This is a super quick and easy classic Italian almond cookie recipe that is sure to delight you and your family members with a fragrant batch of cookies in no time. These delicious almond cookies last a long time when stored properly and are great for filling cookie tins for giving away at the holidays.
The cookies are similar to soft amaretti cookies or Italian macaroons, especially for the almond taste, but this recipe is different than amaretti and macaroon recipes which both call for whipped egg whites. Another difference is just how quick and easy these cookies are to make! So, get started right now making this easy recipe for delicious Italian almond cookies. Happy baking!
What’s needed to make Italian almond cookies
2 bowls, one for mixing the wet ingredients and one for the dry ingredients
baking or cookie sheet to bake the Italian almond cookies
parchment paper to line the baking surface
whisk to mix the ingredients together
electric mixer is an optional piece of equipment for mixing the dough
spatula or wooden spoon to scrape and mix
2 plates to hold the two types of sugar for rolling the Italian almond cookies in
cookie jar or cookie tin for storing the Italian almond cookies
food processor is optional for making your own almond flour from whole or sliced almonds, either blanched or not
With a prep time of just 10 minutes and a bake time of under 15, these cookies are quick to make. The only part of the Italian almond cookies recipe that takes a little longer is the two rest periods when you will need to chill the dough and the formed balls before baking them.
Ingredients for traditional Italian almond cookies
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make these delicious Italian almond cookies.
All-purpose flour (1.2 cups | 150 grams) – this plain flour will give the cookies their structure and substance.
Almond flour (0.55 cups | 130 grams) – you can use almond flour or the slightly larger textured almond meal or you can make your own flour with whole or blanched ground almonds (from whole almonds, blanched almonds, or sliced almonds) that are ground in a food processor until the desired consistency. Do not use almond paste, it is sweetened and does not have the right consistency to make these cookies. Almond paste is made from ground almonds and sugar in equal quantities and also contains cooking oil, beaten eggs, and corn syrup to bind it together into a paste.
White sugar (0.22 lb | 100 grams + 3 tablespoons for coating) – we prefer to use superfine sugar when possible in this recipe, such as caster sugar, but regular granulated sugar will work fine as well for these Italian cookies. This is the first step in the coating process, the second step is with powdered sugar.
Unsalted butter (7.14 tbsp | 100 grams) – the butter should be softened to room temperature. If you prefer, you can substitute the butter with 90 grams of seed oil such as sunflower seed or another seed oil with a neutral flavor.
Lemon (1) – the lemon is needed for both the zest and the lemon juice. We highly recommend using an organic lemon when making lemon zest.
Egg (1) – choose one of the medium eggs in a dozen and wash it and let it sit out at room temperature for a little while before using it in the recipe. In traditional amaretti cookies the recipe calls for egg whites only, but this recipe uses the whole egg.
Baking powder (1 tablespoon) – be sure to use fresh baking powder so that you get a nice rise when baking your Italian almond cookies, you want them to puff up and the sugar coating will create a nice cracking on the top.
Vanilla extract (1 teaspoon) – this will add a vanilla fragrance and sweetness to the cookies, but if you want them to be even more almond-y you can substitute with the same amount of almond extract.
Powdered sugar (1.25 cups | 150 grams) – also called confectioner’s sugar, is needed for rolling the cookies in to coat them before baking and gives the cookies that unique, cracked top look. After chilling the balls in the fridge you can roll them a second time in icing sugar if they have lost their powder sugar white coating.
How to make almond cookies step by step
Make the almond cookie dough and chill it: In a large bowl, beat together the butter, ½ cup | 100 grams granulated sugar, vanilla or almond extract and lemon zest (zest of 1 organic lemon rind) (photo 1) with an electric beaters or by hand until soft peaks form and the mixture is fluffy and light (photo 2). Add the egg and filtered juice of the one lemon and mix in completely (photo 3).
In another small bowl, sift the all-purpose and almond flours and add the baking powder (photo 4) and stir until combined.
