Pizzagaina, also known as Easter pie, pizza rustica, pizza chiena, or pizza gain, is a savory meat pie that is traditionally eaten on Easter morning.  Homemade flaky pie crust is filled with creamy ricotta, mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, provolone, mortadella, and salami; a giant slice of this Easter pie is the best way we know to break your Lenten fast!

Slice of cut pizzagaina along with the rest of the pie in grey plate.

The majority of Italians and Italian-Americans are Catholic, and as such observe certain customs during the season of Lent, such as not eating meat on Fridays, or abstaining from meat for the entire 40 days of Lent. 

Pizzagaina, or pizza rustica, is made to help commemorate the end of the Lenten season.

 

Pizzagaina is traditionally made on Good Friday, the holiest of days in Lent, and is not eaten until Easter morning when the fast is over.

And we can’t think of a way to break the fast and celebrate the resurrection than with a giant slice of Easter pie filled with meat and cheese!

Ingredients shown: cheeses, flour, seasonings, butter, cold cuts, and eggs.

Process for pizzagaina (pizza rustica) – making the dough

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

  1. Begin by pulsing 450 grams (~3 1/2 cups) of flour along with 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar.  This will mix the dry ingredients.
  2. Next, add 2 sticks of cold butter cubes and pulse for about 20-30 seconds or until the mix is well incorporated but still crumbly.   You should have small coarse pieces and a grainy mix.

Pizzagaina recipe dough making process shot collage group number one.

  1. Next, add 2 eggs and 1/3 of a cup of milk. 
  2. Pulse again until a loose mess of dough is formed. 
  3. Place the dough onto a work surface and knead for a few seconds only.
  4. You just want to bring the dough together so that it forms a stuck-together mass.

Dough making process shot collage group number two.

  1. Cut into two pieces. Make one large ball with ⅔’s of the dough and the other smaller one with the remaining dough.  The larger will be used for the base of the pie and the smaller will be used for the top.
  2. Wrap the balls tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before using. The dough can be made up to 1 day ahead of time.

Next, make the filling

  1. Cut into 1/4-inch cubes 1 cup each of prosciutto, mortadella, and salami.  Cut the same size cubes for 3/4 cup each of mozzarella and provolone.  Grate 3/4 cup of Pecorino Romano.  Note: Use any meats and cheeses you like.  Soppressata, capocollo, ham, and even turkey work well.  
  2. In a very large bowl combine 2 pounds of overnight or well-drained ricotta, 7 eggs, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, and a 1/2 teaspoon of fresh black pepper.  Whisk well until fully incorporated.

Recipe collage of making the filling for pizzagaina.

  1. Add all the meats and cheeses to the bowl.
  2. Mix well and set the Easter pie filling aside.

Roll out the dough and form the pie

  1. Remove the dough from the fridge about 10-15 minutes before rolling to prevent it from cracking.  Preheat the oven to 375f and set one rack to the lowest level and the second to the middle level.  Grease a (9 by 3″) springform pan with butter or lard.  Top tip: Placing the bottom of the springform pan with the cup side down will make it easier to remove the pie after baking.
  2. Roll out the larger ball on a floured work surface with a floured rolling pin.

Pizzagaina recipe assembly process shot collage group number one.

  1. Roll the circle to approximately ¼-inch thick and about 15-inches round.
  2. Holding the dough on your rolling pin makes the next step easier.
  3. Bring the dough to the pan and center it so that it will fall evenly into the pan.
  4. Gently place the dough into the pan.

Assembly process shot collage group number two.

  1. Tuck in the edges so that the dough completely fits the interior of the pan.  Trim off the excess overhanging dough.  Note: If you have any holes just use some of the trimmed dough to make any required patches.  
  2. Pour the filling into the pie pan, leaving at least a ¼-inch unfilled to accommodate expansion.  If needed, use a spatula to level out the filling.

Top and bake the pie

  1. Roll out the second smaller ball to a circle a bit larger than the pie pan.  Cut into 1-inch wide strips for a lattice.  Alternatively, you can forgo the lattice and just cover the pie and cut a slit for venting.  The choice is yours. 
  2. Place the strips in a lattice formation about 1-inch apart.  Make sure to overlap the dough so that the strips stay down while baking.  Use your fingers or a fork to press the strips down into the corners so they stick.  If needed a touch of water can be used to “glue” the strips to the sides.  Cut off any excess dough.

Lattice for pizza rustica recipe process shot collage.

