf after serving, then save them to make deviled eggs or classic egg salad, where mayonnaise will add some moisture.

How do you serve Greek Easter bread?

Serve tsoureki with an elegant quiche for Easter brunch or as a sweet treat after your Easter ham or rack of lamb. If you want to make a full spread of Greek Easter recipes, consider other things like baklava, dolmades and, of course, baklava.

Greek Easter Bread (Tsoureki)

While this rich, sweet Greek Easter bread, also known as tsoureki, is traditionally served during the spring, it can be served any time of year without the red eggs. Mahleb and mastic are customary, but they can be difficult to find and are often omitted. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
Greek Easter Bread (Tsoureki) Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time

Prep: 45 min. + rising Bake: 25 min. + cooling


2 loaves (12 pieces each)


  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1 cup warm 2% milk (110° to 115°)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground mahleb, optional
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground mastic, optional
  • 5-1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 hard-boiled large eggs, dyed red
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds


  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, sugar, eggs, butter, orange zest, salt, mahleb and mastic if desired and 3 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
  2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  3. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide dough into six portions. Shape each into a 12-in. rope. Place three ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Repeat with remaining ropes. Tuck three hard-cooked eggs into the braid of each loaf. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  4. Brush with egg; sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

Nutrition Facts

1 piece: 203 calories, 7g fat (3g saturated fat), 89mg cholesterol, 113mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 1g fiber), 6g protein.