Classic Italian pizzelles are an Italian thin waffle style cookie that is made from flour, eggs, butter, anise and vanilla and made in a pizzelle maker. These are a traditional Italian dessert and usually made for special occasions and holidays. I will walk you through all the steps to make these traditional Italian pizzelle so you can make them a tradition in your home the way we have in ours.
This pizzelle recipe makes a classic Italian pizzelle with anise and is lightly sweet and crisp . This recipe will walk you through all the steps to making these classic Italian cookies.
From making the pizzelle dough, how much anise to add, and different pizzelle flavor variations if anise is not your thing.
What does pizzelle mean?
Pizzelles in Italian basically means small rounds. Pizze means round or flat and is the same root word that pizza comes from.
I grew up eating pizzelles that my grandmother made at every family get together and at holidays. These Italian cookies have so many great memories associated with it. This pizzelle recipe is the recipe I grew up with and the one we continue to make each year.
The extract that makes this Pizzelle recipe amazing!
Classic Italian pizzelles are made with anise which has a very strong licorice flavor. When you make these Italian pizzelles, if you use too much anise oil it can overpower the entire pizzelle. This is a family recipe so it is a pizzelle recipe that uses anise oil (extract). I will show you how to use anise oil the right way so it is not overpowering.
A funny story about Anise oil:
When I first made these on my own after I was married I used so much anise that my husband's mouth was numb for the whole day. The reason was my Italian grandmother wrote down all her recipes but she would always alter one key ingredient because she felt you should be in the kitchen learning not just reading recipe cards. The altered ingredient was anise 🙂
For reference, too much was 1 teaspoon full. That may not seem like much if you are working with vanilla extract but with anise it is numbing.
My grandmother (as did many) would actually use the anise to rub on her children's gums when they were babies. During teething, anise would take the pain away! Needless to say a little of this stuff goes a long way.
After many trials, I have figured out the perfect ratio to use so that it has a very faint flavor and makes these Classic Italian pizzelles taste so amazing! It is the same tasting pizzelle I grew up eating. I do have to thank my husband for being the guinea pig for all of these years and trying out all of the versions I made until I found just the right one.
Ingredients you will need for these Italian pizzelles are:
- All purpose flour
- Vanilla extract
- Anise extract (oil)
The Pizzelle Dough:
Pizzelle dough 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 on to the pizzelle maker. When I make my pizzelles, I always like to have lots of paper towels on hand so I can wipe my fingers off in between scooping out the dough.
The Pizzelle Maker:
To make the pizzelles, you need a special pizzelle maker. If you have never seen one, it looks like a small waffle iron but the grooves on it are more shallow.
These are very cheap to buy 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.
If you like the flavor of Italian pizzelle cookies but maybe do not want to buy a pizzelle maker, you should check out my pizzelle cookies recipe that is made without the pizzelle maker. The cookies are not thin and crisp like Italian pizzelles but the flavor is perfect! The dough is the same as this pizzelle recipe that uses anise oil so the flavor will be the same.
If you have never tried making classic Italian pizzelles you should give it a try and I know you will love it! I have also included additional Holiday recipes below from fellow bloggers if you're looking for more inspiration for baking!
Making the Pizzelles
When you are ready to make your pizzelles, you will want to scoop a good tablespoon full of dough on to your pizzelle maker and close your press. While every pizzelle maker varies and you will want to follow your manufacturer's instructions, you can almost always tell when they are about ready when the steam slows down that is coming out of the pizzelles in the pizzelle maker.
When I start to see that steam slow down I will give a little peak at the pizzelles by gently lifting the top of the pizzelle maker and seeing if the outside is a nice light golden color.
Once the pizzelles are ready, you want to gently scoop them off with a spatula and place them on to a cooling rack. They will be somewhat soft and pliable for a few seconds until they cool. That is when they get nice and crisp!
Shaping your pizzelles:
At the point that the pizzelle's are just coming out the hot pizzelle maker, you can shape them into cannoli or 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 cooked pizzelles:
The last step when making pizzelles 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, the pizzelles will go over the edges of the pattern a little on the pizzelle maker. Once they are fully cooled, you just gently snap the edges that go past the pizzelle pattern and your pizzelles are all set!
We nibble on these pieces as we go!
Common questions about pizzelles:
What is the best way to store pizzelles to keep them crisp?
Pizzelles are meant to be eaten right away or the same day you make them but you can store them in an air tight container or bag for up to a few days with good results.
Can you freeze pizzelles?
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 on the counter to come to room temperature.
Can I make pizzelles without a pizzelle maker?
Yes and no. You can technically place your pizzelle 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 pizzelle cookie recipe that uses a cookie press for those who love the flavor but do not have a pizzelle maker.
Other pizzelle flavors that you can add to your Italian pizzelles:
This pizzelle recipe uses anise extract, a traditional pizzelle flavor. If you do not have anise or you want to try other pizzelles flavors, here a list of some great options that you can substitute for the anise.
- Vanilla extract
- Lemon extract
- Almond extract
- Chocolate flavor or extract
Pizzelles are all about tradition and bringing people together. You can make this pizzelle recipe your own by switching up the flavors or make these pizzelles as is but remember to enjoy the company you are with when you make them.
Here are a few more holiday baking recipes you might like!
Classic Italian Pizzelles: My Family recipe
Tried the Recipe? We Would Love To Hear From You In The Comments Below!
- 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!
- 1 stick 8 tablespoon of melted unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Whisk together your eggs, sugar, vanilla and anise (see how to anise above) in a medium bowl.
- Now add your flour, salt and baking powder and mix it well until there are no lumps and it looks smooth.
- Now add your melted butter and mix that in to your mixture.
- 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 pizzelles 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 pizzelles 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 pizzelles:To make different flavored pizzelles, follow the recipe the same except use these substitutions. To make chocolate pizzelles: 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 pizzelles: Omit the anise and add an extra ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract. To make lemon pizzelles: Omit the anise and vanilla and add ½ teaspoon of lemon extract. To make almond pizzelles: Omit the anise extract and ¼ teaspoon of almond extract.
Nutrition Values are estimates only.See full nutrition disclaimer here