Plates of slices of panettone next to a whole panettone with some slices removed.
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How To Cut Panettone Correctly – Traditions From An Italian Family In Tuscany

Last updated on April 19th, 2024

Chances are that if you are reading this, you have a panettone by your side but are a bit confused about how to serve and cut it. I can help! 

Living in Italy (since 2012), I’ve spent plenty of time with the beloved panettone. I look forward to it every year during the holiday season.

Let’s take a look at:

  • the best ways to cut and serve panettone, for different presentations and occasions
  • my family’s favorite way to cut panettone
  • basics of panettone and other ways to use leftovers (should you have any!)

What Is Panettone?

Whole, dome-topped panettone.

Panettone is a large, cylinder Italian Christmas cake made from an egg-rich dough dotted with raisins and candied fruit (orange and citron).  

There are several stories out there about the origin of panettone but it’s hard to tell where the truth lies. What we do know is that it’s from Milan, which is still the best city to eat panettone in. 

Panettone ingredients are similar to those of Pandoro with the addition of raisins and candied fruit. It’s made with different proportions then Pandoro and bakes up to be more dense and less fluffy. A good quality panettone cake is a buttery, rich cake that is soft and moist yet not chewy or dense.

To learn more about panettone, its history and how it compares to its sister cake the Pandoro, read Pandoro Vs Panettone – An Italian Christmas Cake Showdown & My Italian Family’s Favorite Variety. And if you decide to get a pandoro, make sure you know how to cut it!

Ways To Cut Panettone

How you cut your panettone is a personal preference. These are the most popular ways in Italy to cut a panettone before serving.

In Tall Slices

Three white plates with blue and gold accents hold slices of panettone.

Cutting panettone in tall slices is the most traditional way to cut and serve it in Italy. They are also enormous pieces so they might then be cut in half (see small pieces below). This is how we cut panettone for breakfast in Italy.

In Small Pieces 

Cutting panettone into smaller pieces is the most common way to serve it for events, parties or for large groups. Cut the panettone into large, tall slices as indicated above and then each slice into two or three pieces crosswise, depending on how large or small you want the pieces to be. 

In Pie Slices

Cutting panettone into pie slices is less common but still an option. First, lay the panettone on its side and cut into rounds, 1 – ½ inch thick. Then, cut each round into several pie wedges or slices. 

This way of cutting panettone is considered slightly more elegant and formal. 

In Rectangular Slices

Cutting your panettone across the middle and then cutting long slices across one of the halves gives you long, rectangular pieces of panettone that can then be further cut into individual size slices or pieces. This is the best way to cut panettone in the hopes of keeping it freshest for the longest period of time. 

When you have cut what you like, return the two halves back together as they were, cutting equally from each side as you eat your panettone. In this way, the cut edges are ‘sealed’ against each other and from the air, helping to keep it fresh. 

Curious to learn how to cut pandoro? Read How to Cut Pandoro.

My Family’s Favorite Way To Cut Panettone

My family’s favorite way to cut panettone is also the most traditional, in tall slices or wedges. 

To do so, follow these easy steps:

  1. Unwrap the panettone and sit it flat on a cutting board
  2. Using a serrated knife, make a clean cut from the center of the panettone out to the edge. 
  3. Repeat, just as you would cut a pie, to cut out a large, tall wedge or slice of panettone. 

How To Serve Panettone

Sliced panettone next to container of mascarpone cream.

Panettone is most traditionally served on Christmas Day in Italy. It’s served as a dessert but also in the following times and circumstances:

In addition, many Italian families, including mine, like to serve panettone with a sweet wine such as Vin Santo, Passito or other digestivo.

Other Ways To Use Panettone

Just like leftover bread in Italy, you will never meet an Italian who wasted even a crumb of panettone, even if it’s dry. Consider these recipes to use leftover panettone

  • Panettone French toast
  • Panettone bread pudding
  • Bruschetta di panettone – toasted panettone served with mascarpone, cream cheese, etc.
  • Torta di panettone farcita – filled panettone cake