Make this holiday season a little sweeter by making Italian Christmas cookies. There are many cookie options to bake while in the company of others or just to enjoy yourself.
Some of these cookies can be easy and quick to make, which is helpful if you consider yourself not to be the most-skilled baker. There is something for everyone, whether it’s baking the cookies yourself or eating them.
What are Italian Christmas Cookies?
The word biscotto is used to refer to all kinds of biscuits and cookies. Types of traditional Italian cookies include cuccidati, pignoli, pizzelle cookies, and more.
Some Italian Christmas cookies can be more complicated to bake. But there are cookies you can make at home with as few as three ingredients. Most often, Italian cookies are made with flour, egg, sugar, and a type of shortening.
15 Italian Christmas Cookies
1. Italian Anisette Cookies
Anisette cookies are a great option for your Christmas cookie platter. These cookies have a distinctly sweet flavor. A Family Feast offers its Italian Anisette cookie that you can make this holiday season.
2. Brutte e Buoni
Made of meringue and chopped hazelnuts, Brutte e Buoni cookies are simple and quick to make. Inside the Rustic Kitchen shares a recipe on how to make these crispy and crunchy cookie clusters.
3. Italian Pine Nut Cookies
Crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, Italian pine nut cookies are easy to bake. The Petite Cook provides a five-ingredient recipe that you can try.
4. Italian Waffle Cookies
Known in Italy as pizzelles, these are light and crispy waffle cookies that pair well with vanilla ice cream. While there are many different variations of this kind of cookie, The Unsophisticated Cook shares its pizzelle recipe.
5. Italian Fig Cookies
Italian Fig Cookies, or Cucidati, are filled with any kind of fruit inside a sugar cookie dough. Saving Room for Dessert provides the recipe for these Italian Fig Cookies with its guide to the dough, the fig filling, and the glaze.
6. Tiramisu Sandwich Cookies
These bite-sized tiramisu sandwich cookies can be an addition to your Christmas cookie tray. Lemons for Lulu provides their spin on the traditional Italian dessert.
7. Italian Snowball Cookies
Covered in powdered sugar, these Italian snowball cookies are filled with nuts providing a nice crunch. Taken from the family cookbook, An Italian Dish gives its recipe to make these round, powdery, and crunchy cookies.
8. Italian Ricotta Cookies
Clad with red and green sprinkles, Italian ricotta cookies are a holiday classic. Cooking Classy shares its recipe on how to make these soft and cake-like cookies
9. Cinnamon Twirl Cookies
These cinnamon twirl cookies will leave your home smelling like cinnamon this holiday season. Taste of Home tells you how you can make these cinnamon twirl cookies.
10. Neapolitan Holiday Cookies
Made up of red, green, and white layers, these Neapolitan holiday cookies are inspired by the flavors of Neapolitan ice cream. The Food Network provides its recipe for making these holiday cookies.
11. Cornmeal Biscotti with Cranberries and Pistachio
Dipped in chocolate, biscotti is an Italian classic. Made with cranberries and pistachios, Delish shares its recipe for its cornmeal biscotti with cranberries and pistachios cookies.
12. Lemon Thyme Coin Cookies
Lemon thyme coin cookies take the shape of small coins that are infused with a subtle sweetness. Better Homes & Gardens provides its 47-minute recipe on how to make these coin-shaped cookies.
13. Italian Butter Cookies
Made with just a few ingredients, the Italian butter cookies are easy to make this holiday season. These Italian butter cookies are filled with jam and can be dipped into chocolate. Bake du Jour provides its recipe for you to enjoy.
14. Almond Ricotta Cookies
Almond ricotta cookies are an option for your Christmas cookie tray. Rossella’s Cooking with Nonna shares its recipe and instructions so that you can make them for friends and family this Christmas.
15. Christmas Pinwheel Cookies
Christmas pinwheel cookies are simple to make. They can easily be identified by the red swirl seen on the outside of the cookie. Delish provides its recipe for making these tasty cookies.
How to make Italian Christmas Cookies
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon almond extract
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, additional flour for dusting
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk
- ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- Red and green sprinkles, for decorating
Step 1. Mix the ingredients
Using a stand mixer, beat the sugar, vanilla, and almond extracts until the texture is smooth and fluffy. Next, add the eggs and mix until the ingredients are combined.
Using the low setting, slowly add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat until all ingredients are combined.
Step 2. Wrap the dough
Take the dough out of the mixer bowl and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for 1 to 4 hours.
Step 3. Preheat oven
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Step 4. Shape the dough
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and shape the dough into 36 1-inch balls. Lightly dust each ball with flour. When finished, place each ball onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place each cookie an inch apart.
Step 5. Baking
Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes. Take the cookies out when you see they are light brown at the bottom. Once taken out of the oven, let the cookies cool for 30 minutes.
Step 1. Mix the ingredients
In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract.
Step 2. Glaze each cookie
Dip the cookies into the glaze and sprinkle with the red and green sprinkles. For 30 minutes, let the glaze harden before eating.
Italian Christmas Cookie Baking Tips
When starting from scratch, read the instructions thoroughly. Make sure you’re prepared for what you need to do. Most importantly, ensure that you have all the ingredients needed.
Use room temperature ingredients
Room-temperature ingredients, such as room-temperature eggs or butter, help the batter and dough blend together. In addition, having ingredients at room temperature helps create a proper structure.
For dry ingredients, once the ingredient is in a measuring cup, “sweep” the top with a straight edge. Always measure liquid ingredients in a clear measuring cup. A scale is also a good investment to measure ingredients.
Be careful with substituting ingredients
Using a different kind of flour or sugar than what might be stated can affect the final product.
Do not over mix
You should stir only until the batter is uniform. If the recipe requires flour, you do not want to activate the gluten since this can create a chewy or tough you might not want.
Chill your cookie dough
Once the cookie dough is mixed, leave the dough in the fridge overnight. The cookies are more likely to hold together once the cookies are baking in the oven.
Consider high altitude
If you live in an area at a high altitude, the higher elevation can affect the baking process. You might need to change the baking time, oven temperature, and ingredient measurements.
Why do Italian cookies taste different?
Italian Christmas cookies taste different because different ingredients might be used. Beyond the taste of cookies, Italians don’t enjoy cookies being as chewy as Americans might like them to be. Italians have many cookie options that aren’t as well known to Americans. Their cookies are often more cakey and will pair well with coffee.
For example, amaretti cookies use a blend of sweet and bitter almonds. This differs from American cookies as American versions tend to use sweet nuts instead.
Do Italians have cookies for breakfast?
Yes, it is normal for Italians to have cookies for breakfast. In Italy, breakfast can look a bit different from the typical American breakfast consisting of eggs, bacon, pancakes, waffles, etc.. Italian breakfasts tend to consist of small pastries. Biscotti, for example, is one of the most popular breakfast foods for Italians. Biscotti is a kind of biscuit and cookie that can be enjoyed early in the morning.
Some cookies you might see on the Italian breakfast table include Mulino Bianco baiocchi biscuits or Mulino Bianco cuoricini biscuits.
How long do Italian cookies stay fresh?
If left at room temperature and stored correctly, most homemade Italian cookies can last for up to a week. You want to make sure to use an airtight container. If stored in a refrigerator, cookies can retain their quality for two to three weeks. Deciding to store cookies in the freezer, the quality of the cookies can be retained for eight to twelve months, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Some cookies do require special storage or can’t be stored for a longer period of time. For example, cookies like shortbread or biscotti can last for a longer period of time, whereas pizzelle or rainbow cookies should be eaten in a short period of time since they don’t have as long of a shelf life.