Buttery Italian Easter Cookies


As Easter approaches, it’s time to embrace the rich culinary traditions that accompany this joyous holiday. One beloved treat that holds a special place on the Easter table is Buttery Italian Easter Cookies. These delightful treats are not only delicious but also a symbol of togetherness and celebration. In this article, we’ll explore the history behind these cookies, uncover their unique flavors, and share a mouthwatering recipe for you to recreate at home.

The History Behind Buttery Italian Easter Cookies: Buttery Italian Easter Cookies, also known as “Italian Easter Taralli” or “Taralli Dolci,” have been a cherished part of Italian Easter celebrations for generations. These cookies are deeply rooted in Italian culture, symbolizing renewal, abundance, and the joy of springtime. Traditionally, they are made with simple ingredients like butter, flour, sugar, and eggs, resulting in a tender and buttery texture that melts in your mouth. While the exact origins of these cookies are unclear, their presence on the Easter table is a testament to the enduring traditions of Italian cuisine.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon or orange (optional)
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease it with butter.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well combined.
  3. Add the softened butter to the dry ingredients and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the vanilla extract and citrus zest, if using.
  5. Gradually add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, mixing until a soft dough forms.
  6. Divide the dough into small portions and shape each portion into a rope, about 1/2 inch thick.
  7. Twist or shape the ropes into desired shapes, such as circles, knots, or twists, and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
  8. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown around the edges.
  9. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Once cooled, dust the cookies with powdered sugar, if desired, and serve.

Serving and Storage Tips:

Serving Tips:

  1. Enjoy Buttery Italian Easter Cookies as a delightful addition to your Easter brunch or dinner spread. They pair perfectly with a cup of coffee, tea, or even a glass of milk.
  2. Consider serving the cookies on a decorative platter or in a festive Easter basket to add a touch of charm to your table setting.
  3. For a special treat, serve the cookies alongside other traditional Italian Easter desserts like Colomba di Pasqua (Easter dove cake) or Pastiera Napoletana (Neapolitan Easter pie).
  4. Dust the cookies with powdered sugar just before serving for a beautiful finishing touch that adds a hint of sweetness and elegance.

Storage Tips:

  1. Store Buttery Italian Easter Cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Ensure they are completely cooled before storing to prevent moisture buildup.
  2. If you prefer a softer texture, place a slice of bread or a small piece of apple in the container with the cookies to help retain moisture.
  3. To extend the shelf life of the cookies, you can freeze them for up to 2-3 months. Place the cookies in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, then transfer them to a freezer-safe container or resealable plastic bag.
  4. When ready to enjoy, allow the frozen cookies to thaw at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving. You can also reheat them in a preheated oven at 300°F (150°C) for 5-7 minutes for a warm and fresh-from-the-oven taste.

By following these serving and storage tips, you can ensure that your Buttery Italian Easter Cookies stay fresh and delicious for you and your loved ones to enjoy throughout the Easter season and beyond. Buon appetito!

Variations of Buttery Italian Easter Cookies:

