Italian Pine Nut Cookies (Pignoli)

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5 from 2 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes

Pine Nut Cookies or Italian Pignoli Cookies are the perfect blend of a satisfactory crunch paired with a chewy inside and have a beautiful nutty flavor. 

Italian Pine Nut Cookies (Pignoli).

This Italian Pine Nut Cookies (Pignoli) recipe is so easy to make that it’s sure to be handed down from one family member to another for years to come. Step into any Italian Bakery and you will find Pignoli Cookies. They are a wonderful and traditional Italian treat that generations of families have come to love.

If you love traditional cookie recipes, check this guide for even more excellent choices.


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What We Love About This Recipe

This is one of the top Christmas cookies made during the Holiday season. Along with Italian Lemon Ricotta Cookies and Norwegian Christmas Cookies (Brune Pinner). These make for an eclectic mix on your cookie tray and make sure that their are different cookies to choose from.

Pine nuts are used in a wide variety of recipes and can even be roasted as a snack! There are varieties all over the world and are eaten by many cultures.

  • 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.
  • Gluten-Free: This cookie takes no flour and is gluten free.
A top shot of the cookies.

Ingredient Notes

  • Almond Paste: When selecting your ingredients, remember to get almond paste and not marzipan! They’re similar, yet almond paste contains more almonds and provides more texture. While some use almond flour, this recipe sticks to the paste.
  • Pine Nuts: The best place to find them at a good price is usually the big box stores. You will need 1 ¼ cup pine nuts for this recipe.
  • 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.
Eggs, pine nuts almond paste to make the cookies.

Variations and Substitutions

  • Nuts – If pine nuts are hard to find or too expensive, try almonds, cashews, walnuts or other nut variety.
  • Sweetener – A low calorie alternative can be great for these cookies.

How to Make Italian Pignoli Cookies 

These are the basic steps for making pignoli cookie recipe. Please refer to the recipe card below for more detailed instructions. See more great recipe ideas on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.

STEP 1: PREP

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Next, in a food processor break up the almond paste by pulsing. Add sugar to the processor and pulse. Then add egg whites and pulse. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the pine nuts to a separate bowl.

STEP 2: ROLL

Scoop dough into 24 balls (rounded tablespoons) and then press the tops of the balls into the pine nuts. 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 wire racks.

STEP 3: FINISH

Finally, once cooled, dust the cookies with confectioners powdered sugar.

Prep and Storage Tips

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE AHEAD OF TIME

This Italian Pine Nut Cookie Recipe is better fresh. Do not make longer than a week before you need them unless you plan on freezing them.

HOW TO STORE THIS RECIPE

Pine nut cookies can be stored in an airtight container for a week at room temperature.

HOW TO FREEZE THIS RECIPE

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 THIS RECIPE

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

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE HEALTHIER?

This recipe is already gluten free and dairy free, you can make it vegetarian by using an egg substitute when making the dough.

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.

CAN THIS RECIPE BE DOUBLED OR HALVED?

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.

Italian Pine Nut Cookies (Pignoli) on a platter.

Expert Tips for Making This Recipe

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  • 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!
  • Add: A teaspoon salt, vanilla extract, teaspoons almond extract or lemon zest to the cookies. However, be very light handed as you do not want to cover the delicate pine nut flavor.

What to Serve with Pine Nut Cookies

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Italian Pine Nut Cookies (Pignoli).
5 from 2 votes

Pine Nut Cookies (Italian Pignoli Cookies)

Yield: 24 cookies
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Pine Nut Cookies or Italian Pignoli Cookies are the perfect blend of a satisfactory crunch paired with a chewy inside and have a beautiful nutty flavor. 
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Ingredients

  • 16 ounces 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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