This Italian Wedding Cookies Recipe is the only one you’ll ever need! Foolproof and delicious, this recipe uses just 6 ingredients to make wonderful, melt in your mouth Italian cookies
Why you’ll love this recipe
These Italian Wedding Cookies are a mouthful of bliss - sugary, rich and buttery. The texture is really the absolute highlight of these almond shortbread cookies. One bite and you’ll be in love!
Loaded with almonds and coated in sweet, powdery sugar, these are a guaranteed crowd pleaser and popular for all occasions not just weddings. Ideal for holidays, baby showers, bridal parties and in fact any time you want a buttery, nutty cookie.
Actually the name of these cookies is a bit of a misnomer. By this I mean the “Italian” part, not just the “wedding” part. Many countries have a similar cookie. For example Russian Tea Cakes with walnuts. Swedish or Mexican wedding cookies, Greek Kourabiedes and Austrian kipferin are all similar.
But let’s be practical here, you’ll want to make this Italian Wedding cookies recipe because it’s just so easy and you can’t go wrong. If you’ve never made cookies from scratch, then this is a great place to start. And if you love sweet, sugar coated treats like cuccidati and Italian chocolate cookies then you’ll love these too!
For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.
- Salted Butter - Real butter here. No substitutes, please!
- Sugar - Superfine sugar also known as “castor” sugar is white sugar with fine crystals that dissolves easily. I like to use this in most of my baking. If you don’t have it, just whizz regular white sugar in a food processor until fine and like magic you have superfine sugar. Or just beat the butter and sugar a little longer to make sure that the mixture isn’t grainy.
- Brandy - Just a little for flavor. Don’t worry about the alcohol content because it will cook off during baking. See below for substitutions.
- Flour - Regular all purpose, plain flour is needed here. There is no need for a rising agents or fancy flours.
- Almonds - I use whole, unblanched almonds which means they have their skins on. These need to be toasted and coarsely ground. Pre-ground nuts won’t give the nutty crunch that make this Italian wedding cookies recipe so amazing! However, use pre-toasted nuts if you prefer.
- Powdered Sugar - Also known as “confectioners” or “icing” sugar. The traditional white, sugary coating is what makes these sometimes called Almond Snowball Cookies. Looking at the photos, you can see why!
Earlier I mentioned that variations of this Italian wedding cookies recipe can be found around the globe. Many of the recipes vary the nuts or add spices and make other changes but the basic recipe is the same - a sugar coated, scrumptious butterball cookie! Here a some variations I sometimes use:
- For a more buttery cookie, halve the quantity of almonds.
- Instead of all almonds, substitute one cup of almonds for one cup of walnuts.
- Use hazelnuts instead of almonds - very much like these Baci di Dama.
- Or vary the quantities and varieties of nuts - try a combination of pecans, almonds and pistachios.
- Actually you could leave the nuts out completely to make Italian butterball cookies. Replace the nuts with additional ¼ - ½ cup of all purpose flour.
- Add a teaspoon of cinnamon or other spice that you enjoy.
- Leave out the brandy and add a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- To enhance the almond flavor, add ½ a teaspoon of almond extract - yum!
Firstly you’ll need to preheat the oven to 320ºF/160ºC and line two baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.
Spread the almonds out onto a baking sheet and toast for 5-10 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when they smell nutty and fragrant and some of the skins will start to slightly crack. Pay attention that they don’t burn!
Cool, then coarsely chop the almonds in a food processor or pop them into a sturdy plastic bag and tap firmly with a rolling pin until crushed. The aim is to have some slightly larger pieces amongst the finer ground almonds.
- Beat together the softened butter, sugar and brandy. I use an electric mixer. However this is not a mixture that needs much aeration so a wooden spoon will work just as well. The butter and sugar must be lightened and creamy.
- Then stir in the flour and chopped nuts. You’ll need to use your hands to work the mixture until combined.
- Now roll scant tablespoons of dough (I have a little cookie scoop (ice cream scoop) which measures approx 1½in/3.5cm across (size #60 or #70 cookie scoop) and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15-20. The cookies will puff but shouldn’t color too much.
- When the cookies have almost cooled but still have a little bit of warmth, sift powdered (icing) sugar into a small bowl and roll the cookies in the sugar until well coated.
Tips for success and FAQ’s
Ground almonds don’t work as well for this recipe. Toasting and crushing the almonds produces the best result. The contrast of textures is one of the best characteristics of this almond melt away cookie.
Have the butter at room temperature so that it creams well with the sugar. You want to make sure the butter and sugar combines perfectly otherwise there’ll be pockets of cookie dough with lumps of butter. That’s not going to be good. For tips about softening butter quickly, learn a good method in my Easy Vanilla Cake recipe.
Roll barely warm cookies in powdered (icing) sugar for best results. By barely warm, I mean almost fully cooled. The sugar will melt and clump in a sticky mess on a hot or even warm cookie. Then sieve extra powdered sugar over before serving for a perfect presentation.
Nope! Well, you could but why? Butter gives flavor like nothing else and is the key to the taste of this Italian Wedding cookie recipe.
Yes! Basically it’s just sugar that has been ground to a fine powder. A little bit of cornstarch (cornflour) is added to prevent the sugar clumping into a hard lump. Icing sugar is the same thing.
Absolutely! This recipe can be doubled or tripled with no change to the cooking time. Actually, this recipe can even be halved.
Arrange in an airtight container with baking paper between the layers to avoid the cookies sticking. These cookies will keep fresh for a week stored in this way.
