How to Eat Panettone

If you walk down any street in Rome during the holidays, you will notice every other person carrying a large box of cake.  That would be panettone or pandoro, they are traditional Italian Christmas cake.

They are everywhere, so of course we had to try some.

The taste reminds me of packaged Hawaiian sweet bread that you buy in bulk at Costco.  But the first time you ever buy a pandoro it is a bit unclear how you are even supposed to cut it.

Let me tell you, this is not how to eat panettone:

this is how not to eat panettone cake, which has been ripped and mangled by hand

(But it is 100% how I ate panettone the first time I ever bought one).

The Italian Christmas cake is both dense and light, so it can be difficult to cut. However, the correct way to eat panettone is to cut thin, tall slices.

how to eat a panettone Italian christmas cake by cutting it in slices

You want to be sure to remove the paper wrapper that runs around the outside of the base of the cake before you try to cut the panettone. Trust me, it makes it easier to slice it the cardboard wrapper is peeled back.

And you certainly do not want to serve the slice of cake with the wrapper still attached.

Using the right kind of knife (a long, serrated knife like a simple bread knife) is key. This is the best way to cut through the light texture without destroying or smushing the cake.

How to eat panettone

Once you have sliced the panettone, it is very easy to eat. The most traditional way to serve the panettone is on its own, after dinner. The cake is not usually eaten with any kind of extras like ice cream or frosting. The simple cake is enjoyed as is.

slices of panettone, the most common way to eat it, on a plate

As the Christmas season continues and the cakes begin to pile up in everyone’s homes, the panettone is sometimes eaten for breakfast, as well. To be incredibly indulgent, you can use a slice of panettone to make a super sweet version of French toast.

Buon appetito!

Want to try some? You can find panettone online from speciality food stores, like this classic orange and raisin version. You can also find basic versions of panettone on Amazon.

Here is more about how to serve panettone. If you enjoy Christmastime in Italy, you might also want to see the most beautiful places in Rome during the holidays.

wrapped package of Panettone christmas cake

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15 thoughts on “How to Eat Panettone

  1. Nerys says:

    I haven’t quite figured out how to cut it yet either, it always ends up in bits! From not being able to go home for Christmas I’ve wound up with 3 panettone to eat, and I’ve still got one left, it’s like never ending panettone!!

    Buon anno!

  2. Kevin in Indiana says:

    We always used a bread knife to slice it. Then we’d toast it and spread on a little butter. That’s how the northern Italians in my home town taught us!

  3. Sam says:

    Whenever my family gets one of these, my dad cuts them vertically, kind of like orange slices, then makes french toast out of the slices. It’s really good!( It’s very American of us even though we’ve been living in Sicily for years).

    • Jim Karela says:

      I like is with a little rum sauce (rum and simple syrup) poured over it like babas au rhum. Totally my favorite.

  4. Paula Feldman says:

    Sort of the how do you eat Oreos question. By the way, Oreos arrived in Italy on regular supermarket shelves two years ago.

    Most people cut it, as Sam says, like an orange. Of course every family has it’s traditions. In our house if it has almonds on top, those are mine. The ‘skin’ is a toss-up between my daughter and myself, at least when she’s here from her home in Toscany. Then the insides are up for grabs to whoever has the ‘knife by the handle’ (il coltello dal manico’ which in Italian has nothing to do with cutting panettone – let you discover the meaning).

    Know this response is rather late in coming but I figured it could help with the COLOMBA PASQUALINA – which is bird-shaped and not at all easy to cut like an orange. The question with the dove is ‘do we cut off the wings then the head and then slice the body….?’…..let you figure that one out too but around April when the good COLOMBE start showing up in the pasticcerie!

    un abbraccio da ponente, P

  5. Pingback: The Ultimate Christmas Hybrid | An American in Rome

  6. Paula says:

    I bought panettone about a week ago and won’t open it for another 4 days. Should I freeze it, refrigerate it or is it fine to leave it wrapped on the counter? I bought it from an Italian specialty store and looks as it was made in their bakery. Help!

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