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Italian Christmas Cookies

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Italian Christmas Cookies are a delicious cake-like cookie with a hint of anise and sweet sugar glaze. This easy cookie recipe is great to serve any time of the year. 
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I can’t really explain why I love these Italian Christmas Cookies so much, I just do. There is something about the cake-like texture with a hint of anise and the sweet sugar glaze that makes me want to eat the whole batch.

The struggle is real, my friends. While these cookies are popular in many Italian households, they were not part of mine. My mom never made them.

I remember taking that first delicious bite of one of these Italian Christmas Cookies when I was visiting my aunt many, many years ago. My aunt’s neighbor brought us over a whole dish of these beauties.

That’s when I fell in love. And if you are looking for another classic Italian cookie, check out my Italian Almond Cookies recipe.

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Italian Christmas Cookies are a delicious cake-like cookie with a hint of anise and sweet sugar glaze.

What Ingredients Do I Need To Make Italian Cookies?

No fancy ingredients are needed to make this Italian Cookie recipe. Ingredients are pretty straightforward.


Powdered sugar



Baking powder

All-Purpose flour


Pure Vanilla Extract

Anise extract

Extra powder sugar

How Do I Make Italian Christmas Cookies?

Tip 1:

I have seen these cookies in many different shapes – knots, S shapes, twists and balls. You can make them in any shape you desire. They are very easy to make. I like to roll mine into small balls.

Italian Christmas Cookies

Tip 2:

I have tried to make knot shapes but I have determined that I am not a good knot shape maker. So, I take easy road by rolling them into balls and pressing them down slightly with the bottom of a glass.

Italian Christmas Cookies are a delicious cake-like cookie with a hint of anise and sweet sugar glaze.

Tip 3:

Once the cookies are baked and cooled, dip them in a sweet sugar glaze. Don’t forget to add the colorful sprinkles. They are just as important as the glaze. They are such a vibrant color to these gems too.

How To Store Italian Christmas Cookies

I like to store these cookies at room temperature in an airtight container. They can be frozen, but sometimes the color on the sprinkles runs when thawed. You can always freeze unglazed. Prior to serving, just dip in glaze and then garnish with sprinkles.

How Long Will Italian Christmas Cookies Keep?

They will keep up to three months in the freezer and about seven days in a food storage container on your counter.

Kitchen Baking Essentials: Tools To Bake Cookies:

Stand Mixer

Cookie Sheet

Parchment or Silpat

Cookie Scoop

Wire Cooling Rack

Mixing Bowls

I love the cakey (is that even a word?) texture of these cookies. They have the slightest hint of anise flavor which is not too overpowering. If you are not a fan of anise flavoring, then try using almond flavoring instead. They are equally delicious!

I can’t believe Christmas is almost here. How are you coming with all of your holiday preparations? Enjoy the season….and these Italian Christmas Cookies too!

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Italian Christmas Cookies are a delicious cake-like cookie with a hint of anise and sweet sugar glaze. This easy cookie recipe is great to serve any time of the year.  #christmascookie #cookierecipe #italianchristmascookies #holidaybaking
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italian christmas cookies easter cookies
Yield: 36 Cookies

Italian Christmas Cookies

Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Italian Christmas Cookies are a delicious cake-like cookie with a hint of anise and sweet sugar glaze.


  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise extract
  • Extra powder sugar

  • Glaze
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Nonpareil Sprinkles


  1. n a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars until creamy.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time. Then add the vanilla and anise flavoring.
  4. Slowly mix in the flour mixture. Do not overbeat.
  5. Refrigerate dough for one hour.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Dip the bottom of a small glass into some powdered sugar and press each ball down slightly.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  9. Remove and cool completely.
  10. To make the glaze:
  11. Sift two cups of powdered sugar in a bowl. Whisk in milk and vanilla.
  12. Dip top of each cookie in the glaze. Garnish with some nonpareil sprinkles.
  13. Allow glaze to dry before freezing.

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. I made them today nd can’t stop eating them. I want to give some to mother in law. Need to know if they can last a week.

  2. This recipe is amazing! My husband who is from Boston says they’re just like the ones his grandma used to make. Thanks!!

