Italian Christmas Cookies

Traditional Italian Christmas Cookies are soft and buttery, topped with a sweet glaze and festive sprinkles!

Italian Christmas Cookies are a family favorite during the holiday season. Spritz Cookies, Christmas Wreath Cookies, Gingerbread Cookies, and Christmas Cookies are also on our must-bake list!

A plate filled with glazed Italian Christmas cookies.

Italian traditions

Italians begin celebrating on December 8th and celebrate into the New Year. The climax of the celebration is, of course, Christmas.

Food and family can be found throughout their celebrations. You often find nativity scenes set out, but the baby Jesus isn’t added until December 24th.

Popular Italian cookies include amaretti cookies, pignoli cookies, ricotta cookies, hazelnut cookies (baci di dama), savoiardi, pizzelle, biscotti and this holiday variation of Italian Wedding Cookies (a holiday twist on our classic Italian Cookies Recipe).

These traditional Italian Christmas Cookies are similar to our Mexican version, Snowball Cookies. Both are delicious!

How to make Italian Christmas Cookies

COOKIE DOUGH. Whisk together eggs, oil, sugar, and extract in a mixing bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt.

CHILL. Roll dough by tablespoonfuls into balls. Chill balls of dough for at least an hour, or freeze for 15-20 minutes. Place cold dough balls on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

BAKE. Bake at 350° for about 9 minutes, or till the tops are set. Bottoms will be lightly browned, but tops should still be white. Remove cookies to cooling racks and cool completely.

GLAZE. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk till smooth, adding enough warm cream to get a thin but creamy consistency.

Dip the tops of the cookies in the glaze, then top them with Christmas sprinkles.

Cookie Tips

Baking temperature. Since ovens can bake differently, bake 1-2 test cookies before making a larger batch and adjust the timing accordingly. They should only take 8-10 minutes in a 350°F oven.

Texture. A tough cookie texture can be caused by overmixing the gluten so try not to overmix the dough. 

Flat cookies can be caused by expired baking powder or not enough flour.  

Mix-ins. Mix in up to 1 cup of chopped nuts (almond, pistachios, or walnuts) or mini chocolate chips.

A bowl filled with glaze for topping Italian Christmas cookies.

Variations

Cookie shapes. The cookies made from this recipe should hold their shape pretty well.

  • Round: We make a rounded top in this recipe, my favorite.
  • Flat: Use a glass cup dipped in flour or powdered sugar to gently press the tops of the balls to create a more flattened top.
  • Shaped: Aside from round cookies, use the dough balls to create other shapes. Roll the dough balls into a short rope and form it into a squat “s” shape or tie it into a knot. 

Glaze. The glaze is really simple to make.

  • For a thicker glaze, add more powdered sugar.
  • For a thinner glaze, add more milk.
  • Be sure to use the same extract in the glaze as you used to make the cookies.
  • Once the glaze is added, wait for it to set just a bit before adding the sprinkles. However, don’t wait too long otherwise the glaze will harden all the way and the sprinkles won’t stick. 

Flavors. Traditional Italian Christmas Cookies use anise extract, which tastes a bit like black licorice. I opted to use almond extract in these cookies. Some other flavors that would work include lemon extract, almond extract, or orange extract. 

Sprinkles. I love the classic Christmas nonpareils sprinkles or other holiday sprinkles. Red or green sugar crystal sprinkles would also work.

Italian Christmas cookies topped with glaze and festive sprinkles.

Storing Info

Make ahead of time. The glaze can be made up to 5 days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Warm it up a bit to add it easily to the cookies. 

STORE baked Italian Cookies. Store the baked cookies with or without the glaze. In either case, be sure that they have cooled on a wire rack and that the glaze has set, if applicable.

  • Room temperature: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 5-7 days.
  • Freezer: Place them in a freezer-safe container and freeze for 3-4 weeks.

STORE cookie dough. Store the dough for up to 4 days in the fridge, just be sure to roll the dough into a ball and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap.

FREEZE cookie dough. My favorite way to store the dough in the freezer is to form dough balls. Once the balls are formed, line them up on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer until they are solid. Transfer them to a freezer Ziploc and freeze for 2-3 months.

You can also freeze the dough in a log form wrapped with plastic and again with foil. 

Close up of Italian Christmas cookies piled on a white plate.

For an Italian Meal:

Italian Christmas Cookies Recipe

5 from 24 votes
Traditional Italian Christmas Cookies are soft and buttery, topped with a sweet glaze and festive sprinkles!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 30 cookies
Calories 106 kcal
Author Lil’ Luna

Ingredients

Glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract, or vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3-4 Tbsp cream or milk, warmed
  • christmas sprinkles

Instructions
 

  • Whisk together eggs, oil, sugar, and extract in a mixing bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Roll dough by tablespoonfuls into balls. Chill balls of dough for at least an hour, or freeze for 15-20 minutes.  Place cold dough balls on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake at 350° for about 9 minutes, or till the tops are set. Bottoms will be lightly browned, but tops should still be white. Remove cookies to cooling racks and cool completely.
  • For the glaze, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk till smooth, adding enough warm cream to get a thin but creamy consistency.
  • Dip the tops of the cookies in the glaze, then top them with Christmas sprinkles.

Video

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About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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Comments:

  1. 5 stars
    These are the best little Christmas cookies! My mom used to make them with the anise flavoring, but i love the almond flavor in them. Yum!