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This Italian Pizzelle Recipe for the classic Italian cookie includes anise extract and anise seeds for a truly traditional pizzelle flavor with a crunchy texture. 

We love unique Christmas cookies, which is when we typically make pizzelle. Some of our other favorites are Mexican Wedding Cookies [aka Russian Tea Cakes], Chocolate-Dipped Almond Biscotti, and Lime Meltaway Shortbread Cookies.

powdered sugar dusted pizzelles on a wire rack

Pizzelles are a classic italian cookie that are traditionally served at weddings and other celebrations. My husband’s aunt and uncle visit family in Italy often and she introduced me to these deliciously crunchy, anise flavored pizzelles last Christmas.

I immediately fell in love with them and knew I needed to share them this year! Dusted with powdered sugar or undusted, either way these are delicious, classic cookies with a unique flavor and texture!

This authentic Italian pizzelle recipe is my second contribution to this year’s Christmas Cookies Week. It’s a week where a bunch of us food blogger friends are sharing some of our favorite cookie ideas for the holidays and you can see what everybody else posted today by scrolling to the bottom of this post.

Yes, Italian pizzelle require a special pizzelle maker to make them, but they are inexpensive and easy to find on Amazon and almost any baking or home store like Sur la Table or Williams Sonoma. They are kind of like a waffle iron that presses a very soft dough into a thin, almost wafer-like cookie that you can actually shape into other forms.

The hot pizzelles are really malleable right when they are removed from the iron grid or design of the pizzelle maker but that doesn’t last long.

You can wrap the hot pizzelle around cannoli tubes, make cones, or drape them over bowls to get different shapes for different desserts, if you wanted.

Or just lay them flat like traditional pizzelles and dust them with powdered sugar.

An image of classic Italian pizzelles with anise extract and anice seeds for flavor.

I haven’t tried making cannoli with these yet, but we have definitely done fresh pizzelle bowls for cookie & movie night and filled them with ice cream.

And while I’m not Italian, this pizzelle recipe is as close to an authentic Italian pizzelle recipe as I have found, using anise extract and anise seed to achieve a lightly licorice flavor that I LOVE, even though I’m not a fan of licorice to begin with!

If you don’t love anise though, I’ve included some pizzelle recipe variations below.

How to Make this Authentic Italian Pizzelle Recipe

  1. Start by whisking eggs using a stand mixer, hand mixer, or just by hand with a whisk for 3 to 4 minutes until it gets thick and foamy.
  2. Whisk in the sugar, followed by the melted butter and vanilla and anise extracts.
  3. Sprinkle the flour, baking powder, anise seeds (if using) and salt over the egg and sugar mixture and whisk until combined and you’ve got a soft, sticky dough that is almost a batter.
  4. Now the fun part happens! Scoop one tablespoon of dough onto the middle of each pizzelle design. Most pizzelle makers can only make two pizzelles at a time, but the good news is that they cook really fast – about 45 seconds per batch.
An image of a step-by-step process for how to make Italian pizzelles with anise extract and anise seed.
An image of a hot pizzelle iron with anise pizzelle batter on it ready to be pressed into cookie form.
An image of a pizzelle maker on a counter with anise pizzelle batter and cooked pizzelles on top and beside the iron.

I always do my best to research recipes from other cultures thoroughly to represent them as best I can. If this recipe is from your country or culture and you have suggestions for how I can improve its authenticity, please let me know in the comments below! It’s important to us to share beloved foods of other cultures with as much accuracy as possible, while also considering things like accessibility of ingredients and ease of preparation for most home cooks.

Pizzelle Variations

It is easy to change up this authentic Italian pizzelle recipe to make some not so authentic but still delicious flavors just by changing the anise extract and anise seeds for a different flavor extract like vanilla, maple, almond, rum, etc. But here are some other classic pizzelle variations you might want to try:

  • Vanilla pizzelles: Substitute the anise extract with vanilla extract for a total of 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
  • Lemon pizzelles: Substitute the anise extract with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of grated lemon zest.
  • Chocolate pizzelles: Replace the anise extract with vanilla extract for a total of 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, add an extra 1/4 cup of sugar and replace 1/3 cup of the flour with cocoa powder.
  • Lemon-lime pizzelles: Substitute the anise extract with 1 teaspoon each of lemon and lime juices and add 1 tablespoons each of grated lemon and lime zest.
  • Orange pizzelles: Substitute the anise extract with 2 tablespoons of orange juice and add 2 tablespoons of grated orange zest.
  • Half-and-half chocolate vanilla pizzelles: Make one batch of vanilla pizzelle batter and one batch of chocolate pizzelle batter (or any other flavor combinations) and drop spoonfuls of both onto the pizzelle maker at the same time right beside each other to get a half-and-half pizzelle.
  • Ice cream bowl pizzelles: Immediately drape a hot pizzelle over a small bowl and use oven-mitted hands to press the sides around the bowl for a few seconds until the pizzelle cools and sets hard enough to hold it’s shape. When completely cool, use as dessert or ice cream bowls.

Tips for the Best Italian Pizzelles

  • Be careful not to overfill your pizzelle maker.  One tablespoon of pizzelle dough/batter may not seem like much, but it spreads a lot.
  • Lay the cooked pizzelles flat on a wire cooling rack as soon as the they come out of the pizzelle maker or mold into the form you desire.
  • Don’t stack hot pizzelles.  The heat and steam will make the pizzelles lose their crispiness.
An image of classic anise pizzelles stacked on a wire rack.
An image of a hand lifting a classic Italian pizzelle dusted with powdered sugar from off a stack of pizzelles.

More Delicious International Desserts You Need to Try!

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pizzelles on a wire rack with powdered sugar on top
Yield: 36 cookies

Italian Pizzelle Recipe

This Authentic Italian Pizzelle Recipe for the classic Italian cookie includes anise extract and anise seeds for a truly traditional pizzelle flavor with a crunchy texture.  

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 seconds
Total Time 10 minutes 45 seconds

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon anise extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons anise seeds, optional
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  1. Beat eggs using a whisk attachment in an stand mixer for 3 to 4 minutes, until foamy. Add sugar and whisk until thick, another 1 to 2 minutes. Mix in butter, vanilla, and anise extracts.
  2. Sprinkle the flour, baking powder, and salt over the egg mixture, and whisk in until combined.
  3. Heat pizzelle press, then drop 1 tablespoon of batter at a time onto each template area of the press, then close and cook for 25 to 45 seconds, until golden and no longer steaming.
  4. Carefully remove the pizzelle cookies from the press using a fork or a small spatula and transfer to a wire cooling rack. When cool, dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Notes

Adapted from Baking a Moment.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

36

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 78Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 50mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 7gProtein: 1g

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

#ChristmasCookiesWeek Tuesday Recipes