With just 5 ingredients, these Italian Pistachio Cookies are really easy to make. Made with almond flour, pistachios, eggs, sugar, and almond extract. Ready in 20 minutes with a soft center and a little chewy outside. These cookies are the perfect Italian Christmas cookie!
Just take one bite of these delicate cookies with a touch of almond flavor you’ll just fall in love! Authentic Sicilian cookies that happen to be gluten-free and dairy-free. These Italian almond cookies are super easy to make and are made with 5 ingredients!
If you’re looking for a last minute cookie recipe to make to impress your family or to gift to neighbors and friends, you need to make these cookies! We finished off this batch so I have another one baking away as I write this post out.
Traditional amaretti are made with almond flour (or ground almonds- which is almond meal), and they end up with a texture that is similar to marzipan.
If you happen to get a chance to get over to Sicily, you’ll find these cookies made with pistachios (amaretti al pistacchio). The pistachios give the amaretti a more pronounced nutty flavor and a subtle color change compared to the almond version.
Now if you would like the cookies to have a more green hue, invest in some Iranian pistachios that are very bright green. Or you could add a drop of blue food coloring to the dough.
Can you use only pistachio flour in this cookie recipe?
Baking with just pistachio flour can be tricky. The cookies stay intact better using a combination of almond flour and pistachio flour. Using half of almond flour and half of pistachio flour is the perfect balance and they still keep the chewy texture that is so characteristic of these cookies.
The addition of pistachio flour and egg yolks is the only thing that is different in this amaretti cookie recipe. Other than those two changes, it’s identical to my original amaretti recipe.
After they’re rolled in the powdered sugar, you gently press down on them (I used a glass) and they bake away. The powdered sugar creates the most lovely and beautiful coating.
I’ve been compiling Sicilian recipes since my Sicilian dad passed away and put it all under my Project Sicilia section. It’s been almost 10 years (I should have a lot more recipes by now!).
We hope you enjoy these Sicilian recipes as much as we do!
Why we love this pistachio cookie recipe
- A simple recipe that is great for first-time bakers.
- Totally gluten-free + dairy-free.
- The cookies freeze up nicely, which is nice for baking ahead (and they defrost quickly).
- Perfect cookie to have with a cappuccino or afternoon tea.
- They are absolutely delicious!
What are other names of Italian almond cookies
You may see Italian almond cookies also called amaretti morbidi, which means soft amaretti. If you happen to be in Tuscany, they are called ricciarelli. Made in Siena during the Christmas season, and basically same consistency as these amaretti.
The version in this recipe is made with pure almond extract, but sometimes they will be made with amaretto liqueur.
What ingredients are in pistachio amaretti cookies?
These lovely cookies are made with just 5 ingredients (full printable recipe below).
- Almond flour – which is also known as almond meal or ground almonds.
- Pistachios – you grind your own pistachios to make a pistachio flour or meal (buy pistachio flour online, if you prefer).
- Sea salt– Touch of salt is all that’s needed.
- Granulated sugar – not overly sweet, the sugar
- Almond extract – helps to accentuate the flavor of the almond flour.
- Egg whites + yolks – eggs should always be at room temperature.
- Confectioner’s sugar – rolling in the powdered sugar makes these cookies so beautiful when they bake up.
How to make pistachio amaretti?
Once you gather up the ingredients, you need to prep the pistachios.
You will make your own pistachio flour. It is so simple to do and takes just a minute. I love to use my mini food processor. It makes prepping for some recipes so much easier!
(PS: I forgot to get the egg yolks in this photo below)
Place the pistachios in the food processor (or even your blender)and pulse to get to a powder. You will be leaving some large pieces. If you pulse too much, you’ll get a pistachio paste, so better to not pulse too many times and keep it chunkier. Set aside while you prep the egg whites.
Whip together the egg whites and the salt until soft peaks form. Add in the almond extract (and vanilla extract, if you’re using).
Next step, in a large bowl, mix together the pistachio flour, almond flour, and sugar.
Then add the flour + sugar mixture into the whipped egg whites. Fold the flour mixture in gently until the dough comes together.
Add in the egg yolks and stir until a uniform cookie dough forms. The dough will be a be thick and paste like.
Have your cookie sheets prepped with parchment paper and your oven will be on 350F.
