Armenian Easter Bread

The oh-so-special braided Armenian Easter bread, called "choereg" or some times "choreg". It's a buttery sweet bread, fragrant with an addictive spice called "mahleb" or some times "mahlab". Best of all, the pastry can be made in advance and keeps just beautifully. Many thanks to Cyndi, a Kitchen Parade reader, for sharing her family's special Easter bread!

Armenian Easter Bread (Choereg or Choreg) ♥, a rich buttery braided yeast bread spiced with mahleb (or mahlab), a slice is perfect with a cup of coffee.

Old Family Recipes Are the Best! A Celebration Bread for Easter. Tastes Better and Better Over a Few Days. Freezes Well.

Her Grandmother's Recipe

Last summer, a note and a recipe arrived from a reader. I’ll let Cyndi tell the story of her grandmother’s braided Easter bread in her own words.

In Cyndi's Words

“I have been cooking many of the traditional Armenian foods that my grandmother made. I pride myself on the choereg.

“Armenian Choereg is a traditional bread served at Easter, sometimes with red eggs placed amid the braids. It is found in Armenian and Greek groceries in New York and New Jersey (where I am from) and gets snatched up fast because it is so good. That is one reason I started making it.

“I make choereg all year long and my family goes wild for it. It is a really great bread to have for breakfast and the flavor goes great with coffee. Plus it freezes well so you will have plenty on hand to serve with coffee if unexpected guests drop by, always a plus.

“My grandmother made this bread and put the recipe in her little recipe book. Her measurements used tea cups and coffee cups as measuring devices so I blended Grandma’s recipe with one from my aunt's church cookbook.

“The dough is extremely forgiving but the mahleb (also spelled mahlab) is absolutely essential. Mahleb has a great flavor. I am willing to bet once you try it, you will use it in other baked goods like I do now! It’s great in muffins and even pancakes or waffles.

“Mahleb is made from the cherry pits from a special Middle Eastern cherry. As it bakes, the flavor really blossoms, you will smell it when the bread is baking. It is just very unique smelling and tasting – in a good way. A Middle Eastern store grinds it fresh for me but you can just use a spice grinder or a mini food processor. But I hope you will enjoy mahleb’s exotic flavor. It is really special.”

Falling in Love with the Spice Called Mahleb

I’ve made Cyndi’s grandmother’s recipe twice now. Have I been adopted into a happy Armenian family? I think so!

The dough is made in the usual fashion and easy to handle. Once baked, the bread starts off light and fluffy and aromatic, you can’t wait to slice off the first bites.

Over the next few days, the bread stays fresh (though not as light) and the flavor begins to deepen. Does it improve? It just might. This makes it an especially good bread for gifts, for taking along to visit family over the Easter weekend, for making late in the week and serving Easter morning, say.

Plus, I adore mahleb! I bought a small jar of the mahleb pits and ground them in a spice grinder. Its flavor is quite subtle. You won’t be wondering, "What is this spice?" Instead, you’ll be saying, "Gosh, this bread is good." You may not even know it’s the mahleb that makes it so good.

You could substitute another spice – cardamom, say, or nutmeg. The bread would be very good, just not choereg.

Thank you, Cyndi, for sharing your family’s recipe!

Where to Buy Mahleb aka Mahlab? It's Not Easy to Find.

  • Back in 2009, Penzeys sold small jars of the cherry pits to grind yourself, but sadly, no more.
  • You might check an international grocery, especially one that carries food items from Turkey or Greece.
  • You'll need to plan ahead since delivery is stated in weeks not days, this packet of ground mahleb (mahlab) spice has good reviews on Amazon. [My Disclosure Promise]

Finding a Warm Place for Bread to Rise

Many thanks to readers who suggested using a heating pad to help bread rise when I published the recipe for my mother’s Homemade Yeast Rolls last month. It works like a charm!

For the first rise for Armenian Easter Bread, I wrapped the bread bowl in a heating pad inside a Dutch oven, that way the heat surrounded the bread dough. My heating pad also has an auto shutoff, oops, it needs checking every so often!

But this is a great way to create a warm spot for letting bread dough rise, especially when you don’t want to heat up rest of the house.

Thank you, thank you!

Another way? Does your kitchen have under-cupboard lights? That's what I'm now using for both the first rise and the second rise. I just put the bowl and then the baking sheet on top of a flour bin to position them right underneath the lights. Works like a charm!

