Learn how to make classic Italian pizzelle cookies four ways: vanilla, anise, citrus, and chocolate!
After spending months cooking in Italy, Italian is one of my very favorite types of food to make. If you’re looking for a fun and tasty Italian cookie to make for Christmas (or anytime), you must try these classic Pizzelle cookies.
Pizzelle are thin, crisp wafer-like cookies that aren’t too sweet and are delicious for dessert or with a cup of coffee. Here is everything you need to know to make, store, and serve these Italian cookies.
What are Pizzelle Cookies?
Pizzelle are flat pressed Italian cookies similar to very thin crisp waffles. They can be made in different shapes, like pizzelle cones and pizzelle wafers. They are often served at Christmastime, but they can be enjoyed all year round.
There are many different stories and legends surrounding the pizzelle’s origins, but no one knows for sure where they came from. Some believe they were the first-ever cookies made and originated in Abruzzo, in central Italy. Others believe the pizzelle recipe was brought over by the Arabs when they invaded Sicily in the 9th century.
Like most Italian recipes, the styles vary from north to south. Southern Italian pizzelle tend to be thicker and heavier than the recipe here.
You can find store-bought pizzelle in Italian grocery stores and many mainstream grocery stores such as Whole Foods, but they’re much more fun to make at home.
What You’ll Need
Pizzelle are a thin Italian cookie made from flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs and can also contain vanilla extract or other flavors. Some pizzelle recipes call for lemon zest, cocoa powder, or aniseed as well.
You can make gluten-free pizzelle by substituting a 1:1 gluten-free flour such as the one made by Bob’s Red Mill.
Buying and Using a Pizzelle Maker
We have an entire article dedicated to reviewing the Best Pizzelle Makers so you can find the best one for your needs.
Pizzelle makers are easy to use. While the first presses were used over a fire or stove, most today are electric presses that work just like waffle irons but with much thinner plates. The pizzelle iron gives the pizzelle their distinctive shape and also helps them to stay thin and crispy.
I do not recommend trying to make this classic Italian cookie recipe without a pizzelle press. Be sure to read our guide, as there are small and affordable presses available.
Serving Suggestions and Variations
- Fill two cookies with ice cream or gelato for an Italian take on ice cream sandwiches.
- Roll hot pizzelle into cylinders and fill with cannoli fillings.
- Roll hot pizzelle into cones for ice cream cones.
- Dust with powdered sugar.
- Serve with a classic Affogato or thick Italian hot chocolate.
- Enjoy with a hot mug of Mulled Wine.
- Dip one edge of the cookies into melted chocolate.
More Classic Italian Recipes
- Authentic Bruschetta al Pomodoro
- Panzanella Salad
- Farro Salad
- Traditional Pizza Dough
- Simple Italian Pizza Sauce
- Baked Eggplant Parmesan (Vegan)
- Italian Vegetable Soup
- Pastina Soup
- Gluten-Free Vegan Almond Biscotti
- Aperol Spritz
- 3 Large eggs
- ¾ Cup sugar
- 2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 Stick (½ Cup) butter, melted and cooled
- 1¾ Cups all-purpose flour
- 2 Teaspoons baking powder
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until creamy and smooth.
- Add the vanilla and melted butter and whisk in completely.
- Sift together the four and baking powder. Slowly add to the wet ingredients and fold in with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. The dough will be very thick and will thicken even more while the press heats up and during cooking.
- Preheat your pizzelle maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Coat with a light coating of cooking spray if it's not nonstick. You'll only need to grease the press before cooking the first cookies.
- Place about 1 heaping tablespoon of the batter onto each pizzelle maker plate. A small cookie scoop works well for this but it usually takes a little practice to get the amount right for your particular press. Close the press and latch it if it has a latch.
- Cook each pizzelle for about 30-90 seconds, depending on your press. Some models will tell you when they are done, while you'll need to check on them yourself with other models. Pizzelle are ready when they are golden.
- Remove the cookies with a spatula or fork and place them on a cooling rack to crisp up. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.
- Anise: Add ½ teaspoon anise seed in with the flour and baking soda.
- Citrus: Add 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon or orange zest instead of the vanilla and/or anise.
- Chocolate: Add 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder and an additional 3 tablespoons sugar. Omit the vanilla and/or anise.
- Chocolate Dipped: Melt 1 cup chopped chocolate in a double boiler or microwave. Dip cooled cookies into the melted chocolate and let dry on a piece of waxed paper.
- Dairy-Free: Use a vegan butter such as Earth Balance. I have not found a suitable egg replacer to make this recipe vegan (yet).
- Gluten-Free: Use a 1:1 gluten-free flour such as Bob's Red Mill.
Store pizzelle cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Freeze pizzelle in a freezer bag for up to three months.
These cookies should be thin and crisp. If they soften due to moisture in the air, place them on a cookie sheet and bake for a minute or two at 350 degrees F.
This recipe was adapted from the traditional pizzelle recipe provided by Cucina Pro.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 68Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 50mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 0gSugar: 6gProtein: 2g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your favorite calculator.