These Italian Cookies are mild, tender, and delicious almond flavored cookies, coated with icing, and are easily customized to suit any occasion or holiday!
Affectionately referred to as Italian Cookies, Italian Sugar Cookies, Italian Wedding Cookies, and Anise Cookies, but no matter what you call them, they are a classic and always delicious!
What are Italian Cookies
Unlike sugar cookies that need to be rolled out and shaped with cookie cutters (which I also love!), these Italian Cookies are simply shaped into balls with a cookie scoop and dropped onto a baking sheet. The cookie dough is only mildly sweet, so the sweet icing provides great balance. They turn out pillowy-soft and practically melt in your mouth!
Tips for making Italian Cookies
- When scooping the dough, use a cookie dough scoop to make sure cookies are all the same size. This ensures they all bake at the same rate.
- Make sure the balls of dough are completely smooth to reduce the amount of cracking during baking.
- The cookies should be completely cooled before icing, otherwise the icing will just drip off.
- Add sprinkles/nonpareils while the icing is still wet or they won’t stick.
These cookies are traditionally flavored with anise and sprinkled with nonpareils, but my family doesn’t like either, so I add almond extract to the dough and just ice them. But there are many ways you can change up these cookies.
- Use anise, almond, vanilla, lemon, or orange flavored extract.
- Flavor the dough with vanilla extract and the icing with peppermint extract.
- Mix in 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips to the dough.
- Top the icing with nonpareils or sprinkles.
- Change the color of the food dye to suit your occasion.
How To Store Italian Cookies
The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
They can be frozen (without the glaze) in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Thaw completely and add the glaze the day you serve them.
The raw cookie dough can be frozen in balls for up to 2 months. Just thaw them overnight in a refrigerator and bake them as stated in this recipe.
These cookies are so easy to make, delicious, and incredibly pretty displayed on a plate!
Other Cookies we love!
How To Make Italian Cookies
For the Cookie Dough
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup shortening
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
For the Icing
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- food coloring
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in eggs and almond extract. Gradually add in the flour mixture until combined.
- Using a cookie scoop, shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Place cookie sheets at least 1-inch apart (do not flatten.)
- Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
- For the Icing: in a small bowl, combine the milk, butter, vanilla and powdered sugar until smooth (add more powdered sugar if it's too thin or more milk if it's too thick.)
- Dip the tops of cookies in the icing; allow excess to drip off. Place back on the parchment paper; let stand until completely set and enjoy!
- I've seen these cookies made with oil, butter, or shortening. I make my pie crust with shortening, so that's what I choose to use in these cookies. It results in a very tender crumb. I have not tested these cookies with oil or butter.
- Finished cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. They can be frozen (without the glaze) in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Thaw completely and add the glaze the day you serve them. The raw cookie dough can be frozen in balls for up to 2 months. Just thaw them overnight in a refrigerator and bake them as stated in this recipe.