No holiday is complete without my anise cookies recipe! There’s just something utterly magical about that first bite of these anise-infused cookies. The crumbly-yet-soft texture. The added sweetness of the glazed icing. Every bite reminds me of holidays past, of the generations of love that went into making this Italian Cookies recipe.
Have I made you nostalgic yet? Even if you’ve never had anise cookies, I promise, this recipe will win you over to the ways of anise desserts.
There’s a whole world of spiced treats waiting. Let’s get to it!
My anise cookies recipe is simple, flavorful, and satisfying on a soul-warming level. I could go on and on about how much these cookies mean to me, but my highlight favorites are:
- Easy to make
- Unique flavor
- Warm, cozy feelings with every bite!
- The perfect holiday treat
Around the holidays, I feel like it’s inevitable that I’ll get into a cookie discussion with someone. And even more inevitably, when I bring up anise cookies, someone always scoffs at how “complicated” they are to make.
I think people tend to equate unique flavors, like anise, with instant difficulty — but that is so not the case! These cookies couldn’t be easier. Let me show you!
What’s in a flour? This recipe calls for all-purpose flour, which tends to be common in cookie recipes. All-purpose flour is exactly what it seems to be — a staple type of flour with decent protein content and moderately milled grains. Believe it or not, there is a difference in all the different flour types!
Don’t panic over anise! Anise. Anise oil. Star anise. What’s the difference?? My anise cookies recipe calls for anise extract, which is related to but different from anise oil and star anise, both of which are much stronger in flavor than anise extract. Also, star anise tends to only come in a dried form. Stick with the extract for this one!
Allergy options? This recipe is very allergy-conversion-friendly! To make it dairy-free, just swap the milk for a dairy-free option. To make it gluten-free, use your favorite gluten-friendly flour. Easy-peasy!
Rest your dough: That dough is tired! Let it sleep. Oh, wait, that’s not what “resting” meant? For my anise cookies recipe, I’ve found that just letting the dough sit out for 15 minutes helps it be less sticky and more pliable when you roll it into balls.
My anise cookies recipe makes about 18 cookies. Truth be told, I cannot remember a time I had any leftover. I’m not sure what happened to them. I blame Santa. He loves these treats.
But, if you do weirdly have any leftovers, I recommend storing them in a Ziploc bag. They’ll last about three weeks at room temperature, or longer if you store them in the fridge.
Can You Freeze This?
Yes! One of my favorite things to do with cookies is to freeze them — before I bake them! I love storing cookie dough in portioned sizes to bake at a later time. Simply make your dough, portion it out on a cookie sheet, freeze, and dump into an airtight container or baggie. Cookies, just waiting to be baked!
You can also fully make your cookies and freeze them too. This is great if you know you’ll need a bunch of treats to share at a party or with neighbors. Frozen baked cookies and dough will both last about four months!
Make Ahead Tips
Aside from freezing the dough ahead of time, my anise cookies recipe is, unfortunately, not the most make-ahead friendly… BUT it comes together so, so fast once you start!
Less than forty minutes from start to finished, warm cookies.
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
Fully baked cookies can hang out in your fridge happily for up to three weeks. Any longer and the icing glaze may start to get sticky and yucky.
Believe it or not, there’s even more deliciousness to be had with my anise cookies recipe!
Do Other Countries Have Their Own Version of Anisette Cookies?
Anise is a widely beloved flavor across the world. My anise cookies recipe is reminiscent of the Italian version, or anisette cookies. Other variations are German anise cookies, which tend to include a citrus zest of some kind, and Mexican anise cookies, which bring in other luscious spices to round out the flavor.
Which Cookies Do Italians Bake During Special Occasions?
All the cookies! Italian christmas cookies tend to be richer and more buttery, as you’d expect from a Christmas treat.
Italian wedding cookies are an all-time favorite in my house. These buttery little knobs are rolled in powdered sugar. They’re messy and delicious!
Can I Add Ricotta?
My lemon ricotta cookies recipe will have you believing in the power of ricotta! Ricotta cookies are a staple in Italian cooking, very reminiscent of cream cheese cookies or sour cream cookies. Basically, adding any dairy product to cookies will result in YUM!
What Other Ingredients Can I Add To These Cookies?
If you want a richer, crumblier cookie, Italian butter cookies are your way to go! This is the base recipe for such gems as Italian Wedding Cookies. Who doesn’t love butter?
If you want to play around with the extracts, Italian almond cookies are lip-smacking good. I love almond flavoring, but be careful with the amount you put in! You can quickly turn your cookies from delicious to inedible.
And if you want to add a bit of a Mediterranean twist, try Italian fig cookies. Like Fig Newtons, only homemade and better!
Can I Turn These Into Macaroons?
Macaroons, not to be confused with the lighter French macarons, are only a shake of coconut away! Toss in some sweetened or unsweetened, toasted or untoasted, whatever you’re craving. Then dip in melted chocolate to finish off your chocolate dipped coconut macaroons!
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon anise extract
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon anise extract
- hot water, about 2 tablespoons
- sprinkles, colored sugar, or jimmies
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together, flour, baking powder, and white sugar. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture.
- Add the oil, milk, 1 tablespoon anise extract, and eggs to the well and mix together until dough is sticky. Allow the batter to sit for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the icing. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together confectioners sugar, 1 teaspoon anise extract, and just enough hot water to form a smooth icing; set aside.
- Oil your fingers and pinch off dough into 1-inch pieces. Roll pieces into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheets, 1 inch apart. Slightly flatten balls with the bottom of a glass.
- Bake cookies for about 8 minutes. Dip the cookies in the icing immediately after they come out of the oven. Decorate, with sprinkles, colored sugar, or jimmies while the icing is still wet and unset.
Want to fill a basket full of Italian treats? I got you covered!
- Almond Biscotti Recipe – The coffee cookie classic!
- Lemon Drop Cookies – The best of citrus bursts!
- Pizzelle – Fun to say, even more fun to eat!
- Amaretti Cookies – Almond, taken up a notch.
- Rainbow Cookies – No need to search — these cookies are the pot of gold, too!
Whether you’re making my anise cookies recipe for a party, holiday, or just to spice up a weeknight, I guarantee you’ll be happy with the results. And I hope, in making these cookies, that you realize how accessible these uniquely flavored desserts are!
What other unusual flavors have you tried in desserts? Let me know in the comments!