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Pizza Gaina

Pizza Gaina is an Italian Easter Pie that is much loved and packed with of all the Italian flavors you love like mortadella, salami, mozzarella and pecorino romano.

Perfect for picnics, potluck and buffet dinners this hearty pie that is a celebration of good food!!

close up of a slice of pizza gaina with whole pie in the background.
Mouthwatering pie that full of amazing flavors!

Why you’ll love this recipe

The name of this pie doesn’t actually describe it accurately. This Italian Easter Pie is known as pizza gaina but also goes by many different names – Pizza Rustica, Pizza Ripiena, Pizza Chiena which means filled or stuffed pizza and originates in the Naples area. It was when the Italian immigrants moved around the world particularly America, that this pie became “pizza gaina”.

Despite often being called as an Italian Easter pizza, it is actually nothing like a pizza but more like a cheese and egg pie. Be sure to try my delicious Calabrese Pizza if you are looking for pizza.

Traditionally this pie is prepared on Good Friday to be eaten on Easter Sunday to break the lenten fast. Or taken to a picnic on Easter Monday. Preparing this dish in advance means that the flavor have a chance to develop and meld beautifully!

The ingredients in this recipe are quite rich but so tasty! The best part about pizza gaina is that ingredients can be varied according to your taste. Try different cheeses, salami, cooked sausage or vegetables. The whole family will love it!

Ricotta, which is the main cheese in the filling, is a great carrier of flavors and works perfectly in this pie. Other recipes with ricotta that you’ll love are baked ricotta, ricotta pie and sweet pastiera.

For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.

Ingredient notes

There are a few ingredients that are necessary for this pizza gaina but much of the filling is adaptable to your taste and what you have. You’ll need the usual pie crust ingredients plus fresh ricotta and large eggs then it’s your choice. In this pie I have used:-

  • ham
  • mortadella
  • prosciutto
  • salami
  • mozzarella
  • grated pecorino Romano


The cured meats and cheeses can be swapped.

  • Use coppa instead of prosciutto.
  • Try cooked Italian sausage (sweet or spicy) instead of salami.
  • Provolone or fontina cheese instead of mozzarella is delicious.
  • I sometimes use Parmesan cheese instead of pecorino Romano.
  • Add hard boiled eggs to the filling.
  • Fresh mozzarella can be substituted for mozzarella.
  • You can substitute basket cheese for ricotta.
ingredients require for this recipe viewed from above.


Follow the step by step photos that show you how to make pizza gaina.

Firstly, the pizza dough needs to be made and rested while the filling is prepared. Then the pizza gaina can be assemble and baked.

Keep in mind that this pie should cool after baking for about two hours before serving. Otherwise bake the day before and serve cold.

How to make the dough and filling

Preheat oven 350ºF/180ºC. Grease a 9in/22cm springform pan with butter or oil.

6 step photo collage showing how to make dough and filling for pizza rustica.
  1. Mix the flour, salt and butter until mixture is sandy in appearance.
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time, on low speed.
  3. Add a little bit of milk to help bring the dough together.
  4. Divide dough into two portion (one larger than the other), cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the ricotta until smooth then add most of the egg reserving one tablespoon.
  6. Add remaining ingredients and combine well. Don’t forget to season with salt and black pepper!

How to assemble pizza gaina

4-step photo collage showing how to assemble this recipe.
  1. Roll out largest portion of pie dough on a floured surface and line a greased 9in/22cm springform pan. Trim pie dough level with the top of the pan.
  2. Fill with ricotta mixture.
  3. Roll out smaller portion of pie dough, cut out a 9in/22cm circle and fit over the filling.
  4. Brush with reserved egg, fold over extra pie dough to seal the filling. Cut a slit or two in the top of the pie. Bake until golden brown.

Tips for success and FAQ’s

You don’t need to be a master chef to make this Italian Easter Pie but here are a few tips I’ve learnt along the way!

