Christmas Panettone – Traditional Italian Fruit Bread (Vegan)

This recipe is for the popular, and incredibly tasty, Italian Christmas fruit-bread: Panettone. These fruit breads are not only simple to make, they also make great Christmas projects for the children and a terrific gift for friends and family.

The history of Panettone itself is a varied one:  This popular Italian fruit bread hails from Milan and is synonymous the world over with Christmas in Italy.  Some say the real origin of the popular bread can be found in the Middle Ages when it was prepared as a decadent bread that was far fancier than the plain loaves that were prepared year-round.  Some suggest its origin goes as far back as the Roman Empire when cakes were once flavoured with fruit and honey.  There are a lot of terrific panettone legends out there to explore!

The etymology of the word ‘Panettone’ is also quite interesting: Panetto, pane-etto, means small bread. But Panettone, Pane-etto -one, means small-large bread!  So what we’re preparing in this recipe is a conundrum indeed!  No matter! It tastes terrific so let’s get cracking, shall we?

Ingredients (Makes 2 panettone)

  • 9 cups white flour
  • 4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup lemon and orange zest
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 regular 6″ panettone paper shells

The first thing you’ll want to get your hands on are panettone papers, or shells.  These are pre-formed waxed-paper shells that you can find at most cooking shops during the Christmas season. You’ll also find them on Amazon. These decorative shells eliminate the need for baking the loaves in soup or coffee cans and there’s no need to oil them either.  Note: Do NOT preheat your oven!


  1. In a mixer, or a bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and water.  Proof the yeast for 10 minutes by leaving it sit and making sure it is alive and kicking; you should see bubbles and foam starting to rise to the top of the water after about 10 minutes.
  2. Once the yeast has proofed, combine the remaining ingredients and begin to mix the dough.
  3. Once the dough is mixed and kneaded thoroughly, leave the dough covered in a mixing bowl until it doubles in size. This could be anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours depending on the warmth of your region and your kitchen.
  4. Once you have completed the first rise, punch the dough down, knead and fold it a few more times, and cut it into 2 even pieces. You can also separate the dough using your hand if you grab dough in the middle between your thumb and forefinger and then squeeze the dough into two pieces
  5. Roll each section into round balls, using a bit of flour in your hands, and place them into each shell.
  6. Give the dough a gentle push down into each shell and place the shells onto a baking sheet.  These babies are going to rise up the the dome of the Hagia Sophia before long!  Make sure that you place each panettone about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet so that they don’t rise into each other before baking.
  7. Place the sheet and shells into your unheated oven and let rise until they’ve popped up above the shell rims and begin to form a dome.  Then it’s time to bake!
  8. Turn your oven on to 400 F (200 C, Gas Mark 6) now with the loaves in the oven.  We do this so as to not disturb them once they have risen as the dough can fall very easily if moved.
  9. Bake for 40 minutes, from preheat to finish, until the tops are a dark golden brown.
  10. Remove the pannetone loaves from the oven and let them cool until they reach room temperature. They’ll be fluffy little clouds of fruit-bread joy once they’ve cooled!
  11. Serve with butter or marmalade and enjoy!

If you’re planning to use these as small gifts or stocking stuffers, it’s a nice finishing touch to wrap them in cellophane and tie the top shut with a ribbon, making the whole package both delicious and adorable.

Buon Natale!  Good eating to you…

Please feel free to leave comments or suggestions about this recipe below.

*Revised 11-Dec-2017

Mini Panettone from Tavola Mediterranea

Buon Natale!  Good eating to you…

Please feel free to leave comments or suggestions about this recipe below.


  1. Fantastic recipe. I cannot believe that I have actually made a successful pannetone, well actually 2 massive towers of pannetone! Just like the ‘real thing’!!
    I added 2 TBSP linseed, ground and mixed with some of the water, as an additional ingredient to replace the eggs that would normally be in pannetone. Also a little turmeric to add the yellow colour.
    The result is delicious but I feel could do with perhaps a bit more sugar and more fruit.
    Also, do you really mean a whole cup of orange+lemon zest? In UK English zest just means the very fine gratings of the shiny part of the orange skin, so a whole cup would be perhaps a dozen or more large oranges worth??

