Pignoli Cookies

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Pignoli cookies are a dreamy Sicilian dessert featuring an almond paste dough that’s rolled into balls, coated in pine nuts, and baked. The resulting cookies are soft, chewy, sweet, nutty, and totally irresistible.

Baked pignoli cookies dusted with powdered sugar.


 

Looking to break free from your standard cookie routine? These pignoli cookies are your answer. Made up of almond paste, sugar, egg white, orange zest, and almond extract, the dough is shaped into two bite sized balls, rolled in pine nuts, and baked. The final product is a wonderfully soft, chewy cookie that sings with the standout sweet nuttiness of almonds and pine nuts with just the perfect hint of citrus. Finish ’em off with a dusting of powdered sugar and you’re in for a real treat.

  • Great flavor. The natural sweet nuttiness of the almond paste and the toasty pine nuts mingle with a subtle twist of citrus for the perfect flavor combo.
  • Chewy texture. I love the slight crunch of the exterior of these cookies, which gives way to a rich, chewy center.
  • Quick and easy. Throw some ingredients in a blender, roll the dough into balls, roll the balls in pine nuts, and bake. That’s it! It doesn’t get much easier.
A hand holding up a pignoli cookie with a bite missing from the cookie.

What Are Pignoli Cookies

Pignoli cookies are a classic Italian dessert made from almond paste, sugar, and egg whites. A hint of citrus is often thrown into the batter as well. The cookies are formed into little balls, coated in pine nuts (pignoli), and baked. The result is a sweet, nutty, chewy cookie that’s almost impossible to resist.

Overhead image of Pignoli cookies ingredients.

Pignoli Cookies Ingredients

  • Almond paste: You can find almond paste in most grocery stores, but if you can’t, it’s quite easy to make your own with blanched almond flour, powdered sugar, egg white, and almond extract. See the notes section of the recipe card below for the recipe.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Egg whites: It’s always best to start with room-temperature egg whites. They will mix more smoothly and easily with the other ingredients.
  • Orange zest: You could use lemon zest instead. I suggest using a tad less, however.
  • Salt
  • Pine nuts: You’ll want to use raw pine nuts.
  • Powdered sugar is optional, but it brings a lovely aesthetic to the finished product.

How to Make Pignoli Cookies

  • Prep. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Blend. In a food processor, blend together the almond paste, sugar, egg whites, orange zest, and salt until smooth.
  • Form cookies. Form the dough into 2 tablespoon-sized balls and roll the dough balls in the pine nuts, pressing them lightly into the dough.
  • Bake. Arrange the dough balls on the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes.
  • Cool. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes or so before transferring them to a cooling rack.
  • Dust. Once fully cooled, dust the cookies with powdered sugar.
Close-up of pignoli cookies arranged on a wire rack.

Tips For Success

  • Break up the almond paste. Break the almond paste into pieces before adding it to the food processor because if the clumps are too large, it won’t blend properly.
  • Get the moisture content right. Store-bought almond paste can vary in moisture content. If your almond paste is quite moist, you might need a little less egg white. Add a bit of egg white at a time to get the right consistency. You want the dough to come together but you don’t want it to be so sticky you can’t handle it.
  • Chill (if needed). If the dough comes out of the food processor warm from the motion of the blades and/or is overly soft, go ahead and pop it in the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes to make it easier to work with.
  • Wet your hands. Wet your hands slightly before rolling the dough into balls. It will make it easier to work with.
  • Even size. Keep your dough balls to about 2 inches in diameter. Ensuring the cookies are as close as possible to the same size will help to bake them evenly.
  • Don’t overbake. The cookies will seem very soft when they come out of the oven. You want them that way. They will firm up as they cool. If you overbake them, they will dry out.
Up close overhead image of baked pignoli cookies dusted with powdered sugar.

Proper Storage

Once the cookies have cooled to room temperature, seal them in an airtight container. They will keep at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. I do not recommend storing pignoli cookies in the refrigerator – they will dry out.

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5 from 1 vote

Pignoli Cookies

You have to try these easy Pignoli Cookies. An almond paste dough is rolled into balls, coated in pine nuts, and baked into soft, chewy, sweet, and nutty cookies.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Cooling Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 30 cookies

Ingredients 

  • 16 ounces almond paste,, crumbled (see the notes section below to learn how to make your own almond paste)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • cups raw pine nuts
  • ½ cup powdered sugar,, optional
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Instructions 

  • Prep. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Blend. Add the almond paste, sugar, egg whites, orange zest, and salt to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  • Form cookies. Form the dough into 2 tablespoon-sized balls.
  • Coat in pine nuts. Pour the pine nuts into a bowl and roll each dough ball in the pine nuts, using your hands to press them lightly into the dough.
  • Bake. Arrange the dough balls on the prepared cookie sheet with about 1 ½ inches of space between each dough ball and bake for 12 minutes.
  • Cool. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes or so before transferring them to a cooling rack.
  • Dust. Once fully cooled, dust the cookies with powdered sugar and serve.

Notes

  • Break the almond paste into small pieces before processing; large clumps won’t blend well.
  • For easier handling, chill the dough for 15 to 30 minutes if it’s too warm or soft after blending it in the food processor.
  • Slightly wet your hands to roll the dough into balls.
  • Form dough balls about 2 inches in diameter for even baking.
  • Avoid overbaking; cookies will firm up as they cool and should be soft when removed from the oven.
ALMOND PASTE RECIPE:
If you can’t find almond paste, you can make your own. You will need the following ingredients: 
  • 168 grams of blanched almond flour
  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 well-beaten egg white
  • A splash of almond extract
  • A dash of salt 
Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 143kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 44mg | Potassium: 92mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 4IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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