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Italian Wedding Cookies


This is my mother's signature cookie -well these and her biscotti. No one in the world makes these cookies better than her. This recipe dates back for generations. My mother has altered it slightly over the years, replacing milk with orange peel and orange juice. Twelve cups of flour make a boat load of cookies, and it's probably just fine for families of 6 or more people. If you have a small family, feel free to cut the recipe in half. Oh, one other fact about this recipe - it won first place in the 2008 Montgomery County, Maryland Fair in the "Rolled by Hand" cookie category.

Makes about  15 dozen cookies



  •     12 cups all-purpose flour
  •     2-1/2 cups sugar
  •     9 teaspoons baking powder
  •     2 teaspoons salt
  •     2 cups unsalted butter (4 sticks)
  •     2 teaspoons vanilla
  •     2 tablespoons anise flavoring
  •     2 teaspoons almond flavoring
  •     12 eggs
  •     1/4 cup orange juice
  •     2 to 3 tablespoons orange zest

For the Icing:

  •     Powdered sugar
  •     Milk (or orange juice)
  •     Vanilla or other flavoring



Step 1: Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Sift to combine. 

Step 2: Cut butter into 16 pieces and add to the flour mixture. Work in butter with hands until completely and fully incorporated and butter/flour bits are smaller than the size of peas. As my father always said, mix and caress the butter and flour like you love it. 


Step 3: Add eggs, orange juice, orange zest and flavorings together in a small bowl. Beat together and set aside.

Step 4: Make a well in the flour and add egg mixture to flour mixture. Mix dough with hands until the dough is smooth and firm enough to roll out.  You will most likely need to add a little flour to your surface and knead the dough for a few minutes.

Step 5: Roll into desired shapes and bake at 325 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes until lightly brown.  


Step 6: For the glaze:  Add powdered sugar, milk and vanilla together and mix. The icing's consistency should be runny and easily spreadable.  I sometimes use orange juice instead of milk in the icing.

Step 7: Cool cookies completely, then glaze cookies with powdered sugar icing.




The best cookie ever!

These cookies were the highlight of my family Christmas cookie plate. They were popular with both our picky eater kids (& adults), and our visiting foodie sister and her husband! She loved the hint of orange and anise. Will definitely make again!

So glad you like them Krissy. They've been our family favorite as well. My nieces always request these cookies when they visit.

Totally agree with all the comment above. So glad I saw these on Pinterest. I made half the recipe and I should have done the whole batch. Next year I will, if I don't sooner. Unfortunately I ate so many of them I probably put on 5 pounds.

do I use softened butter or cold?

Hi Diane, I would use firm butter (so when you touch it, you only see a slight indent). The important part about the butter is that it should be fully incorporated it into the flour mixture. If you don't the cookie will have a rough appearance. Good luck with the cookies. Would love to hear how they come out.

Just want to say thank you so much for posting this recipe! I've tried so many other variations over the past year just trying to duplicate my grandmothers recipe to no avail. I made these the other night and knew as soon as I began kneading the dough that these were the ones. The search is over and you made a lot of people very happy! Thanks again and God bless!

A little confused. Can you please clarify for me. Previous post says 2 cups vegetable oil, 1 Tbs vanilla, 2 Tbl anise , no almond flavoring, 11cups flour, 7 Tsp baking powder , 1 Tsp salt, 1/2 cup orange juice and 2 Tbs orange zest. Also it makes 10 dozen instead of 15. I have been searching for this cookie recipe and soooo want to make, but I don't know which recipe to follow. Please help!!

I think you might be confusing this Italian Wedding Cookie recipe which uses butter and not oil with another Italian Wedding Cookie recipe that uses oil -- The former recipe is from my mom's side of the family and the latter recipe that uses oil is from my Sicilian grandmother. I prefer my mother's recipes that uses the butter but both cookies are delicious. Hope that helps to clarify the two different recipes.

Thank you for clarifying. I will definitely be baking these cookies, can't wait.

I have a lot of salted sweet butter that needs to be used, can I use that and leave out the salt?

I have a lot of salted sweet butter that needs to be used, can I use that and leave out the salt?

Sure, you can use the salted butter. If you do use salted butter, I don't think it would matter if you added or left the salt out of the recipe. Either way should be fine.

I just made these cookies & theyr are amazing , I need them for an event in 6 days..... should I freeze them or just refrigerate?

Thank you. I'm so glad you like them. I would freeze them and take them out the night before your event.

I've been looking for this specific recipe for a long time. Thanks for posting it along with all the tips! For genetti, my Italian 'second' mom recommends beating the eggs until "lemon colored"--she beats them in a stand mixer for quite awhile to get them to that point. She also recommends baking until the bottoms just start to brown. I pass those tips on to try. :)

I'll definitely try those tips. Thanks Jae and thanks for visiting.

Made the cookie in this recipe. The cookies turned out great, but did not make 15 dozen. Did not specify size cookie in Recipe, so I made them the size I’ve seen them. Needed to add more orange juice,dough was a little dry. For the glaze on the cookie the recipe did not tell you the amount needed for quantity of cookies. Overall good recipe, not difficult to make. Will make again.

We do make our cookies small -- I think about 2 to 2.5 inches long when made as a little braid or twist. I'll add those additional instructions in the recipe. Thanks for the feedback and happy baking. Glad you enjoyed the recipe.

Can I make the biscuits with milk and grappa instead of orange juice and anise?? And can I make the glaze with lemon juice instead of orange juice??

Sure I don't see why you couldn't substitute milk and grappa for orange juice and anise. The milk for the orange juice is an easy substitution since the original recipe used milk. In terms of substituting the grappa for the anise -- you only add about 1 to 2 tablespoons of anise. I'm not sure you'll get much flavor from 1 to 2 tablespoons of grappa but it's worth a try. As for the icing, lemon juice would be a good substitute.

Being fairly new to baking, I see in this recipe it calls for both anise and almond. I have never used them both in the same recipe. Is this correct or an either /or situation?

This is correct, we use both flavors in the cookies. However, you can flavor as you like and use only one or both.

Is 325 the right temperature. It seems like the cookies are taking longer than 10-12 minutes.

You could try 350 and see if that works better for your oven. Also, 10 to 12 minutes is good for a small cookie (about 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of dough). If your cookies are larger than that, then you may have to bake them longer.

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