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Pignoli Cookies – Italian Pine Nut Cookies

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Pignoli cookies are deliciously crisp outside and soft and chewy inside, making them one of the most loved Italian almond cookies.

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Probably the easiest Christmas cookies you can make, Pignoli cookies require just five main ingredients: almonds, pine nuts, sugar, and egg whites.

Sprinkled with icing sugar, pignoli cookies are traditionally served during Christmas and other popular holidays, and they also make a wonderful edible Christmas gift.

Whenever I have leftover egg whites (mostly after making Italian pastry dough, pastry cream, or butter cookies) I make these pine nut cookies.

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They’re so simple to make, and they always get amazing reviews from family and friends.

So, if you’re looking for a simple dairy-free and gluten-free Christmas cookie to serve or gift over the holidays, this pignoli cookie recipe is the answer!

Italian pignoli cookies.

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WHAT ARE PIGNOLI COOKIES?

Pignoli or pinoli means “pine nuts” in the Italian language, and pignoli cookies are traditional Italian almond and pine nuts cookies.

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It’s not clear where these popular Christmas cookies originate from, but most agree they come from Liguria, a region in northern Italy famous for its basil pesto recipe.

During the Christmas holidays, you can find these cookies with pine nuts in every little bakery, and they go by the name of “pinolate, pignolate or pinolini”.

Pignoli are also often referred to as amaretti with pignoli (amaretti with pine nuts) because the recipe is very similar to amaretti cookies.

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A similar cookie is made in Sicily, but here almond paste or marzipan is usually added to the dough.

The recipe I’m sharing is without almond paste, but you’re welcome to substitute the almond flour with the almond paste if you like.

PIGNOLI INGREDIENTS

This traditional pine nut cookie recipe proves that you can make an amazing Italian dessert with just 5 ingredients:

Pignoli cookies ingredients: almond flour, egg, baking powder, sugar, pine nuts.

  • Almonds: use almond flour or blanched almonds blitzed in a mixer until you have a fine, powdery flour. Almond flour and almond meal are the same thing, ground almonds.
  • Sugar: use regular granulated sugar for this recipe. You can also use raw cane sugar or powdered sugar.
  • Eggs: go for a medium-sized egg, you’ll just need the egg white for this recipe.
  • Almond extract: totally optional, it adds extra almond flavor. You can substitute it with vanilla extract if you like or lemon zest.
  • Baking powder: it’s optional, but a little baking powder gives the cookies a nice slightly softer texture.
  • Pine nuts: there are no pignoli cookies without pine nuts of course!
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HOW TO MAKE PIGNOLI COOKIES

This is a quick overview of my easy pignoli cookie recipe with step-step pictures.

For the full recipe, scroll down to the easy-to-print recipe card.

collage of four images showing the four steps on how to make pignoli cookies.

STEP 1 – Prepare the ingredients.

Add almond flour and sugar to a food processor and pulse for a few seconds. You can skip this step if you’re using powdered sugar.

STEP 2 – Prepare the dough.

Add the almond flour mix to a bowl, add the egg white, and baking powder, and mix all the ingredients together to form a slightly sticky dough.

STEP 3 – Form the cookies.

Use your hands to form small even balls.

Place pine nuts into a small bowl, and dip each ball into the pine nuts, pressing them slightly so that the pine nuts adhere to the surface.

Refrigerate the cookies for 15 minutes.

STEP 4 – Bake the cookies.

Bake pine nut cookies in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Let them cool completely on a cooling rack, then serve.

italian pine nut cookies.

BAKING TIPS

  • To make things quicker, you can use a small cookie scoop to form even balls.
  • You can dip the cookie balls directly into a bowl filled with pine nuts or brush them with extra egg white and then dip them.
  • These cookies should not overcook because they must remain soft inside, so after the first 12 minutes of baking time, check the oven every 2 minutes.
  • Let the pine nuts cookies cool completely on a cooling rack, this will help set them, and results in a crunchy outside and a soft and chewy inside.

STORAGE TIPS

Store your Italian pignoli cookies in an airtight container or sealed jar. Keep them in a cool spot in your kitchen or in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

RECIPE FAQs

Can I freeze pignoli cookies?

Yes, you can! Once baked, place them on a baking sheet for an hour, then transfer them to a ziplock bag and freeze them for up to two months.

Can I make them ahead?

Yes, you can! You can form your cookies the night before, refrigerate them overnight then bake them in the morning.

italian pine nut cookies.

DID YOU TRY THIS RECIPE?

Please let me know how you liked it! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #thepetitecook!

Looking at your pictures always makes me smile *and super hungry*!

📖 RECIPE

pignoli cookies.

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Pignoli cookies are deliciously crisp outside and soft and chewy inside, making them one of the most loved Italian Christmas cookies.

Prep Time5 mins

Cook Time15 mins

Resting time:1 hr

Total Time20 mins

Course: Dessert

Cuisine: Italian

Serving: 12

Calories: 117kcal

Author: Andrea Soranidis – The Petite Cook

Ingredients

1x2x3x

  • 150 g almond flour, approx 1+½ cups
  • 1 egg white
  • 140 g sugar (or cane sugar or powdered sugar), approx ¾ cup
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract, optional
  • 140 g pine nuts, approx 1 cup

MetricUS Customary

Instructions

  • Place the almond flour and sugar in a food processor and pulse them until you reach a sandy consistency, and transfer to a bowl. If you use powdered sugar, simply mix the two ingredients in a bowl.

  • Add the egg white, baking powder and almond extract (if using) into the bowl, and mix all the ingredients together to form a slightly sticky dough.

  • Use your hands to form small even balls. The mixture should be sticky but fairly firm, and the balls should hold their shape when placed on the baking tray.

  • Place the pine nuts into a small bowl, and dip each ball into the pine nuts, pressing it slightly so that the pine nuts adhere to the surface.Arrange the cookies on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 160°C/320°F and arrange the baking tray onto the middle shelf of the oven.

  • Place the pine nut cookies in the oven and bake them for 15-17 minutes. The cookies should have a slightly golden colour and should still feel quite soft when removed from the oven.

  • Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely, they will harden as they cool. Serve them straight away or dust them with powdered sugar and serve.

Notes


STORAGE TIPS
Store your Italian pine nut cookies in an airtight container or sealed jar. Keep them in a cool spot in your kitchen or in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

BAKING TIPS

  • To make things quicker, you can use a small cookie scoop to form even balls.
  • You can dip the cookie balls directly into a bowl filled with pine nuts or brush them with extra egg white and then dip them.
  • These cookies should not overcook because they must remain soft inside, so after the first 12 minutes of baking time, check the oven every 2 minutes.
  • Let the pignoli cookies cool completely on a cooling rack, this will help set them, and results in a crunchy outside and a soft and chewy inside.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 117kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 0.4g | Sodium: 13mg | Potassium: 4mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 0.5mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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