  • For best results, don’t overwork the dough otherwise it will be tough. Mix until the dough just comes together.
  • Use dry ricotta that comes in a basket. If you can’t find it, drain tub ricotta in a sieve overnight in the fridge. Be sure to have a bowl underneath to catch the liquid.
  • Ask for the cured meats to be cut just under 1/2 inch/1cm thick. You’ll then be able to dice the meat easily at home.
  • Don’t add any salt to the filling because all the ingredients are salty enough
  • Allow the pie to cool at least 2 hours.
  • If you can wait, make a day in advance for all the flavors to develop.
Can store bought pie crust be used instead of homemade?

Absolutely! Line the springform pan with defrosted shortcrust or puff pastry.

Can I make pizza gaina vegetarian?

Yes! Omit the cured meats and add a combination of any of the following – hard boiled eggs, roasted red peppers (capsicum), sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, olives, cooked and drained spinach, sautéed mushrooms or fried zucchini. Ensure all the ingredients are drained of any liquids.

How long will this pie keep?

Pizza gaina will last well-covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

How can I reheat the entire pizza gaina?

Just cover with foil and heat in a 300ºF/150ºC oven for 30 minutes.

Can you freeze pizza gaina?

It can definitely be frozen. Wrap with plastic wrap and place in a sealed container before freezing.

How many calories in pizza gaina?

Just scrolled down to the bottom of the recipe card and under “Nutrition” you’ll find the information. Remember that it is approximate and will depend on the size of portion consumed. Also keep in mind that this is a once a year treat.

filled pastry pie with two wedges cut; one wedge on its side on plate viewed from above.

Serving suggestions

There are so many ways to serve this pie – either warm or cold! Delicious as an appetizer but just as good served with a salad as a main. Plus this pizza gaina is perfectly portable which makes it the ideal food for a picnic or potluck dinners. Actually you’ll love this pie and so will everyone who is lucky enough to score a slice!!

close up of a slice of easter pie with another slice and the whole pie in the background.

More classic recipes you’ll love

Bagna Cauda
Italian Rice Balls
Marinated Eggplant
Pizza Calabrese

Made this recipe?
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close up of a slice of italian pie with another slice and the whole pie in the background.

Pizza Gaina Recipe

A tasty pie with a tender shortcrust pastry filled with of all the Italian flavors you love like mortadella, salami, mozzarella and pecorino romano.
5 from 92 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings:10 servings
Author: Marcellina



  • cups (450 grams) all purpose (plain) flour
  • 8 oz (2 sticks/225 grams) unsalted butter chilled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk more or less


  • 1 lb (450 grams) ricotta cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 oz (226 grams) mozzarella (cheese) thick cut then diced
  • 8 oz (226 grams) ham thick cut then diced (see notes)
  • 4 oz (113 grams) mortadella thick cut then diced (see notes)
  • 2 oz (56 grams) prosciutto thick cut then diced (see notes)
  • 2 oz (56 grams) salami thick cut then diced (see notes)
  • ½ cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper


  • Preheat oven 350ºF/180ºC. Grease a 9in/22.5cm springform pan with butter or oil.


  • Place flour, salt and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle and on the lowest speed, combine until a loose, sandy mixture is formed.
  • With the mixer still on low speed, add eggs one at a time until the mixture starts to come together. You may need a tablespoon or so of milk to bring the dough together.
  • Turn the dough onto a board ( no need to flour at this stage) and knead a little to form a ball. Divide the dough in two portions – ⅔ and ⅓ – and shape into discs. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.


  • Place the ricotta in a large bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until broken up and becoming smooth.
  • Beat eggs in a small bowl. Reserve approximately 1 tablespoon. (You'll use this later to glaze the top of the pie.) Stir rest of the beaten eggs into ricotta.
  • Add remaining ingredients to the ricotta mixture and stir well to combine. Set aside.

Assemble and bake the pizza gaina

  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger portion of dough to at least a 16inch/40cm circle and line the greased springform pan. Trim the dough to the top of the pan.
  • Spoon the filling into the pastry and smooth the surface.
  • Roll out the smaller portion of dough to at least 9-inch/23cm. Use the springform pan as a guide to cut a 9inch/23cm circle. Fit the circle of dough over the ricotta filling.
  • Brush pastry with reserved beaten egg then fold over extra pie dough to seal the filling. Brush with any leftover beaten egg. Cut a slit or two in the top of the pie. Bake until golden brown.
  • Bake for 1 hour until golden brown.
  • Cool for 2 hours if serving warm or refrigerate to be eaten later cold.


