Ma’s Italian Christmas Cookies

Ma's Italian Christmas Cookies anise


12 Days of ChristmasSarah’s Italian grandmother, Ma, always baked at Christmas. Ma’s Italian Christmas cookies were her favorite Christmas treat. Even when Sarah was in college, Ma would send her a box full of Italian cookies for exams in December.

The Italian Christmas cookies were traditionally flavored with anisette, but many people don’t like that flavor. You can use vanilla, or any other flavoring you prefer if you don’t like anisette.


Ma's Italian Christmas Cookies


Another version we came up with this year is vanilla flavored cookies topped with crushed candy canes instead of sprinkles!


Ma's Italian Christmas Cookies candy cane

In our family, we would make long rolls of dough and cut them into smaller cookies by cutting on the angle after they were baked. If you prefer, you can make round ones instead.

We thought you could even take some flavor inspiration from the Corpse Reviver No. 2 cocktail and make an anisette flavored cookie with meyer lemon flavoring in the icing.

Ma's Italian Christmas Cookies
  • 2¾ cups flour, (sifted)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 T flavor
  • ⅛ t salt
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1 stick butter
  • Icing*
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking powder.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar.
  4. Add dry flour a little at a time to the wet mixture and mix until all is incorporated.
  5. Roll out a log shape. You'll get a few of these that are about 1" in diameter. Later you can cut the long cookies into diagonal cookies. Or you can make ball shapes.
  6. Cook for about 15-20 minutes. The tops will be light (not golden) but the bottoms will be golden.
  7. Allow cookies to cool on a rack. Once cook ice the cookies and add any toppings. Allow icing to dry and then cut if you made long shapes.
*Icing Ratio: ½ t flavoring, 1 cup powdered sugar, 8 t milk



  1. MA’S ITALIAN CHRISTMAS COOKIES – When making this recipe I can’t get the dough to “roll” into a log. (That’s the way my grandmother made them!) Should I be adding more flour than the recipe calls for?

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