If you close your eyes and think of Italy, I’ll bet you immediately start dreaming about pizza and negronis.
But I start fantasizing about Italian cookie recipes, too!
After all, there’s really nothing better than old-fashioned cookies like grandma used to make, right?
Italy has a rich dessert culture, and these cookies prove that the French aren’t the only pastry kings and queens of Europe.
In fact, between crunchy pizzicati, chewy pignoli, and classic biscotti, you might think twice before making those boring old macarons again.
25 Italian Cookies That Would Make Nonna Proud
Similar to Mexican wedding cookies, these are nutty, buttery, and wonderfully sweet.
You can find these with anise or lemon flavoring, but I think the traditional vanilla cookies are the best.
With that in mind, I recommend using vanilla paste so you can see the lovely black flecks.
It’s clear why these are called ‘pinch’ cookies. As you can see, they’re essentially discs of cookie dough that get pinched together around a filling.
The dough is an enriched shortbread recipe, which means it’s enhanced with eggs for extra richness.
I like these with raspberry jam, but Nutella works wonders, too.
If you liked the idea of the wedding cookies but feel like they could use a makeover, you’re in luck!
Of course, you could use the same recipe mentioned above and just add glaze and sprinkles.
But if you need the cookies to be nut-free, this is the recipe for you.
Biscotti is probably the most recognizable Italian cookie recipe, and I love that you can find it in so many flavors.
You’ll need anise extract for this anise recipe, which, unfortunately, isn’t super easy to find.
So instead, try grinding the seeds, or use your favorite anisette liqueur.
Pizzelles are just as recognizable as biscotti, but they’re not something you’d make every day as a home baker.
These aren’t made that often because you’ll need a pizzelle maker to get that signature shape.
But if you feel like spoiling yourself and buying the machine, I know you’ll make these all the time.
They’re great on their own, or you can even use the dough to make cannoli shells or ice cream cones.
Where we use cream cheese, the Italians will almost always turn to mascarpone or ricotta.
And if you’ve ever made cookies with cream cheese, you’ll know that it makes them super creamy, extra tender, and beyond delicious.
Ricotta will act in the same way; only it won’t be as sweet.
Also known as rugelach or Italian Butterhorn, these little cookies are dangerously tasty.
Unlike real croissants, these won’t need hours to make. Instead, once the dough is ready, you can roll it into a circle and cut slices like a pizza.
The added sour cream in the dough makes these light and very moist.
Amaretti is a type of almond-flavored cookie or biscuit.
Traditionally, they can be eaten on the day of baking while they’re still soft or left to harden over a couple of days.
Or, some are even twice baked to achieve a biscotti-like crunch.
But these lemon and almond cookies are made to be soft and chewy, which is how I like them.
Like Spain, Italy is a huge producer of almonds, which is why you’ll see it in so many of these Italian cookie recipes.
For these ricciarelli cookies, you’ll use almond flour and extract to get a nice punch of flavor, but it’s balanced with a hint of orange to keep it from being overpowering.
I happen to be a massive fan of sesame, and I’ll put the seeds on everything from fish and bread to ice cream and cookies.
It’s lightly sweet, has lovely nuttiness, and I just love how the seeds look when baked on these cookies too!
If you really want to make these babies pop, try adding a teaspoon of black sesame seeds and mixing them with regular ones.
Those little pops of black will look amazing in your next Insta post.
With its unique colors and flavors, I bet this is where those New Yorkers got the idea for the classic rainbow cookie.
Although, I think these are easier to make!
It starts with a simple enriched shortbread dough, which you’ll split into three and flavor. I love pistachio, but pecans are a close second.
It’s unusual to see shortening in European cookies, but it’s a great way to ensure the dough doesn’t spread too much. Plus, it makes the cookie extra tender.
And since this is full of vanilla and almond extract, you won’t miss the butter one bit.
These might look a bit rustic, but they’re a fantastic cookie to make if you want something unique.
After all, how many cookies do you know that have yeast in the dough? Of course, that means you’ll need to plan ahead.
But you could always get the kids involved. I’ll bet they’ll love twisting the strips of dough and dipping them in sugar.
If you like Nutella, you’ll love these chocolate and almond cookies.
I know Nutella uses hazelnuts, so the flavor will be slightly different, but it’s a similar blend of richness and nutty goodness.
Did I mention that these are dairy and gluten-free? That should make them quite the hit at your next cookie exchange!
I know that pine nuts are expensive, but they’re also soft, buttery, and beautifully sweet.
So why not splurge and make these cookies? You won’t be sorry!
Since the cookies are a simple blend of almond paste, sugar, and egg whites, they’re crazy soft and deliciously dense.
But the pine nuts are by far the best part!
Originally from Sicily, these are classic holiday cookies that you’ll see at almost every Christmas gathering in Italy.
Unusually, you won’t make cookie dough for these, but instead a simple shortcrust pastry. Feel free to use store-bought so you can focus on the filling!
That blend of dried figs, candied citrus peel, Marsala wine, nuts, and chocolate is just to die for.
Lemon drop cookies are the perfect balance between sweet, butter, and zesty. The lemon flavor is front and center, but it doesn’t make your lips pucker.
Instead, these absolutely melt in your mouth, and that glaze on top is just the right amount of sweet.
My favorite thing about these has to be the crackle on top. It’s such an easy effect to achieve, but it makes these cookies stand out with little to no effort on your part.
The trick to getting those fractures is to chill the dough thoroughly. That way, as it bakes, the outer shell will break apart as the inside fluffs up.
I don’t know about you, but I make a bunch of thumbprint cookies every year only to wind up getting a whole slew as gifts.
I get it, of course. They’re delicious and super easy to make.
But if you want to wow this year, you’ll have to try these crazy-good coconut cookies.
Have you bought yourself a cookie press yet? They’re seriously impressive and can turn one batch of dough into over a dozen different cookies in minutes.
Since you’ll be pressing these (kind of like piping them), the dough needs to be pretty soft.
However, it does need to be firm enough to hold its shape in the oven.
Luckily, this recipe gets it just right!
Here’s another traditional Italian cookie that you’ll see all over the country come Christmas.
Also known as honey balls, they’re essentially deep-fried sweet dough rolled and fried before taking a bath in a heavenly mix of honey and vanilla.
They’re usually shaped into a wreath, but they’re so delicious, nobody will mind if you skip that step.
If you like warm spices, but anise isn’t your thing, these chocolatey cookies might be what you’re looking for.
With hints of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and orange zest, they’re fragrant and beyond tasty.
These might look similar to the sprinkle cookies above, but there’s a slight difference with this recipe.
Instead of simple cookie dough balls, these are made by rolling the dough into strips and tying them into knots. It adds a fun element that the kids will love.
These are kind of a twist on the classic Italian recipe. In the original version, you need to coat the bottom of the cookie in chocolate, which can get very messy.
Instead, these include chocolate chips right in the dough. That way, you get the same great taste without the sticky fingers.
How fantastic do those bright green pistachios look against that sultry dark chocolate? I’m practically drooling already!
This biscotti recipe is packed with nuts, which is more than enough flavor for the cookie itself.
Although, you could include dried cranberries if you wanted to omit the chocolate.
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