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Two wedges of Italian Easter Meat Pie on decorative towel on cutting board with small dish of prepped meats and cheeses in background.

The Easiest Italian Easter Meat Pie ~ Pizzagaina (Pizza Rustica)

Italian Easter Meat Pie, also known as pizzagaina and pizza rustica, is a hearty, indulgent and decadent savory pie abundant with cured meats, cheeses and eggs in a buttery crust. It’s traditionally enjoyed in Italian households to signify the end of Lent and that Easter has arrived!
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Brunch
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2 (9-inch) pies


  • 1 pound whole milk ricotta cheese at room temperature, drained (See NOTES.)
  • 8 ounces basket cheese, crumbled (or use more ricotta cheese)
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, small diced or pulled into shreds, drained of excess liquid
  • 4 ounces sharp provolone, ¼” dice (about 1 cup diced)
  • 4 ounces genoa salami, ¼” dice (about 1 cup diced)
  • 4 ounces hot soppressata, ¼” dice (about 1 cup diced)
  • 4 ounces mortadella, ¼” dice (about 1 cup diced)
  • 4 ounces pepperoni, ¼” dice (about 1 cup diced)
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, ¼” dice (about 1 cup diced; use the prosciutto end; remove skin & excess fat)
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (optional)
  • 1 9” frozen, deep dish pie crusts or 9¾” frozen, regular-depth pie crusts, at room temperature


  • Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375℉. Prep and gather all ingredients according to specifications above. Put the ricotta in a strainer or fine mesh sieve propped over a bowl and let it drain out excess liquid for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature. (You can line it with cheesecloth if you have it.) Discard the liquid and transfer the strained ricotta to a large bowl and set aside. Drain out any excess liquid form the fresh mozzarella.
    (Please see the section above in the blog post for Step-By-Step instructions with photos.)
  • Combine the ricotta, basket cheese (if including), eggs, black pepper and nutmeg in a large bowl and mix well.
    1 pound whole milk ricotta cheese, 8 ounces basket cheese,, 4 large eggs,, ½ tsp ground black pepper, ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • Then, fold in all of the remaining meats and cheeses and stir until well-combined.
    8 ounces fresh mozzarella,, 4 ounces sharp provolone,, 4 ounces genoa salami,, 4 ounces hot soppressata,, 4 ounces mortadella,, 4 ounces pepperoni,, 4 ounces prosciutto,, ¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Carefully transfer the meat and cheese mixture to the 2 crusts, dividing it equally and flattening and smoothing the top with a spatula.
    1 9” frozen, deep dish pie crusts
  • Place the filled crusts on the middle rack of a 375℉ preheated oven and set the timer for 40 minutes.
  • After 40 minutes, the pies should be done. They should still have a very slight jiggle to them, which will set once cooled, and golden-brown crusts. (If the crusts are getting too brown during the baking process, reduce the oven temperature to 325℉ and cook it a bit longer.)
  • Remove the pies from the oven and (assuming you are not serving them immediately) cool them at room temperature for about 2 hours. Then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator.
  • Enjoy pizza chiena at room temperature, chilled or warmed up–as you please! It is traditionally served on Easter morning or as an appetizer for Easter brunch. Buon Appetito!


      • You have a lot of flexibility here to use as many different types as you want and in whatever proportions you want. Also, there are lots of different kinds of meats that you can use. I included the specific mix above that I used, but feel free to switch it up. Other great options are: sweet soppressata, ham (prosciutto cotto), cooked Italian sausage or even turkey breast, and capicola, among others.
      • Ask for a 1 to 2 prosciutto ends from your market if you plan on using prosciutto. It’s much cheaper! Be sure to cut off all skin and tough, sinewy pieces of fat.
      • As far as cheeses, ricotta is necessary for this recipe but the others can be switched out. Use more ricotta cheese if you cannot find basket cheese. Shredded mozzarella can be used in place of fresh and mild provolone can be used in place of sharp. Smoked mozzarella, scamorza, caciocavallo and fontina are all also great options, among other cheeses. Grated pecorino romano is an optional cheese and can either be included in the filling or sprinkled on top (or a little of both).
      • Regardless of what types of meats and cheese you select, just be sure to use the total amount as indicated in the recipe.
  • You can strain the ricotta one night ahead and allow the ricotta to drain overnight in the refrigerator. But, be sure to bring the ricotta to room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before using.
  • Take the pie crusts out of the freezer before you start prepping and let the come to room temperature as you prepare the recipe.
  • Although I have never had a problem with the pizza rustica overflowing in the oven, I like to bake the pie on a rack over a sheet pan as a precaution. But, you don't have to do this.
  • Be sure to cool the Italian Easter meat pie before slicing it. Cooling time allows the ricotta cheese to set so that it can be sliced without falling apart.
  • You can make pizza rustica up to 4 days before serving and hold it in the refrigerator covered tightly with plastic wrap. You can also freeze for up to 3 months!  To freeze it, wrap the chilled pie tightly in plastic wrap then a layer of foil and/or place it in a freezer bag. You can also wrap and freeze individual slices. Thaw in the refrigerator before serving.
  • If you’d like to serve pizza rustica warm and need to heat it up, just cover it in foil and place it in a 300°F oven until heated through. You can also reheat it in the microwave.
Recipe by Mangia With Michele. Please visit my site for more great cooking inspiration!
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