  3. We had a Italian Family that lived next door to us when I was a child. The mother would trade cookies that came down through the German /Irish/Austrian-Hungarian ancestors in our family and of course the Betty Crocker cookbook mom had. But she never put anise in the cookies. Just the vanilla. I think either she or one of her children couldn’t have the anise so she just substituted more Vanilla in the cookies. She also made them with a little Lemon, lime or Orange flavoring over the years. Her cookies were so good.

  4. Delicious cookies! Thanks for the great recipe. I noticed some of mine came out slightly underdone in the middle. Should I bake them for 12 minutes instead of 10? Or did I eat them too quickly and not allow them to cool completely 😉

  5. Hello. These are my favorite cookies. The problem I always have is the sprinkles bleeding into the glaze. They look so beautiful at first, but within an hour they are messy looking. Any tips?

  6. I’ve been making these cookies of yours for several years now. We all love them! I grew up in a very Italian neighborhood in Rhode Island, when I was 15, my family and I moved to Italy and stayed there for about 51/2 years, I can not express enough how good these cookies are! I actually chose to try these after doing an image search. These looked exactly how I know them to look, and I suspected would taste just the way I remembered. The result…PERFECT. It really is the only way to describe them.
    I follow the recipe as it is written, and the result takes me right back to those years that now seem a lifetime ago.
    Thank you for the recipe,

  7. My family is getting together for Christmas with Italian dishes. So I’m busy trying out different menu ideas along with desserts. These Italian Christmas Cookies are melt-in-your-mouth goodness! These have become my favorite cookie. Easy to make. The anise really has a very nice subtle taste. Great for Christmas cookie box gift-giving. (If you have the fortitude to part with them!)

  8. AMAZING! I wish I could share a picture of how they turned out because they just as beautiful as they were delicious. Soft and cakey, lovely flavor not too sweet, and perfecly impressive and pretty for gifting with red & green Christmas sprinkles. Thank you!

  9. The recipe says to let the glaze set before freezing. Are these cookies supposed to be eaten frozen?

  10. Do you need to refrigerate for an hour? What would happen to them if I don’t refrigerate or just refrigerate for like 15 min?

  11. Have you refrigerated longer than one hour? I want to make them, but may have to make the dough at night and refrigerate until morning. Have you had any experience with this and do you think it will have a negative affect on the cookies? Thank you! This sounds like my favorite cookie. I have been searching for the right recipe for a couple of years now, many batches from recipes that just were not quite right. I had finally given up hope of finding the actual recipe and was learning about the science of baking cookies in hope that I could somehow replicate my favorite cookies which are lemon snowballs from Bova’s Bakery in Boston. I now live far away. All the snowballs recipes were not what I got at Bova’s. They are too shortbread like. Your recipe has given me hope. Fingers crossed!

  12. Can anise liquor be used in lieu of the anise flavoring. If so, how much should one use? Thanks! I have anise liquer to use up!

  13. I have a really silly question. It says to glaze before eating. I want to make these and give them to family/friends. Can I do that? Will they not last as long if I did? Thanks!

  14. I made these this year for Christmas and they’re so good! I live at 7,000 ft, and was worried about using the full amount of baking powder at this altitude, but I made it as directed and they turned out great.

    1. Do you use your hands to roll the dough into balls? Mine was so sticky. It kept sticking to my hands and fingers when I tried make the balls, and I wasn’t sure if I should put flour on my hands (to prevent them sticking) or not.

  15. I have officially added this to my Christmas rotation. Lemon always reminds me of Italy, so I substituted 1 tsp lemon extract instead of 1/2 tsp Anise for the dough (kept the 1 tsp of vanilla as well), and substituted 1 tsp lemon extract instead of the vanilla for the icing – and they had a mellow, lovely, lemony wonderfulness. Thank you for this!

  16. I made these cookies with a few substitutions and they turned out great! For the cookies I used 2 cups whole grain spelt flour, 1 cup all purpose gluten free flour, and miyokos vegan butter. For the glaze I used soy milk.
    Everyone in my family loved them including those without dietary restrictions!
    I made most of the cookies a little bigger (23 cookies) and cooked for 12 mins. I will say some of the smaller sized cookies were a little dry but the rest were good

  17. I was looking for something chewy, tender and crispy at the same time. So the Italian Christmas cookies totally appealed to me although I did not expect this one to be so good.

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