Buttery Italian Easter Cookies

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Italian Easter Cookies are perfectly tender and melt-in-your-mouth delicious! This is one of my family’s favorite Italian Easter desserts, and I think it will be one of your favorites, too!

stack of italian easter cookies


Imagine your favorite sugar cookie, but with a soft, pillow-y, and thick texture that’s completely irresistible — that’s exactly why we love these easy Easter cookies so much!

You’ll need to make a double batch of these Italian butter cookies because they’ll be gone in no time. Luckily, the process is simple and kids can even help decorate.

ingredients on counter for italian easter cookies

Italian Easter Cookies Recipe

Looking for more festive holiday cookies to bake? Create brightly colored circus animal cookies for Easter, Christmas, or anything in between!

Our cannoli’s also make a great dessert, the filling is amazing!

You can also play with different shapes and festive sprinkles to match spritz cookies to any occasion. Or try this peeps marshmallow fudge that the kids will love!

cookie dough in mixing bowl

Italian Easter Cookies Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Bring butter and eggs to room temperature. This is essential for creating a smooth dough, and it helps the other ingredients incorporate faster as well.

    It wouldn’t hurt to measure out the milk to warm on the counter as well.
  • Don’t overwork the dough! It will be just a little bit sticky, but a light dusting of flour on your work surface is plenty to prevent sticking while rolling out the logs.

    And since it’s already nice and thick, it won’t need to be refrigerated first.
  • Form the shapes gently. Be careful not to smash the dough when tying the knots — they will puff up in the oven, so it’s fine if they aren’t tightly secured.

    For the donut shape, wrap the log around your finger and pinch the ends together. Then, gently roll at the seam to round it out.
  • Tip for baking: These easy Easter cookies are best when the bottoms just start to turn golden brown.

    I found that 9 minutes was just the right amount, so they are cooked through but still soft and tender.
dough for easter cookies in woman's hand

First, opt for gel coloring — you can achieve gorgeous pigmented colors with a fraction of the drops needed with the traditional liquid version.

Since we’re aiming for pastels, use the tiniest drop to start and mix thoroughly into the glaze. You can always add a little bit more if desired.

For these Italian Easter cookies, I used Americolor gel food coloring in: Lilac, Fuschia, Sky Blue, and Lemon Yellow.

forming italian knot cookies

Italian Butter Cookies FAQ

Do Italian Easter cookies need to be refrigerated?

These decorated Easter cookies are fine at room temperature for 4 to 5 days, or they can be frozen for up to 1 month. Store in an airtight container to keep them soft and moist.

Do traditional Italian butter cookies come in different shapes?

Yes! Quite often, decorated Easter cookies are piped using different pastry tips to create interesting shapes and textures all from the same batch of dough.

This technique allows you to create a decorative platter without spending hours and hours in the kitchen.

cookie decorations on counter - pink glaze and sprinkles

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pastel colored italian knot cookies

bite taken from stack of easter cookies

Italian Easter Cookies Recipe (Soft & Buttery)

Donna Elick
Italian Easter cookies are perfectly tender and melt-in-your-mouth delicious! This authentic Italian cookie recipe is easy to make, too!
5 stars from 3 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 9 minutes
Total Time 54 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Method Oven
Servings 20 cookies


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • gel food coloring, in purple, pink, blue and yellow
  • rainbow sprinkles


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until creamed.
    Add eggs one at a time, beating to combine between each.
  • Beat in vanilla and almond extracts. Mixture will be pale yellow and slightly separated.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add half of the milk to the butter/sugar mixture, then half of the flour mixture, the remaining milk, and then the remaining flour. Mix just until combined, scraping the bowl as needed.
  • Use a 1 ½ tablespoon cookie scoop to form scoops of dough. Place each scoop of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 6-7” log. Twist the log into a knot for half of the cookies. For the other half of the cookies, form donut shapes by joining the two ends of the log together – or simply roll the scoop of dough into a ball and then press your finger down into the center of it to make a hole, shaping the “donut” around your finger.
  • Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
    Bake for about 9 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies are just slightly golden brown.
  • Transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together all of the icing ingredients to form a smooth glaze. Divide the glaze between four bowls and add a tiny drop of gel food coloring to each bowl. Stir to distribute the coloring evenly throughout the glaze.
  • Dip a cooled cookie into the glaze; hold it above the bowl for a few seconds to allow the excess glaze to drip off. Place on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with nonpareils. Leave untouched until glaze sets and is dry to the touch.

Donna’s Notes

Cookies will keep in an airtight container, on the countertop, for 4-5 days. Freeze for up to 1 month.
Italian Easter cookies are soft and almost dough-y. They melt in your mouth and are sooooo delicious. Almost like a sugar cookie, but soft and pillowy and thick. These were gone in no time in my house.
Try not to overwork the dough. It is nice and thick and does not need to be refrigerated at all. It will be just a little sticky, but sprinkling a very light layer of flour on your work surface is plenty to prevent sticking while rolling the dough into logs. Tie the knots gently so you don’t smash the dough. The cookies will puff up in the oven, so don’t worry too much about making a perfect or tight knot.
Don’t add a lot of extra flour while forming the shapes – it will make the cookies tough.
These are best baked just until the bottoms are slightly golden brown. I found 9 minutes to be the perfect amount of time. They are cooked all the way through, but so soft and tender.
To color the glaze, you need just the tiniest drop of food coloring, particularly for pastel colors. I used Americolor gel food coloring in: Lilac, Fuschia, Sky Blue, and Lemon Yellow.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 183cal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 169mg | Sugar: 25g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Originally published March 2022, updated and republished March 2023

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  1. 5 stars
    I don’t usually make easter desserts, but since having more kids in the family I decided to give it a shot. These were a major hit with all of the kiddos, definitely saving this recipe for year round.

  2. 5 stars
    These were perfect! Need to work on my knotting technique, but they came out so pretty and yummy. No need to include corn syrup in the glaze, as I don’t keep it on hand. These will definitely be in my regular rotation!

  3. 5 stars
    Best recipe ever! Absolutely better than grandmas! Thank you. This will be my go to recipe for the holidays.

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