Pizzelle cookies are delicate and crisp Italian waffle cookies flavored with anise. Make this Italian cookie recipe for delicious holiday pizzelles!
This Italian sweet treat gets its name from the same word for pizza: pizze, which is Italian for flat or round. When you add the ending -elle (meaning small), then pizelle translates to “little pizza.”
Don’t be fooled — there’s no marinara here! Keep reading to learn how to make Italian waffle cookies at home, plus the secret to perfect pizzelles.
These crispy Italian waffle cookies are made with basic ingredients — flour, sugar, butter, and eggs — and are flavored with vanilla and anise.
Each one is shaped like a flat disc and can be stamped with a simple or intricate design, depending on the method used to make them. Different methods will also result in different textures, ranging from firm and crispy to soft and chewy.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Boost the flavor. Toast the anise seeds in a dry skillet on the stove, then crush with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. This really brings out the flavor and aroma.
- Try a different extract. If the anise flavor (similar to black licorice) is too strong, leave out the seeds and swap the extract for almond, orange, or lemon extract instead. Just be sure to still use the vanilla!
- Get consistent shapes. Pizzelle batter is very thick and sticky, so it can be hard to transfer off of a spoon onto a waffle maker. Instead, pipe the batter in a swirl with a large open tip (Wilton 1A) so it fills the whole section when pressed.
- Use the right tools! You’ll need a pizzelle maker to create the perfect designs.
- Cool on a wire rack. If you lay each cookie on a flat surface (or stack them), steam will get trapped underneath and prevent them from hardening properly.
Pizzelle cookies are delicious on their own or topped with a variety of creams and spreads. Add a thin layer hazelnut spread or your favorite jam, or sandwich cannoli cream between two cookies for an extra sweet treat.
You can also wrap warm pizzelle cookies around a wooden cone or dowel to form cannoli shells or ice cream cones.
Kitchen Tools You Will Need
- Stand mixer or large mixing bowl with hand mixer
- Pizzelle Iron – They make specialty presses for pizzelles that create the perfect crisp cookie!
- Round Biscuit or Cookie Cutter – It should be 5-inches in diameter to trim off the rough edges of your pizzelle cookies.
Pizzelle Cookies FAQ
Can I double this pizelle recipe?
Sure! As written, this recipe made about a dozen 5” Italian waffle cookies on a standard sized waffle iron.
You can increase the amounts for a larger batch — it will just take you longer to cook them all.
What’s the secret to perfect pizzelles?
There are actually a few! First, prepare the dough exactly as directed to ensure that each cookie is light and crisp. Beat the eggs until they become pale in color (this adds air), and stop stirring once there are no more streaks of flour at the end (this prevents too much gluten).
Next, make sure your iron is fully heated before adding the batter. Use a piping bag with a large open round tip to swirl the batter onto the press — this ensures more even coverage and allows it to squeeze into every nook and cranny when the lid is closed.
I don’t have a piping bag — what can I use instead?
Don’t stress! You can make your own piping bag with a Ziploc storage bag instead. Fill a gallon-sized freezer bag with your batter (or sauce), then snip off one of the bottom corners.
Cut off more for a larger opening, similar to a large open piping tip, or snip off just the closed corner to pipe more intricate designs and lettering.
Prep Ahead Instructions
Because this pizzelle recipe comes together so quickly, I highly recommend making your treats fresh.
That said, the dough can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Wrap it tightly in plastic or keep it in an airtight container, then bring to room temperature on the counter before pressing.
How To Store Pizzelles
Allow pizzelle cookies to cool completely, then transfer them to a storage bag or airtight container. They can be stacked as long as they are no longer warm.
Store at room temperature for 3 to 4 weeks or wrap them in a layer of plastic wrap and freeze for several months!
With love from our simple kitchen to yours.
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MORE ITALIAN DESSERT RECIPES
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon anise extract, optional (SEE NOTE #2)
- 1 tablespoon anise seed, ground (SEE NOTE #2)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- Heat pizzelle waffle iron while preparing the batter.
- Measure 1 tablespoon anise seed into a small saucepan. Heat over medium for about 1 minute, stirring regularly, until seeds are toasted. Transfer toasted anise seed to a pestle and grind with a mortar until finely ground.
- In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar together until pale yellow and slightly thickened (about 3 minutes).
- Beat in melted butter, vanilla extract, ground anise seed, and anise extract, if using.
- Combine flour and a pinch of salt and add to the egg mixture. Toss in the ground anise seed and then mix everything together, just until combined. Batter will be very thick.
- Brush the waffle iron with a bit of melted butter if it is not a non-stick iron.
- Add 2 tablespoons of batter to each space on the pizzelle waffle iron. Use a piping bag with a large open tip (like tip 1A) to pipe a flatter, more widely distributed swirl of batter onto the iron.
- Close the iron and cook until the pizzelles are golden brown. Remove from iron.
- Use a 5” biscuit or cookie cutter to trim any excess batter from the embossed pizzelle shape.
- Allow pizzelles to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
- Some recipes use baking powder in their batter – this gives a slightly softer, thicker pizzelle. Add 2 teaspoons of baking powder with the flour and salt to try this method.
- This recipe produces a crisp, thin cookie. The ground anise seed adds some texture and flavor. For even more anise flavor, use anise extract as well as the seed. Toasting the anise seed adds a nuttier fragrance to the spice. The difference is subtle and it is not necessary to toast the anise seed.
- Two tablespoons of batter was about the right amount to fill out the full 5” pizzelle space. On a nonstick iron, it’s difficult to spread the batter as it is very thick and slides off the plate. A scoop in the center of the iron tends to spread unevenly (squishing out the front without fully covering the back of the space, for example). Piping a swirl of batter onto the plate turned out perfect pizzelles every time.
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 April 2022
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