Italian Ricciarelli Cookies are soft and chewy and are made with almond flour with a hint of orange or lemon flavor. They make a wonderful gluten-free option for a Christmas cookie plate or can be enjoyed any time of the year with your favorite coffee.
I grew up eating ricciarelli around the holidays and to this day, they are one of my favorite Italian cookies. They are a traditional cookie that, some say, dates as far back as 15th century Tuscany and any cookie that has been around that long just has to be amazing!
They’re made with almond flour, powdered sugar, and egg whites which give the cookie its classic chewy texture. The tops of these almond cookies have a characteristically crinkled top and are dusted with powdered sugar, which makes them the perfect addition to your holiday dessert table, although I’ll happily eat them during any season!
- Large egg whites – room temperature egg whites work best in this recipe. They will be easier to mix in with the other ingredients.
- Orange or lemon zest – you can zest the citrus by using a zester or if you don’t have one, you can use the small holes of a box grater. Make sure you don’t include the white under layer which can be very bitter.
- Vanilla extract
- Almond flavoring – you can usually find almond extract beside the vanilla in most grocery stores
- Powdered/icing sugar – whisk the sugar to remove any lumps
- Almond flour – this nut flour is made from ground skinless almonds
- Baking powder
How to make this recipe
Ricciarelli are easy to make, but they do require 12 – 24 hours of chilling time in the fridge, It’s best to plan ahead when you want to make them. I promise that the wait will be worth it!
Prepping the dough
In a large bowl or mixer add the egg whites, zest, vanilla, and almond flavoring, mix together. Use the flat beaters of an electric mixer, or simply mix everything with a wooden spoon.
Next, add in the sugar, almond flour, salt, and baking powder and combine everything together until a soft and compact dough forms.
Place the dough in a clean bowl cover it with plastic wrap. The dough now needs to chill in the fridge for 12 – 24 hours to let the flavors develop. This step is very important.
Baking the Cookies
Remove the dough from the fridge and place it onto a flat surface, that has been liberally sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Roll the dough into a log shape with your hands (approximately 21 inches/55 cm long) and cut the log into ½ inch (1.2cm) slices.
Shape each slice into an oval shape and lay them carefully on the prepared cookie sheets. Dust each cookie with more powdered sugar before baking. Bake the cookies.
Gently remove them from the cookie sheet and transfer them to a wire rack to cool. As they cool, the chewy texture will develop.
Things to know when making this recipe
- These cookies do not contain wheat flour, so they make a great option for gluten-free diets.
- The dough can be kept for up to 3 days in the fridge, which is great if you don’t have time to bake them right away.
- Dusting with sugar helps to create a crinkled look when they are baked.
- Try to make the cookies the same size so that they all bake evenly.
- While the oven is pre-heating, allow the cookies to sit at room temperature for 10 – 15 minutes on the cookie sheets to dry out a bit before baking them. This can help them achieve that cracked appearance once baked.
- Be gentle with the cookies when transferring to a wire rack as they will still be very soft.
- The baked cookies are done when the edges are light golden brown and they start to crack on top.
- The flavors keep improving over time and Italian almond cookies often taste even better the second or third day.
Almond flour is made from ground almonds that have had their skin removed, so it tends to be paler in color and has a very fine texture. Ground almonds are made with almonds that have the skin on and tend to be slightly coarser in texture than almond flour. This recipe calls for almond flour, which you can usually find in grocery or bulk stores.
Since this recipe only uses egg whites, you will have a couple of yolks leftover. Egg yolks are great to use in custards, Italian pastry cream, cakes, and even carbonara! Make sure to use up leftover egg yolks within a couple of days of storing them in the fridge.
These cookies will keep well in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days.
The completely cooled cookies should be stored in a freezer safe container. They will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer.
If you are looking to add some Italian to your Holiday Cookie tray then these Italian Ricciarelli Cookies are the ones for you. Let me know if you try them. Enjoy!
More Italian Cookie Recipe
Italian Ricciarelli Cookies
- 2 large egg whites
- zest of ½ orange or lemon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon almond flavoring
- ¾ cup powdered/icing sugar
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1 pinch salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅓-½ cup powdered/icing sugar (divided)
- In the mixer add the egg whites, zest, vanilla, almond flavoring and combine, then add the sugar, flour, salt and baking powder, combine with either a wooden spoon or beat with flat beaters on low speed until a soft and compact dough forms.
