17 Italian Cookies You Can Make Without a Nonna to Teach You How

For your breakfast treats, coffee treats, lunch treats, coffee treats, aperitivo treats...

April 27, 2021

I’m not Italian, and I'm still waiting to go to Italy. I can’t share my favorite Italian wine bar to tuck away in or make you feel like you’re standing in an Italian market. I wouldn’t know the first thing about navigating the country and I don’t know how to cook a steak half as good as the ones that are served in Florence. But one thing I do know is cookies—and Italy has some of the finest.

Unfussy, traditional, and always just the right amount of sweet, Italian cookies of any sort never fail to to end a meal (or start a day) on the perfect note. Make these 17 Italian cookie recipes to dunk into your coffee—you don't even need to travel to Italy to learn how.

1. Tozzetti Ebraici

These tender, cinnamon-hazelnut biscotti will perfume your home magnificently and give you the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon cappuccino. Win, win.

2. Italian Rainbow Cookies

These tri-colored beauties have a rich, almond flavor cut with the tart brightness of raspberry. Covered in a thin sheet of bitter dark chocolate, they're perfectly balanced all around. No wonder they're a holiday favorite in Italy and beyond.

3. Meyer Lemon Pizzelle

Already featherlight pizzelle—delicate, lacy vanilla wafer cookies—are lightened and brightened with a hint of Meyer lemon in this recipe. They'd make a great starting point for an ice cream sandwich, or slathered with lemon curd.

4. Homemade Milano Cookies

While not strictly traditional, these fan-favorite cookies emulate a good number of chocolate-sandwich cookies in Italy. Extras keep really well in the freezer, so you can make a big batch and enjoy them all holiday long.

5. Fave dei Morti

Though these light, French maracon-style almond cookies have many variations, one thing remains the same: they're dang delicious, each and every one. In this particular recipe, rum and cinnamon add personality to the dough (which can be easily made gluten-free, by replacing the all-purpose flour with additional almond meal).

6. Orange-Pistachio Biscotti

Nutty, crunchy, chocolate-y, and with serious staying power (literally—they last for weeks!), these biscotti are perfect to have on hand all holiday long, when friends and loved ones tend to drop in by surprise.

7. Biscotti di Vino

Biscotti, but make it wine-flavored. This one's circular-shaped (kind of like Southern Italian taralli) and great with cheese and fruit.

8. Polenta Cookies

Traditionally from Piedmont, these buttery, lightly sweet cookies have a hint of nuttiness from polenta. They're equally good dunked in zabaglione as they are with coffee or tea.

9. Torrone Sardo

Thick, chewy, sweet, and rich, a little goes a long way with this pistachio nougat. But a lot also goes a long way.

11. Chewy Chocolate Meringues

These chocolate meringues are ethereally light and just a touch chewy. They're also ultra-simple, made with just three ingredients. Do yourself a favor and make a double batch.

12. Baci di Dama

Chocolate and hazelnuts are an age-old pairing. In this melt-in-your-mouth kisses (that's what "baci" means, don't you know!), they come together in a classic, but exceptional way.

13. Struffoli

While these cookies are typically enjoyed during the holiday season, there's no reason why you can't make them year-round. They're deep-fried and soaked in a fragrant honey-vanilla syrup, rendering them golden-brown, super-sticky, and utterly perfect.

14. Almond Biscotti

A family classic—and a keeper of a recipe—for good reason; our co-founder Amanda Hesser almost built a business around baking and selling these beauties (we're thankful she didn't!).

15. Esse Cookies

Named for their charming shape, these cookies hail from Venice and are typically baked around Easter-time. With the lightest touch of vanilla and citrus, they are dunkable in just about every warm morning beverage you can think of.

16. Befanini

Delightfully soft and chewy with a hint of rum, to boot, these Tuscan wonders are reason enough to break out your sprinkle collection.

17. Pastine di Pistacchi

These crumbly, chocolatey bites have an astonishingly short ingredient list, and because they use nuts and egg whites to give them structure (instead of flour), they're naturally gluten-free, too.

What's your favorite Italian cookie? Give us your bakery order in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • ozbaker
  • Kentley
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    Alyce Birchenough
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Sarah E Daniels

Written by: Sarah E Daniels

It's mostly a matter of yeast.


ozbaker July 21, 2021
Ricciarelli: Tuscan almond cookies.
Kentley May 2, 2021
Number 10 is missing!
Alyce B. August 14, 2020
Cucidati (Italian fig cookies) and Biscotti Regina (Italian sesame seed cookies) are both staples in New Orleans Italian American bakeries.
Psadie April 7, 2016
I love the Italian pignoli cookies. Love all of those nuts on the outside of the cookie.