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Italian Wedding Cookies (Anginetti)

These traditional Italian cookies are served at many holidays and weddings in the old Italian neighborhood! They are very simple lightly sweetened cookies that are traditionally flavored with anise, almond, or lemon and then dipped in a sweet sugar glaze. Everyone will love them!

tray of freshly baked Italian wedding cookies

One of My Favorite Italian Cookies: Anginetti

Here’s a favorite, basic, Italian cookie – Anginetti (also referred to Ancinetti)! They go by a number of different names and in Italy they are made for weddings and holidays like Easter or Christmas. In the USA many people refer to them as Italian wedding cookies, Italian Christmas cookies, or Anise or anisette cookies (…but mine are almond flavored.) When they are formed into knots and flavored with lemon zest/extract, they are called lemon knot cookies.

These cookies are soooo good. They are soft, almost like a cross between a cake cookie and a traditional crispy cookie.

Growing up, it seemed that everyone’s mom or grandmother in the old neighborhood made a version of these cookies. Sometimes, when the baker would add too much flour, these cookies would taste quiet dry – but those were good for dunking in coffee!

Flavoring the Italian Cookies (Anginetti)

Traditionally, these cookies were flavored with lemon. But they are very commonly made with anise, almond, or even vanilla.

As a kid, I did not like anise-flavoring. My mom would make pizzelles the traditional way with anise as the flavoring and I’d always beg her to make them vanilla or lemon flavored instead. She eventually came around:)

But this is a very versatile recipe as far as flavorings go – feel free to substitute the almond or anise with vanilla, lemon, orange, or whatever flavoring appeals to you.

Decorating the Cookies

The traditional way to decorate these is to top them with a simple drizzle of sugar glaze and then add the rainbow non-pareils (or sprinkles), which are usually widely available at the grocery store.

Keeping Ball-Shape Cookies During Bake

When making this cookie, it’s important to refrigerate them for at least an hour in order for the cookie to bake in its characteristic tall shape. If you don’t refrigerate, they will come out flatter, more like a traditional drop cookie. Still good, but I love how they bake up if you refrigerate the dough.

I find it easiest to make the dough the day before and they bake it up the next day or so.

Notes on Dough Consistency

Please note that this dough is a little sticky. I know everyone’s definition of “a little” can vary but here is a photo of the mixed dough; hope this helps to visualize the finished dough.

Here you can see that I didn’t soften the butter too much for this particular batch:

Tips to Prevent the Sprinkles from Bleeding into the Icing:

To prevent bleeding of colors from sprinkles into the icing see the following suggestions:

  • Omit the sprinkles
  • Ensure cookies are cool before icing and sprinkling (since heat will cause icing and sprinkles to run)
  • Don’t ice the cookies until the day you need them
  • Make sure icing consistency is thick and not runny or thin
  • Roll in confectionary (powdered) sugar instead of icing and sprinkles
  • Make sure you use milk, not water to make the icing
  • Use pastel colors, they don’t run/bleed as much
  • Let the icing set a tiny bit before adding the sprinkles
  • Avoid serving or frosting them on a humid day

Try Some Other Popular Cookies

📖 Recipe

side view of italian wedding cookies with sprinkles on baking rack

Italian Wedding Cookies (anginetti)

Makes 30 cookies
4.93 from 222 votes
Author: Marie
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 27 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 30 cookies
Calories 236 kcal

Ingredients
 

For the cookie dough:

  • 2 1/4 cups (281.25 g) flour (all purpose)
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.5 g) salt
  • 3 (150 g) large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (113.5 g) unsalted butter , softened (DO NOT MELT THE BUTTER (8 tablespoons))
  • 1.5 teaspoons (6 g) almond extract (or anise [licorice flavor])

To make the frosting:

  • 2 cups (240 g) powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons (30 g) milk
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) almond extract (or anise extract)

To decorate

  • 4 tbsp (40 g) non-pareils or sprinkles

Instructions
 

To make the cookie dough

  • Mix the baking powder, salt, and flour in a small bowl and set aside
  • Using a electric mixer, combine sugar and butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, until combined and then add the extract and mix until combined.
  • Add the flour/baking powder and combine slowly just until mixed.
  • Using a tablespoon, roll the dough into balls and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.
  • Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F, and then bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

To Frost

  • Mix the ingredients for the frosting, adding the milk one tablespoon at a time
  • I prefer to use a teaspoon and pour a bit of frosting over the cooled cookies but some like to dunk their cookies in the frosting to frost
  • Make sure that the cookies are completely cooled before frosting otherwise, the frosting will just drip off
  • Add sprinkles/non-pareils while the frosting is still wet or they won’t stick. I usually frost a few at a time and then decorate so the frosting doesn’t dry before I have a chance to decorate

Notes

The dough can be a little sticky. You can wet your hands a bit to help with rolling or if you have cooking spray, spray your hands lightly to help facilitate rolling the cookies. I use a cookie scoop, which helps a lot. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookieCalories: 236kcalCarbohydrates: 39gProtein: 3gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 53mgSugar: 24g
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179 Comments

  1. 3 stars
    I grew up with immigrant grandparents. Grand mom called them tuddalluce or something along that line. She always made them for Christmas, but lemon because the anise was reserved pizzelles.

    1. Yes, I’d recommend forming the dough into balls and then flash freezing on trays before placing them into a freezer bag.

  2. 3 stars
    I made these 3 times now and they taste amazing! The only downfall is my dough turns out more like. Batter dough it’s not a liquifying as cake batter but it’s not really rollable at all. I tried adding bc more flour and that doesn’t work. Idk why it turns out so wet and sticky.

  3. 2 stars
    Disappointing. Have made these using another recipe and they came out perfectly. These flattened despite following the directions exactly.

  4. Grew up with these Italian cookies we always made them for weddings. We didn’t use lemon but orange juice instead and would pinch off some dough and roll out into about a 6″ length and drop them onto cookie sheet circling to the top. Don’t think I explained this precisely but if you look up Italian Wedding Cookie or Italian Christmas Cookie you will a photo. Delicious cookies!

  5. 3 stars
    Don’t mix your wet ingredients together the way the recipe tells you to. Cream together your butter and sugar before you add the eggs (room temperature) and the extract. Additionally, if you use a standard sized cookie scoop, you only need half of a non-rounded scoop if you want to make ~30 cookies a batch. Also, when change the size of the batch, the recipe will say in grey that you need 8 tablespoons of butter no matter how big the batch you’re making is. You’ll need 1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons) per ~30 cookies.

    Made a batch with lemon and a batch with orange. Both turned out well once I found the issues with the recipe described above.

  6. 4 stars
    I made these this morning. Being a seasoned baker, I knew better than to add all the wet ingredients at the same time, but unfortunately I followed the directions. You should cream the butter and sugar before adding the eggs! I ended up with a soupy mess that of course never did anything but separate and remain soupy. What makes me mad is that I know better! For those of you new to baking, please cream your butter and sugar before adding the eggs and extract. After trying to mix this mess, I just added the flour mixture. They’re in fridge now. Hopefully they’ll be good in spite of the ridiculous mixing method here.

  7. 5 stars
    Wow!!! Just loved this recipe. They came out absolutely perfect. My first time ever making them. This was easier than I expected. Thank you so much.

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