- Move the dough to a clean bowl, cover in plastic and refrigerate for 12-24 hours or up to 3 days.
- Pre-heat oven to 325F (160F). Line 1-2 cookies sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove the dough from the fridge, place the dough on a flat surface that has been liberally sprinkled with powdered sugar (extras) roll the dough to form an approximate 21 inch (55 cm) log, cut into ½ inch (1.2 cm) slices, and shape into an oval, place them on the prepared cookie sheets. Dust the slices well with the remaining powdered sugar. While the oven is pre-heating, allow the cookies to sit at room temperature for 10 – 15 minutes on the cookie sheets to dry out a bit before baking them.
- Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes. Gently and carefully with a spatula remove the cookies immediately to a wire rack to cool completely. They will be soft at first but when cooled will become the perfect chewy consistency. Enjoy!
Mary Ann Seip says
Can I top with pine nuts of almonds?
Hi Mary Ann, I think you could. Let me know how it goes. 🙂
I am Italian and the older I get the more interested I am in Italian baking.
Hi Joyce, thanks, take care and Happy New year!
Looks great! Haven’t made it yet but I’m sure it’s awesome. One question: can I make these without any zest?
Hi Michelle, thanks I hope you like them, and yes you can make them without zest.
Easy recipe – don’t skip refrigerating the dough! Really great flavor.
Hi Amy, thanks so much, glad you liked it. Take care!
Could I top these with sliced almonds before baking?
Hi Amy, yes I think you could. 🙂
TY for recipe, they’re melt in your mouth goodness. I’m making them in two weeks when my daughter comes home to visit.
Hi Aurora, thanks so much, so glad you enjoyed them. Take care.
Aleena Dard says
My family loved these! A 10 out of 10! The only thing that I that I would change next time is to add in some more baking powder and that for me, the baking time turned out to be around 22 minutes. Besides that they were absolutely delicious! 🙂
Hi Aleena, thanks so much, so glad you and your family liked them. 🙂
Anne Gibboney Huske says
I made these for Christmas and paired with rum raisin ice cream. The recipe is not difficult, and they are amazing. Just like the ones I remember from Italy. They were a big hit as something different and not too heavy after a big meal.
Hi Anne, thanks so much, so glad you enjoyed them. Happy New Year.
Have now made these twice, doubling the quantities the second time as they’re so delicious. These are my new festive cookie. The great thing is you can eat them straight from the freezer too.
Hi Neil, thanks so much, glad you liked the cookies. Oh yes I love frozen cookies! Take care and Happy New Year!
Maria Salpietro says
I love the ricciarelli cookies. I follow the recipe to a T.
These cookies don’t expand or rise. What am I doing wrong.
I love to perfect this recipe as I love the flavours.
Hi Maria, well they don’t expand or rise that much. Make sure your baking powder is active and maybe use 1/2 teaspoon instead of 1/4 teaspoon. Let me know.
Sharon Rossy says
Hi. I want to make these for the first time. Can the dough be frozen or cut into individual cookies and frozen unbaked? Also, can the dough be store in the fridge longer than 24 hours? Trying to figure out my Christmas baking schedule.
Thanks, they look delicious
Hi Sharon, thanks, I would probably freeze the individual dough cookies rather than the dough. Freeze them on a cookie sheet for an hour or 2 until firm then move to a container, they can be baked from frozen although it may need a couple of minutes longer. The dough can remain in the fridge for up to 3 days. Hope this helps. Let me know how it goes.
Sharon Rossy says
Thanks I will keep you posted!
Marie Crimi says
Not sure what the flat beaters are. I have a hand mixer with only one type of beaters. I would love to make these but not sure what that instruction means.
Hi Marie, flat beaters come with a stand up mixer such as a kitchen aid, although you could use regular beaters on low or a wooden spoon or spatula. Hope that helps.
great recipe for one of my favorite Italian cookies! I’d suggest double checking your metric conversions.
On the original recipe I found 3/4 cup of powdered sugar converted (correctly) to 120g, but also listed as 90g.
Hi Rachel actually 3/4 cup is 90 grams and 1 cup is 120 grams. 🙂
Are these basically pignoli cookies without the pignolis on top?
Hi Carolyn, not really because pignoli are made with all purpose flour and not almond flour.
My pignoli cookies use no flour. Almond paste sugar egg whites
Hi Donna, oh ok well all the Italian recipes here that I have seen have flour in them. 🙂