Italian pizzelle are thin Italian waffle cookies that are crisp and flavored with anise. You only need a few ingredients and a pizzelle iron to make this pizzelle recipe.
Table of contents
Pizzelle in Italian basically means small rounds. Pizze means round or flat and is the same root word that pizza comes from.
This pizzelle recipe makes a classic Italian pizzelle cookie flavored with anise and it is lightly sweet and crisp. If you are not familiar with anise (or anise seed), it has a flavor of black licorice so you only use a little bit in this recipe.
I grew up eating these pizzelle cookies that my grandmother made at every family get-together and on holidays. These Italian cookies have so many great memories associated with them.
This is our family's recipe. We want you to make them a tradition in your home like we have in ours. Make them at Christmas time, the holidays, or anytime you want a delicious traditional Italian cookie.
Let me show you how easy it is to make these classic cookies at home.
- All-purpose flour
- Eggs. I use large eggs for this pizzelle recipe.
- Sugar. Granulated sugar is perfect for this recipe.
- Butter. This is a butter pizzelle recipe so you will need unsalted butter.
- Vanilla extract. The best quality you can find.
- Anise extract (or anise oil)
How to Measure The Anise for This Pizzelle Recipe
This pizzelle cookie recipe is a classic pizzelle recipe that uses anise and a little vanilla. It is the recipe my Italian grandmother taught me to use and the one I use to this day.
If you are not careful when measuring anise, it can overpower your pizzelle. I learned this the hard way when I began using my grandmother's recipe card for this recipe and found out that she altered this one ingredient on it.
My grandmother felt you should be in the kitchen learning to cook, not using recipe cards. After much trial and error, I have found the perfect ratio of anise to use.
So the perfect way to measure anise so it is not too strong is to pour the anise onto a spoon and carefully let it drop into the pizzelle dough. This recipe has the perfect ratio to use so that it has a very faint flavor and makes these Italian pizzelle taste amazing! It is the same tasting pizzelle I grew up eating.
How to Make
Making these Italian pizzelle cookies could not be any easier. You are merely adding all of your ingredients to a large bowl and mixing it together.
- Make pizzelle dough by combining all of the ingredients.
- Preheat the pizzelle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- To make the cookies, you will want to scoop a good tablespoon full of dough onto your pizzelle iron and then close it, and cook for about 30 seconds to one minute. While every iron varies you will want to follow your manufacturer's instructions.
You can almost always tell when they are about ready when the steam slows down coming out of the pizzelle maker.
When I start to see that steam slow down I will give a little peak by gently lifting the top of the pizzelle maker and seeing if the outside is a nice light golden color.
- Once the cookies are ready, you want to gently scoop them off with a spatula and place them onto a cooling rack. They will be somewhat soft and pliable for a few seconds until they cool.
If you wondered how to make crisp pizzelle this is it. This cooling time is when they get nice and crispy so make sure to let them cool fully.
About the Pizzelle Batter
The batter is very thick and sticky. When you scoop it up with a spoon, it will stick to the spoon so you will have to push it off with your finger to get it onto the pizzelle maker.
When I make these, I always like to have lots of paper towels on hand so I can wipe my fingers off in between scooping out the dough.
Can You Make Pizzelle Without a Pizzelle Maker (Pizzelle Iron)
To make these Italian cookies, you will need a special pizzelle iron, which is a lot like a waffle iron. If you have never seen one, it has grooves on it like a waffle iron but the grooves are more shallow.
These are very cheap to buy (as long as you buy them well before the Christmas holidays) and last a long time! I think I paid $20.00 for mine over 15 years ago and it is still going strong.
You can make homemade ice cream cones and faux cannoli shells with these as well if you want to put it to use more often.
You can technically place your dough onto a hot griddle and place a hot grill press over top. This will take some experimentation for how long to do this.
You won't get that beautiful pattern that you would get with the pizzelle maker. I have made a cookie recipe that uses this dough with a cookie press for those who love the flavor but do not have a pizzelle maker.
They are not traditional but they are delicious and more of a classic cookie than a flat waffle cookie.
I would caution against trying to make these with a waffle maker. It will not come out as cookies.
Making Cannoli Shells
At the point that the pizzelle is just coming out of the hot iron, you can shape them into a mock cannoli or into ice cream cone shapes since they are pliable. Just make sure to have something cylindrical on hand so you are ready to make the shapes when you are making these.
I like to use the end of my tapered rolling pin to make cannoli shapes.
Cleaning up the edges
The last step when making these cookies is cleaning up the edges after they have cooled. This is fun and part of the pizzelle tradition.
If you can see from the picture above, they will go over the edge of the pattern a little on the pizzelle maker. Once they are fully cooled, you just gently snap the edges that go past and your pizzelle are all set!