More Celebration Breads for Easter

Is anyone else fascinated by the special breads that people across the world make for holidays? I call them "celebration breads".

I pour through this cookbook, Celebration Breads: Recipes, Tales, and Traditions (affiliate link) by Betsy Oppenneer. It's so inspiring!

Hot Cross Buns are the traditional Easter bread in my family, those are the sweet, spiced buns that show up everywhere during Holy Week and even before. My personal tradition is to make them on Good Friday!


  • "Tasted just like my family's choreg." ~ Jennifer
  • "...the bread was completely worth making, and I’m having some trouble resisting it." ~ PastryChefOnlne
  • "I'm Armenian from Armenia ... I'm all new to yeast dough ... turned out awesome" ~ deja vu
  • Add yours, leave a comment, below!
Armenian Easter Bread (Choereg or Choreg) ♥, a rich buttery braided yeast bread spiced with mahleb (or mahlab), a slice is perfect with a cup of coffee.


Hands-on time: about 45 minutes over about 8 hours
Time to table: 8 hours
Makes 2 large or 3 medium loaves (see TIPS)
  • 1/4 cup tepid water (see TIPS)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) yeast
  • 12 tablespoons butter (6 ounces, 1-1/2 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 cups flour, King Arthur all-purpose flour strongly recommended (see TIPS), 500g or fluffed to aerate before measuring
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (125g) sugar
  • 4 teaspoons ground mahleb (see TIPS)
  • 3 teaspoons ground anise, optional but recommended
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1 egg white whisked with 1 teaspoon water
  • Sesame seeds, optional but nice

PROOF THE YEAST In a small bowl, mix the water and sugar. Sprinkle yeast over top and let rest until bubbly.

MIX THE DOUGH In a saucepan, melt the butter in the milk; let cool a bit. Whisk the eggs in the bowl of a standing mixer with the dough hook attached (or whisk by hand if the dough hook doesn’t reach the eggs). Mix in the butter, milk and yeast mixture. Add the flour, sugar, mahleb, anise and table salt and thoroughly combine. Knead the dough for a minute or two, adding a little more flour if the dough is wet or sticky.

(No standing mixer? No problem. Just mix the dough with a wooden spoon, then knead by hand for about 8 minutes.)

FIRST RISE Form dough into a round, transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, rubbing the round against the sides. (Giving the dough a light oil covering prevents the surface from cracking as it expands as it rises.) Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk. “Punch the dough down” – except, don't "punch" the dough, this is bread-baker code for gently inserting a fist into the dough once or twice to release the air.

BRAID LOAVES (See How to Braid Bread below.) With a sharp knife cut dough into two or three pieces for two or three loaves. Cut each piece into three roughly equally pieces. With your fingers, roll each piece, stretching it to form a long thin rope (for a long loaf) or a shorter fatter rope (for a shorter loaf); repeat with two more pieces, making the three roughly equivalent. Working on a clean smooth surface, gently press the ends of three ropes together. Braid the three pieces into a loaf, braiding the ropes just like braiding hair. For a neat appearance, tuck the ends under the loaf. Transfer loaf to a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat or lightly greased if the baking sheet can be a bit sticky), leaving two to three inches between the loaves.

SECOND RISE Cover the loaves with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 – 60 minutes.

BAKE Heat oven to 350F/180C. Brush the loaf tops with the egg-water mixture, sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops are a golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool 5 minutes. Transfer to cooling racks to finish cooling.

SERVE & SAVOR Once cool, wrap loaves in foil until ready to slice and serve. Amenian Easter Bread will stay fresh for at least 5 days.

FREEZING BREAD The bread freezes well but do double-wrap. I use wax paper for the first layer, wrapping it tightly around the loaves, shaping it to fit, then foil around that. Some times I'll still use a freezer bag. The layers prevent "freezer burn," that's the formation of ice crystals that breaks down the bread structure.

