Lazarakia buns (Greek Easter Lazarus breads)

This Easter be sure to try making Lazarakia buns! These Greek Easter Lazarus breads are fun to make and delicious to eat. They are slightly sweet and filled with raisins, nuts or chocolate chips (or a combination of these). Everyone loves Lazarakia, but if you are baking with young children, they will especially enjoy shaping them, and the tradition and meaning behind these sweet little breads.

Lazarakia buns on a wooden platter

Growing up, and today, my favourite Greek holiday has got to be Easter, or Pascha as it is called in Greek. Everything about this time of year makes me feel fulfilled, and blessed and so grateful for my faith and family. In terms of food, there are so many delicious recipes that we make this time of year, including tsourekia (braided Greek Easter bread), galatopita, a traditional milk custard pie made in the Peloponnese, where our parents are from, and of course, these Lazarakia buns, made on Lazarus Saturday.

Why this recipe is great

I love any recipe that is symbolic and meaningful – if it is also delicious, that is a bonus! There is a beautiful tradition surrounding the making of Greek Lazarus buns but for now let us focus on why this recipe itself is so good.

The recipe contains no eggs or dairy

Lazarakia are traditionally a nistisima or lenten recipe because they are served on Lazarus Saturday which falls during Great Lent. This means that they contain no meat (duh), eggs or dairy, making them perfect for anyone who is observing Orthodox Lent. They are also therefore perfect for anyone with an egg or dairy intolerance or allergy.

They are pretty quick to make

Often when baking with yeast there are a few hours required for rising of the dough. With this Lazarakia recipe however, the dough only needs 30 minutes to rise before you start shaping your buns. After that, you bake them immediately and in 20 – 30 minutes they are done.

The flavour is phenomenal

Sweet, but not overly so, and flavoured with cinnamon and ground cardamom, these Lazarakia buns are really tasty. A perfect treat to enjoy during Lent.

Key ingredients

Ingredients to make lazarakia buns: Water, olive oil, cardamom, cinnamon, sugar, flour, yeast, salt, cloves, chocolate chips, raisins, walnuts

Dry yeast This is the leavening agent used for the dough. Whenever you use dry yeast be sure to check the expiration date. I tend to keep my opened packages or jars in the refrigerator – I find the yeast stays fresher longer that way.

Lukewarm water The temperature of the water you use should be warm, but comfortable enough for you to put your finger under the running water in the tap without it burning. If your water is too cold, or too hot, it will interfere with the leavening action of your dry yeast.

Sugar This is a sweet dough and white sugar is used because it has a sweet but mild flavour. The sugar also helps activate the yeast.

All-purpose flour Also called regular or plain flour, this is the basis of a lot of my baking. It is versatile, readily available, and relatively inexpensive.

Cinnamon Ground cinnamon is a traditional spice added to Lazarakia – it makes them smell and taste so wonderful!

Ground cardamom I love to use ground cardamom in this recipe; it is a very aromatic spice and although it is not traditionally used in Greek cooking I love to use in in place of other spices, like ground cloves (which I hate!)

Salt A bit of salt is always required when baking – it really helps to bring out all the flavours of the other ingredients.

Olive oil As always extra-virgin Greek olive oil is my go to. The flavour and richness is great, but is a good quality extra-virgin olive oil also won’t be too overwhelming.

Whole cloves Although I don’t like the flavour of cloves, they do come in handy when they are whole and used for the eyes of your Lazarakia buns! The stem is perfect for inserting into the dough and they are just the right size.

Raisins, walnuts and/or chocolate chips You can fill the the lazarakia with a combination of chopped walnuts and raisins, or chocolate chips. If you do use chocolate, be sure to use dairy-free chocolate chips to keep the lazarakia lenten.

How to make

Making these sweet Greek lazarakia buns is really easy, and does not take super long. Shaping them is fun, and is particularly enjoyable if you are making them with small children, who tend to love this recipe!

The hands of a small child shaping a lazarakia bun.

Prepare the dough

Step 1
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the yeast, warm water and sugar. Stir to combine and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Step 2
Meanwhile whisk together the dry ingredients in another bowl. When the yeast mixture is ready, add in the flour and the olive oil.

Step 3
Use the dough hook attachment of your mixer and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes at medium speed. Your dough should come together and it still might be a little sticky; that’s okay. Transfer it into a bowl that you have greased lightly with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

the dough for the lazarakia.

Shape the Lazarakia

Traditionally Lazarakia are shaped to look like a little man wrapped in a shroud, the way Lazarus is depicted to have been found.

Step 1
Divide your dough into 24 equal portions of 50 grams each; then separate the 50 grams into 40 gram and 10 gram pieces. The larger piece of dough will become the body and the smaller piece will become the arms.

