Pignoli Cookies are incredibly crispy on the outside with a perfectly chewy center. The combination of textures is similar to a French macaron, with the egg white giving the pine nut cookies puff and structure. Make our favorite Italian cookie recipe for holiday cookie exchanges or anytime treats!
This pignoli cookie recipe combines a sweet, chewy almond flavored cookie with a crunchy, savory pine nut topping.
Plus, Italian pine nut cookies are naturally gluten and dairy free, making them an easy allergen-friendly treat without the need for specialty ingredients!
Baking Italian cookies and other Italian desserts is a tradition at our house.
From struffoli and tiramisu cake to pizzelle cookies and torrone Italian nougat, or even this Cuccidati cookies recipe, we have a bunch of delicious homemade Italian treats that you can make for the Christmas and Easter holidays!!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Almond Paste – This typically comes in log form and can be found near the extracts or with the specialty baking ingredients.
Check the best by date on the package to make sure it’s as fresh as possible.
- Sugar – You’ll need both granulated and powdered sugar for this pignoli cookie recipe since there isn’t any flour. The combo provides structure and sweetness!
- Egg Whites – Another important ingredient for structure, egg whites help hold everything together while creating that fluffy, chewy texture in the center.
Don’t toss the yolks! They’ll keep in the fridge for up to 2 days, and you can use them to make eggnog cookies or Italian pastry cream!
- Raw Pine Nuts – Find these in the baking aisle or in the bulk bin section of your store.
Make sure they are shelled and raw (not toasted) for this pignoli cookies recipe
Tips for the Best Italian Pine Nut Cookies
- Use cookie scoops.
Because the dough is so sticky, it’s easiest to scoop it straight into the bowl of nuts.
You’re welcome to chill the dough first, but it doesn’t seem to help much.
- Only cover the tops.
In order for Italian pignoli cookies to bake properly, the dough needs to have direct contact with the baking sheet.
Be sure that the nuts are only mounded over the visible surface, filling in gaps by hand as needed.
- Avoid sticky fingers.
If you aren’t concerned about keeping these gluten-free, you can dust your hands with flour to help with the stickiness.
However, you may need to brush the dough balls with extra egg white to get the pine nuts to adhere to the surface.
- Don’t overbake!
Pull pine nut cookies from the oven as soon as the tops start to turn golden brown. Any longer and they’ll be too crunchy.
They also tend to harden over time, so it’s best if they start out a bit chewier.
Pignoli Cookie Recipe FAQ
Italian pine nut cookies can be kept at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
If you won’t be able to finish them before then, you can store them in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper, then transfer to a storage bag. Thaw on the counter before serving.
Not for an authentic pignoli cookies recipe!
While both ingredients are made from almonds, marzipan is much too sweet and should only be used for molding decorative shapes.
Almond paste also has a coarser texture, which makes it easier to blend into baked goods and fillings.
Pine nuts are one of the most expensive nuts in the world, mostly because they are really labor-intensive to harvest.
Fortunately, making pine nut cookies at home is much more affordable than buying them from the bakery.
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
Other Holiday Cookie Recipes
Italian Pignoli Cookies (Pine Nut Cookies)
- 8 ounce almond paste
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- pinch kosher salt
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 ounces raw pine nuts
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add almond paste and pulse until it is broken into small crumbs.
- Add granulated sugar, powdered sugar, and salt to the almond paste and pulse several more times until mixture is evenly combined.
- Add egg whites to the bowl and pulse again until mixture forms a sticky dough.
- Use a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop even balls of dough. Drop the balls into a small bowl filled with the pine nuts. You want to coat just one side of the dough ball with pine nuts. Carefully flip the dough ball over onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pine nut side up.
- Fill in any holes with additional pine nuts so that the top and sides of the ball are evenly coated with pine nuts.
- Place the balls 1 inch apart on the cookie sheet.
- Bake for 14-15 minutes or until the cookies are puffed with a slight dome on the top and are noticeably light golden brown around the bottom edges. The cookie should appear slightly shiny with some browned pine nuts on the top.
- Allow cookies to cool for 3-4 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
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.
Originally published October 2021, updated and republished November 2023
Disclosure: Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link your price will remain the same and The Slow Roasted Italian will automatically receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting us, it helps us keep creating new recipes.