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Italian Wedding Cookies

This recipe for Italian Wedding Cookies 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.

Italian Wedding Cookies pile onto a wooden board.
Sweet, snowy, and buttery goodness!

Why you’ll love this recipe

These Italian Wedding Cookies are blissful – 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 guaranteed crowd-pleasers and popular for all occasions, not just weddings. Perfect for holidays, baby showers, bridal parties, and any time you want a buttery, nutty cookie.

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 so easy, and you can’t go wrong. If you’ve never made cookies from scratch, 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 at the bottom of the page.

Ingredients

Ingredients for this recipe as in the recipe card.
  • Salted Butter – Real butter here. No substitutes, please! 
  • Granulated White Sugar – I like to use superfine white sugar, but regular works just as well.
  • 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 rising agents or fancy flours.
  • Almonds – I use whole, unblanched almonds, which means with skins. These need to be toasted and coarsely ground. Pre-ground nuts won’t give the nutty crunch that makes these Italian wedding cookies 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!

Substitutions

  • Almonds: Instead of all almonds, substitute walnuts or pecans. Or use hazelnuts instead of almonds—like these Baci di Dama. Try a combination of pecans, almonds, and pistachios.
  • Salted butter: Use unsalted butter with 1/2 teaspoon of fine salt.
  • Brandy: Omit the brandy and add a teaspoon of vanilla extract instead.

Variations

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:

  • Buttery: For a more buttery cookie, halve the quantity of almonds.
  • Italian Butterball Cookies: Omit the nuts and replace them with an additional 1/4 – 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour.
  • Cinnamony: Add a teaspoon of cinnamon or other spice that you enjoy.
  • To enhance the almond flavor, add ½ a teaspoon of almond extract – yum!

Instructions

 Four step process showing how to make this Italian cookie recipe.

Preheat oven to 320ºF/160ºC, line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Toast almonds for 5-10 minutes until fragrant and the skins crack. Cool, then chop coarsely in a food processor or crush in a bag with a rolling pin. Aim for a mix of fine and larger pieces.

  1. Beat together the softened butter, sugar, and brandy. I use an electric mixer. However, this mixture does not need much aeration, so a wooden spoon will also work. The butter and sugar must be lightened and creamy.
  2. Then, stir in the flour and chopped nuts. Use your hands to work the mixture until combined.
  3. Now roll scant tablespoons of dough (I have a little cookie scoop (ice cream scoop), which measures approximately 1½in/3.5cm across (size #60 or #70 cookie scoop) and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes. The cookies will puff but shouldn’t color too much. 
  4. 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. 

Storage

Arrange in an airtight container with baking paper between the layers to avoid the cookies sticking. These cookies will keep fresh for a week when stored in this way.

For longer storage, freeze the baked cookies in an airtight container with baking paper between the layers. Remember to dredge in extra powdered sugar before serving.

Tips for Success

Pile of white sugar coated cookies on wooden board with espresso cup in the background.
  • Ground almonds don’t work 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 it creams well with the sugar. You want to make sure the butter and sugar combine 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 sugar for best results. By barely warm, I mean almost fully cooled. The sugar will melt and clump into a sticky mess on a hot or warm cookie. Then, sieve extra powdered sugar over before serving for a perfect presentation.

FAQ

Can I use margarine or shortening instead of butter?

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.

Is powdered sugar and confectioner’s sugar the same thing?

Yes! Both are simply sugar that has been ground to a fine powder. A little cornstarch (cornflour) is added to prevent the fine sugar from clumping into a hard lump. Icing sugar is the same thing. 

Can this recipe be doubled?

Absolutely! This recipe can be doubled or tripled with no change to the cooking time. This recipe can also be halved.

Pile of white sugar coated cookies, one cookie at the top with a bite taken out.

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?
Please let me know if you liked it by leaving a ★★★★★ star rating and a review below. And remember to subscribe to my newsletter – it’s free!

pile of white sugar coated cookies on wooden board with espresso cup in the background.

Italian Wedding Cookies Recipe

Loaded with almonds and coated in sweet, powdery sugar, these are a guaranteed crowd pleaser and popular for all occasions not just weddings.
5 from 66 votes
Print Pin Review
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings:45 cookies
Author: Marcellina

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (227 grams) salted butter at cool room temperature
  • ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mls) brandy
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract optional
  • 2 cups (250 grams) all purpose (plain) flour
  • 1 cup (150 grams) whole almonds reduce to 1 cup for a more buttery cookie
  • 1 cup powdered sugar for coating

Instructions

  • 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, brandy and almond extract (if using) 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 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.

Notes

Tips for Success
  • 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.
Check out the “Variations” and “FAQ’s” for more information about how to make this Italian Wedding Cookies recipe perfectly!
Tried this recipe? Give it a star rating and leave a comment below!

Nutritional Estimate Per Serving

Calories: 117kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 48mg | Potassium: 53mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 181IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

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.

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5 from 66 votes (50 ratings without comment)

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38 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! I used pre sliced honey roasted almonds and crushed those by hand instead of doing it as suggested. And I tell you what they came out AMAZING! 🙏 thank you for sharing!