Pan de Muertos Recipe

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This bread has a sweet flavor and is used on the altars of deceased loved ones during “Day of the Dead” festivities.  You will also make the bone-like shapes that decorate the top of the loaf and place them before baking.

While fresh Pan de Muerto is always soft and delicious, you can also get pre-made Pan de Muerto made by the Mexican bakery  at El Burrito Mercado.

Prep Time: 3 hours

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 40 minutes


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 packets dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons whole anise seed
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • Glaze (see below)


Bring all ingredients to room temperature (except for the water which should be very warm) before beginning.
  • In a large bowl, mix together butter, sugar, anise, salt and 1/2 cup of the flour.
  • In a seperate bowl combine the eggs and the water.
  • Add the egg/water mixture to the first mixture and add in another 1/2 cup of the flour.
  • Add in the yeast and another 1/2 cup of flour.
  • Continue to add the flour 1 cup at a time until a dough forms.
  • Knead on a floured surface for about 1 minute.
  • Cover with a slightly damp dishcloth and let rise in a warm area for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  • Bring out dough and punch it down.
  • Remove about 1/4 of it and use it to make bone shapes to drape across the loaf (see below.)
  • Or divide the dough into smaller pieces to create other bone shapes. Let the shaped dough rise for 1 more hour.
  • Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes for smaller loaves and up to 45 minutes for larger loaves.

GLAZES(After glaze is applied you may decorate with additional colored sugar.)

  • Bring to a boil- 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup fresh orange juice. Brush on bread and then sift some additional sugar over the top.
  • Mix 3 tablespoons orange juice concentrate and 1/3 cup sugar with 2 egg whites. Brush on bread during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
  • Bring to a boil- 1/4 cup piloncillo, 1/4 cup sugar, 2/3 cup cranberry juice and 2 tablespoons orange zest. Brush on bread after bread has cooled.

BONES The most common bone decorations are very simple.

  • Sometimes it’s just a matter of forming ball shapes and pressing them into the loaf in a line.
  • You could also take a piece of dough, roll it into a long cylinder and place a ball at each end.
  • You can get much more detailed if you like, but even a little “knobby” looking loaf will get the idea across.

Recipe by Chelsea Kenyon

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One thought on “Pan de Muertos Recipe

    […] of the dead). The bread is baked, glazed and decorated with colored sugar or sesame. Make your own Pan de Muerto recipe here or buy it already prepared at El Burrito Mercado, or you can call and order your own […]

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