Tips for success
  • Work the dough gently to avoid making it touch. Just press and knead until the dough comes together.
  • The dough can be prepared in a food processor.
  • The ricotta must be dry for this recipe. Use fresh ricotta that is sold in a basket. Or drain the ricotta in a lined, fine mesh sieve overnight in the fridge with a bowl underneath. 
  • If you can, have the cured meats sliced thickly then dice at home. 
  • Any salami can be used. 
  • It’s correct that the filling recipe doesn’t include salt.
  • Cool the pie for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the filling to set.
  • If you can wait, make a day in advance for all the flavors to develop.
Well covered or in a sealed container, baked pizza gaina will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Alternatively, wrap that baked pizza gaina with plastic wrap and place in a sealed container to freeze for up to 3 months.
Tried this recipe? Give it a star rating and leave a comment below!

Nutritional Estimate Per Serving

Calories: 664kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 240mg | Sodium: 1179mg | Potassium: 273mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1114IU | Calcium: 299mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Grew up eating my grandmothers recipe every Easter. After Grandma passed nobody continued the tradition. I made it just a few times then stopped. I came across your recipe and remembered my son loved it so much so as a surprise I’m making an Easter pie for Christmas!

  2. 5 stars
    Wonderful! Always used basket cheese but pleasantly surprised that whole milk ricotta was a great substitute.

  3. 5 stars
    I made your pie it was delicious. I miss my moms. This recipe really taste like the same. I was so dumb I didn’t watch my mother❤️

  4. 5 stars
    I really doubted your crust recipe, but I made everything exactly as stated (I did not add salt to the filling, per the notes). The crust added a dry texture to the mix, but I grew up eating southern buttermilk biscuits with eggs, which this reminded me of. This was a wonderful combination. Unfortunately, my married family is polish and does not share my enthusiasm for Easter Pie, but I will say this is very close to what my Great Aunts, 1st generation off the boat made every Easter. Wonderful! Definitely worthy of 5 stars without modification at all.

    1. I lied a little, I did add a few chopped hard boiled eggs to filling mix which is what my Aunts did too. But everything else was perfectly spot on.

    2. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed my recipe for this pie and that it was close to what your Great Aunts made. We love it, too! Every family has their own particular version that is special to them so it can sometimes be different. I find that this is the case with most Italian recipes. From region to region, town to town, and family to family, recipes differ but I love the differences. I will add chopped hard boiled eggs next time.

  5. There is 3/4 tsp of salt listed in the ingredients for the Filling. The notes say, “Don’t add any salt to the filling because all the ingredients are salty enough”. I am confused.

  6. 5 stars
    Oh wow, this looks delicious. A wonderful meal to serve for the Easter holidays. I’ll save the recipe and give this a try. Thnaks!

  7. loooove pizzagaina!!! and you can definitely freeze it, we make SO much every Easter and send to family and friends, some always end up frozen and we always get rave reviews!!

  8. The very best I ever had, the ingreds. are spot on and the flavors are entirely true. Lv the recipe.

  9. This is so interesting and looks fun to make. I love all the flavors your added and the all the options you gave.

  10. 5 stars
    Such a delicious pie and perfect for a celebration! Will definitely be making it onto our table for Easter 🙂

  11. 5 stars
    I love savoury pies, esp. when involved with lots of cheese 🙂 The man of the house doesn’t eat sausages, so do you think it would work with ground beef?

    1. Angie, I think I would just leave the sausage out and substitute with more ham or other cured meat. I’m not sure that ground beef would work. Although, if you made little meatballs, fried them first and added that to the ricotta, that might be good. Let me know if you try it.

  12. Yum! I love this pie. I hadn’t heard about the vegetarian options. They sound very nice. I might try them this year for a change!