When it comes to cooking, it sometimes feels like Italian cuisine might be one of the biggest out there. Considering how small this country is when compared to many other world cuisines, that’s kind of mind-boggling.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different recipes and types of food that can be used in Italian cuisine, from pasta to cheese, even bread has potentially hundreds of different variations that can be found in this style of cooking.
So many that it can be quite difficult to pick just one or two to try baking for yourself.
Luckily, our guide is on hand to show you some of the best Italian loaves of bread that you can try to bake for yourself right now!
Starting us off with perhaps the most famous type of Italian bread, we have a fantastic recipe for classic Focaccia Italian bread.
Focaccia is perhaps THE most popular traditional Italian bread that is eaten across the country, and it is not exactly difficult to see why. The flatbread is soft like a pizza base but is chewy and full of flavor too.
This particular type of bread recipe was believed to have been invented by Ancient Romans and certainly seems to have had a pretty important place in their culture too.
It features in the Aeneid, possibly the most influential piece of Roman literature, as part of a prophecy of how Italy was first found.
Anyway, back to the bread!
This particular recipe goes incredible with a little garlic and olive oil drizzled over it, but don’t let that stop you from adding whatever you want to this dish as a topping, from tomatoes to mozzarella, to ricotta!
Moving from perhaps Italy’s most famous savory bread to what might just be its most famous sweet bread.
Panettone is a very popular dish for people to eat at any time of the year in Italy, but it is a particularly popular type of bread to bake and eat as part of a Christmas or holiday celebration, where it is often filled with several different ingredients, from raisins to chocolate chips!
Plus, with its tall shape and tons of bread cake to go around, it is bound to be the perfect show-stopping dessert for any meal!
3. Pane Toscano
While they usually aren’t as individually well-known as bread like panettone and focaccia, Italy has a proud history of creating many different rustic loaves of bread that are a pleasure to bake, and an even bigger pleasure to eat!
This pane toscano is a perfect example of what a good rustic Italian loaf should be like. Beautifully crisp on the outside, soft and hearty on the inside, it is pretty much a meal in of itself!
4. Pizza Bianca
Also known as ‘white pizza’, this is a variety of pizza recipes that use no cheese at all, usually being noticeably thicker, and using olive oil and butter as a substitute for tomatoes as a wetter ingredient.
Now, this might seem like blasphemy against pizzas everywhere, and by Italian cooks of all people, this is a traditional recipe that is just as good as the tomato-filled version that we’re all familiar with.
And considering that tomatoes have only been grown in Italy for a few hundred years, there’s the chance that this is a more authentic version of what pizza may have looked like in Italy’s past.
Well, thank goodness it still tastes great!
Despite what you may think, ciabatta is an incredibly recent type of Italian bread to be invented, only being developed and sold in the 1980s, pretty much a blink of an eye when compared to some of the recipes here.
However, ciabattas have proven to be amazing bread in their own right, and are a perfect counterpart to the French baguette that they were developed as the Italian equivalent of.
Soft and easy to slice into, as well as pair with a variety of Italian dishes in its own right, this recipe is the perfect version of this bread to get started with!
Also translated into ‘ear of bread’, this braided type of bread is almost immediately different from the other recipes that we have covered so far, and the same goes for its texture and flavor as it does its appearance.
The fluffy texture on the inside is a treat to bite into!
Another very popular variety of bread that many people outside of Italy will be aware of, Coppia Ferrarese is best known for the corkscrew pattern that it is prepared and baked into.
Technically speaking, these loaves of bread don’t count as official Coppia Ferrarese unless they are at least partly prepared in Ferrara, much like champagne wine in France.
However, whether they are official or not, they all taste amazing!
Pane di pasqua is another type of bread that is most commonly served in a braided form.
However, unlike spriga de pane, this is a sweet bread that also makes for an amazing dessert! Plus, with how easy this dough is to work, it’s a surprisingly easy loaf to make for yourself!
Basilicata is home to several famous rustic Italian recipes, many of them dating back centuries in the region.
Pane di Matera is one of these and is perhaps one of the oldest recipes for bread out there.
Like Coppia Ferrarese, this is a regionally protected type of bread in Italy, meaning that for it to be considered authentic, at least a part of Pane di Matera news to be produced in or around Matera.
However, this recipe creates bread that is very much like it in every regard, as well as tasting phenomenal.
It’s probably starting to become clear why so many of these types of bread might not be as well-known as some others internationally.
With so many protected names, it can be quite hard to market this bread without dreading a few swatched of red tape!
However, this version of Piadina Romognola is still an excellent bread to test your baking skills with and make for yourself. Even if it isn’t ‘authentic’, it still tastes amazing!
Now, if you’re looking for a recipe that goes hard on thin and crispy, this is the recipe for you!
These breadsticks are the perfect extra to add to a table that is in desperate need of some good appetizers and extras to snack on!
While ciabattas were made to be an Italian answer to the French baguette, they are not the only type of bread to be made for this purpose.
Filones are perhaps a much closer comparison than ciabattas, as they have a crispy crust that is very much like their French counterparts, only here, the recipe for these loaves also uses a little olive oil for extra flavor.
