Easter is all about spending time with friends and family. What better way to do this than over a delicious meal? To celebrate Easter 2022, Expat Explore has put together a list of delectable Easter recipes from around the world, for you to wow your friends and family at this year’s Easter lunch!
A brief history of Easter
Easter is a religious, Christian holiday that commemorates the resurrection of Jesus. In the same way many religious holidays have, Easter has evolved over the years to become less traditional and more commercial. This is most evident in the invention of the Easter bunny and Easter eggs! The Easter bunny does have religious roots, however, as rabbits have long been a pagan symbol of fertility and new life. Eggs also represent birth, rebirth and fertility. The fluffy Easter mascot is reported to have originated as a legend in Germany. The rabbit later made its way to the USA with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and the rest is history!
What’s with the chocolate eggs?
Chocolate eggs, however, developed in France and Germany in the early 19th century and the iconic Cadbury egg came to fruition in 1905. In spite of its chocolate products, Easter is an overlooked foodie holiday! Other gluttonous celebrations like Thanksgiving and Christmas dominate the culinary festivities. Yet, Easter boasts some equally delicious traditional recipes from all over the world. And it’s not just Easter eggs! Traditionally, a big Easter lunch is eaten on Easter Sunday. In 2022, Easter Sunday falls on 17 April. However, in Greece, Easter Sunday will be celebrated on 24 April, due to differences in the Orthodox calendar.
Here are our top 6 international Easter recipes!
1. Hot Cross Buns, United Kingdom
An Easter classic, hot cross buns! Sweet, spicy and oh-so-satisfying, hot cross buns are a quintessential British Easter treat. They are usually eaten on Good Friday in the United Kingdomand other commonwealth countries. These spiced buns are marked with a cross on top to symbolise the crucifixion of Christ. Inside the fluffy bread, the spices are, in fact, said to represent the spices used to embalm Jesus. Hot cross buns also contain fruit like raisins or currents and are, of course, best served toasted with butter!
2 packages (7g each) active dry yeast
2 cups warm whole milk (110°C to 115°C)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
6 to 7 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dried currants
1/2 cup raisins
1 large egg yolk
2 tbsp water
1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 to 6 tsp whole milk
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. In a large bowl, combine eggs, butter, sugar, salt, spices, yeast mixture and 3 cups of flour. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Stir in currants, raisins and enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (the dough should be sticky).
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until the dough is smooth and elastic for 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let it rise in a warm place until doubled. About 1 hour.
Punch down the dough. Then, turn it onto a lightly floured surface; divide and shape into 30 balls. Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Cover with kitchen towels and let them rise in a warm place until doubled, around 30-45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190°C.
Using a sharp knife, cut a cross on top of each bun. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk and water; brush over the tops. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Afterwards, remove from pans to wire racks to cool slightly.
For icing, in a small bowl, mix confectioners’ sugar and enough milk to reach desired consistency. Pipe a cross on top of each bun. Serve warm.
2. Roast Lamb, Israel
Lamb is to Easter what turkey is to Thanksgiving. Another symbolic dish, lamb represents Jesus’ sacrifice. Lamb is also eaten over the Jewish celebration of Passover which usually takes place in the same season as Easter. It is a favourite in Israel over springtime and goes beautifully with rice or couscous and vegetables.
2.5kg lamb shoulder whole, bone in
2/3 cup olive oil
4-5 cloves of garlic mashed to a paste
1/4 cup parsley, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp Kosher salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
Roasting pan with a rack
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Mix together all the spices with the olive oil, excluding the salt and pepper.
Use the salt and pepper to season the lamb, and then cover the lamb with the olive oil mixture.
Place the lamb on the rack in a roasting pan. Add 1 cup of water and half a cup of olive oil to the bottom of the pan (this is for basting, make sure the liquids don’t touch the lamb).
Roast uncovered for 45 minutes while basting the lamb once or twice.
Cover the lamb for another 2 hours while basting the meat every 45 minutes.
Remove the lamb and let it cool off a bit. Then, remove the bone, it should come right off.
To make gravy, take all the juices left over in the pan and add 1 cup of red wine and 2 tsp cornstarch. Reduce for 10 minutes.
3. Mämmi, Finland
Mämmi in Finland, or memma in Sweden, is a dessert that divides many due to its strong flavour and unique consistency. The standard ingredients of mämmi are rye flour, malted rye and powdered orange zest. Modern versions also contain molasses making it sweeter. While this Easter recipe is quite simple to make, it takes days to set. This made it an ideal Good Friday dessert since cooking was forbidden on this day. These days, due to its long setting time, most Finns eat store-bought mämmi over Easter. However, there is no reason why you can‘t give this recipe a try at home!
5 litres water
½ teaspoon salt
3¼ cups malted rye flour (or other malt flour), sifted
8 cups rye flour, sifted
6 tbsps orange zest
4 tbsp caster sugar
100g raisins (optional)
Boil 4 cups (1 litre) of water in a large non-stick pan. Add in a quarter of the rye flour and a quarter of the malted rye flour.
Mix gently, cover, and let stand.
Repeat until all the water and flour are used, mixing well each time.
Cover and let sit for 1 hour.
Pour the mixture into a large non-stick pan. Mix over low heat, stirring with a whisk for 25 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 165°C.
Add salt, raisins (optional), orange zest and sugar to the mixture. Mix well.
Remove from the heat, and then pour into a rectangular or square mould.
Bake for about 3 hours or until the mämmi is dark brown.
Serve sprinkled with sugar and drenched in whole milk or cream.
