Panettone is a Christmas tradition I didn’t start until I was an adult. You’ve probably seen it in stores but ignored it because you weren’t sure what it was. If you love sweets and looking for ways to make your family (and yourself) smile at the holidays, pick one up to try!
Disclosure: Bauducco sent me a panettone Italian Christmas cake, years ago, to use in a post.
As a result, I’ve bought dozens of these panettone cakes for myself every year since. I love it and want everyone to know about it!
What is Panettone
Panettone is an Italian Christmas bread. That cleared everything right up for you, didn’t it? :)
But I find that many people have never tried it and don’t know how awesome it is.
It usually comes in a box and you can’t really tell what is inside.
Maybe that puts people off. Or maybe when people read the description they wrongly accuse panettone of being a fruit cake.
It is like a really light and fluffy bread. Like a brioche but lighter. And what you are seeing in this photo is dried fruits. And there are delicious!
The classic panettone is buttery with hints of vanilla and has bright citrus flavors from the fruit pieces. The fruit is super easy to eat and not at all gummy.
But it is shaped more like a cake. I know this is all rather confusing. But I implore you to pick one up and give it a try.
They are not all created equal. I love the Bauducco brand that comes in the yellow boxes. They always taste amazing.
If you need a holiday dessert and you don’t want to bake, you could and should absolutely grab a panettone.
Varieties of Panettone
Panettone comes is a bunch of different sizes and a few flavors.
The Chocolate Chip panettone is delish! It has no fruit and milk chocolate pieces. While I love chocolate, I much prefer the classic version.
There is also a chocolate panettone that looks good but I haven’t tried yet. I’m guessing it would be a light chocolate flavor rather than a rich chocolate cake-like flavor.
I’ve also seen candied cherry panettone, limoncello panettone, orange and chocolate panettone, pear and chocolate panettone, pistachio panettone, and this year I also saw a pumpkin panettone. You can find all of these on Amazon.
The boxes make the panettone seem a lot bigger than they really are. You can find these Christmas cakes in a variety of sizes from mini to a larger size that would be better for a family.
This is the mini panettone pictured above. The box is almost twice this size so it seems like maybe it could be shared. But it’s a single serving.
Not sure if the box says that, but to me, it is. BUT this is a great size to try for your first time.
Just know if you are picking one up as a gift, the panettone bread will be smaller than it appears. Size up.
The bread is in a bag inside the box to keep it super fresh and I think this takes up a little space.
Next time you see them, buy two. You try one and gift one to a friend. They make the perfect little hostess gifts and are great for holiday entertaining.
While you might be just starting out on your panettone journey I consider myself somewhat of a panettone snob.
Many years ago I grabbed a box on a whim because I needed to know what this panettone business was all about.
One bite and I was hooked. Now, because my family knows how much I enjoy it, they pick them up for me when they see them.
And I’ve tried a few brands. You can’t go wrong with the yellow box!
So, in summary, panettone is basically like an airy, pastry-like bread with dried fruits. It is slightly sweet and very delicate.
It is crumbly and will fall apart. It’s crazy delicious and I can’t believe you’ve never tried it.
How to Eat Panettone
You can eat panettone right out of the bag/box. You can pull off big chunks and shove them in your mouth, or you can try to be a bit more civilized and use a serrated knife to cut slices.
My all-time favorite way to eat panettone is toasted with butter.
I take a portion that is entirely too large for the average person and put it under the broiler to toast both sides.
If you put it in the toaster it will basically fall apart everywhere. That’s how delicate it is!
What you can’t tell from these images is how light this bread is! When you pick up a box it might feel heavy to you.
Trust me, when you slice off a portion, you will start to see how fluffy and airy it is. Panettone is my favorite holiday breakfast treat!
It usually starts showing up in stores around Thanksgiving. And I eat a few every season.
My youngest also loves it so I pick up a larger one now.
Panettone Serving Ideas
I have to admit I haven’t tried too many recipes using panettone yet.
At some point, I will be making bread pudding with it because I can imagine how amazing it is from the way it tastes on its own.
I never, in a million years, thought I would find Guava marmalade. But I found it at my local grocery store on my first attempt.
You simply put a little marmalade and cream cheese on small pieces of panettone and heat in the oven until slightly melty.
OMG! My expectations were low. I’m not a huge fan of cream cheese and I already love the panettone so I thought, how could it be better?
Guess what. Delish!
The Guava marmalade adds a sweet/tartness to the bread and the cheese adds the most delightful creamy element.
I love how adding these two ingredients took it from being bread to a little treat you could entertain with.
I am also going to make Panettone Bread Pudding this year!
Once you try this cake, keep your eyes out at Easter time for another Italian favorite, Colomba cake!
I hope you will try panettone this season. And you know that the best hostess gifts are those things you normally wouldn’t buy for yourself.
Consider picking a few up for those holiday parties you will be attending or hosting. Once you try this, I know it will become part of your holiday tradition as it has for me.
And let me know what you think of it!
Panettone is the perfect holiday treat! Whether you serve it at breakfast, dessert or gift it, it will become part of your holiday traditions.
Where Can I Buy Panettone Near Me?
Panettone bread is sold in most regular grocery stores, specialty stores like Trader Joe’s (they have their own version) and Whole Foods, and retail stores like World Market. And there are tons of options available on Amazon.