Best 22 Italian Christmas Cookies
If you love baking and you want a special treat, something different for this Christmas, how about a trip to Italy? These traditional Italian Christmas cookies will be a refreshing addition to your baking repertoire, and a delight for your guests.
However, don’t expect them to carry over the slimming benefits of the famed Mediterranean diet. These sweet treats are so addictive you might just gain a pound or two. It will be tough, cookie!
How to make Italian Christmas cookies? Master the recipe for pasta frolla!
If you’re wondering what you need for your own batch of Italian Christmas cookies, well, the answer is pasta frolla. It is what makes Italian homes smell like Buon Natale, and no home goes without it at this time of year.
Pasta frolla is a short-crust pastry dough made from flour, sugar, butter, eggs, baking powder, salt, and extra flavorings. It’s crumbly, yet soft, compact yet light, forming the base of the majority of Italian biscuits and cookies. To explore these sweet delights, let’s get scrolling, and as Italians say, mangia mangia!
Italians do like to party and prolong their fun, especially with la famiglia. That’s why on the 6th of January, after Santa Claus and New Year, and all the gift-giving, it’s time for la Befana. La Befana is a female Santa Claus-like character that leaves sweets and presents for the kids if they’ve been good, ans when it comes to good, Befanini are some of the best Italian Christmas cookies to munch on.
2. Iced Butter Cookies
Check out these cuties! The basic Italian butter cookies are, of course, made from pasta frolla. But, there’s more to them that that. Crunchy outside, and all so soft and moist on the inside, these festive treats are not overly sweet, icing notwithstanding.
The great thing about them: they are so balanced, you can eat them as breakfast, with your espresso, or you can dip them in some prosecco at lunch, or some wine at dinner. It’s quite the drinking game, but what better is there to do during the holidays?!
Next we head to Lecce province, to sunny Apulia, the perfect town to to dive into Baroque culture, and also to fill yourself with these delicious custard-filled sweets. While they are not the typical Christmas Italian cookies, they would be a great addition to your festive table.
These mini cakes are eaten throughout the year (and all day long in Apulia). They have a yummy lemon and vanilla custard cream center. However, they can just as easily be filled with fruit, chocolate, and even minced meat.
4. Anise Cookies
Just like the gingerbread men, anisette -aka anise cookies- are a staple in Italian Christmas cuisine. Making one batch of these anise-infused balls of joy will leave the guests asking for more. So make sure to prepare extra! Especially if you like that licorice aroma that anise brings.
5. Chocolate Mostaccioli
When is it cookie time in Italy? Well, any time. Cookies are fair game for breakfast, merenda (afternoon snacks), and desserts. And chocolate mostaccioli should definitely be part of your day-to-day treat-yourself plan during the holidays. They are almond-based, lending them a nutty, earthy flavor. Dense and rich, and dunked in chocolate, these choco-coated cookies are a must on your traditional Italian Christmas platter.
6. Cucidati (Fig Cookies)
You can’t sing Merry Christmas without “figgy pudding”, and in Italy there’s no Christmas without fig cookies! With a soft, fruity, decadent, fruit filling and a buttery flavor, these tasty bites will not go unnoticed.
Originally from Sicily, cucidati bring together all the traditional ingredients of the region: figs and grapes from Greece, and almonds and sugar from Arabic cuisine. They have a quite a history; supposedly they were first made in the 9th century. From the past to the present, Italians have combined cucidati with coffee, tea, a glass of milk, or something stronger: a glass of Sicily’s finest Marsala wine, perhaps even a brandy. Pretty versatile!
7. Lemon Tarallucci
Tarrallucci, along with mostaccioli and amaretti, are a staple in the Italian holiday menu, and could be a contender for best Christmas Cookie! They are also known as lemon drop cookies, knot cookies (for their knot-like shape), or anginetti. Also traditional at weddings, their white, light glaze bursts with citrus flavor. Don’t miss out.
8. Soft Amaretti Cookies
Since we brought them up, amaretti are classic Italian desserts for Christmas. Is there anything more Christmassy than a mouthful of marzipan? Soft amaretti cookies have a mildly crispy exterior and a soft, chewy, rich middle. And might we add, they are extremely addictive!
Babo Natale (Santa Claus) likes to stuff his face with struffoli, at least in the Neapolitan region, where these Christmas sweets are appreciated. Struffoli might just be your next Instagrammable breakfast, instead of milk and cereal. They are small balls of sweet dough, fried, and dipped in honey, decorated with candied fruit and candy. We’re pretty sure Santa takes a break from the Mediterranean diet when he finds these on the table!
An Italian classic, pignoli are a hit for nut lovers all over the world! They are almond-flavored but are covered in pine nuts. The contrast of the crunchy exterior and the soft, moist interior is certainly special, and mmm… those toasty, sweet, rich baked pine nuts will keep you coming back for more. While they are not necessarily a Christmas treat, the marzipan-like flavor makes them a great addition to your festive assortment.
11. Florentine Cookies
‘Tis the season to be jolly! And to gain a couple of pounds just from eating cookies, such is life around the holidays. Florentine cookies are packed with crunchy almonds, along with some orange zest for that zing, and the richness of butter. If that’s not enough, they can be covered in melted chocolate as well. Arrivederci, six-pack, and hello muffin top! Oh well. If Julia Roberts can pull it off and still find love in Eat, Pray, Love, who are we to turn these down?