ALANNA’s TIPS I have halved Cyndi’s recipe, enough for three medium or two large loaves. Her full recipe will fill a KitchenAid mixer to the max, you might need to a spatula to keep the dough from creeping up the dough hook. "Tepid" water is the perfect temperature for proofing yeast, not too hot, not too cold. I use the "baby bottle" test, if the water feels warm to the inside of my wrist, it’s perfect. If it feels cold, the water’s too cold, if it feels hot, it’s too warm. For a funny story about tepid water, see my recipe for Acorn Squash with Quinoa & Dried Cherries. Flour is flour, right? Well then why do I recommend the King Arthur flour? Shouldn’t one all-purpose flour be interchangeable with another? Turns out, not. King Arthur All-Purpose Flour has 11.7% protein, my usual Pillsbury All-Purpose Flour has 10.5% protein. The difference doesn’t sound like much but adds up to a full ten percent more protein. Cyndi recommends the King Arthur flour for the bread. I accidentally made it once once with Pillsbury. The bread tasted fine but was "ropier" to work with. For this choereg recipe, King Arthur flour just works better. UPDATE A baker from Armenia had good luck with Nordic flour with 13% protein. Are you kneading bread by hand? You might want to read this, Is a Stand Mixer Better for Kneading Bread Dough?.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Slice, assumes 36: 124 Calories; 5g Tot Fat; 3g Sat Fat; 28mg Cholesterol; 34mg Sodium; 15g Carb; 1g Fiber; 5g Sugar; 3g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 3 & PointsPlus 3 & SmartPoints 5 & Freestyle 5 & myWW green 5 & blue 5 & purple 5

How to Braid Bread Dough

Roll the ropes Align the ropes Braid the ropes
The braided loaves of Armenian Easter Bread (Choereg), after being allowed to rise.

Braiding bread dough is quite simple – and the results spectacular!

More Easter Recipes

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Hot Cross Buns Estonian Deviled Eggs Asparagus Custard Tart
~ more Easter recipes ~

More Bread Recipes

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Our Daily Bread: My Easy Everyday Bread Recipe Swedish Rye Bread Homemade Yeast Rolls: Ice Cream Pail Buns
~ more bread recipes ~

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ leftover egg yolks ~
~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Quick Links to This Page

(for easy bookmarking and searching)
~ Warm Place for Letting Bread Rise ~
~ How to Braid Bread ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2009, 2019 & 20202

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Lesley4/03/2009

    Hi Alanna,

    Just for anyone in the UK, I eventually tracked down "mahlab" to Steenbergs, they also have a great range of herbs and spices.

    Also a tip for bread making, for tepid water, use 1/3rd boiling water to 2/3rds cold and that gives the perfect temperature.

    Love your recipes!

  2. Your braids are so pretty! One thing, you make it all look so easy, your recipes make me want to cook, make it seem like I can do something that looks pretty hard but sounds easy.

  3. It's very pretty. I'd love to try it out simply for the fact that the braiding of it sounds like fun!

  4. Jennifer4/13/2009

    Made 3 loaves for Easter. I enjoyed making it, and everyone enjoyed eating it! Tasted just like my family's choreg. Thanks for posting the recipe for me. I hope to make this for many Easters to come!

  5. How did I miss this last year???? GORGEOUS PHOTO, by the way!

  6. “...the bread was completely worth making, and I’m having some trouble resisting it."

  7. Hi. Can I ask approx how many grams is 4 cups flour. Thank you.

    1. Yes! I use 125g per cup of flour, so 4 cups would be 500g. The fluffing process actually gets super close to the 125g every time! Cool, eh? But I live and die by my kitchen scale, so it’s a total oversight (to be fixed asap) to not include the grams for the flour for this recipe. Happy Baking! Glad you have yeast! Stay safe, stay well, stay strong ...

    2. thank you! I'm Armenian from Armenia but choereg isn't as popular in modern Armenia as I wish it were, people tend to imitate foreign cuisine rather than revive the lost Armenian recipes, so I had to search the internet for the best recipe and this one looked trustworthy! besides, as I'm all new to yeast dough, I needed a recipe so that I could just stick to the instructions, that's why those grams seemed important but I risked to bake it yesterday before commenting based on 1 cup=128 grams, and to my opinion they turned out awesome (I also added some raisins as my kid loves them), I just wanted to double-check to be sure I did all right, and yes, mahlab and anis are mandatory! Also, we don't have king's arthur flour here in Armenia but I found Nordic flour with 13% protein, I'll try it next time!)) thank you very much!

    3. Wow! Thank you for the compliments! They mean so much, especially now knowing that you are Armenian! I’m especially glad you found my recipe “trust-worthy” looking, that’s huge. And the fact that the recipe turned out so well for you? Swoon ... thanks for your notes, too, they’ll help others. Stay safe, stay well, stay strong!


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna