Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Italian Anise Cookies

Merry Christmas everyone!

For the past five years I've had these cookies at my fiancé's family Christmas. It is an Italian tradition that has been in their family for years and they are truly fantastic.

This Christmas, as we will be at my family's place, I thought it would be lovely to make them. My family Christmases are usually very British: Christmas puddings, mince pies, etc.

These Italian cookies have a subtle yet soft anise flavor complimented by the sweetness of vanilla. They really do brighten up a Christmas or New Year dessert spread and are a perfect treat with coffee after a wonderful dinner. The cookies came out much bigger than I wanted them to be in my first batch. Unless you want them to be big cookies, make sure you roll them into little balls, no bigger than the size of a walnut.

I've made a huge batch of these for the holidays!

Italian Anise Cookies: (a family recipe)
(makes about 30 cookies)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 Cup Butter or shortening
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1-3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon anise extract

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time and whisk.

Add the vanilla extract and anise extract.

Sift in the flour and baking powder.

Add a little milk at a time until you have a smooth dough.

Roll the dough into walnut sized balls and place on a a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375F for 12-15 minutes. Do not let them brown.

Allow to cool on a rack.

Ice the cookies by mixing powdered sugar and milk together until quite thick and add 1\2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon anise extract.

Drizzle over the cooled cookies and sprinkle with colored balls.


  1. Another great Italian cookie recipe! They look like the Chocolate Christmas Cookies I baked last week, only in white! Hope you had a great Christmas

  2. Hi,

    I am bookmarking your Christmas cookie recipes, they look delicious.

    But where do you get anise extract?

    Happy Holidays!


  3. You can get anise extract from most grocery stores! I got mine from a very basic grocery store.

    Thanks for looking :)

  4. How would these be with a bit of lemon zest along with the anise? I saw one recipe that had lemon and anise in it, but most have either one or the other.

  5. I'm sure lemon zest would be lovely :)

  6. These looked fabulous so I decided to make them for dessert for tonight's dinner. They are just delicious. I used a medium sized cookie scoop rather than roll them and they were a uniform size and baked perfectly. Thanks for a great recipe!

  7. I have searched for years to find the Italian cookie recipe that I used to help my elderly Italian neighbor make when I was a young girl. I can't tell you how many Italian cookbooks I have bought trying to find these cookies! This one is the exact recipe! Others I have found were not quite the same, ot totally different.
    Thank you for bringing back a wonderful childhood memory!

  8. I have used this recipe to replicate an old family recipe of my fiance's. His grandma use to make them when he was a kid and she recently passed away. No one in the family had the recipe so I took it upon myself to find one as close as possible. After a few tries, I seem to have replicated the cookies to a "T". I'm going to make a batch and bring them with me to his family's Christmas this year. Thanks for sharing!

  9. The cookie batter is amazing. I baked them at 325 for 12 minutes. Just right!!!
    I used a cream cheese confectionary glaze for them. YUM!!
    Love this recipe definately gonna save it.

  10. Thank you so much for the recipe, perfection!

    I used the anise oil from King Arthur flour.

    My new favorite cookie, amazing.


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