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:
- 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.
- 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. The sugar will melt and clump in a sticky mess on a hot 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.
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.
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Italian Wedding Cookies
- 1 cup (227 grams) salted butter softened
- ¾ cup superfine (castor) sugar
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- 2 cups all purpose (plain) flour
- 2 cups almonds
- 1 cup powdered (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, superfine (castor) 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.
- 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 – not melted – just softened at 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.