Italian Butter cookies 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. I’ll be posting the recipe for the easiest chocolate buttercream frosting later this week. This post contains affiliate links.
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. every 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 Cookies Recipe
Italian Butter Cookies 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. If you’d like to purchase your own photocopy, send me a note: [email protected]
You’ll need a star tip size 11/16 and a pastry bag to make these cookies the way I did.
That’s a good deal because I pay $2.19 a tip at the kitchen store.
But if you don’t have tips or pastry bags and don’t want to invest in them, it’s okay.
You can also make the dough into one-inch round balls and then flatten a bit with your hands. You can still put a dot of frosting on top, perhaps using a teaspoon. Or roll the cookies in colored sprinkles.
Working with a pastry bag
If you haven’t worked with a pastry bag before, try it before you discount it as too difficult.
- Open a pastry bag,
- Stick tip inside the bag all the way down so it peeks out of the narrow hole.
- Fill the bag about halfway with dough or icing.
- Fold the top down once or twice so your material doesn’t spill out the top.
- Squeeze the dough out onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, making little circles or whatever shape you’re making depending on the tip you’ve chosen.
It really is simple to use, especially if your dough is the correct temperature, which in the case of these cookies, is room temperature You want the dough super pliable and supple to squeeze through that star tip.
You’ll use the yolks from three eggs. Don’t throw in the whole egg, white and all because the recipe won’t turn out.
Also, the oven temperature, listed at 400 F, is correct. These cookies need to bake at 400 F. Don’t tinker or adjust unless you’re oven runs really hot.
I followed this recipe exactly as Cirillo wrote it and it was delicious. However, if I make it again, I’m adding a half a teaspoon of kosher salt. I think it needs a bit of salt. Plus, Cirillo’s book was published in 1982 when we were not as wanton with salt in sweet recipes as we are today.
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tbsp flour
- 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 (both the cups and tablespoons) and mix on low speed until just combined.
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Fit a pastry bag with a star tube and fill halfway up 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.
- 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.
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