4. Tsoureki, Greece
There are many variations of Easter bread around the world that are knotted to symbolise the crown worn by Jesus during the crucifixion. Despite the many variations, all feature three pieces of dough braided together to represent the holy trinity. Choereg is a must-have sweet bread over Easter in Armenia. In Turkey, the aromatic spices of paskalya çöreğifill patisseries with an irresistible scent. However, the most well-known Easter bread is probably tsoureki which is eaten in Greece and in Greek communities in other countries. Tsoureki is usually decorated with dyed red Easter eggs pressed into the dough to symbolise the blood of Christ.
500g (2⅔ cups) plain flour
21g (3 packets) dried yeast
125ml (½ cup) milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten, plus extra for brushing
50g caster sugar
Finely grated rind of 2 oranges
2 tsp mahlepi (a spice found in most Greek or Middle Eastern stores)
75g softened butter, coarsely chopped, plus extra to serve
3 Easter eggs with red dye (can also be found in Greek supermarkets)
Electric mixer fitted with a dough hook
Combine flour, yeast and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Form a well in the centre, set aside.
Add milk, eggs, sugar, orange rind, mahlepi and 100ml lukewarm water. Mix until a soft dough forms (5-7 minutes). Gradually add butter, mixing until a smooth soft dough forms (3-5 minutes). Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside until it has doubled in size (40 minutes – 1 hour).
Meanwhile, for red Easter eggs, follow instructions on the packet to cook and dye eggs. Then, set aside to cool.
Divide the dough into 3 pieces. Roll each piece to about 45cm long. Plait pieces together and bring the ends together to form a wreath. Squeeze to join. Place on an oven tray lined with baking paper and set aside to prove slightly (20 minutes).
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush the wreath with egg wash, gently push red Easter eggs (unpeeled) into the wreath and bake until the wreath is golden and cooked through (25-30 minutes). Cool on a wire rack before serving with butter. Tsoureki is best eaten the day it’s made.
5. Honey Glazed Ham, USA
In the United States, where lamb is not commonly eaten, ham is the star of the Easter lunch table. Historically, pigs were slaughtered in autumn, preserved in winter and ready to eat in spring. It all comes down to availability really! Americans added the honey glaze to appeal to their sweet tooths. Today, it is simply eaten for its delicious, sticky-sweet flavour and hearty size fit for a whole family.
1 whole, fully cooked ham
3 cups brown sugar (adjust to preference)
1/2 cup spicy brown mustard
1 can of Coke
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Roasting pan with a rack
Preheat the oven to 160℃.
Score the surface of the ham in a diamond pattern, about ⅛ of an inch deep. Place cloves in the middle of each diamond. Put the ham in a large roasting pan with a rack, tent it with foil, and bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. (Some hams may require 3 to 3 1/2 hours at a lower temperature; check the package before cooking.)
Heat the brown sugar, mustard, vinegar and Coke in a small saucepan until it bubbles. Cook until it has reduced and is a bit thicker, about 15 minutes.
After about 2 hours of baking time, remove the foil and brush the glaze on the ham in 20 minutes intervals (put the ham back in the oven, uncovered, in between) until it’s nice and glossy. Remove from the oven and allow to rest 15-20 minutes before carving.
6. Torrijas, Spain
Torrijas are one of Europe’s oldest deserts, dating back to Roman times! Essentially, torrijas are the Spanish version of French toast. Since the Middle Ages, it has become a custom in Spain to eat torrijas around Lent and Easter. It is believed that torrijas compensated for the absence of meat during Lent. They were eaten with wine to represent the blood and body of Christ. This recipe is a great way to repurpose stale bread as well as an excellent breakfast option on any day over the Easter weekend!
4 large eggs
1 litre of whole milk
1 cup of sugar (200g)
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
3 tablespoons of honey (adjust according to preference)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 strip of lemon peel
1 strip of orange peel
1 teaspoon of cardamom seeds (optional)
1 star anise (optional)
Slightly stale French bread or any other bread of choice.
Bring the milk, ½ cup of sugar, lemon and orange peel, and spices (cardamom seeds and star anise) to a slow simmer.
Cut the bread into thick slices.
When the milk mixture has been simmering for about 15 minutes, turn off the heat and soak the slices of bread in the mixture. Be careful not to soak them to the point that they break, but try to get them to absorb as much milk as possible.
Let the slices of wet bread rest and cool (some liquid may be lost).
Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl and dip the bread slices in the egg mixture. Meanwhile, heat up about ½ an inch of the olive oil in a deep, heavy pan on medium-high heat.
Fry the slices two by two, flipping them halfway so that both sides are nice and crisp.
Let the torrijas rest on paper towels to absorb excess oil. In another bowl, mix the remaining sugar (1/2 cup) with the cinnamon.
Cover the slices in the cinnamon sugar mixture and reserve.
To make the syrup, take the remaining cinnamon and sugar from coating the torrijas and add it to a medium-sized pot. If necessary, add a bit more sugar to completely cover the bottom of the pot.
Add 2 cups of warm water to the sugar and bring it to a boil. Add the honey.
Let the syrup simmer for about 30 minutes until it reduces to a syrup-like consistency. It won’t be very thick but it shouldn’t be too watery.
Take the syrup off of the heat and after about 15 minutes spoon it over the toast. The torrijas should be completely soaked in syrup. Allow them to completely cool before putting them into the refrigerator.
Refrigerate the torrijas for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight before serving.
Dreaming of tasting Easter flavours from around the world? Just get cooking! Or, have a look at Expat Explore’s upcoming tours and perhaps you could try these tasty treats in their home countries!