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Anisette Italian Cookies

Covered in sprinkles and homemade icing, these anisette cookies are packed with Italian holiday vibes. Made with anise extract, everyone will want some of these colorful bite-sized cookies the minute they hit the table.

A couple of stacked anisette cookies with a jug of milk in the background.

Why You’ll Love These Anisette Cookies

With “anisette” referring to anise seed liquor in Italian, you can imagine why the flavor profile in this recipe might make the cookies addictive. They don’t have any alcohol, but they do have lots of sweet anise.

  • Authentic. Packed with anise extract for authenticity, these cookies will taste just like the ones you can find in Italian bakeries and sweet shops.
  • Great for the holidays. Place them on any cookie platter to impress your friends and family. They are an unconventional, but equally yummy holiday cookie recipe.
  • Perfect gifts. Who doesn’t love homemade cookies with sprinkles? Gifting them around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s will get you on everyone’s good side for the rest of the year.
  • Simple. This recipe isn’t much different to your typical icing or a basic cookie dough. Even beginner-level bakers can nail it!
A tray of anisette cookies with icing and sprinkles.

What Are Anisette Cookies?

Anisette cookies are traditional Italian holiday cookies, with their roots dating back to Ancient Rome. They’re delicate, soft, and crumbly cookies flavored with anise extract (the most important ingredient). Once baked, they’re coated in a thin layer of anise-flavored icing before being topped with colorful sprinkles. The cookies have a buttery and mildly spicy, herbal flavor.

Recipe Ingredients

It’s all about the anise extract for an authentic Italian flavor. Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact amounts.


  • Unsalted butter – Feel free to use salted butter or margarine.
  • Granulated white sugar – Don’t use light or dark brown sugar.
  • Eggs
  • Anise extract – Almond extract is a great swap.
  • All-purpose flour – Don’t use cake or bread flour for this.
  • Baking powder – Please don’t swap this for baking soda.
  • Milk – Whole or low-fat milk work.


  • Confectioners’ sugar – This is also called powdered sugar.
  • Milk
  • Anise extract – Almond or lemon extract are amazing.
  • Candy sprinkles
Stacked anise cookies with cookie tray and a small jug of milk in the back.

How to Make Anisette Cookies

Anise cookies are just like making your favorite sugar cookies and a simple icing, except you don’t have to flatten out the dough or use cookie cutter here. It’s much easier! Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for more detailed instructions.

  • Prepare the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Whisk the dry ingredients. Mix the flour and baking powder in a bowl. Set it aside.
  • Mix the wet ingredients. Beat the butter and sugar for 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and keep mixing. Mix in the extract.
  • Incorporate the mixtures. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the mixture as you continue to beat. Add 1 tablespoon of milk. Repeat this for all the dry ingredients and milk until well combined. You should have a cookie dough at this point.
  • Shape the cookies. Use a tablespoon to measure and drop balls of dough onto the cookie sheet. Use your hands to smooth out the balls if necessary. Pop them into the oven for 10-12 minutes.
  • Make the icing. Combine the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and anise extract in a small bowl. Whisk it well. Add 1/2 teaspoon of milk at a time to thin it out if it’s too dry.
  • Remove from the oven. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them fully cool before icing them and adding the sprinkles.
  • Decorate them. Place the sprinkles in a small bowl. Set it aside. Line a cooled baking sheet with parchment. Grab each cookie and dip it upside down into the icing. Finally, dip it in the sprinkles. Place them on the cookie sheet. Refrigerate them for 30 minutes to help set the icing and enjoy.
Bitten into anisette cookies recipe.

Tips for Success

These tips will help you master any anisette cookie recipe you come across:

  • Make the icing in advance. Prepare the icing in advance and pour it into an airtight container. Place a piece of plastic wrap and set it on the icing, making sure the plastic touches the surface completely. Refrigerate it for up to 3 days. Afterward, remove the plastic and let it come down to room temperature before using.
  • Make them gluten-free. Substitute all-purpose flour for a gluten-free one and you’ll have a GF-friendly treat in no time!
  • Check the consistency. As you combine the wet and dry ingredients, check the consistency. If it’s too dry, adjust it by adding an extra tablespoon of milk at a time.
  • Sift the confectioners’ sugar. It’s really important to have a smooth icing so that the cookies look pretty. To make sure you don’t get any lumps, sift the confectioners’ sugar in advance.
  • Skip the rolling. Feel free to skip rolling the dough between your hands to shape every cookie. Just measure the dough and place it directly on the cookie sheet. It’ll give your cookies a rustic feel.
  • Make them more colorful. Add a drop of your favorite food coloring into the icing for extra colorful cookies!

How to Store Anise Cookies

Once the icing is set, store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Keep them in a cool place away from direct heat, sunlight, and humidity.

Can I Freeze These?

Absolutely! However, skip the icing until after defrosting them. If you freeze them with the icing, it’ll split and become gooey once defrosted. Pop the un-iced cookies into a freezer-friendly bag or container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Set them on the counter for 1-2 hours so they come down to room temperature. Ice them as usual and enjoy.

More Easy Cookie Recipes

A stack of anise cookies.

Anisette Cookies

These Italian anisette cookies are ready in less than 30 minutes to add a pop of color and anise goodness into your holiday baking this year.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time12 minutes
Total Time27 minutes
Servings: 30 cookies



  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened {1 stick}
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons anise extract or almond extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk


  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 4-5 tablespoons milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon anise extract
  • candy sprinkles


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl blend flour and baking powder and set aside.
  • Mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy about 5 minutes, add eggs one at a time until thoroughly mixed. Then add extract.
  • Add 1/3 flour to the mixer while running, then 1 tablespoon of milk, next 1/3 of flour and another tablespoon of milk and final flour. Mix till blended. Add an extra tablespoon of milk if too dry.
  • Using a tablespoon measure, drop cookies on cookie sheet. Gently roll balls between hands to smooth finish. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl combine confectioners sugar, milk and extract and stir to blend. Add extra milk if needed to thin.
  • Place sprinkles in a small bowl to the side.
  • Line a cooled baking sheet with parchment, taking each cookie and turning upside down to the dip in icing and then dipping in sprinkles. Line up on parchment to harden. When finished place in refrigerator to speed up hardening.
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Italian


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4 comments on “Anisette Italian Cookies”

    1. Amy @ A Healthy Life For Me
      Amy Stafford

      You can substitute without it changing the consistency of the cookies, though they will not have the same flavoring. Let me know how they taste.

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