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!