Pan de Muerto is a light and sweet Mexican Day of the Dead bread, traditionally spiced with ground anise and brushed with an orange glaze. 

Pan de Muerto, or “Bread of the Dead”, is a sweet bread that is baked during the Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebrated in Mexico on November 1st and 2nd. It is a light and egg-y sweet bread that is shaped as a round loaf or smaller round rolls. Both loaves and rolls are decorated with bone-shaped strips of dough to honor the celebration of those gone before.

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS: A CELEBRATION OF THE DEAD The most prominent symbol of Dia de los Muertos is the calacas and calaveras, or skeletons and skulls. From parades to decorations, even to foods, images of bones are everywhere. Sugar skulls and chocolate skulls are often given as gifts. In larger cities, you will find parades filled with dancers, musicians, and many people dressed up like skeletons. One of the most popular figures to dress up as is La Calavera Catrina (The Elegant Skull), a skeleton who resembles an upper class female, showing that, in death, rich and poor are the same.

Despite the multitude of skeletons prancing through the streets and the belief that spirits return to be with their families, the festival is not scary, somber, or macabre. Rather, it is a joyous event, full of parties, good memories, and good food. The festival celebrates death as a natural part of the human experience: as natural to celebrate as a newborn baby, a coming of age, or any birthday. Through the celebrations and decorations of graves and home altars, the dead are remembered and honored.

DAY OF THE DEAD BREAD During Dia de los Muertos, it is common to eat Pan de Muerto as well as other foods that were loved by those loved ones who have died.

The skeleton and bones that are found throughout the celebration of Dia de los Muertos are also found atop Pan de Muerto, giving this bread a very unique appearance. To create the topping of ‘bones,’ small pieces of dough are rolled into a bone-shape and arranged on the top of the loaf. It is most common to arrange the bones in a circle pattern, representing the circle of life.

Even if you’re not celebrating the Day of the Dead, this bread is a tasty, sweet and eggy bread that would make a delicious addition to a Halloween party spread as well.

Pan de Muerto (Mexican Day of the Dead Bread)

Prep Time 1 hr 20 mins Cook Time 30 mins Total Time 1 hr 50 mins  

Yield: 1 (12 inch) round loaf 

Course: Breakfast, Side Dish Cuisine: Mexican Keyword: bread, holiday

Servings: 10 people

Author: Sarah | Curious Cuisiniere


¼ c milk

¼ c water

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

3-3 ½ c unbleached all purpose flour, divided

¼ c sugar

2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast one packet

1 ½ tsp ground anise

1 tsp salt

2 eggs, at room temperature


For the Glaze and Topping

1 Tbsp milk

¼ c + 2 Tbsp sugar, divided

1 orange, zested and juiced



In a small saucepan heat the milk, water, and butter together until the butter has melted. Remove the pan from the heat and cool the mixture to roughly 80-90F.

In a large bowl, mix together 1 c flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and anise. Add the cooled milk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until smooth. Add the eggs and whisk until combined.

Add the remaining 2 c flour, ½ c at a time, stirring well after each addition, until a soft dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for 5-7 minutes, adding flour as needed, until it is smooth, soft, and slightly tacky.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover it with a damp tea towel and let is rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled in bulk, roughly 1 hour.

Once the dough has risen, turn it onto the counter and knead it a few times to deflate it. Cut 6, 1 oz, pieces (roughly the size of a golf ball) from the dough. Shape the larger portion of dough into a round loaf and place it on a lightly floured baking sheet. Shape each of the 6 smaller portions into a bone, by rolling them in the center to create two larger sections on each end of a smaller connecting strip. Arrange the bones on top of the round loaf. Cover the shaped loaf with a damp tea towel and let rise until doubled, roughly 30 min.

During the last 10 minutes of rising time, preheat your oven to 350F.

Brush the dough lightly with 1 Tbsp milk and place it in the oven. Bake the bread for 25-30 minutes, until it sounds hollow when tapped.

While the bread is baking, make the glaze: Heat ¼ c sugar together with the zest and juice of one orange. Bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If necessary, strain the glaze of any orange pulp and set the strained glaze aside.

When the bread is done, brush the warm loaf with the glaze and sprinkle with 2 Tbsp of sugar. Let the bread cool slightly before slicing.


Read more at Curious Cuisiniere: Pan de Muerto (Mexican Day of the Dead Bread)

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Yummy in my tummy...


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