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BEST Italian Pignoli Cookies Recipe (pine nut)

BEST Italian Pignoli Cookies Recipe (pine nut cookies) are soft and chewy Italian cookies rolled in pine nuts and baked until golden brown, creating a perfectly crisp exterior. A specialty of Southern Italy, these are the best pignoli cookies! Only 4 main ingredients and 20 minutes to make.

  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cookies 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 16oz (454g) almond paste (you will need 2 tubes)
  • 1 1/2 cups (298g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large egg whites (90g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6oz (170g) pine nuts for rolling
  • Powdered sugar (confectioners sugar), for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons of either orange or lemon zest (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Place pinenuts in a small bowl and set aside. 
  2. Cut the almond paste into 1-inch pieces and put it in the bowl of a food processor (watch your fingers near the blade). Add the sugar, zest (if using), and salt and pulse until combined, about 1 minute. It will resemble cornmeal.
  3. Add 1/2 of the egg whites and process for about 30 seconds. Slowly add the rest* of the egg whites until a sticky dough forms (*If you don't weigh the egg whites, you may not need all the egg whites since egg whites in each egg vary). The dough will be wet and sticky. Grease your hands before rolling. 
  4. Scoop out rounded tablespoons of dough and roll them into 1-inch balls. You can also use a cookie scoop. I like to oil my cookie scoop, so extracting the dough from the scoop is effortless. 
  5. Roll the dough balls in the pine nuts until covered on all sides. 
  6. Place the dough balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet 2 inches apart and bake until the nuts turn golden brown, about 15-17 minutes. Do not overbake, or they will become too hard.
  7. Dust cooled cookies with powdered sugar, and enjoy!

Notes

Hand mixer method: If you don't have a food processor use a hand mixer. Add the egg whites to the bowl and beat on low speed. Add the almond paste bit by bit until a uniform dough forms. Then beat in the sugar and lemon zest. Once you have the dough, continue with the recipe.

Storage: Store pignoli cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to one week.

To freeze Italian pignoli cookies, set them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking tray. Place the cookies in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer them to a sealed bag or container. If you layer, the cookies, use parchment paper or wax paper between the layers. For the best results, consume within 4-5 weeks. To thaw the pignoli cookies, take them out of the container/bag and let them thaw at room temp on the counter. You can even put them in a low-temperature oven, about 250F, for a few minutes to warm.

  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Sweet
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: pignoli cookies, pignoli, pinenut cookies, Italian recipe, cookie recipe, pine nuts, dessert