  2. I am going to ty this recipe at the weekend but have one issue to contend with….I have an Aga so will have to let it rise in the cases and then put it in the oven. We will see how it turns out!!

  3. Agata Stepnik

    Thank you so much for this recipe – I’ll be trying it this weekend. Can I ask if fresh yeast will also work well, and if you are using US or metric cups for measurement (I’m in Australia so a metric cup is 250ml/130g flour, US is 240ml/120g flour)? Thanks again!

  4. This is my first time trying panettone and I’m really excited to give your recipe a go – can you recommend any panettone shells on Amazon? Struggling to find the right size for this!

  5. Maxine Teleki-Avery

    I made this and I have to say, it was simply delicious! The recipe was very simple to follow and had a great end result, I am quite happy with it!

  6. Thanks for the vegan version! Buon Natale!

  7. Daniela Toledo Machado

    I’d love some tips on how to knead the dough/how to tell when it’s ready! Feel like I spent forever and it was still sticky!



    • Farrell Monaco

      I’ll look into this tomorrow Daniela and see if there’s a quantity issue.

      • I always use my kitchen aid mixer when I have to knead dough. It works perfectly and does not wear your hands out..(Haha)

      • Farrell Monaco

        Daniela, everything is fine with this recipe. Make sure you use the correct amounts and bake it for the right length of time. Merry Christmas!

  8. I can’t wait to try making this! How long would I bake it if I plan to make mini ones?

  9. Omigosh this is exactly what I remember … Thank you.
    I decided I would practice on 1 loaf for my first time. I did exactly as written EXCEPT I did not have panettone shells so I baked in my unglazed clay pot. It was raw in the middle even after I baked an extra half hour.. This is the only recipe I will ever use again, I just need to make sure if the pot was my problem or if it could have been something else…Grazia molto.. Buon Natale
    I am ordering shells from Amazon..

    • Farrell Monaco

      That’s odd! 400 for 40 minutes? Did you let it cool fully? I’ll be making mine this weekend so I’ll see if there’s a quantity issue.

      • Ohhh, I may have taken it out of the baking dish to cool. I must say though, this is so very good. I have tried to make other vegan panettone and the taste was not there. Next time I will make it to the T. 2 loaves and in the panettone shells.. Grazia molto for this amazing recipe.

        • Farrell Monaco

          Debbie, I made it last night and let it cool overnight. Everything is perfect: crust and crumb, fully baked. Everyone’s oven is different too. If you stick to 400 as a temp, let it go for 45 next time. It is a dense loaf so the heat has to meet the middle. I cut into mine this morning, and all was well.

  10. Marilena LaBarbera

    Vegan Panettone
    You say 1 cup of Orange and Lemon zest. Seems like a lot. Is this 1 cup each?


  11. This looks like a fab recipe! Thank you! I am definitely going to try it for Christ as being newly vegan, the thought of Christmas without panettone makes me miserable! Lol.. Just ine question- when u first put the bread into the oven to prove, should the oven be slightly warmed? Eg about 20 mins at 50c then turned off 10 before it goes in? Ta

    • Farrell Spence

      Hi! No…. don’t go and do that now! 😉 If you slightly warm the oven it may cause the exterior of the bread to become crusty and inflexible. The oven naturally should be slightly warmer than the rest of the house. I let mine rise in the oven because it is a closed and slightly warmer environment than the rest of the kitchen, just like a proofing drawer. Give it a go and see how it does. It may just be that you’ll require a longer rise time if your house/kitchen is cooler in temperature.

      ~ Farrell

  12. Susana Stanek

    In Peru, it is a tradition to consume panettone during holidays. Since this is a vegan recipe, I will certainly give it a try, thank you

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