  1. Beat 1 egg yolk with 1-2 teaspoons of water and brush the top of the pie crust.
  2. Bake for 20 minutes on the lowest rack, then move the pan up to the middle rack and continue baking.  Full bake time will be approximately 60-70 minutes.  Check the pie at the halfway point and if it looks like it’s getting too brown cover loosely with foil.  Once golden brown, remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.  After baking, let the pie cool for 2 hours before removing the sides of the springform.  The pie can be eaten the same day though it’s better to let it sit overnight wrapped in the refrigerator.  Place the pizzagaina in the oven at 350f for a few minutes the next day.  The heat will slightly melt the butter and allow easy removal of the bottom pan plate. 

Cooked Easter pie (pizzagaina) in white plate on brown cutting board.

Top tips for pizzagaina or Easter pie

  • A few tips for the pan.  First and foremost, you want to make sure your springform pan is well greased with butter or lard.  I’ve found that by flipping the bottom of the pan over (cup side down), the pizzagaina more readily lifts from the pan.  It’s best to allow the pie to cool completely while still in the pan.  This will allow the cheese to settle and firm up.  Remove the springform after 2 hours.  Then, while still on the base of the pan, place it in the refrigerator.  When you’re ready to remove the pie from the pan base you can warm in the oven for about 5-10 minutes to loosen it up.  Alternatively, you can use parchment paper to line the pan.  
  • The filling.  Ricotta is a must have for this pie, but as for the meats and cheese, feel free to add more or substitute.  I used mortadella and salami, but prosciutto, capocollo, or soppressata would be great.  You could even use turkey or sausage if you’d like.  For the cheese, you can use smoked mozzarella, caciocavallo, fontina, or scamorza.  The pie is traditionally made with basket cheese but this can be challenging to find at times.  It’s really about using what is available to you!  
  • The dough.  I used a food processor to make the dough.  If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate the cold butter with a cheese grater or use a pastry cutter or fork to cut the butter into the flour.  In the picture above and in my YouTube video on how to make pizzagaina, you’ll see I use the “rolling pin method” to transfer the dough into the pan.  You can also roll the dough on parchment or wax paper and transfer it in that way.  We use the same dough and rolling pin method in our torta Pasqualina recipe as well. As far as the top dough layer, the lattice is a nice touch but you can absolutely opt to not do it and simply lay the dough on top.  If not using the lattice, be sure to cut a slit in the top to allow venting. 
  • Serving temperature.  Pizzagaina is traditionally eaten on Easter morning.  It’s perfectly fine to eat cold or slightly warmed up.  

Slice of pizzagaina in grey plate with fork.

More awesome Easter recipes!

In addition to pizza gain, here are a few of our favorites to enjoy on Easter Sunday!  What’s your favorite?  

If you’ve enjoyed this pizzagaina or Italian Easter pie recipe, give it a 5-star rating and leave a review.

Some people learn by watching.  If you’re that type of person, you can find most of our recipes on YouTube and our Facebook Page.

Pizzagaina (pizza rustica)

5 from 17 votes
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Refrigerating time: 1 hour
Total: 2 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 8
Pizzagaina is a savory meat pie consisting of homemade flaky pie crust filled with creamy ricotta, mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, provolone, mortadella, and salami.

Ingredients 

For the dough

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or 450 grams
  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter cubed
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

For the filling

  • 7 large eggs
  • 32 ounces ricotta drained overnight
  • 1 cup Genoa salami cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 cup mortadella cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 cup prosciutto cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup provolone cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup Pecorino Romano grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Remaining ingredients

  • 1 large egg yolk beaten
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter for greasing the pie dish

Instructions 

Prep the dough

  • Add the flour, salt, and sugar to a bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix the ingredients. Add the cold butter cubes and pulse for about 20-30 seconds or until the mix is well incorporated but still crumbly. You should have small coarse pieces and a grainy mix.
  • Next, add the eggs and milk and pulse again until the dough is formed. It will be kind of a mess at this point which is fine.
  • Place the dough onto a work surface and knead for a few seconds only. You just want to bring the dough together so that it forms a stuck-together mass. Cut into two balls. Make one large ball with 2/3's of the dough and the other smaller one with the remaining dough.
  • Wrap the balls tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before using. The dough can be made 1 day ahead of time.

Make the filling

  • In a very large bowl mix the ricotta, eggs, pepper, and nutmeg until smooth.
  • To the bowl, add the cubed prosciutto, salami, mortadella, mozzarella, provolone, and grated Pecorino. Mix together.