Stir to roll out the dough into 1-inch round balls. Spray your hands with baking spray to make it easier to roll the dough.
Roll the cookie balls into powdered sugar to coat and begin to space them out on the baking trays.
Use the bottom of a glass to gently press down on each cookie ball. You could place a pistachio piece into the top of each cookie or a little bit of ground pistachios.
Bake the cookies till they begin to puff and crackle on top. The bottom and the edges will be very light golden brown.
Yes, you could make the entire recipe by hand. Although, whipping the egg whites separately does make the cookies fluffier.
It is the same thing, as it is ground pistachios.
Yes, these cookies freeze very well. Just like the almond only amaretti, these almond and pistachio amaretti can be baked ahead of time for the holidays.
Pistachios happen to be full of antioxidants, unsaturated fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Tips to make the best Sicilian pistachio amaretti
- If you prefer to use just almond flour and do not have pistachios, feel free to do that.
- I used lightly salted and roasted pistachios (you could use unsalted, as well).
- If you can find pistachio flour, go ahead and use that.
- The dough could be made ahead and chilled. Bring it to room temperature while the oven heats up before rolling and baking.
- Pulse the pistachio to a fine flour, keeping some texture (be sure to not pulse it into a pistachio paste).
- Grate some lemon zest into the dough to brighten up the cookie flavor. One teaspoon would be enough.
- Be sure to bake the amaretti until the edges and bottom are just LIGHTLY golden in color. If you go any darker, you’ll get hard cookies. They would still be delicious, just crunchy.
How to store Sicilian almond cookies?
Allow the cookie to completely cool down. As soon as they have cooled, store cookies in airtight container. Separate the layers of cookies with parchment or wax paper. The cookies store fine for up to 1 week at room temperature.
Can you freeze pistachio cookies?
Yes, these almond cookies freeze very nicely. Let them cool completely. You could freeze them in a large zipped lock freezer bag (squeeze all the air out before sealing the bag) or an airtight container. Defrost them on the counter. They defrost pretty quickly.
Some other cookie recipes to enjoy:
Buon Natale XX
- FOR THE COOKIES
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature (whites and yolks separated)
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 ½ cups almond flour
- 1 cup pistachio flour I ground up roasted and lightly salted pistachios
- FOR THE COATING
- ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
- Combine dry ingredients: In a large bowl, combine the almond flour and pistachio flour with the granulated sugar.
- Whisk egg whites: In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites and the salt until soft peaks form. You could use an electric mixer, a hand whisk or a fork. Gently whisk in the almond extract.
- Make the dough: Start to add the almond/pistachio flour mixture into the egg whites in portions, stirring with a wooden spoon after each addition.
- Add in the egg yolks: Stir in the egg yolks. The mixture will seem dry, but keep stirring. You could even use your hands to work the dough together. It should be tacky, almost like an almond paste. Since they are gluten-free, you won’t get tough cookies from overworking the dough.
- Get ready to roll cookie balls in confectioner's sugar: Place some confectioner’s sugar in a bowl or a plate (this is to roll the cookie balls into).
- Roll out the cookie balls: Using a tablespoon, a spoon, or a small scoop, take out portions of the dough and use your hands to form the dough into small balls. The dough is very sticky, so you could prep your hands with either baking spray or lightly dust them with confectioner’s sugar to help roll out the balls.
- Cookie size: The cookies should be small, so you should roll out about 1 ½-2 dozen cookie balls. It’s about 1-inch round (if you have a scale, you could measure each ball to be precise in the size/weight. I make so many that I can tell the size by eyeing it and feeling the weight of each cookie).
- Coat the cookies: Roll the cookie balls coating the cookies very well with the confectioner's sugar.
- Place cookies on baking sheet: Arrange the cookie balls on your prepped baking sheets.
- Flatten gently: Gently flatten the cookie balls with the bottom of a glass or even a knife. Press a half of pistachio on top of each cookie (or some ground pistachios). The cookies will crack a bit on the sides, and that is fine.
- Bake cookies: Bake for 15-20 minutes. The cookies will slightly rise and form some cracks. Check on them at 15 minutes (every oven is different). They should be soft and LIGHTLY golden. Take care to not overbake them. If you rolled them smaller, check on them at the 10 minute mark.
- Cool down cookies: Set them aside to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.