Italian Almond Cookies {Ricciarelli}

Easy Italian almond cookies recipe (Ricciarelli), homemade with simple ingredients. Full of almond meal, almond extract, sliced almond topping and a bit of lemon or orange zest. Soft and chewy. No almond paste or marzipan required!

I love the unique flavor of almond, especially in desserts! These cookies are a classic for the holidays and must be included in Homemade Christmas Cookie Boxes. For more ways to enjoy almond flavor in your desserts, try these Almond Crescent Cookies (Vanillekipferl) or Banana Almond Biscotti, or even this Mocha Almond Fudge.

Easy Italian Almond Cookies on Rustic Gray Background- Closeup Shot

How to make Italian almond cookies recipe from scratch?

  1. Whisk egg whites and honey- Until soft peaks form.
  2. Mix together remaining ingredients- This includes almond meal, sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract, lemon zest.
  3. Cover- And chill.
  4. Scoop dough– And roll into ovals.
  5. Coat- With sliced almonds.
  6. Bake– Until golden brown.
  7. Dust cookies– With powdered sugar.

What is the difference between Ricciarelli and amaretti?

Typically, Ricciarellis are softer and chewier than amaretti.

What is almond meal? Is it the same as ground almonds? 

Yes, almond meal is just another way of saying ground almonds, but you can get two different types. Blanched almond meal means the brown skins have been removed, whereas unblanched refers to the skins being left on, giving it a darker color. You can purchase both the blanched and unbalanced version of almond meal, but in this recipe, you have to use the blanched version for a lighter color.

Almond meal vs. Almond flour? Are they the same?

Although they are similar, there is a very distinct difference. Almond meal is ground almonds with the brown peel left on, whereas the peel is removed in almond flour. This gives the almond meal more of a brown color with a coarser texture.

Partially Eaten Italian Ricciarelli Cookies on Rustic Gray Background

Variations for Ricciarelli cookies

Add a powdered sugar topping– Before baking, instead of rolling dough in almonds, roll it in powdered sugar. They will end up looking similar in appearance to my Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.

Add dried cherries– Some recipes that I have seen include this ingredient. Just make sure the cherries are roughly chopped.

Try another nut topping-You don’t have to use sliced almonds, you can also try finely chopped walnuts, peanuts, or pecans.

Add shredded coconut- In the dough or you can also roll dough in shredded coconut.

Omit the almonds– If you don’t enjoy almonds or don’t have any on hand, you can simply omit them from the recipe altogether and make plain cookies. 

Dip or drizzle with melted chocolate- This can only be done once the cookies cool completely.

Drizzle vanilla glaze– Over the top of these cookies for an added sweet touch. Try these icings: Royal Icing or Glace Icing.

Tips and Techniques for Italian almond biscuits

Must use egg whites ONLY– Do no use the egg yolks! This will ruin the cookies. However, don’t waste those egg yolks! Instead, use them in my homemade Eggnog, Banana Pudding, Vanilla Pudding, Lemon Meringue Pie, or New York Cheesecake.

Egg whites must be whipped– Until soft peaks form, because there are no leavening agents in the recipe like baking powder or baking soda. Therefore, the whipping technique provide aeration and prevents cookies from becoming dense.

Form soft peaks- When whipping the egg whites, do not over whip. You don’t want stiff peaks to form or else the texture will be off and your cookies won’t turn out quite right.

Lemon zest vs. Orange zest- Typically, these cookies that I have eaten at bakeries have one of those two types of zests. Pick whichever flavor you like best, but do not use both together.

Why did my cookies spread? How to fix it?– Most likely it is because you didn’t chill the dough before baking. Next time, be sure not to skip that step.

Chill dough- This is a very important step, so don’t skip it! The reason is because they will be less sticky and easier to handle. It will also prevent spreading.

Note the lower baking temperature- It is important to use the non-typical baking temperature of 320 degrees F rather than 350 degrees F, because it allows slow baking at a lower temperature for the best texture.

Wait until cookies cool- Don’t remove cookies from baking tray until fully cool, because the residual heat continues baking the cookies to perfection.

Line tray with parchment paper– Because the cookies won’t stick to the pan and it makes for easier cleanup.

Egg whites should be at room temperature– Because you get more volume when you whip them and this makes for a lighter, fluffier texture.

Homemade Classic Italian Cookies on Rustic Background- Overhead Shot


Room temperature- Store in a cookie jar for up to 3 days.

Refrigerate- Place them in a sealed container for up to 1 week.

Freeze- Cool cookies, place in freezer-safe container, and use within 1 month. Simply thaw to room temperature before eating.

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Easy Italian Almond Cookies (Ricciarelli) on Rustic Gray Background
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Italian Almond Cookies (Ricciarelli)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Easy Italian almond cookies recipe (Ricciarelli), homemade with simple ingredients. Full of almond meal, almond extract, sliced almond topping and a bit of lemon or orange zest. Soft and chewy!
Yield: 18 Cookies




  • In a large mixing bowl, add egg whites and honey and whisk them until soft peaks form (not stiff peaks).
  • In another mixing bowl, whisk together almond meal, sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract, lemon zest until combined.
  • Add this flour mixture to the egg mixture.
  • Mix gently until combined.
  • Cover and chill in fridge for about 1-2 hours to make it less sticky and easier to handle.
  • Scoop out small portions of the dough and roll them into oval shapes. You can also make round balls, if you prefer that shape but typically they are oval shaped.
  • Next, roll them in a bowl of sliced almonds until fully coated.
  • Place them on a cookie tray, lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake at 320 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and allow the cookies to cool completely in the tray.
  • Dust a bit of powdered sugar on top prior to serving, if you like. Enjoy!


  • Read all my tips above.
  • Leftovers can be stored in a cookie jar at room temperature for up to 3 days. 


Calories: 223kcal, Carbohydrates: 16g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 1g, Sodium: 6mg, Potassium: 147mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 1IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 79mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Calories: 223
Author: Abeer Rizvi

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