These delicious Italian anise cookies are traditional Christmas cookies and are a bit moist (not dry) and dipped in a a tasty anise glaze then topped with nonpareils. They’re EASY-to-make and a great addition to a holiday cookie tray any time of year but, especially for Christmas and Easter.
Italian Cookie Recipes
Coming from a 100% Italian family, I’m pretty good with Italian cooking as my friends use me as an Italian cooking resource.
My parents were (R.I.P.) Italian immigrants after all and my mother was an excellent Italian home cook… like gourmet level! Luckily and thankfully, I inherited the cooking gene!
Italian cookies are a given in Italian households both in America and in Italy. This Christmas tradition has been passed down through generations. I’ve made Chocolate-dipped Amaretto Biscotti and Butter Cookies that everyone can’t stop eating.
My family LOVES these cookies, especially my boys. They’re part of our family traditions.
These traditional Italian cookies are so good that we just can’t wait until Christmas to eat them so, we make them at Easter too.
They’re also known as Italian anisette cookies. If you’ve never heard of anisette, you guessed it- It’s a liqueur made with anise.
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links which means, if you make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission but, the price you pay is the same.
Anise Christmas Cookies Recipe
You don’t need anise seeds to make this recipe. you just need a bottle of anise extract to give your cookies good anise flavor. You’ll need a teaspoon anise extract for the cookie dough and another teaspoon for the icing.
By the way, you will not need vanilla extract for this recipe, which may come as a surprise.
Anise Cookies have a somewhat moist cookie center (if not overbaked) and flavored with anise extract in the cookie dough as well as the glaze.
Italian Anise Cookie Ingredients
The full recipe is in the printable recipe card below.
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Cookie Decorating Ingredients
Baking Pro Tips:
- Measure ingredients accurately.
- Do not overbake your cookies. They’ll come out dry. Monitor them closely.
- Cookies on the bottom rack in the oven brown faster than the top rack. Pull them out first and possibly before the top rack.
- Storing your cookies properly- in air tight containers, keeps them fresher longer.
- Be sure not to add the icing to the cookies until they’ve cooled and reached room temperature.
- Use sprinkles instead of nonpareils or omit them if you wish. This Wilton Holiday Mix contains both and I use it.
- If someone in your family doesn’t like anise, you can substitute lemon or almond extract instead in the same amounts and make two batches. You may also halve this recipe and use 1/2 tsp of lemon or almond extract for half the dough and glaze and 1/2 tsp of anise extract for the other half of the dough and glaze. Hope that’s not confusing.
Italian Anise Cookies are so, so delicious!! What’s more is they’re easy-to-make! They’re the perfect addition to your holiday cookie tray all year round but, especially for Christmas.
Make them for Easter too and use pastel nonpareils!
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Italian Anise Cookies
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp anise extract or 1/2 tsp if you prefer
- 2 tbsp milk or slightly more
- First, preheat oven to 325F.
- Next, cream butter: Add sugar and softened butter to a large mixing bowl and mix until combined.
- Then, add wet ingredients: one teaspoon of the anise extract, milk and eggs one at a time while mixing.
- Next, add about 1/2 cup of flour at a time and mix until combined.
- Then, add baking powder and salt and mix.
- Next, line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Then, make cookie dough balls with one and a half tbsp or so of cookie dough and place them on the cookie sheets in three rows of four. There should be twelve cookies per baking sheet. These cookies do not spread out a lot. Place cookie dough two inches apart.
- Next, bake cookies at 325F for 10-15 minutes. The top of the cookies should not look wet. Insert a toothpick in the middle of some cookies to ensure cookies are fully baked. Toothpick should come out clean.
- Then, cool cookies for 10 minutes before decorating.
- In a small mixing bowl add powdered sugar, milk and the other teaspoon (or less if you prefer) of the anise extract. Stir until smooth. You may need to add a little (start with 1/2 tsp) more milk if the mixture is too thick. It's easy to add to much milk. If this happens, add more powdered sugar one tsp at a time until the mixture is thinner.
- First, dip the top of a cooled cookie into anise glaze and twist cookie to cover the top entirely.
- Next, either dip the cookie into a small bowl of nonpareils (or sprinkles if you prefer) or use your fingers to sprinkle the nonpareils on top of you want to limit the number of nonpareils used.
Storage:Store cookies in an air tight container in the refrigerator up to 5 days, as icing contains milk and is therefore perishable.
Freezer:While decorated cookies are on the baking/cookie sheets, place in the freezer for 15 minutes. Then, remove from cookie sheets and place in gallon freezer bags for up 6 months.
This recipe was adapted from Love Bakes Good Cakes.
Optimized on 9/7/23.