Italian S Cookies also known as Biscotti Esse, they are a tasty, quick and easy cookie recipe. These simple Biscuits go perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. Have them for Breakfast or as a Snack!
A few months ago I was sent a copy of Elizabeth Mincilli’s Book “Eating My Way Through Italy“. This is a beautiful book that describes the amazing culinary treasure trove that is Italy.
Elizabeth takes us from the South to the North of Italy, describing the different Regions of Italy. From truffles in Umbria to Pizza in Naples to these tasty S Cookies from Venice.
She not only shares recipes but also stories, and different places to dine and stay in Italy. An interesting and must read travel / cookbook.
- Egg yolks -large yolks
- Egg – large whole egg
- Zest – teaspoon of lemon zest you can also substitute with orange zest
- Vanilla – vanilla extract
- Flour – all purpose flour at least 11% protein
- Butter – softened
- Sugar – granulated sugar
- Salt – if you use unsalted butter then add a bit more salt
How to keep cookies from spreading
To keep cookies from spreading it helps to chill the dough before baking, even if the recipe doesn’t call for it, it doesn’t hurt and can help. Also the percentage of protein in the flour is a major culprit of flat cookies. I would advise that your flour has a percentage of at least 11% or even higher if possible.
What is an S Cookie?
S Cookies also known as Esse Biscotti in Italian. They are a simple Italian Cookie that is very popular as a Breakfast cookie eaten and or dunked in your morning Cafe Latte. The origin of this cookie is in Carnia (Northern Friuli), simple biscuit made in the characteristic S shape.
How to Make Italian S Cookies
- In a small bowl beat together with a whisk or fork the egg, egg yolks, lemon zest and vanilla.
- In a large bowl whisk the flour, sugar and salt make a well in the middle and add the wet ingredients.
- Mix together with a fork until almost combined.
- Move to a lightly floured flat surface and gently knead just until combined.
- Wrap the cookie dough in plastic and refrigerate for about one hour.
- Break off small pieces of dough and form into an S shape.
- Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes on the baking sheet then move to wire rack until completely cooled. If you like you can even dust them with powdered sugar before serving.
Italians love a simple cookie not just for Breakfast, but also in the afternoon with tea or an espresso, or even better as a dessert with a glass of wine.
Different Variations of the cookie
If you wish you can substitute vanilla extract with almond extract or anise extract or even lemon extract to give it a more lemony flavor. Italians also like to dip half of the cookie in melted chocolate, add some sprinkles and serve them as a Christmas Cookie.
How to store S cookies
The cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. They will keep for up to 3-5 days. Storing in the refrigerator could dry them out.
How to freeze the cookies
The cookies should be completely cooled then placed in a freezer safe container or bag. They will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer.
These cookies are a delicate, slightly crunchy cookie. Made with butter and of course a touch of lemon. I hope you enjoy these cookies no matter when you decide to eat them!
More Italian Cookie Recipes
- Pizzicati Italian Cookies
- Traditional Italian Breakfast Cookies
- Canestrelli Cookies
- Wine Cookies
- Italian Twist Cookies
Italian S Cookies / Esse Biscotti
- 3 large egg yolks (room temperature)
- 1 large whole egg (room temperature)
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (at least 11% protein)
- 1 pinch salt*
- 3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup + 2 1/2 tablespoons butter (softened) (softened)
For room temperature ingredients remove from the fridge 45-60 minutes before using.
*If using unsalted butter then add ¼ teaspoon of salt.
- In a small bowl lightly beat the egg yolks, whole egg, zest and vanilla.
- In a large bowl add the flour, make a well in the middle and add the butter, sugar, salt and egg mixture. With a fork mix until almost combined, then move to a lightly floured flat surface. Knead gently to combine (don't over knead). Dough will be soft. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate one hour.
- Pre-heat oven to 400 F (200 C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove dough from the fridge and break off small pieces of dough, soften the dough slightly between your finger and roll into approximately 4-6 inches, to form into an S shape. Place on prepared cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 320F (150C) and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool 5-10 minutes on the baking sheet then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy.
Updated September 16, 2018.
These have a great flavor, but I had difficulty rolling them. They were dry and wouldn’t stay together. Followed the recipe to a T. I do enjoy the taste of them!
Hi Cindy, if you find the dough too dry then add a bit a little milk (start with a tablespoon), sometimes it depends on the flour and how it absorbs liquids. Take care!
Cindy Curtis says
I left my dough overnight and WOW! My husband said they were the best cookies I’ve ever baked! Thank you!!! This will stay in my recipe box. By the way, I used it to make thumbprints with my grandma’s Italian filling, and then some with apricot jam, YUM!
Hi Cindy, thanks so much, so glad you and your husband enjoyed them. The thumbprint cookies sound delicious. Take care and have a great weekend!
Rosemary- I come back to your recipe all the time. It is flawless. My grandchildren love these S cookies above all others!! Thank you.
Hi Holly, thanks so much, so glad your grandchildren like them too! Take care and have a great weekend.
Nancy Romanelli says
Need to ask a question before making these. My husband’s grandmother was famous for making “S” cookies. The only thing I know about her recipe is that she used shortening. Any suggestions or recommendations?
Hi Nancy, I am not too sure what kind of shortening you are referring to, if it’s the one I think it is I don’t use it, if you mean lard, then it’s one for one substitution. If not I would just stick to butter. Hope that helps. 🙂
Hello ! Thank you for sharing the recipe. Can I use almond flour instead of normal flour ? Shoba
Hi Shoba, I have never tried it with almond flour, but apparently you can, although you may need to add an extra egg so that it all comes together. Hope that helps. Let me know. Take care!
My family has made these for generations! We put lemon glaze on top. My Italian Grandmother would do the initials of all the grandkids.
Hi Jennifer, thanks so much, I love the idea of making initials. Have a great weekend.
My grandmother used to make these cookies with orange juice and zest, but instead of butter, she used oil. The cookies were on the hard side which made them good for dunking in coffee or milk. I don’t have her recipe. Can oil be substituted for the butter, and if so, how much oil? Thank you!
Hi Bobbie, yes I have had the harder type also and they are really good. You can substitute with oil, use 1/2 a cup of oil, if you find it a bit too dry then add an extra 1/2-1 tablespoon. Hope that helps, let me know how it goes.
So excited to make these! I made your almond crescent cookies and they were AMAZING!!! But just wanted to know if I can freeze these? And if so, before or after baking?
Hi Jenna yes they can be frozen, in a freezer safe bag or container, be sure the are completely cooled after baking. They will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer. So glad you enjoyed the crescent cookies. Have a great weekend.
My favorite biscotti. We used to buy them and have them with coffee back home. I cannot find them here, and the ones I do find do not taste right at all, but now I can make them. ☺️ Thank you.
Hi Jera, thanks so much, so glad I could help. Have a great weekend.
Marie Avalone says
Love these Italian cookies. I remember my aunt making then back when I was growing up .
Hi Marie, thanks so much, so happy I could bring back some memories. Have a wonderful Sunday.
M Joy Vitale says
First Italian cookies I have ever attempted-they came out
Thanks so much M Joy, so glad you liked them. Have a great week.
No leavening agent? Bk powder?
Hi JayC, no not in these Italian cookies.
Agatha Ferrara says
Hi. don’t have lemon zest can I use orange zest and orange extract instead. Thank. You
Hi Agatha, yes you can use orange zest for sure. Let me know how it goes. Have a great week.