We nibble on these pieces as we go!
These traditional Italian cookies are meant to be eaten right away or the same day you make them but you can store them in an airtight container or bag for up to a few days with good results.
Yes! Just let them cool completely and then wrap them in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer-proof container for up to 2 months. To thaw, just remove them from the freezer and place them on the counter to come to room temperature.
Pizzelle are all about tradition and bringing people together. You can make this recipe your own by switching up the flavors or make these pizzelle as is but remember to enjoy the company you are with when you make them.
Pizzelle crisp up while they are cooling so making sure they cool on a wire rack is important. This will allow the pizzelle to crisp up nicely.
Pizzelle are actually thought to be one of the oldest cookies in the World and was created in Abruzzo, Italy back in the 8th century. When you make these wonderful Italian cookies, you are experiencing a wonderful old Italian tradition that dates back generations.
Pizzelle in Italian basically means small rounds. It is the plural form of the word pizzella. One of these Italian cookies would be a pizzella and more than one is pizzelle. Pizze, the root word of pizzelle means round or flat and it is thought that this is the same root word that pizza comes from.
More Italian Desserts
If you love this classic recipe for pizzelle cookies, you may also like:
How to serve
I love making these cookies during the holidays to go with my classic cheesecake or to serve alongside my eggnog martini or non-alcoholic eggnog. I also love ending holiday meals like beef brisket or roasted prime rib with them.
We also make these throughout the year on the weekends. In our Italian family, these pizzelle are made on Sundays to end a meal of either pasta Genovese, or cheesy polenta,or Italian baked meatballs or pasta with bolognese sauce.
These cookies are ideal for holiday gift-giving and sharing with friends and family. Here are some ideas on how to do that:
- Italian Christmas Cookies Box: These Italian waffle cookies go really well with, Citrus Snowball Cookies, with Shortbread Cookies, and Citrus Sugar Cookies.
- Holiday Bake Sale: Make a whole table of delicious desserts for a bake sale and show off these pizzelle. We love making classic carrot cake, with almond vanilla cake, and mini cheesecake bites, and creamy lemon squares and Italian apple cake to go with these pizzelle.
Whenever you decide to make these traditional Italian waffle cookies, just lay them out on a plate after they have cooled and dust them with powdered sugar to enjoy right away. They are a treat for any occasion.
Classic Italian Pizzelle : My Family Recipe
- 3 eggs
- ¾ cup of sugar
- 1 ¾ cups of all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 3 tiny drops of anise to do this, pour a tiny amount of anise on to a spoon. Slowly turn the spoon downward over your mixture and wait for 3 tiny drops to fall and then you are done!
- 8 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Whisk together your eggs, sugar, vanilla and anise (see how to measure anise above) in a medium bowl.3 eggs, ¾ cup of sugar, 3 tiny drops of anise, 1 ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Now add your flour, salt and baking powder and mix it well until there are no lumps and it looks smooth.1 ¾ cups of all purpose flour, 2 teaspoon of baking powder, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Now add your melted butter and mix that in to your mixture.8 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
- Pre-heat your pizzelle maker. They are all a little different so follow the manufacturers instructions for this.
- Once it is heated, add a heaping tablespoon of your thick dough to the middle of each of your pizzelle areas on the iron. Close and cook for about 30-45 seconds until it is a light golden color. If the pizzelle is too light in color you can just close the pizzelle maker and cook the pizzelle for a few more seconds.
- Once they are cooked, remove the pizzelle from the iron (they will still be soft and pliable at this point) and place on a cooling rack where they will cool and get nice and crispy. Keep doing this until all the dough is used up!
- Once all of your pizzelle are fully cooked and cooled, you can go ahead and clean them up if you would like by lightly breaking off any parts of the pizzelle that went beyond the design edge. I find this to be relaxing but it is not necessary 🙂
- Stack them up or fan them out on a plate and eat them as is or with a light dusting of powdered sugar. Serve with tea or Italian coffee and Enjoy!
Different Flavored pizzelle:To make different flavored pizzelle, follow the recipe the same except use these substitutions. To make chocolate pizzelle: Use 1 ½ cups of flour plus 2 tablespoons. Add ¼ cup of cocoa powder (good quality) to the flour before adding the wet ingredients. For the sugar, increase the amount of sugar in the recipe by ¼ cup (for a total of 1 cup of sugar in the recipe). To make Vanilla pizzelle: Omit the anise and add an extra ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract. To make lemon pizzelle: Omit the anise and vanilla and add ½ teaspoon of lemon extract. To make almond pizzelle: Omit the anise extract and add ¼ teaspoon of almond extract.
Nutrition Values are estimates only.See full nutrition disclaimer here
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