This panettone, a traditional Italian Christmas cake, is made with plenty of butter and dried fruits and nuts and is as flavorful as it is foolproof. It can also be customized given your fancy. Bake a couple large loaves in coffee cans or more smaller loaves in paper molds.

A panettone studded with dried fruit on a silver platter with a couple of wedges cut from it.

There are conflicting stories about the origins of the word “panettone.” Our favorite is the legend that it comes from the Milanese phrase “pan del ton,” which in English literally translates to “cake of luxury.” This makes a lot of sense when you take a look at the ingredients of this traditional Italian Christmas cake given that the dough is egg enriched and ample butter and gilded with toasted pistachios, dried fruit, citrus zest, a splash of  rum…yep, luxury.–Renee Schettler


  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • 5 H
  • Makes 4 small or 2 large loaves
5/5 - 1 reviews
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Special Equipment: Two coffee cans or 6-inch paper panettone baking molds OR four 4- to 5-inch paper panettone baking molds (price tags removed)


  • For the starter
  • For the panettone


Make the starter

In a small glass bowl, combine the warm milk, yeast, flour, and sugar and stir to blend. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest until slightly bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Make the panettone

Place the nuts on a baking sheet and spray them with water, sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt, and toast for 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a cutting board to cool and then coarsely chop them.

In a bowl, combine the 1 teaspoon salt, the flour, lemon and orange zests, candied orange and lemon peel, if using, fruit, nuts, rum, and vanilla.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes or until fluffy. Add the eggs and yolks and beat well. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined. Gradually add the starter and continue to beat on low speed until all the ingredients are incorporated. The dough should not be sticky or too firm. It should look buttery and a little ragged.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 1 to 2 minutes, pushing the dough away from you with the heels of your hands and then folding it back over on itself. The dough will be smooth and satiny.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, at least 2 hours.

Gently turn the dough onto a work surface and divide it into 4 equal pieces if making smaller loaves or into 2 pieces if making larger loaves. Carefully handle the dough so as to keep as much air in it as possible. Let the pieces rest, covered with a clean towel, for 10 minutes.

To make smaller panettone, butter four 1-pound coffee cans or butter 4- to 5-inch-wide deep parchment paper molds (available online and at baking stores). To make larger panettone, butter two 2-pound coffee cans.

Shape each portion of dough into a smooth ball and place it in a mold. Each mold should be about half full.

Beat the reserved egg whites and use the to brush the tops of the loaves. Cover and let the loaves rise until just slightly less than doubled, up to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Adjust the oven rack to the middle position.

Uncover the panettone, place them in the oven, and reduce the heat to 350°F (175°C). Bake for 30 to 35 minutes is using smaller molds and up to 45 minutes for larger molds. The exact baking time will vary depending on the exact size of your cans or molds. (If, after 20 minutes of baking, the top of the panettone is taking on too much color, loosely cover with a piece of aluminum foil.) The bread is done when a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Cool the panettone in the molds for 15 minutes and then carefully remove the loaves from the molds or cans and place them on wire racks to cool completely. Panettone will keep for up to a week in a tightly sealed plastic bag (or you can wrap and freeze the panettone for up to 6 months). Originally published December 22, 2009.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

I’ve made different versions and sizes of panettone over the years and this is a recipe I will definitely repeat.

I forgot to buy an orange so I had to omit the orange zest but I did use lemon zest. I also used 1/4 cup of candied lemon rind. I found the dough to be quite easy to work with. As described it was not too sticky nor firm and kneading it was not complicated. An important note is the recipe as written does not instruct when to add the mix of cranberries, pistachios and accompanying ingredients. I didn’t catch this at first and let the dough rise for 2 hours. Then I noticed there were no steps on adding the filling, so I worked it into the dough and let it rise another hour. If that step had been written in, I think the 2 hours rise would suffice.

From the dough I made 4 small panettone. In lieu of coffee cans I used 5-inch panettone paper molds. I let the dough rise for an hour in the molds, then brushed with the egg whites. I placed all 4 on a single baking sheet. They took exactly 30 minutes to bake. I tested with a wooden skewer, which came out clean. The tops of the panettone were a nice golden brown color. The kitchen smelled amazing. I let them cool overnight then tried a piece in the morning. I think the cranberry and pistachio pairing is excellent. The pistachio especially gives it a nice nuttiness that is not overpowering. I like the sweet and salty combo from using salted pistachios. I’m planning to make this again and give these as Christmas gifts. Thanks for the recipe!

Let me start by saying that through no fault of this recipe, I totally overbaked my panettone. Note to reader: Do NOT clean out your pantry while baking a delicate delicious Italian dessert bread! That said, even overbaked, this was a lovely bread. The flavors were gorgeous! I love love love cranberries and pistachios. I leapt at the chance to bake this. This is definitely not a quick kind of "throw together" recipe. But with careful planning, this is a fantastic gift for someone you love or a treat to have in the house. I will absolutely make this again while monitoring it significantly more closely.

I made my own candied orange and lemon peel. The panettone didn't rise quite as much as I had hoped. But admittedly my house is very cold and I probably could have let it proof a whole extra hour prior to popping it in the oven. But I let my impatience get the best of me.

Describing the initial mixture as buttery and ragged is spot on. The dough was satiny at about 3 minutes of kneading. It took just over 4 hours to double. I used two 6.25-inch panettone springform pans.
It took two hours to rise and probably could have used another hour. After 45 minutes, it was still completely raw inside so I added a half hour which was TOO much! I probably needed 15 to 20 minutes more.

As far as servings, I would say a single loaf is about 16 servings.

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