Assemble and bake

  • Remove the dough from the fridge about 10-15 minutes before rolling to prevent it from cracking.
  • Preheat the oven to 375f and set one rack to the lowest level and the second to the middle level. Grease a (9 by 3") springform pan with butter or lard.
  • Roll out the larger ball to a circle approximately 1/4-inch thick and about 15-inches round. Place the dough into the pan and tuck in the edges letting the excess overhang. Trim off the excess overhanging dough. Any open spots should be patched with the excess dough.
  • Pour the filling into the pie pan, leaving at least a 1/4-inch unfilled. If needed, use a spatula to level out the filling.
  • Roll out the second smaller ball to a circle a bit larger than the pie pan. Cut into 1-inch wide strips for a lattice.
  • Place the strips in a lattice formation about a 1-inch apart. Make sure to overlap the dough so that the strips stay down while baking. Alternatively, you can forgo the lattice and just cover the pie with the second circle and cut a slit for venting. The choice is yours.
  • Use your fingers or a fork to press the strips down into the corners so that they stick. If needed a touch of water can be used to "glue" the strips to the sides. Cut off any excess dough.
  • Beat the egg yolk with 2 teaspoons of water and brush the top of the pie crust.
  • Bake for 20 minutes on the lowest rack, then move the pan up to the middle rack and continue baking. Full bake time will be approximately 60-70 minutes. Check the pie at the halfway point and if it looks like it's getting too brown cover loosely with foil. Once golden brown, remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
  • After baking, let the pie cool for 2 hours before removing the sides of the springform. The pie can be eaten the same day though it's better to let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. Place the pizzagaina in the oven at 350f for a few minutes the next day. The heat will slightly melt the butter and allow easy removal of the bottom pan plate. 
  • Pizzagaina is best made the day before and eaten the next day after it has settled and cooled. It can be served either cold or warm. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Makes 8 large servings.
  • After baking, let the pie cool for 2 hours before removing the springform. The pie should be refrigerated on the bottom plate overnight.  Use heat from a gas torch or place it in the oven at 350f for 10 minutes.  The heat will allow easy removal of the bottom plate.  A final option is to try to dislodge the pie with a spatula. 
  • Pizzagaina (Pizza Rustica) is best served cold or at room temperature.  Traditionally the dish is served for Easter breakfast or brunch.
  • All different meats can be used.  Soppressata, capocollo, ham, pepperoni, or even cubed turkey all work great.
  • Cheeses like fontina, scamorza, caciocavallo, and smoked mozzarella all work well.
  • Leftovers can be saved for up 4 days in the refrigerator.

Nutrition

Calories: 767kcal | Carbohydrates: 48.4g | Protein: 30.5g | Fat: 49.6g | Saturated Fat: 27.5g | Cholesterol: 336mg | Sodium: 1156mg | Potassium: 323mg | Fiber: 1.5g | Sugar: 2.8g | Calcium: 293mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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67 Comments

  1. Effie says:

    5 stars
    I’ve never made Pizzagaina since someone else in my husband’s Italian family always makes it for Easter. I decided that I would give it a try for Orthodox Easter tomorrow. We couldn’t wait until tomorrow to try it. SOOOOO good! I wish I could attach a photo. Thanks for such a wonderful, easy to follow recipe!

  2. Angelina says:

    5 stars
    Made this for the first time. Your recipe was so easy and the dough/ crust came out perfect !

  3. Sue P says:

    5 stars
    For as long as I can remember I have followed my aunt’s “apizzagain” recipe. Versions of 21 eggs ham, salami, prosciuttini, basket cheese, pecorino and anything else that looks good in the deli case. Each year I struggled with the crust. It didn’t ruin the dish but it was never right. When I saw your pictures I knew I had to try it. Wow! This crust was easy to handle and fit my 11x14x2 dish perfectly. I made a lattice top as you did and it was quite impressive! Your baking instructions made the crust cook perfectly. Delicious
    Thank you so much. First time on your site but I’ll be looking at more recipes for sure.

    1. Tara says:

      We’re so happy you enjoyed this, Sue, and welcome!

  4. Gene Wickeresty says:

    5 stars
    Came across your recipe after thinking about my family tradition from the past. It can out perfect!

  5. Cathy Carlino says:

    5 stars
    I have been making Pizza Rustica for 20+ years and ALWAYS struggle with the dough. It cracks, it crumbles, it was a yearly nightmare. I tried your recipe this year, and it was absolute perfection! Rolled out without one crack – it made my heart sing 🙂
    Thank you, thank you. Another fantastic recipe from Sip and Feast. Haven’t had a bad one yet.
    Buona Pasqua!