Italian Christmas Recipes/ Italian Desserts

Italian Almond Cookies (Ricciarelli)

November 3, 2020 by Emily

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The easiest Italian Almond Cookies also know as Ricciarelli will transport you straight to the rustic streets of Siena. Soft and slightly chewy bursting with almond and orange and dusted with powdered sugar. You won’t believe how low prep they are and how easy they are to whip up!

An overhead shot of a pile of Italian almond cookies on a serving plate

These beautiful almond cookies originate in Tuscany, specifically Siena where we used to live!

They’re traditional Italian Christmas cookies but if you ever visit Siena you can buy them all year round and to be honest once you taste them you’ll want to make them all year round too!

Made with ground almonds instead of flour (so they’re naturally gluten free), almond extract and orange zest. They have a wonderful citrusy, almond flavour and a soft, melt in your mouth cakey texture, they’re just SO delicious and pretty hard to resist.

The dough is whipped up in a matter of minutes (another reason why I love them so much) but needs to chill for at least 4 hours to overnight so make sure to prepare it in advance.

I have tested this recipe SO many times to get the perfect texture and I’m so excited I finally got it right. These are the perfect cookies to get in Christmas spirit, I hope you love them as much as I do!

What you need to make them – ingredients

To make Ricciarelli you’ll need ground almonds, 2 large egg whites, white sugar, almond extract (an essential ingredient for an authentic taste), orange extract, orange zest and powdered sugar.

See the photo below that shows you all the ingredients you need.

An overhead shot of all the ingredients you need to make Ricciarelli

How to make Italian Almond Cookies (Ricciarelli) – step by step

Put the egg whites in a bowl with the almond and orange extract and whisk them with a fork until frothy (photo 1).

In a separate large bowl combine the ground almonds, sugar, and orange zest. Add the egg white mixture and mix together with a spoon until it starts to come together (photos 2 & 3).

Step by step photos showing how to make Italian almond cookie dough

Use your hands to bring the dough together to form a ball. Make sure everything is incorporated (photo 4).

Wrap the ball of cookie dough in plastic wrap (cling film UK) and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight if possible.

Remove the dough from the fridge and shape it into a large log. Cut the log into 1/2 inch pieces and roll into balls (photos 5-8).

Step by step photos showing how to shape Ricciarelli cookies

Press the ball of dough flat and then shape the Ricciarelli into ovals and place on the prepared baking tray. Let them air dry for 10-15 minutes before continuing to the next step. This helps the cookies crack in the oven (photos 9-11).

Step by step photos showing how to prepare Ricciarelli cookies for baking

Dust generously with powdered sugar and bake in the oven for 20 minutes (photo 12).

Remove from the oven (they won’t be browned at all and will still be soft) let them cool completely on the tray before moving.

A close up of the inside texture of Italian almond cookies

Top tips and recipe FAQs

  • Eggs – make sure to use large egg whites!
  • Cutting the cookies – Try to cut your cookies the same size so they cook evenly.
  • Texture – Let the cookies cool completely before moving they will be very soft straight from the oven but turn into the perfect texture as they cool.
  • Colour – The cookies shouldn’t be brown so don’t be tempted to cook them longer or turn the heat up.
  • Servings suggestions – These cookies make perfect foodie gifts for Christmas or special occasions why not put them in cellophane or paper bags and tie them with a pretty ribbon.
How do I get my cookies to crinkle or crack?

You need to let the Ricciarelli air on the baking tray for 10-15 minutes before dusting with sugar and baking. That way they form a skin that cracks much easier!

What other flavours can I use?

You can adapt these cookies with whatever extracts and citrus zest you like. Vanilla and lemon would be a great alternative if you don’t like a strong almond flavour.

How long do they last?

The cookies will keep really well in a sealed container for up to 1 week or can be frozen. If freezing, thaw completely before serving.

More Italian desserts you might like

If you’ve tried these Italian Almond Cookies or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKTWITTERINSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.

Step By Step Photos AboveMost of our recipes come with step by step photos, helpful tips and tricks to make it perfectly first time and even video!

Italian Almond Cookies (Ricciarelli)

The easiest Italian Almond Cookies also know as Ricciarelli will transport you straight to the rustic streets of Siena. Soft and slightly chewy bursting with almond and orange and dusted with powdered sugar. You won't believe how low prep they are and how easy they are to whip up!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
chilling time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 32 minutes
Servings 18 cookies
Calories 105kcal
Author Emily Kemp

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ground almonds (250g)
  • 2 large egg whites
  • ¾ cup white sugar (150g)
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • Zest of 1 orange

Instructions

  • Put the egg whites in a bowl with the almond and orange extract and whisk them with a fork until frothy.
  • In a separate large bowl combine the ground almonds, sugar and orange zest. Add the egg white mixture and mix together with a spoon until it starts to come together
  • Use your hands to bring the dough together to form a ball. Make sure everything is incorporated.
  • Wrap the ball of cookie dough in plastic wrap (cling film UK) and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight if possible.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 320F (160C) and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge and shape it into a large log. Cut the log into 1/2 inch pieces and roll into balls.
  • Press and shape the Ricciarelli into ovals and place on the prepared baking tray. Dust generously with powdered sugar and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven (they will still seem very moist and pale) and let them cool completely.

Notes

  • Eggs – make sure to use large egg whites!
  • Cutting the cookies – Try to cut your cookies the same size so they cook evenly.
  • Texture – Let the cookies cool completely before moving they will be very soft straight from the oven but turn into the perfect texture as they cool.
  • Colour – The cookies shouldn’t be brown so don’t be tempted to cook them longer or turn the heat up.
  • Servings suggestions – These cookies make perfect foodie gifts for Christmas or special occasions why not put them in cellophane or paper bags and tie them with a pretty ribbon.

Nutrition

Calories: 105kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 6mg | Potassium: 5mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg
Helpful Info for All Recipes
  • I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
  • When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use this brand for the best results and flavour
  • All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
  • All recipes are tested and developed using a fan (convection) oven
  • Find out more about how nutrition is calculated here
  • Check out our must have Italian Pantry Staples here
  • You can also find all our Essential Kitchen Tools for Italian Cooking here
Did you try this recipe?Mention @insidetherustickitchen or tag #insidetherustickitchen! We’d love you see what you’re getting up to in the kitchen!

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