Italian Pignoli Cookies

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5 from 1 vote
This Pignoli Cookie recipe is so easy to make that it's sure to be handed down from one family member to another for years to come. Pignoli Cookies are a wonderful and traditional Italian treat that generations of families have come to love. When enjoyed, these pine nut cookies are the perfect blend of a satisfactory crunch paired with a chewy inside. They’re sure to give you a sense of authenticity so that you will feel as though you’re in the midst of an actual Italian Bakery.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes

This Pignoli Cookie recipe is so easy to make that it’s sure to be handed down from one family member to another for years to come. Pignoli Cookies are a wonderful and traditional Italian treat that generations of families have come to love. When enjoyed, these pine nut cookies are the perfect blend of a satisfactory crunch paired with a chewy inside. They’re sure to give you a sense of authenticity so that you will feel as though you’re in the midst of an actual Italian Bakery.

Baking is a wonderful opportunity to bring your family together and making pignoli cookies is a great way to get a little taste of Italy while creating fond memories.

Originating from the Southern Italian and Sicilian region, pignoli cookies are a staple in Italian bakeries. They are full of texture and are baked to a gorgeous brown color making them a great addition to your dessert table.

The word ‘pignoli’ actually means ‘pine nut,’ attributing to the Italian pine nuts they are made from. Pine nuts are used in a wide variety of recipes and can even be roasted as a snack!

To learn more about the different varieties of pine nut, click on this link here. With just a few short ingredients and a quick prep and bake time, you’ll really feel like you’re in Italy when you bite into one of these cookies.

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What We Love About This Recipe

What makes this recipe great? Italian pignoli cookies are so decorative and have a beautiful look to them. They’re a great way to showcase your Italian roots!

  • 25 Minutes: The whole process takes less than 30 minutes.
  • Family Friendly: Pignoli cookies are traditional and bring generations together.
  • Classic: It is a great dessert for December holidays like Christmas.

Ingredient Notes

  • Almond Paste: When selecting your ingredients, make sure you use almond paste and not marzipan! They’re similar, yet almond paste contains more almonds and provides more texture.
  • Pine Nuts: You may find pine nuts to be out of your price range so substituting them for chopped almonds or cashews is okay! They’ll still come out tasting similar.
  • Egg Whites: Make sure you’re measuring your egg whites! Too little/ too much egg white can lead to the dough being too dry or too sticky. Each egg white should be about 30 grams each.

Equipment Needed

How to Make Italian Pine Nut Cookies

These are the basic steps for making pignoli cookies. Please refer to the recipe card below for more detailed instructions.

STEP 1: Prep

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

STEP 2: Break

Break up the almond paste and add it to a food processor. Set it to pulse.

STEP 3: Add

Add sugar to the processor and pulse. Then add egg whites and pulse. Add the pine nuts to a separate bowl.

STEP 4: Divide

Separate and roll the dough into 24 balls. Press the tops of the balls into the pine nuts.

STEP 5: Bake

Place the coated balls, pine nut side up, onto the baking sheet and let bake for 13-15 minutes. Let them sit for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling racks.

STEP 6: Garnish

Once cooled, dust the cookies with confectioners sugar.

Prep and Storage Tips

HOW TO STORE PIGNOLI COOKIES

Pignoli nut cookies can be stored in sealable containers for a week at room temperature.

HOW TO FREEZE PIGNOLI COOKIES

To freeze pine nut cookies, line a tray with wax paper and put them in the freezer. After they are frozen, place the cookies in a sealable container for up to a few weeks.

HOW TO THAW PIGNOLI COOKIES

To thaw Italian pignoli cookies, simply remove them from the sealable container and let them sit at room temperature. If you need to thaw them quickly, place the cookies in the oven for a few minutes at a low temperature.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pignoli Cookies Recipe

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE GLUTEN/ DAIRY FREE

Due to the ingredients primarily used in pignoli cookie recipes, this is a naturally gluten and dairy free food!

WHY ISN’T THE WHOLE EGG USED IN THIS RECIPE?

Using just egg whites provides the Italian pignoli cookies with moisture and not density. Egg yolk also masks the more subtle flavors in a pignoli cookie.

WHY ARE PINE NUTS SO EXPENSIVE?

The short answer, harvesting pine nuts is a time-consuming process that involves drying pinecones for weeks before crushing the cones and hand-removing the nuts from the pieces.

Expert Tips for Making Pignoli Cookies

  • Sticky Dough: Wet your hands before rolling the pignoli dough so that it is less likely to stick to you.
  • Not-sticky-enough dough: Try dipping the dough balls into beaten egg whites so that the pine nuts will stick.
  • Avoid Overbaking: Pine nut cookies are supposed to be nice and chewy on the inside. Bake the cookies just until they turn golden so that they don’t come out flat and brittle.
  • Alternate ingredient: If pine nuts aren’t your favorite nut, you can easily substitute them for cashews, pistachios, sunflower seeds and more!

Did you try this recipe?
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5 from 1 vote

Pignoli Cookie

Yield: 24
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
This Pignoli Cookie recipe is so easy to make that it's sure to be handed down from one family member to another for years to come. Pignoli Cookies are a wonderful and traditional Italian treat that generations of families have come to love. When enjoyed, these pine nut cookies are the perfect blend of a satisfactory crunch paired with a chewy inside. They’re sure to give you a sense of authenticity so that you will feel as though you’re in the midst of an actual Italian Bakery.
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Ingredients

  • 16 oz almond paste
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 ¼ cups (3.5 oz) pine nuts (pignoli)
  • Confectioners sugar for dusting

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Break the almond paste into smaller chunks and place in a food processor.
  • Pulse until the paste resembles crumbs.
  • Add the sugar and pulse until the mixture is the texture of wet sand.
  • Add the egg whites to the food processor and pulse until the mixture becomes a solid dough.
  • Pour the pine nuts into a small bowl.
  • Divide the dough into 24 portions and roll each portion into a ball.
  • Press the pine nuts onto one side of the ball.
  • Place the ball, pine nut side up, on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned and set.
  • Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks to finish cooling.
  • When cookies are completely cooled, dust them with confectioners sugar.

Video

Expert Tips

  • Sticky Dough: Wet your hands before rolling the pignoli dough so that it is less likely to stick to you.
  • Not-sticky-enough dough: Try dipping the dough balls into beaten egg whites so that the pine nuts will stick.
  • Avoid Overbaking: Pine nut cookies are supposed to be nice and chewy on the inside. Bake the cookies just until they turn golden so that they don’t come out flat and brittle.
  • Alternate ingredient: If pine nuts aren’t your favorite nut, you can easily substitute them for cashews, pistachios, sunflower seeds and more!

Estimated Nutritional Information

Calories: 167kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 6mg | Potassium: 106mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information provided are estimates. To learn more about how I calculate this information go to www.itisakeeper.com/about-its-a-keeper/privacy-disclosure-policies/
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: almond paste, cookies, egg whites, italian, Italian Pine Nut Cookies, Pignoli Cookies, pignoli nut, Pine Nut, pine nut cookies

This recipe is my personal adaption of an ethnic inspired recipe. It is not intended to be an authentic recipe.  I’ve recreated this recipe because I enjoy the flavors and I want to encourage my readers to expand their tastes and try new flavor combinations. The recipe, ingredients and processes may have been adapted to make the recipe accessible for the average American. I have provided links to authentic versions of the recipe in the post above. I encourage you to visit these pages and learn more about the traditional version(s) of this recipe.

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