Freeze baked cookies in an airtight container with baking paper between the layers. Remember to dredge in sugar before serving.
More Italian cookie recipes
Italian Chocolate Cookies - with two types of chocolate and the crunch of walnuts.
Savoiardi - sponge finger cookies that are perfect for tiramisu.
Cantuccini - everything you need to know to make almond biscotti.
Italian Peach Cookies - these look just like fresh peaches but taste like Italian heaven.
Made this recipe?
Let me know if you liked it by leaving a ★★★★★ star rating and a review below. Please share a photo of your creation by tagging me on Instagram @marcellina.in.cucina!
Italian Wedding Cookies
- 1 cup (227 grams) salted butter at cool room temperature
- ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar extra fine or castor sugar
- 1 tablespoon (15 mls) brandy
- 2 cups (250 grams) all purpose (plain) flour
- 2 cups (300 grams) whole almonds reduce to 1 cup for a more buttery cookie
- 1 cup powdered sugar (also known as icing sugar) for coating
- Preheat oven to 320ºF/160ºC and line two baking sheets with non-stick baking paper
- Spread the almonds out onto a baking sheet and toast for 5-8 minutes. Take care not to burn them. Your nose will tell you when they are ready. Cool.
- Chop the almonds in a food processor but not until completely ground. There should be some larger chunks amongst the finely ground nuts. Set aside until needed.
- Beat butter, granulated white sugar and brandy until well combined and creamy.
- Stir in flour and finely chopped almonds and mix with your fingers until well combined.
- Roll scant tablespoons of dough into balls (about the size of a small walnut) and place on the prepared baking sheet allowing a bit of room for spreading.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly puffed and pale golden.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack to cool. Don’t coat with powdered (icing) sugar until they are cooled to barely warm otherwise the sugar will melt and end up a sticky mess. By barely warm, I mean almost fully cooled!
- Sift powdered (icing) sugar into a small bowl and roll cookies to coat. Store in an airtight container with baking paper between the layers.
- Before serving sieve over the top of the cookies with powdered (icing) sugar.
- Ground almonds don’t work as well for this recipe. Go to the effort of grinding or crushing the nuts yourself.
- Be sure to use softened butter - definitely not melted - just softened and at cool room temperature
- Don't roll hot cookies in sugar. Wait until the cookies have cooled to barely warm otherwise you'll end up in a sticky mess. By barely warm, I mean almost fully cooled.
Nutritional Information Per Serving
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.
Super simple to make, delicious cookies and the texture is to die for!
Thanks for the great feedback, Sandra! We think so too!
Thank you for the feedback, Carol!
Either the recipe, or the name of this cookie recipe should be changed. I made both the almond cookie, and the variation which omits the almonds. The almond cookies were very dense, and lacked the melt-in-your-mouth texture and flavor of the cookie I hoped to bake. Without almonds, the cookie was much more agreeable, which surprised me, because I was wary about removing a dry ingredient with no substitution (I actually added a bit more flour to be on the safe side, and I'm glad I did). cooling the cookies and rolling them in the sifted confectioner's sugar when still a little warm made for a gooey coating, even after the second sieved sprinkling of the sugar. All in all this was a waste of my time and the expense of premium ingredients, made more disappointing by the fact that my purpose in making them was at the request of a friend who was in the hospital, and who dearly loves the traditional cookie. I'm sorry, I don't like to leave poor reviews but it seems to be warranted here.
Mary, I'm so sorry to hear that the cookies didn't turn out the way you wanted them to. As soon as I saw your comment, I retested the recipe (even though this is a recipe I have used for many years) and made a reduced almond variation as well. Both varieties turned out well with a nutty, buttery texture. The reduced almond variation was more buttery and melt in your mouth so I will add that in as an option but as it stands, this recipe, from my extensive testing works as it should. I'm thinking that your measurements were possibly a bit out which could have resulted in the texture that you didn't like so I've added in weight measurements to hopefully avoid that problem again. The other thing could be that the almonds were ground too finely. Try leaving the almonds a little more coarse and also try reducing the almonds by half. This may be the result you are looking for.
I'm glad you enjoyed the nut free variation which, yes, do need a little extra flour. I will add that into the variations.
As far as coating in the confectioner's sugar, I do state in the recipe that the cookies shouldn't be hot, in fact they should be "barely warm". That means hardly warm at all. I do mention that if the cookie is too warm, you'll end up with a sticky mess.
Hopefully these suggestions help somewhat.
How do you maintain the shape?
The cookies were delicious however they quickly flattened out when they were baked. I attempted to keep them as balls for the second batch by coating the balls in ground almonds but they still spread out.
I'm sorry this happened to you, Marcia. My only thought is that the weather may be warm at the moment and the butter too soft. To solve this, chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes before forming the balls. Also, check the measurements are accurate. Butter too can be a culprit - less expensive butter can melt and not hold structure as well because the molecules have been changed due to melting in the processing stage.
Where in the recipe is the eight hour chilling time?
Hi Arlene, I've retested the recipe and found it not necessary to chill the dough so have removed it from the recipe. My apologies for the confusion.
What can you use instead of brandy
Hi Debbie, you could use sherry or if you prefer non alcoholic, try orange juice. Hope that helps!
A sugary, rich cookie that’s easy to make. Perfection. What a delightful treat. I can’t wait to serve these cookies to guests!
Oh yum, these were the perfect buttery cookies for some Friday night baking!
One of my favorites! So yummy!