Rustically crackled and sparkling with a beautiful sugar coating, these Amaretti Cookies are as lovely as they are delicious. This Italian cookie classic is delicate and soft, with a pleasingly chewy, marzipan-like center, and it’s positively dreamy alongside a steaming hot cup of coffee or espresso.
With only 5 ingredients and 15 minutes of prep, you’ll find Amaretti Cookies especially easy to make.
This Italian delicacy makes a gorgeous addition to any Christmas cookie platter and is absolutely perfect for gift-giving to the almond lovers in your life.
If you’re looking for more almond goodies to bake up this season, be sure to add our favorite Almond Biscotti to your list. Bookmark the recipe in your browser!
WHAT ARE AMARETTI COOKIES?
You say macaroons, Italy says Amaretti Cookies — an Italian take on the French macaroon. The name Amaretti stems from the word amaretto which is Italian for “a little bitter,” and also indicates almond flavoring. Bitter might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you envision nibbling on an almond (especially if you’re from the United States), but bitter almonds do indeed exist.
Bitter almonds have a stronger almond flavor than sweet almonds and are used to make almond extracts, liqueurs, and marzipan. While real-deal, Italian Amaretti Cookies call for bitter almonds, this ingredient is not readily available in the U.S., and you’ll find a teensy pour of almond extract to be more than sufficient in amping up the almond flavor of these cookies!
Amaretti Cookies are chock-full of almond flavor. They’re light and dainty like macaroons, but these cookies boast a soft and chewy texture, with a marzipan-type center. They often have a crunchy, sugar-coated exterior, but can also be finished off with a roll in powdered sugar.
HOW TO MAKE AMARETTI COOKIES
- Mix Dry Ingredients – Whisk almond flour, granulated sugar, and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
- Beat Egg Whites – In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they reach soft peaks.
- Add To Dry Mix – Add the beaten egg whites and almond extract to the dry mix and stir until a coarse dough forms.
- Scoop and Roll – Scoop out scant tablespoon-sized mounds of dough and roll into a ball. Then, roll to coat in granulated sugar.
- Bake – Space the dough balls about 1″ apart and bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or a silicone baking mat) at 325°F for about 18 minutes.
WHAT ARE PEAKS?
If you aren’t a veteraned baker, the whole “peak” thing might be throwing you off a bit. Rest assured, you got this. To determine if your egg whites have reached soft peaks, simply hold the beater upside down, and watch how the egg whites behave.
If the egg whites hold together momentarily, yet droop over and sort of fall back into themselves, you’ve reach soft peaks. If the egg whites hold together and droop just a bit (but not back into themselves), you’ve got medium peaks. If the egg whites stand straight up, you’ve got stiff peaks.
Shoot for soft peaks for this Amaretti Cookie recipe, but if you get to the medium peak stage, no big deal. Your cookies will be fine!
WHY DON’T I HAVE TO FOLD IN THE EGG WHITES?
Normally, when egg whites are beaten, the direction to follow would be to fold the egg whites into the batter…not stir. However, in the case of this particular recipe, the egg whites are not meant to “fluff up” the cookies, so you don’t have to worry about folding. Bonus.
TIPS FOR SCOOPING THE DOUGH
A small, 1″ cookie scoop is ideal for perfectly portioned cookies!
Because of the egg whites, you’ll likely find this dough a little stickier than most. If you find it to be too sticky for rolling, you can either dampen your hands with water a bit or go the opposite direction and coat them with powdered sugar before rolling the dough balls into little rounds!
INGREDIENTS FOR AMARETTI COOKIES
- Almond Flour | Our almond flour of choice is Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour. The size of the grind is just right and the quality is superior.
- Sugar | Granulated sugar is used for both the cookie base and for the exterior of the cookie, which adds a nice crunch and a lovely sparkle to the exterior. However, if you’d like to use powdered sugar on the outside of the cookie, feel free to do so.
- Egg Whites | Notice, there’s no egg yolk in this recipe — just the egg whites. Amaretti Cookies are a lean cookie with very little fat content. The egg in this cookie is solely to bind the ingredients together.
- Almond Extract | As mentioned above, the traditional bitter almond aspect of this cookie recipe can be difficult to get a hold of. Almond extract on the other hand — very easy to find. Be sure to use pure almond extract for best results!
WANT TO ADD A LITTLE MORE FLAVOR?
- For a lemony note, add 1 teaspoon of lemon zest to the cookie base.
- If you’re baking around the fall, you might enjoy a little pumpkin spice mixed in with your cookies. One teaspoon of pumpkin spice added to the dry mix will do the trick.
- For a wintery touch, one teaspoon of freshly zested orange and a 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon would do nicely.
HOW TO STORE AMARETTI COOKIES
If you end up with extra Amaretti Cookies, you can store them in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 to 7 days.
HOW TO FREEZE THEM
If you’d like to enjoy them for any length of time beyond this, freeze them! These cookies freeze beautifully, and you can keep them in the freezer for up to 3 months. To do so, transfer them to an airtight, freezer-safe container or a freezer-safe zip-top, gallon-sized bag, and be sure to remove as much air as possible before freezing.
5 MORE COOKIE RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Haystack Cookies
- Cinnamon Cookies
- Italian Wedding Cookies
- White Chocolate Chip Cookies
The best recipe for soft Italian Amaretti Cookies with a chewy, marzipan-like center!
- 2 3/4 cup almond flour (preferably Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar + 1/3 cup, separated
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
Preheat the oven to 325°F and have ready a cookie sheet lined with either parchment paper or aluminum foil.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together almond flour, a 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, and salt. Set aside.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. You could also use a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
Add the eggs whites, as well as the almond extract to the dry mix and stir until combined.
Have ready a 1/3 cup of granulated sugar (or powdered sugar would work as well). Scoop up scant tablespoons worth of dough and roll them into little, round balls. Roll the dough balls in the sugar one at a time and place them on a baking sheet 1" apart from one another.
Pat the top of the cookie down slightly to flatten and bake for 17-20 minutes.