Tsoureki (Sweet Greek Easter and New Year's Bread)

February 11, 2017
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 2 to 3 loaves
Author Notes

This is a delicious Greek bread that is traditionally made at Greek Easter and for New Year's. For Easter, the bread is baked with hard-boiled red eggs that accompany the feast celebrating the resurrection of Christ. —Maro

What You'll Need
  • 1 envelope dry active yeast
  • 3 eggs, plus 1 for egg wash
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 pounds all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon mahlepi
  • 3/4 teaspoon masticha
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  1. Proof your yeast. Add yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar to a 1-cup measuring cup with 1/4 cup of water. Set aside allowing yeast to foam and activate yeast for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a small saucepan on low, melt butter and add milk. Transfer to a mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook and add the yeast mixture. Stir to dissolve the yeast. Add 1 1/4 pounds of the flour, then add the remaining sugar, 3 eggs, the mahlepi, and the masticha and mix until elastic enough to form a window when stretched. Add the remaining 1/4 pound of flour as needed, but keep in mind that it's a wet dough so it won't form a ball in the way other yeast doughs might. Mixing will take about 15 minutes total.
  3. Transfer the dough to a large bowl. Cover dough and place in a draft-free environment and allow to rise for about 2 hours, until at least doubled in size.
  4. Butter two 10-inch or three 9-inch round cake pans. Place dough on a floured surface to shape and divide according to the number of pans. Allow dough to rise again for about an hour, until again doubled in size.
  5. Preheat oven to 325° F. Combine the remaining egg and the vanilla extract and brush tops of loaves with egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until golden. Test with toothpick for doneness.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Johanna
  • Despina Yeargin
    Despina Yeargin
  • Eleanna
  • Maro
  • Элла Элен
    Элла Элен

20 Reviews

Johanna December 23, 2018
There are some instructions missing from the recipe. First, I assumed, correctly, that the mastic and mahlep should be ground. I found the order of the ingredients to be incorrect, making for an annoying assembly. The loaves did not fill the pans, not even after rising 2 hours. I baked them anyway. It's a beautiful dough, but the flavor will not be to everyone's liking.
Phyllis April 10, 2017
As for stuffing the Easter bread, Nutella is excellent for that. Though, I substitute an organic version from whole food. Just before putting it to rise flatten out a little, spread it on, close it up and continue letting it rise. By the way I'm from Sámos island, one of the greenest island.
Despina Y. April 10, 2017
I am Greek also, Maro. My family came from Sparti and from the island of Samos. Neither uses the mahlepi, so I've not tried it with that. We always use the masticha, which = Easter/Pascha when I smell it. I'll have to find mahlepi and experience your traditional spring-scented tsoureki. Thanks for sharing! We are losing these traditions. It's important to keep them alive and this is a great way to do that. :)
Maro April 10, 2017
Despina (my grand mother's beautiful name as well), I have to agree that sharing recipes is such a beautiful way to carry on wonderful traditions of a beautiful culture! Καλή Ανάσταση !
Rena December 30, 2020
Yiasou Thespina, I am Maro’s sister (btw). I looked up the recipe because I am away from my home but will be making this tsureki for New Years 2020. I believe that the addition of both the machlepi and masticha together makes for a much richer flavor for the tsureki. I have made it without the machlepi, and it is less tasty. Χρόνια Πολλά!
Phyllis April 6, 2017
Kali Anastasi and Kalo Pascha to everyone. Happy Easter to all
Maro April 6, 2017
Phyllis kali Anastasi to you as well-- sounds great, so many versions of this special bread!
Phyllis April 6, 2017
Another very aromatic addition to the Greek tsoureki is to just add about half teaspoon finely ground up anise seeds, just by itself. Absolutely delicious flavor.
Rena April 6, 2017
Maro is my sister, and of course Artemis was my mother! This is making me cry to read these amazing comments!! Kalee anastasee to all! That means have a good (easter) resurrection!
Элла Э. April 6, 2017
Καλή Ανάσταση! :)
Eleanna April 5, 2017
Do you have any suggestions for braiding the loaves? Also, do you have tips for stuffing the loaves? I loves the loaves from Thessaloniki that have chocolate inside.
Maro April 5, 2017
Eleanna, I don't know about the chocolate, but in terms of braiding, what I do is divide the dough in 3 equal parts and, roll it between your two hands into cigar like shapes of equal length. Attach the three at the top and braid until the end, tucking ends underneath and let rise a second time. I hope that is helpful! Kalo Teexee! Good luck!
Элла Э. April 5, 2017
The dough is very tender, so, I suppose, to make a braided AND filled loaf, the foolproof way is to bake a braided loaf in a small loaf pan. You divide the appropriately sized dough portion in thirds, layer one third on the bottom of the (oiled) pan, layer some chopped chocolate in the middle, then roll other two thirds in two thick ropes and twist/knot them. Then layer them on top of chocolate, glaze+bake. It always worked to keep both the pretty shape and the filling in place.
Eleanna April 6, 2017
Thank you both so much for your suggestions! I'm so excited to start playing with this recipe. Kalo mayeirema se olous!
Maro April 4, 2017
That sounds delicious I have never tried that!
Элла Э. April 4, 2017
Mailed your recipe to my grandma - she said, around Taygetos women also add a pinch of herbs to white tsourekia, a little of ground krataigos leaves (=hawthorn?) for a scent similar to applewood, or fir-tree/thyme honey, because the Easter bread should smell like magic, not like just a bread. So, I'm off to trying first your mother's recipe and then something Lakonian (thus native :))
Maro April 6, 2017
That sounds so good! It is so wonderful that each region adds its own special imprint to this wonderful Greek tradition!
Элла Э. April 4, 2017
You can also replace some AP flour with rye flour (adding a bit more milk) to get a southern greek version (Lakonian - they make great sweet rye pastries in Sparti). Chocolate chip tsourekia (or smaller, braided tsoureki = tsourekaki) are also extremely popular.
And thank you for the recipe, Maro!
Maro April 6, 2017
You are so welcome keep me posted! 😘
Phyllis April 6, 2017
If you want the whole house to have a beautiful aroma of special Greek tsoureki, add about half teaspoon of cardamom along with the Mahlepi and masticha, AlI I can say is, heavenly.