Gluten Free Italian Easter Bread (Almond, Lemon, or Vanilla)

The texture of this Gluten Free Italian Easter Bread is between a pound cake and bread, and maybe a scone. It is moist due to the cream cheese, which lends a rich and creamy flavor and texture. I also have a Gluten Free Dairy Free Easter Bread Recipe.  However, with this cream cheese version, I really wouldn’t have made it any other way. Serve a small, warm slice with butter for brunch or cooled as a dessert with coffee, tea, or milk. Watch the three videos!

How I Converted This Recipe:

This recipe was not an easy one to convert. It took me three attempts. So that you learn how to convert gluten free recipes, I list the changes I made to this gluten recipe. They don’t show the texture of their bread. It’s difficult to see their exact texture and weight, but it looks heavy.

During my first attempt, I made several changes to the original recipe, but the center was a bit too underbaked. It was still delicious with almost a cream cheese center. However, it was just too heavy!

During my second attempt, I had to reduce the flour, add additional milk, and increase the baking temperature to get it to rise more and to get the center to cook all the way through. That resulted in a cake with a still raw center and a dry outer bread and still way too heavy.

During my third attempt, I raised just the preheating temperature, added an additional egg, and a little yeast.

Specific Changes and Why:

Using just half of the original recipe was best because gluten free baked goods are best made in smaller quantities. Otherwise, they do not bake all the way through. Just as in any standard gluten free bread recipe, about 3 cups of flour is perfect.

I reduced the flour by 1/3 cup because that is appropriate for my flour blend. If I hadn’t, the bread wouldn’t have rose enough or baked through. It just would be weighed down and contain too much gum, which impedes rising.

I increased the egg to make it fluffier and to ensure a nice rise.

I added yeast to ensure a little bread-like texture.

Adding plenty of baking powder created a cake-like texture, but left a little bread-like texture. Of course, the baking powder also assisted the rise.

I replaced the ricotta cheese with cream cheese, just because it is easier to find a cream cheese that is gluten free and the gum that cream cheese contains makes the dough easier to roll. The best part about it is the flavor and richness. Since cream cheese has a higher quantity of fat than whole fat ricotta cheese, the bread is a bit heavy, but not negatively so.

I used fat-free milk because that is what I had on hand. Go ahead and use up to whole milk as it can withstand a little more moisture if you’re going for a cake-like texture. Whole milk will make it a little heavier though. In the long run, the additional fat in the cream cheese made it up for the use of nonfat milk.

Lastly, I had to change the preheating temperature from 350 to 450ºF so that it would cause the bread to rise quickly and get the center to bake thoroughly.

You can watch them make the gluten version in this video here.

Gluten Free Cream Cheese Easter Bread (Almond, Lemon, or Vanilla)

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: Makes 8 slices

Gluten Free Cream Cheese Easter Bread (Almond, Lemon, or Vanilla)

A sweet, moist, cake-like textured gluten free Italian Easter bread that your entire family will enjoy!


    For the Easter Bread:
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons plain or butter-flavored shortening, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole-fat gluten free cream cheese (Philadelphia)
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla or lemon)
  • 2-2/3 cups Carla's Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour Blend, plus more for dusting
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons gluten free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast (SAF - red package or gold)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup nonfat milk (or 1%, 2%, or whole)
  • 1 egg yolk, for egg wash
  • 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash
  • For the Glaze:
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon milk of choice, or as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (or lemon or vanilla)
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted in an ungreased skillet (or gluten free pastel colored sprinkles), for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream together the shortening, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.
  4. Beat in the extract.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour blend, baking powder, yeast, and salt.
  6. Add one-third of the flour mixture, alternating with half of the milk, beating thoroughly after each addition. Begin and end with the flour mixture. 
  7. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into thirds. Roll each piece into a 14 - 16-inch rope. Transfer the three ropes to the prepared baking sheet.
  8. Combine one egg yolk and 1 teaspoon water. Use this mixture/egg wash to baste the ends of each rope just on one side. Press together to form one end. Braid the ropes beginning at the end that you pinched together.
  9. Baste the entire top of the dough with the remaining egg wash.
  10. Reduce the oven to 350°F and bake on the center shelf for 30 - 35 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched and no raw dough remains on top.
  11. If using toasted almonds for garnish, while the bread bakes, add the almonds to a heavy skillet. Toast over medium-high heat tossing occasionally until most of the almonds are golden brown.
  12. Remove the bread from the oven and transfer the pan to a wire rack to begin cooling, about 45 minutes.
  13. Immediately whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and almond extract and drizzle over the top of the bread while still warm. Immediately sprinkle the top with sprinkles or almonds. The glaze sets quickly. So, you may need to dip each almond slice in the remaining glaze to get them to adhere to the bread, if using.
  14. Slice into eight slices and serve warm with butter or cool with butter for each guest to add their own.

12 Replies to “Gluten Free Italian Easter Bread (Almond, Lemon, or Vanilla)”

    1. Alyce,

      Storing on the counter still slower than in the refrigerator. I have only eaten on the same day as baking and maybe loved one slice out for the next day and froze the breast after slicing.

      I hope this helps for your future baking needs.


  1. This recipe is amazing! I actually used dairy free cream cheese and dairy free butter, and it worked great! Gluten eating people said it doesn’t even taste gluten free! What a win! I added orange and lemon zest too!

    1. Kathleen,

      Butter contains 20% water. So, you’d actually be using 20% less fat and more liquid. It may turn out okay, and actually softer, but it will change the texture slightly.

      Let me know if you try it and how it turns out.


  2. Hello and Happy Easter!
    I tried this wonderful recipe. I loved the videos! And well, my dough looked more like a batter. It was impossible to get any rope form. I wish I could show you my
    Pics. Lol! So I am writing this as I wait to see what the end result is for me.
    I tried to make two little wreaths. And then I put the batter into square cupcake forms…. waiting on another 20 minutes to see. So far they have risen quite a bit.

    I’d love to see in a video how you were able to get the rope looking so beautiful?!

    I don’t I’ll be sharing this one with the Neighbours yet ;)

    I can’t wait to try the French bread for my GF boy :)

  3. Hi Carla! I found this recipe last night and made it this morning to have something special for Easter. It is wonderful. Looks beautiful, and the taste is out of this world. I had to use regular yeast, since that was all I had on hand, and I reduced the sugar to just under 1/2 cup for my mom, who’s watching her sugar intake. Other than that, I followed the recipe precisely, and the taste was heavenly! I think this is the most successful gluten-free bread recipe I have ever tried (and I’ve tried a LOT!). I will be looking forward trying more of your Gluten-Free recipes. Thank you.

    1. Sabrina,

      It’s funny that you ask that question. I read elsewhere that coconut cream is a good substitute for cream cheese. I’ve never tried it myself though. Because cream cheese contains gum, it has a tendency to make rolling dough easier. If you do use thick coconut milk in this recipe, you’ll need to use additional gum. I suggest starting with a quarter teaspoon. See how the dough turns out at that point and add even more if necessary.

      If you do try it, please let me know how it turns out.

      Happy Easter!

  4. Hi Carla,
    I love that you gave the process and modifications for the Italian Easter bread. Please make this a regular-ish feature.

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