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Canestrelli Delicious Italian Cookies

Canestrelli are a wonderfully delicious Italian Cookie, an almost shortbread type cookie but with a crunch, fast and easy. The perfect afternoon tea cookie. A touch of Lemon makes them irresistible.

canestrelli on a blue board and in a cookie jarCanestrelli

I have returned to Italy and of course I am missing all my family and friends, especially my eldest Daughter that unfortunately I didn’t see nearly enough.

She is off on adventures of her own and is now living in Vancouver (this was 2 years ago and now she is back in Toronto!) for the time being. So we only had a few days together.

Although we did have a great time and now we look forward to her visit back home.

Naturally with the return to your home that was mainly kept up by the Italian, well you can imagine what I came home to! To tell the truth it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined.

At least the dog, the cat and the plants were still alive.

Canestrelli a wonderfully delicious Italian Cookie, a shortbread type cookie but with a crunch, fast and easy.

Needless to say I have a to do list the length of my arm, starting with grocery shopping. So while I was shopping I of course noticed the difference between Canadian aisles and the Italian store aisles. Yeah big difference.

While checking out the cookie aisle (believe me that aisle kept me staring forever in Canada) I noticed how unstuffed the cookies tend to be here. The lack of cream, chocolate, caramel, marshmallows etc.

The very basic cookie, from breakfast cookies to snack cookies with this delicious Canestrelli front and centre. These cookies are sold year round but are very popular at Christmas.

And yeah I actually like the basic ones better. Because sometimes less is more!

Canestrelli Delicious Italian Cookies

canestrelli in a cookie jar

More Italian Cookies you may enjoy!

Pizzicati Italian Cookies

up close pizzicati cookies

Wine Cookies – Ciambelle al Vino

upclose of Italian wine cookies

Abbracci – Italian Hugs Cookies

abbracci cookie leaning again 2 stacked with a glass of milk

Traditional Italian Breakfast Cookies

Italian breakfast cookies front photo in a grey box and 3 in front

I decided to make these Canestrelli, which are one of my favourites! This is a simple crunchy but an almost melt in your mouth cookie delight. The dough comes together in minutes especially if you use your Food Processor.

What are the ingredients in Canestrelli?

They are made with butter, powdered sugar and hard-boiled egg yolks. Yes that’s right,  egg yolks,  strange right? That’s what I thought, but I was told this helps make them crumbly, which is what we want.

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canestrelli in a white jar

Canestrelli are originally from Monferrato which is in the region of Piedmont in Northern Italy. If you are looking for a tasty, yummy Italian Cookie why not give these a try.

Perfect with a cup of tea or coffee or just when you want a cookie. Enjoy!

canestrelli on a brown board

Cookies should be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 3 months.

canestrelli Italian cookies in a bowl

Canestrelli Delicious Italian Cookies

Rosemary Molloy
Canestrelli a wonderfully delicious Italian Cookie, an almost shortbread type cookie but with a crunch, fast and easy. The perfect afternoon tea cookie. 
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
chilling time 2 hours
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 60 cookies
Calories 38 kcal


  • 1 cup all purpose flour (130 grams)
  • 1/2 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar (75 grams)
  • pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons corn starch (100 grams)
  • 2/3 cup cold butter cut into pieces* (150 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 hard boiled egg (use just the yolks)
  • zest 1/2 lemon

*I use salted butter if you use unsalted add 1/4 teaspoon of salt.


    • Place eggs in a pot and cover with cold water, heat until boiling, then remove from heat and let sit 8-10 minutes. Place under cold water. Remove shell when cooled, separate the white from yolk and mash just the yolk part, well with a fork.
    • In a food processor whisk together flour, sugar, salt, corn starch and zest, then add cold butter and vanilla, pulse a few times to mix, add egg yolks and pulse until almost combined, move to a lightly floured flat surface and knead gently until combined. Wrap in plastic wrap or parchment paper and refrigerate for at least an hour or two or even overnight.
    • Pre-heat oven to 335° (170° celsius).   Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
    • Remove dough from fridge, on a lightly floured flat surface, start with rolling out half the dough to 1 centimeter thickness and cut with a small to medium size flower cookie cutter, using a straw or any small round hole cutter**, cut a hole in the middle of the flower. Place cut out flowers on prepared cookie sheets and bake for approximately 12 -14 minutes, cookies should not brown. Let cookies rest 5 minutes then move to wire racks to cool,  then dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

    **I used a small pastry tip.


      Calories: 38kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 18mg | Potassium: 3mg | Vitamin A: 75IU | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 0.1mg
      Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

      Updated from September 2, 2016.


      1. 5 stars
        I landed here today from the recipe in my email. I was intrigued by the use of hard boiled eggs in the recipe. I have a few different sized flower shaped cutters so the platter of them look super cute…not that they’re going to be on the platter long :o) This is my new favorite little cookie..my mission next time may be to change the lemon to lime..or maybe tangerine..I may never stop!

      2. I tasted these cookies at an amazing Italian restaurant. And got excited to make them. But for the life of me, I cannot bring the dough together. It is like dry sand. I feel stupid keeping on trying… I carefully checked each ingredient qty before adding. What have I done wrong? 🙁

        1. Hi Amy, when baking and making cookie dough, it can depend on the butter or on the flour, as some flours retain moisture different then others, and butters can have different percentages of fat, depending on the brand. So if the dough is too dry either add a little bit of milk (a tablespoon at a time) or some extra butter to bring it together. Just to let you know store brand butter is not the best butter to use for baking now, it’s best to use a good name brand. Quality has definitely gone down in store brands. Hope that helps. Take care!

      3. Hi !! this is the first time I would try to make it but I dont have a food process, can I use a stand mixer?
        It would came out?
        Hope u can help me ! I really want to make this cute cookies !!

      4. 5 stars
        I have a few recipes from my family, but you have wonderful recipes that I have not seen before. Already planning for next year.

      5. 4 stars
        You think that these cookies will never come together. And then, magically, the crumbles form a dough. I rolled them into little balls, dipped the tops in colored sugar, and flattened them. I might need to add a little more flavor of some form, because they honestly do taste a little eggy to me. I will totally try these again.

      6. 5 stars
        I haven’t tried these yet but I certainly will; they are so easy to make. But, I do need to get a flower cookie cutter first…
        Thanks, all your recipes are great!!

      7. Has anyone tried making these in a cookie press? I just mixed up the dough (Yay for using up the egg yolks leftover from mixing up the pignoli cookies!) and it’s chilling.

      8. This recipe, along with the chocolate version, sounds wonderful! Would it be possible to split this cookie dough in half and add the cocoa to one half of the dough to make the chocolate version? If so, how much cocoa would you add to one half of this cookie dough? Thank you for this recipe!

        1. Hi Barb, I think you would be better off halving each recipe, because of the addition of cocoa, you need to add less corn starch, so I don’t know how that would work out. Let me know.

          1. I can’t find your chocolate version, and it sounds awesome! Can you link it please

      9. 4 stars
        Made these yesterday and really enjoyed the recipe. May try them in my cookie press. Interesting texture and I liked the hint of lemon. Also like cookies that let you make the dough one day and bake the next.

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