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Italian Orange Cookies

These light and moist cookies use orange juice, orange zest, and optional orange extract for a mild orange flavor. This is one of those recipes from way back – all the Italian ladies in my old Philadelphia neighborhood made them, and they all used this same basic recipe. Go figure!

Make these cookies as they are the perfect addition to your Italian cookie tray, which might also include pignoli cookies, ricotta cookies, anginetti cookies, sesame seed (regina) cookies, Italian chocolate nut cookies and fig cookies (cuccidati). Yum!!

Don’t forget to add Jordan almonds or even some Hershey kisses.


The general ingredients you’ll need include:

  • Flour (all purpose)
  • Sugar (granulated)
  • Eggs
  • Shortening (or butter)
  • Orange juice (fresh or store bought)
  • Orange zest
  • Orange or vanilla extract
  • Baking powder
  • Confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)

Consider Refrigerating Your Dough Before Baking:

  • Refrigerating dough before baking cookies will help prevent spreading by allowing the flour to hydrate more and allowing the fats to get cold.
  • Place your dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 24 hours. Consider forming the cookies and then placing them on a cookie sheet before refrigerating.
  • Try to portion the dough consistently so the cookies bake evenly. A cookie scoop or spoon helps.

Make Ahead and Storage

For the Baked Cookies:

  • Baked cookies should keep well in the freezer for 3 to 4 weeks, with the USDA saying 8 to 12 months.
  • At room temperature, baked cookies should keep well for 3 or 4 days.
  • For more tips on storing baked cookies at room temperature vs the refrigerator vs the freezer, see this article by Real Simple.

For the Cookie Dough:

📖 Recipe

top view of italian orange cookies on black cookie sheet

Italian Orange Cookies

These Italian orange cookies are crackled, light, and quite moist. The hint of orange flavor comes from using orange juice and orange zest with optional orange extract. Recipe can be halved or doubled.
5 from 17 votes
Author: Marie
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Resting time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 60 cookies
Calories 146 kcal


  • cookie sheets


  • 7.5 cups (938 g) all purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1.25 cups (256 g) shortening
  • 4 medium oranges zested
  • 8 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla or orange extract
  • 1.5 cups (300 g) sugar
  • 1 cup (248 g) orange juice
  • 2 cups (240 g) confectioners sugar (powdering sugar) for rolling cookies; plus more if needed


  • Cream the shortening and then add juice, sugar, extract, and orange zest and mix until well combined.
  • Add in the eggs one at a time and beat well.
  • Combine the baking powder and the flour in a separate bowl and then add the flour mixture to the egg/sugar/shortening mixture 1 cup at a time until all is well combined.
  • Refrigerate the dough covered for 2 to 24 hours.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and fill a plate with sifted confectioner sugar.
  • Using a small cookie scoop or tablespoon, portion the dough evenly and then roll each portion into a smooth ball.
  • Roll each ball into the confectioner sugar to coat the cookies. I like to do this twice.
  • Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Do not over bake; cookies should be light in color and the bottom edges should be slightly golden.


Calories: 146kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 2gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 6mgPotassium: 121mgFiber: 1gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 56IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 33mgIron: 1mg
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  1. 5 stars
    This recipe is nearly the same as the one my Nonna used here in Canada, but her little hand written notes didn’t have measurements anyway. Thank you for posting this!

  2. 5 stars
    My partner found this recipe for me, and the cookies it made were a hit! The texture is “incredible,” as I was told by a few folks. In the second batch I made, I reduced the flour just a bit – so it was about 7-1/4 cups instead of 7-1/2. I also rolled the dough balls in granulated sugar first, then rolled in powdered sugar second. Great cookie!

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