Now add the flour mixture into the bowl with the butter (photo 5) and stir together before mixing by hand for a few seconds. If the dough is too wet, you can add a few more grams of all-purpose flour. Wrap the almond cookie dough in plastic wrap (photo 6) and put in the freezer for 15 minutes or in the fridge for 45 minutes, until the dough is completely chilled.
Form the dough balls, coat them and let chill. Remove the dough from the fridge, cut off a little chunk of dough weighing about 20 grams, and roll it in your hands until it is completely round. Pour the 3 extra tablespoons of regular sugar on one plate and the confectioner’s sugar on another plate. Roll each dough ball first in the white sugar (photo 7) and then in the powdered sugar to coat it completely (photo 8).
After you finish each ball, place it on a baking tray lined with parchment paper at a distance of 2.5 in | 6 cm from the other finished balls (photo 9). Once all of them are completed, place the dough balls back in the fridge for 1 hour to chill.
Preheat oven and bake: After the dough balls have chilled for 40 minutes, turn the oven on to 375° F | 190° C. When finished chilling, remove the cookies from the fridge and put straight into the preheated oven on the middle rack to bake for 5 minutes at 375° F | 190° C, they should rise and cracks should form on the surface. After 5 minutes turn down to 340° F | 170° C, without opening the oven, and complete baking for approximately 8 minutes. Take them out when they are still white with a slightly crispy outside, they should not turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for at least 30 minutes until they cool completely (photo 10). They are ready to serve!
Try other Italian traditional cookies:
Expert tips for perfect cookies
Chill it! Be sure to chill both the dough and the cookie balls if you want them to get the cracked surface when baking and maintain their round shape.
White cracked outside. If you remove the balls from the fridge to bake them and they are no longer white, quickly roll them again in the powdered sugar and then bake. This will ensure your Italian almond cookies develop a cracked white surface like in the photos.
Variations to try
Once you’ve learned how to make these Italian almond cookies, mix it up with some of our delicious variations such as lemon cookies or dipped in chocolate. If you love the almond amaretti cookies taste, consider adding some almond extract to the recipe.
Italian lemon cookies. Instead of making Italian almond cookies, you can use this same recipe to make Italian lemon cookies. Simply substitute the almond flour with the same amount of all-purpose flour and then use 2 lemons instead of 1 when making the lemon zest and lemon juice.
Dip in melted chocolate. Start by melting 0.66 cups | 300 grams of dark chocolate in a bain-marie and then whisk until smooth and fully melted. When the Italian almond cookies are completely cool, dip half the cookie into the melted chocolate and place on a lined cookie sheet and let harden at room temperature or in the fridge. Serve once hardened.
Orange zest instead of lemon. You can substitute the lemon zest and juice for orange zest and juice by using one small organic orange. You probably won’t need to use all the juice so start with half the juice and add more if the recipe needs more liquid.
How should I store Italian almond cookies?
The almond cookies will stay good for a very long time, around 1 month, if kept at room temperature in a cookie tin, cookie jar or other type of closed container (it doesn’t need to be an airtight container, but that would certainly work).
Can I make my own almond flour?
Yes, you can make your own almond flour by using blanched almonds (the outer brown skin has been removed) and then processing them in the food processor until you have a fine, light flour texture. You can also make almond meal which has a darker color and rougher texture because it is made with unpeeled almonds, also called raw almonds, which still have their brown outer skin.
What are bitter almonds and should I use them?
In Europe, you might find bitter almond extract or bitter almonds sold after they have been processed to remove the deadly toxin they contain. Bitter almonds are not sold in the US. You should never use bitter almonds in home baking unless you are sure they have been properly treated to remove any harmful substances.
Can I use hazelnut flour instead of almond flour?
If you are a hazelnut fan and prefer the taste of hazelnuts over almonds, then you can easily substitute hazelnut flour for almond flour in this recipe, although they will no longer taste like amaretti cookies and the taste will be less sweet than with almond flour.