12. Ricotta cheese / Pistachio Cookies
Your festive gathering will certainly benefit from these rich ricotta and pistachio mouthfuls. They are not your traditional Christmas cookie, but they look just perfect for the occasion: white snowy glaze, with greenish pistachio that will remind you of the Christmas tree.
Buttery, creamy, rich, unctuous, all pastel and pretty, elegant and decadent, filled with pistachio, you cannot get enough of their love. Yes, they don’t judge. They simply love you!
13. Chiacchiere di Carnevale
These fried puff pastries sprinkled with powdered sugar are not a classic for the winter holidays, but they can be some of the best Italian Christmas cookies if you give them a chance. They pack quite the crunch but they melt in your mouth, and despite being fried, they are light as a cloud and not greasy at all. Chiacchiere could be translated as “chatter”, but with these around, nobody will have the time to talk, they’ll all have theirs mouths full!
14. Cannoli Cookies with Chocolate
Madonn’! Can you imagine the classic cannoli turned into a cookie just for the love of Christmas? Well, here they are! They might not be a staple in the winter festivities, but their blend of almond, amaretto, and citrus flavor is just perfect for a holiday cheer, with a recipe that packs in tons of chocolate chips. It’s Christmas, alright!
15. Ricciarelli (Almond Cookies)
Next, onto some really awesome almond goodies. Ricciarelli are from Siena and they resemble amaretti, in that they have a similar flavor profile and chewy, fluffy, airy consistency with a crunchy texture on the exterior. You’ll love them with a milky, frothy cappuccio or a cup of tea.
16. Taralli al Vino
While we think wine does its best as it is, in a glass, these cookies changed our minds. These bite-sized cookies can While we there’s no doubt that wine does a great job in a glass, Taralli al Vino prove that there are some other great uses.
This recipe, which uses either red or white wine, is so easy that you can make it even after downing a couple of glasses of the stuff. Working equally well as a savory snack, they go great with a glass of… mulled wine! For a classic taralli recipe check here.
17. Pizzelle Cookies
Another easy-to-make cookie, pizelle effortlessly become the favorite Christmas treat of many, because they look just like snowflakes. You can serve them simple, powdered with sugar, or you can roll them into cones and fill them with fruit, marshmallows, cream, custard, ice cream, chocolate drizzle, and who knows what else?! They take toppings with ease because they are basically tiny, thin waffles in disguise.
The donuts you didn’t know you needed! These Italian delights are so fluffy and light that you’re in danger of packing away loads of them without realizing. Made from choux dough, and somewhere between donuts, dumplings, cream puffs, and eclairs, zeppole give you the feeling you’re biting on a cloud. Cloud number 9, that is! No, they are not dedicated to Christmas only, but they will make the holidays better, that’s for sure.
Now, if you’re looking for a classic Italian Christmas cookie recipe, this is not it. But if you’re looking something sweet and delicious to rival the classics, you’ve found it! These crunchy yet soft and buttery cookies, with their pinched pastry wrappings, could even become your favorite since they are so easy to prepare. Filled with fruit preserve or Nutella, pizzicati are the ideal snack or dessert on a lazy winter afternoon.
Light, simple, cute, and delish! Canestrelli are some of the best Italy has to offer. Originally from Liguria, they used to be made to give as gifts on special, festive occasions. Flavor-wise, they are buttery and lemony. And the texture? You wouldn’t guess it, but it comes from boiled eggs! Though boiled eggs in a cookie sounds like a problem, the real problem in fact is trying to stop yourself from nibbling on another canestrello.
21. Tiramisu Cookies
What is a traditional Italian Christmas dinner? Antipasti with meats and cheeses, pasta al forno, plenty of toasted, baked meats, and the classic panettone. While we did not include panettone in the cookie tour for 2021, we did add another symbol of Italian cake: tiramisu. These tiramisu sandwich cookies will make everyone happy!
22. Cantucci al Cioccolato (Triple Chocolate Biscotti)
Made with cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and dipped in rich, melted chocolate, these biscotti are the very definition of decadence. They go great with your hot chocolate after a rich, festive meal. One for the ages!
Don’t feel like baking? Buy these delicious Italian Christmas cookies from Amazon
If you’re not planning to spend your days in the kitchen, we have some amazing click-and-order options for you as well.
- This Italian fine pastry cookie assortment from Verona will have everyone mesmerized. What to expect? Fluffy, delicious puff pastries with hazelnut, chocolate, raspberry, cocoa, and cashews, and almond fillings. Yum!
- Something scrumptious? This holiday assortment of cookies is ideal for sweet-toothed foodies who don’t like to bake. Packing seven flavors of cookies, everyone will be satisfied!
- Do you remember those Italian anise cookies we kept talking about? Well, here they are, in a box just for you. They are made to order, they are fresh, and they are delish! You can practise dolce far niente (the joy of doing nothing) and still eat your Italian dolce!
So there you have it. Some amazing ideas for the baking aficionados, and some zero-work alternatives for those of you who feel like taking a break from the kitchen. These are the best Italian Christmas cookies we could think of. Are there any we might have missed?
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