If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of making a pignoli cookies recipe, you’re in for a treat! These Italian cookies originated in Sicily as the Mediterranean version of the popular macaroon cookies. Crumbly almond paste holds pinenuts together for crunchy, nutty Christmas cookies that are deliciously decadent but naturally gluten-free!
Pignoli cookies will bring a unique taste and texture to any holiday cookie spread. Let’s get baking!
While pignoli cookies recipes might not be as well-known in the holiday cookie circuit as other Italian favorites like anisette or Italian butter cookies, they’re super easy to make and absolutely unmatched in almond flavor!
- Six simple ingredients
- A celebration of almond flavor
Buying pignoli cookies freshly made can often cost a pretty penny — which is why I adore being able to make these delightful confections at home! Some of the ingredients may seem unusual, so I’ve outlined them to help you make the most of your Italian Christmas treat.
Almond Paste: Find almond paste in the baking aisle of your grocery store. You might not find it in tubes as this recipe asks for, but just make sure it’s paste, not flavoring, extract, or flour. Almond paste is one step beyond flour in the processing steps, breaking down the nuts so they’re smoother.
Egg White: This pignoli cookies recipe, like many cookie recipes, calls only for egg white, not a whole egg. Using egg whites in cooking brings moisture and protein-driven structure without the density and custard-like quality of egg yolks.
Pignoli cookies are a very delicate, light cookie, so excluding the egg yolk plays into the flavors you want to highlight!
Pine Nuts: One way to punch up the nutty richness of your pignoli cookies recipe, even more, is to toast your pine nuts. There are many ways of doing this, but I prefer spreading them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and baking at 375 for about ten minutes. Toasted perfection!
Pignoli cookies are delicate, rich little bites of heaven — so how can you best preserve your leftovers? Luckily, this pignoli cookies recipe is as easy to store as it is to make!
Can You Freeze This?
Yes! Pignoli cookies have no qualms with hanging out in your freezer. After they’re cool, pop them in an airtight container or bag, and they’ll hang out just fine in your freezer for up to 6- 12 months!
I, personally, think pignoli cookies taste even better right out of the freezer! They take on this lusciously firm quality that is just perfect for a midnight snack.
Make Ahead Tips
This pignoli cookies recipe comes together very quickly once you start, but you can always whip up the dough ahead of time and freeze or store it in your fridge until you’re ready to bake.
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
You actually don’t have to store this pignoli cookies recipe in your fridge! Since they don’t have any frosting, you can store them (still sealed, of course — we don’t want stale cookies!) in your pantry for up to three weeks.
If you hit the three-week mark and still have cookies leftover, these make a great crust for a pie! Crumble them up really fine, mix them with melted butter, and press into your pie pan. Blind bake at 350 until just toasted then fill with your pie filling of choice. Yum!
When cookie recipes are as simple and easy as this pignoli cookies recipe, I love shaking things up on my second batch! Here are some of my favorite ways to add surprises to this treat.
Can I Add Some Lemon?
Yes! Almond and lemon is a magical flavor pairing. Lemon drop cookies are some of my all-time favorites — they bring a much-needed burst of citrus to those dark winter nights. Lemon ricotta cookies are just as delicious and still bring a nice Italian twist with the creamy ricotta!
Can I Add Chocolate To This Recipe?
What recipe isn’t improved by chocolate? If you still want an Italian twist, my chocolate biscotti recipe is just for you! Perfect for dipping in hot cocoa. Chocolate shortbread cookies are a staple for any holiday cookie tray, while kids will love reindeer oreos! They’re as fun to make as they are to eat.
Can I Add Cinnamon?
Who doesn’t love soft gingerbread cookies during Christmas? And let’s not forget the one, the only: Gingerbread man cookies! I adore finding unique sprinkles to decorate this little army of holiday treats. But if you want something unique, try biscoff cookies — yes, the storebought favorite in your kitchen!
Can I Add Anise Extract?
The popular Italian cookies, anisette cookies, and anise cookies will brighten every holiday tray. Licorice is such a potent Christmas flavor that I can’t imagine a winter season without some kind of delicious anise cookie!
Can I Turn These Into Butter Cookies?
Yes! If you don’t have to worry about the dairy-free option in this pignoli cookies recipe, go for Italian butter cookies. Decadence to the extreme! They are the ultimate Christmas butter cookies, just like everyone’s favorite: Spritz cookies! You only break out the spritz cookie maker once a year, so make it worthwhile!
- 1 (7-ounce) tube almond paste, crumbled coarsely
- 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 large egg white
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups pine nuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment; set aside.
- Add the almond paste and confectioners' sugar to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined.
- Add the egg white, honey, and salt and continue to pulse until the mixture is smooth and thick about 1 minute.
- Add pine nuts to a mixing bowl. Using a small cookie scoop portion the dough, one at a time, onto the pine nuts. Roll dough to cover with pine nuts. Place on prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart.
- Bake in preheated oven until edges are set and begin to brown, about 16-19 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Looking for more luxurious, scrumptious, good-to-the-last-crumb Christmas cookies? I got you covered, friend!
- Whipped Shortbread Cookies – Fluffy meets buttery!
- Crockpot Candy – As easy as it is delicious.
- Vanillekipferl – A perfect mouthful to say and eat!
- Polar Bear Paws Candy. Every good cookie spread needs candy.
- Yugoslavian Christmas Cookies – Bring Eastern Europe to your holiday!
Pignoli cookies bring an Italian treat to your holidays without the hefty price tag of these decadent Sicilian cookies. Almond paste and pine nuts celebrate nuts in the best ways!
What holiday drink do you like dipping your cookies in? Let me know in the comments!