Italian Butter Cookies with frosting are tender and extra rich thanks to three egg yolks. Customize the cookies with rainbow sprinkles, chocolate buttercream frosting or leave plain to maximize the butter flavor.
The one thing I miss from my home state of Missouri is good Italian food, especially a good Italian bakery.
For years, my mother sent me a box of Italian cookies from Missouri Baking Co. at Christmas.
But, my parents have moved to Maine permanently.
It’s nice having my family here but it also means no more Missouri Baking Co. cookies. 🙁
I’ve tried ordering from the bakery but they say the cookies are too fragile for mail order.
So, I’ve had to collect as many Italian cookie recipes as possible!
Best Italian Butter Cookie Recipe
Italian Butter Cookie Recipe with Frosting
This recipe is from The Italian Bakery Cook Book by Lee Cirillo.
The book has been out of print for nearly 40 years but I was able to buy a photocopy from a woman in New York.
You’ll use the yolks from three eggs.
Also, the oven temperature, listed at 400 F, might seem hot but that’s the correct temperature.
I followed this recipe exactly as Lee Cirillo wrote it and it was delicious.
However, Cirillo’s published her book in 1982 when we were not as wanton with salt in sweet recipes as we are today.
I’ve since begun adding a half teaspoon of kosher salt in with the dry ingredients.
How to Pipe Italian Butter Cookies
If you haven’t yet worked with a pastry bag to pipe cookie dough, try it,
Piping bags are easy to use and they give your cookies a polished appearance.
- Open a piping bag,
- Stick tip inside the bag all the way down so it peeks out of the bag’s narrow opening.
- Fill the bag about halfway with dough.
- Lay the bag flat on your countertop.
- Grab a bench scraper and slide it down the pastry bag, pushing the dough towards the bottom of the bag so you don’t have any dough threatening to spill out.
- Fold the very top of the piping bag over once or twice.
- Using both hands, one hand at the top of the bag and one hand near the tip, squeeze the dough so it extrudes from the tip into strips or circles onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.
Pastry bags are really simple to use, especially if your dough is the correct temperature, which in the case of these cookies, is room temperature.
If the dough is too firm to pipe, you can return the dough to the mixing bowl and add an extra egg yolk.
You want the dough super pliable and supple to squeeze through that star tip.
What Size Star Tip for Making Italian Butter Cookies?
But if you don’t have tips or pastry bags and don’t want to invest in them, it’s okay.
You can also use a teaspoon or a small cookie scoop to portion the dough into one-inch round balls, which you’ll flatten a bit with the palm of your hands.
You can still put a dot of frosting on top, perhaps using a teaspoon after baking the cookies and letting them cool.
Or you can roll the dough in colorful sprinkles before you bake them.
More Cookie Recipes
Do you need more cookies to go with these butter cookies? Try a double chocolate chunk shortbread.
Perhaps you’re looking for a cookie with a bit more flavor? Try my foolproof gingersnap recipe.
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or fiori di sicilia (see notes)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 Tbsp
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt or sea salt
- In a mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar for five minutes, pausing at least twice to scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula.
- Add egg yolks and vanilla. Mix until combined
- Add flour and mix on low until just combined.
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Fit a pastry bag with a star tube and fill bag halfway with dough.
- Pipe dough into rosettes (a swirly circle) onto a parchment lined baking sheet. You should be able to fit at least 24 cookies on a half sheet pan. These cookies do not spread.
- Bake at 400 F for 9 to 11 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies are just golden.
- Let cool completely on baking rack before frosting.
I recommend piping this Italian butter cookie dough with a pastry bag and a star tip but if you don't have those things, use a cookie scoop or a teaspoon to portion the dough into one-inch balls.
If the dough is too firm to pipe, you can return the dough to your mixing bowl and add another egg yolk.
You can vary the cookies by using a different type of extract such as lemon or orange or fiori di sicilia, which means flower of Sicily.
Fiori di Sicilia smells like the best combination of floral and citrus and makes cookies taste magical. You can find it King Arthur Flour or on Amazon. I've linked to it below.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 36 Serving Size: 36 cookies
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 90Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 95mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 0gSugar: 3gProtein: 1g
What’s your experience with Italian cookies? Do you live near an Italian bakery? Do you want to send me some cookies?
Happy Baking and Eating!