These Italian anise cookies are pillowy and soft and topped with an anise glaze and colorful sprinkles. These are the best Italian cookies to make for the holidays!
Anise cookies, also called anisette cookies are my favorite holiday treat! They are soft, delicious, and drizzled with a creamy anise glaze. The colorful nonpareil sprinkles add the cutest touch!
Every holiday season, my family breaks out these anise cookies, a Panettone, and celebrates Feast of the Seven Fishes. It’s a tradition I really look forward to, it’s full of (minimally) 7 seafood dishes and lots of other Italian foods. Holidays always ties into good foods, I know you can relate to that.
These Italian cookies are traditionally made with anise extract or anise liquor, but the black licorice flavor isn’t for everyone, so I’ve included a few recipe adjustments to make it with out without the anise. These Italian cookies deserve to be enjoyed by everyone (even you, black licorice haters).
Italian anise cookie ingredients
- All purpose flour
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Canola oil
- Sour cream
- Anise extract
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Nonpareil sprinkles
Don’t like anise? Switch the flavor up!
Although these Italian cookies are traditionally made with anise extract, I understand that can be a bold flavor for people. You can easily substitute the anise with other flavors.
Vanilla, almond, or lemon extract are all delicious substitutes. Make sure you use the same extract in your glaze so that the flavor is uniform to the cookie.
Make them ahead of time
You can make these cookies ahead of time to save time in the kitchen. These Italian cookies freeze really well, but I recommend glazing them the day you serve them. The nonpareil sprinkles tend to bleed when they sit on the glaze for too long.
These cookies can last about a week in an airtight container on the counter, so you can make these cookies well in advance!
How to freeze them
Allow the anise cookies to cool to room temperature (do not glaze them). Once they are cooled, freeze them in a single layer on a plate in the freezer. Once they are frozen, place them in an airtight container. These cookies will stay good in the freezer for up to 4 weeks.
To reheat the cookies, place them on a plate and dethaw them at room temperature for about 15 minutes before eating them. Glaze them and top with the nonpareil sprinkles, then serve.
How to make Italian anise cookies
- Combine the dry ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
- Combine the wet ingredients. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until it’s light and slightly fluffy. Add the oil, sour cream, and anise extract. Mix again to combine all the ingredients.
- Mix the cookie batter. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry while whisking. Mix the cookie batter until it’s combined. Use a cookie scoop or a tablespoon measurer to scoop the cookie dough. Roll the cookie dough into a ball, then place it on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Lightly press the top of the cookie to slightly flatten in.
- Bake the cookies. Place the cookies on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. When they are done cooking, remove the cookies from the pan and place them on a cooling rack. Cool the cookies for 20 minutes.
- Glaze and sprinkle. Combine the confectioner’s sugar, water, and anise extract until it is a creamy glaze. Working with 5 cookies at a time, dip the tops of the cookies in the glaze, then place it back on the cooling rack. The cookies will drip, so place the cooling rack over the pan you used to bake the cookies. Sprinkle the nonpareil sprinkles over the glaze and allow the glaze to harden (or serve right away if you can’t wait!). Mangia!
More Sweet Treats
- New York Cheesecake
- Italian Orange Pistachio Biscotti
- Healthy Fresh Strawberry Soufflé
- Caramel Dutch Apple Pie
Italian Anise Cookies
- 2 large mixing bowls
- Whisk and a spatula OR electric mixter
- Cooling rack
- 3 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 tbsp anise extract see notes for substitution
For the glaze
- 2 cups confectioner's sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 1/2 tsp anise extract
- Mix the dry ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
- Mix the wet ingredients. Combine the eggs and sugar in a large bowl. Use an electric mixer to whisk until it's light and slightly fluffy. Add the canola oil, sour cream, and anise extract. Whisk to combine.
- Mix the cookie dough. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients while mixing with the electric mixer. Mix until the combination is just combined. Use a cookie scooper to scoop the cookie dough. Roll the dough balls to smooth the dough, then place it on the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Lightly press the cookies to flatten the tops.
- Bake the cookies. Place the baking sheet on the middle rack in the oven and bake the cookies for 12 minutes. Once the cookies are done baking, remove them from the baking sheet and place them on a cooling rack. Allow the cookies to cool for at least 20 minutes,.
- Glaze the cookies. Combine the confectioner's sugar, water, and anise extract in a medium sized bowl. Work with 3 cookies at a time, dip the tops of the cookies in the glaze, then place them on the cooling rack. The cookies will drip, so place the cooling rack over the pan you used to bake the cookies to avoid a mess. Sprinkle the cookies with the nonpareil sprinkles. Continue the process until all the cookies are glazed and sprinkled. Serve and mangia!
Nutrition values are estimates, for exact values consult a nutritionist.
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