Step 2
Flatten the larger piece of dough and shape it into an oval with your hand; it is not necessary to use a rolling pin. Add about 1 teaspoon of filling in the center and then fold the dough over and pinch the ends closed; you should end up with an oblong shape. Then, use the 10 grams of dough to make the arms – crisscrossing in the front, and the back. Insert the cloves where the eyes would be.

Bake them

Place your buns on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving space between each one as they will expand when baking. Bake in a 325 degree F. preheated oven in the middle rack for 20 – 30 minutes until golden.

Lazarakia buns on parchment paper waiting to be baked.

Helpful hints

Making lazarakia is fun and a really special way to commemorate Lazarus Saturday. There are a few things to keep in mind to make the task easier.

Whenever I work with yeast I tend to wait until I am sure that the yeast is still good before doing anything else. You know that your yeast is active if there is bubbling or foaming in your yeast mixture. This usually starts to happen after about 5 minutes.

Although using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment makes the job much easier, it is not necessary. If you don’t have a mixer you can knead the dough by hand.

When I place the filling in my dough I make sure to seal the edges well so that the filling does not fall out when baking.

Although Lazarakia are meant to be shaped like a man wrapped in a shroud, feel free to let your imagination run wild. Smaller children may have their own ideas of how to shape their little Lazarus buns!

Lazarakia buns on a wooden platter.

Recipe substitutions

Instead of ground cardamom you can use ground coriander.

You can also add a bit of ground cloves to the dough. I would not recommend more than 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves as the flavour can be quite strong.

If you prefer not to use olive oil you can use vegetable oil or another mild flavour oil in its place.

Frequently asked questions

Are Lazarakia buns only made on Lazarus Saturday?

Traditionally this is when these sweet little breads are made, and served. However, they are perfect for lent, so sometimes I make them on days other than Lazarus Saturday; when I do this I usually shape them as simple balls or ovals instead of as little men.

Can I make one larger loaf of bread instead of the smaller buns using this recipe?

You can absolutely do this but you will have to increase your cooking time. The exact about of time you will need to make sure that your bread cooks will depend on how thick you have made it.

Recipe variations

You can use a variety of things to fill your Lazarakia, including different chopped nuts, or even jam. Also, if you prefer not to fill your buns you can instead add the raisins, nuts or even chocolate chips to the dough as you are kneading it, right before it is ready.

How to store

You can prepare the dough ahead of time. Store your dough in the refrigerator after the 30 minute rise for several days until you are ready to shape and bake your buns.

Once cooled, they will keep for up to a week in a well sealed container.

How to serve

They are amazing served with coffee, tea or a glass of milk. Along with some fruit they make a delicious breakfast or snack.

Here are some other traditional Greek Easter time recipes I think you will love


Galatopita, Greek milk custard pie


Tsoureki french toast
Galatopita is a Greek milk custard pie made without phyllo or crust.
Lazarakia buns on a wooden platter
Lazarakia buns on a wooden platter.

Lazarakia buns (Greek Easter Lazarus breads)

Traditional recipe for sweet buns made on Lazarus Saturday.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Bread
Cuisine: Greek
Diet: Vegan
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 24 lazarakia
Calories: 180kcal
Author: Billie Bitzas


  • 1 ¾ cups lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 ¼ cups flour
  • 48 whole cloves

For stuffing

  • 100 grams chocolate chips


  • 50 grams each walnuts and raisins, chopped


  • Add water, yeast and sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer and mix well with a fork. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
    1 ¾ cups lukewarm water, 1 tbsp yeast, 1 cup sugar
  • Combine the dry ingredients in another bowl and mix well.
    1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground cardamom, 5 ¼ cups flour, 1/4 tsp salt
  • When your yeast is ready add the olive oil and the dry ingredients. Beat well, at medium speed using the dough hook attachment of your mixer for 8 - 10 minutes, or until the dough is formed.
    1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • When your dough is ready divide it into 24 portions of 50 grams each. Then, divide each of these into 40 grams for the body and 10 grams for the arms.
    48 whole cloves, 50 grams each walnuts and raisins, chopped, 100 grams chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Shape your Lazarakia. To make the body, use your hand to flatten the larger piece of dough and shape it into an oval. Add about 1 tsp of filling to the center and then close it, pinching the ends and rolling it a bit to seal the seam. You should end up with an oblong shape. Then, use the 10 grams of dough to make the arms - crisscrossing in the front, and the back. Insert the cloves where the eyes would be.
  • Place your Lazarakia on a parchment lined baking sheet leaving space between them as they will rise during baking. Bake for about 20 - 30 minutes, or until golden.


The dough may be a little sticky; it will be easier to work with when it rests for the 30 minutes.  If it is still too sticky, dust some flour lightly on the cutting board where you will rolling and shaping your buns.


Calories: 180kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.001g | Sodium: 27mg | Potassium: 48mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 0.02mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg

Thanks for sharing!

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