Italian Cookies

4 Min Read

Classic Italian Christmas Cookies

A sister to the anise cookies I shared yesterday, this authentic Italian cookie recipe is a cherished family recipe that was generously given to me by my grandmother’s cousin, Janet (and it feels weird to call her “my grandmother’s cousin”, she’s just been a close family member my whole life).

One of the main differences between yesterday’s recipe (besides the licorice flavor) and this one is the glaze; as Janet said (and was very clear about when sharing this recipe!), “you need a clear glaze for real Italian cookies”. As a result, today’s glaze is not nearly as thick as the icing I shared yesterday.

Italian cookies are more dry than a lot of my cookie recipes, but this it totally normal and to be expected. Classic Italian cookies have something of a biscuity texture, and they’re also not too sweet. The balance is quite nice and a lighter alternative to the rich hot chocolate cookies I shared earlier this week!

What You Need

This ingredient list is about as simple as you can get! We’ll be using basic pantry staples like butter, eggs, milk, flour, etc. Nothing fancy, and nothing complicated!

  • Flour. How much flour you need depends on what you plan to do with your cookie dough. If you plan to just scoop and roll it into balls, 3 cups (375g) will be just fine. If you want to form your dough into fun shapes, you can add more flour (up to 1 additional cup). I talk more about this in the FAQ section below.
  • Eggs. Set your eggs out ahead of time so they can come to room temperature, as they will incorporate much easier this way. If you forget to set yours out, follow my trick for quickly bringing eggs to room temperature.
  • Butter. Janet says she sometimes uses margarine instead of butter, so if you want to do that, feel free. This is a rare recipe where I do use salted butter (to stick with old-fashioned tradition) but you can substitute unsalted, you will need to add more than a pinch of salt to your dough; read my post on salted vs. unsalted butter for the conversion.
  • Milk. We’ll use just a few splashes of milk in the cookies and the glaze. Since it’s such a small amount, any kind will work here (even non-dairy milks).

Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!

How to Make Italian Cookies

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Stir in the eggs until well combined, then add the milk, vanilla, and salt.
  3. Whisk 3 cups of flour and the baking powder together in a separate bowl until combined, then gradually add this to the wet ingredients.
  4. Add additional flour as needed: if you are forming your cookies into balls, your dough is ready. If you plan to shape it, add more flour (up to 1 cup) until the dough is manageable.
  1. Form the dough into your desired shapes and place on parchment lined baking sheets. Give the cookies a little breathing room so they can bake evenly.
  2. Bake for 8 minutes, then let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.
  1. Whisk the powdered sugar and milk together, then brush over the cooled cookies.
  2. Add sprinkles, if desired. Let the glaze set before enjoying.
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