  1. Lemon or Orange Zest:
    • Add zest from one lemon or orange to the dough for a citrusy burst of flavor. The bright, refreshing notes complement the buttery richness of the cookies beautifully.
  2. Almond Extract:
    • Substitute vanilla extract with almond extract for a nutty twist. The subtle almond flavor adds depth to the cookies and pairs well with the buttery sweetness.
  3. Anise Seeds:
    • Mix in 1-2 teaspoons of anise seeds to the dough for a distinctive licorice-like flavor. Anise seeds are a traditional addition to Italian Easter cookies, adding a unique twist to the classic recipe.
  4. Chocolate Chips:
    • Fold in 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips to the dough for a decadent chocolatey variation. The melted chocolate creates pockets of gooey goodness throughout the cookies, making them irresistible to chocolate lovers.
  5. Sprinkles:
    • Roll the shaped cookie dough in colorful sprinkles before baking for a festive touch. This variation adds a playful pop of color and makes the cookies even more appealing, especially for Easter celebrations with children.
  6. Jam Thumbprints:
    • Make an indentation in the center of each cookie before baking and fill it with your favorite fruit jam or preserves. Raspberry, apricot, or strawberry jam adds a sweet and tangy contrast to the buttery cookies.
  7. Glazed:
    • Drizzle the cooled cookies with a simple powdered sugar glaze made with powdered sugar, milk, and a splash of vanilla extract. The glaze adds a glossy finish and a touch of sweetness to the cookies.
  8. Nutty:
    • Roll the shaped cookie dough in finely chopped nuts such as almonds, pecans, or walnuts before baking for a crunchy texture and nutty flavor. This variation adds an extra layer of richness and depth to the cookies.
  9. Anise Flavored:
    • Replace vanilla extract with anise extract or liqueur for a more pronounced anise flavor. Anise-flavored cookies are a traditional Easter treat in many Italian households, perfect for those who enjoy the distinctive taste of anise.
  10. Coconut:
    • Add 1/2 cup of shredded coconut to the dough for a tropical twist. The coconut adds a chewy texture and a hint of sweetness to the cookies, reminiscent of a macaroon.

Experiment with these variations to create a personalized version of Buttery Italian Easter Cookies that suits your taste preferences and adds a special touch to your Easter celebration. Buona Pasqua! (Happy Easter!)


1. Can I make Buttery Italian Easter Cookies ahead of time?

  • Yes, you can make Buttery Italian Easter Cookies ahead of time. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, making them a convenient treat for Easter gatherings.

2. Can I freeze Buttery Italian Easter Cookies?

  • Absolutely! Buttery Italian Easter Cookies freeze well for up to 2-3 months. Simply place them in a freezer-safe container or resealable plastic bag and thaw at room temperature when ready to enjoy.

3. Can I use salted butter instead of unsalted butter in the recipe?

  • While unsalted butter is typically preferred for baking to control the amount of salt in the recipe, you can use salted butter if that’s what you have on hand. Just be mindful of the added salt content and adjust accordingly.

4. Can I make Buttery Italian Easter Cookies gluten-free?

  • Yes, you can make gluten-free Buttery Italian Easter Cookies by using a gluten-free flour blend in place of all-purpose flour. Be sure to check the labels of your ingredients to ensure they are gluten-free.

5. Can I add nuts or chocolate chips to the cookies?

  • Absolutely! Feel free to customize your Buttery Italian Easter Cookies by adding chopped nuts, such as almonds or pecans, or chocolate chips to the dough for added texture and flavor.

6. How do I prevent the cookies from spreading too much during baking?

  • To prevent the cookies from spreading too much, make sure the dough is thoroughly chilled before baking. You can also try reducing the amount of butter in the recipe or adding a bit more flour to the dough.

7. Can I make smaller or larger cookies?

  • Yes, you can adjust the size of the cookies to your preference. For smaller cookies, roll smaller portions of dough, and for larger cookies, roll larger portions. Just be sure to adjust the baking time accordingly.

8. Can I omit the powdered sugar dusting on top of the cookies?

  • Yes, the powdered sugar dusting is optional. If you prefer, you can leave the cookies plain or drizzle them with a simple glaze made with powdered sugar and milk for added sweetness.

9. How long do Buttery Italian Easter Cookies stay fresh?

  • Buttery Italian Easter Cookies will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. If stored properly, they will maintain their flavor and texture throughout the Easter holiday.

10. Can I add flavor extracts other than vanilla to the cookies? – Yes, you can experiment with different flavor extracts such as almond, lemon, or orange to customize the flavor of the cookies to your liking. Just be mindful of the intensity of the flavor and adjust the amount accordingly.


Buttery Italian Easter Cookies are more than just a delicious treat – they’re a symbol of tradition, family, and the joy of Easter. Whether enjoyed with a cup of coffee in the morning or as a sweet ending to a festive meal, these cookies are sure to delight your taste buds and warm your heart. So why not bring a taste of Italy to your Easter celebration this year with these irresistible homemade treats? Buona Pasqua! (Happy Easter!)

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