And would it be an Italian recipe if there wasn’t olive oil involved?
This has everything that you could want in a good rustic loaf, from a crispy outside to a soft and airy inside. The dough is rolled out into a sausage shape and then allowed to bake and rise perfectly.
Ciambella is best eaten fresh, so don’t let your loaf go to waste!
We’ve covered quite a few savory bread recipes, so we’re bringing back some sweetness with this next one.
Buccellato is an old favorite from Tuscany and Sicily, and has all the sweetness you could want from bread like this. The crust should be just a little crispy, while the inside dense and delicious.
If baked with raisins and aniseed for that extra flavor, these can be either the perfect after-dinner dessert or the perfect breakfast with a morning coffee.
15. Baba Rustico
Speaking of rustic recipes, the Baba Rustico is another amazing Italian loaf that is the perfect dish to add to a table that got plenty of meats and cheeses, but doesn’t have the bread to go with them!
This is a staple loaf that is often prepared in and around Naples, and we’re almost struggling to see how it hasn’t already taken the world by storm!
There sure are a lot of sweet loaves of bread in Italian cuisine, aren’t there?
Well, we’re not stopping anytime soon with them, it seems, and with a loaf as filling and delicious as this seasonal certosino loaf, how could we not?
If you want to try something a little different from Panettone this Christmas, this is the perfect loaf to try for your table!
17. Sicilian Brioche
Staying with the sweetbreads for a second, brioche is a very popular French sweetbread that is loved around the world, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that there would be more than a few regional variants.
Take this Sicilian brioche, for example. It is buttery in a way that the best brioche is, and incredibly rich, thanks to the thick full cream used in this dish.
Kneading the dough to this recipe will get you the most even and thorough results. But if you’re feeling impatient, a standing blender will also do the trick pretty well!
So, we’ve covered quite a few sweet loaves of bread so far, and most of them have been made and baked for Christmastime.
However, just as impressive, but for some reason overlooked, are the many sweet bread recipes that you’ll find for the Easter season.
If you’re looking to help add a little sweetness to your own Easter holiday that isn’t just more chocolate, then the Gubana recipe we’ve provided here will be perfect for you!
19. Pane Di Segale
Rye bread is a very popular loaf that is made across Europe, particularly in Germany.
However, as we’ve shown so far, any recipe that isn’t nailed down to a region with certification of Authority is going to get an Italian spin on it, and Italy’s answer to rye bread is pane di Segale.
The crust for this bread is quite thin, making for a surprisingly even density to this bread, as a result, a very good counterpart to classic rye bread.
20. La Piadina
Flatbread is another dish that you often associate more commonly with other neighboring countries’ food, particularly Greek and Turkish food on the far side of the Mediterranean.
However, Italy has done it yet again, this time with la piadina as their recipe of choice.
This is the perfect alternative to a classic flatbread or wraps if you’re looking to make a light lunch or dinner, but want to stay on theme with an authentic Italian recipe.
If you’re looking for recipes that offer you the authentic flavors and tastes of Rome in Italy, then you can’t go wrong with a recipe for ciriola.
Looking a little like a cross between a ciabatta and a baguette, this is an old recipe that has been enjoyed around Rome for centuries at this point!
If you’re looking for an Italian bread recipe that captures the essence of that rustic country cooking that you idealize about Italy, then Pagnotta will be the dish for you!
Like with any of these dough recipes, making sure that the dough has time to proof is crucial for the success of this dish.
The dough will turn a gorgeous golden brown in the oven when it is ready to be taken out!
23. Pane Casserecio
Finally, if you’re looking for the perfect Italian version of a croissant, you can’t go wrong with this dish!
Frequently Asked Questions
From this extensive list that we have alone, you may think that Italians have a massive variety of bread for a single cuisine.
And, technically, you’d be right.
But the truth is that we have only just begun to scratch the well-baked surface of types of bread in the Italian peninsula.
It is estimated that there are anywhere from 200 to 350 different kinds of Italian bread, depending on whether you want to include regional variants of the same type of bread.
It is an almost crazy amount of different recipes for a single type of bread.
But when considering how many different foods can be grown and cultivated in Italy, as well as the differences in weather, climate, and even culture from region to region, the fact that so many local versions of Italian cuisine would pop up maybe shouldn’t be too surprising.
That will depend largely on the type of bread that you are baking. Most home-baked varieties of bread tend to be noticeably softer than their commercial and store-bought alternatives, thanks in part to how fresh the food itself is.
However, if you’re looking for a loaf of soft bread, ciabattas are generally considered a softer variety of bread.
And if you want to use that as a general comparison, it might be safe to say that, while the crusts of Italian breads tend to be noticeably harder, the bread themselves is very soft.
Once again, this will vary slightly, depending on what recipe you are following and how you are preserving it.
On the whole, however, fresh bread that has been freshly baked and properly stored in a cool, dry area will last around 3 days before it expires.
You can freeze most Italian breads, which keeps them edible for any from 14 to 30 days, depending on how much moisture they contain.
So, which of these amazing Italian bread recipes will you try first?