This easy recipe for Italian almond cookies, also known as amaretti biscuits or Italian macaroons, requires just three basic ingredients (almond flour, sugar and egg whites) and it's made in 3 different flavors.
For the different flavors however, you'll need one or two extra ingredients like lime zest and matcha green tea or freshly brewed coffee.
Soft amaretti cookies (or amaretti morbidi) appear in my kitchen very often because they're quick and easy to make and they taste delicious.
It's the perfect cookie for any holiday season, especially Christmas because of their "snowy" appearance.
With their crispy edges and soft chewy center, these almond-flavored cookies will become your favorite!
As mentioned before, this recipe for Italian almond cookies requires just 3 simple ingredients:
- Egg whites. They should be at room temperature because they will whip up faster.
- Almond flour. Finely ground almond flour will provide a smooth texture, but if you prefer them coarser, you can use blanched ground almonds (grind them in your food processor).
- White sugar.
Even if you use just these 3 ingredients they'll be delicious. However, for the real amaretti flavor you'll also have to add some almond extract. The almond extract gives them their signature aroma which makes them irresistible.
A pinch of salt is also recommended because it intensifies their taste.
A note about egg whites: they freeze very well.
That's why almost every time I have leftover egg whites, especially after making these easy peanut butter cookies or these salt-cured egg yolks, I will freeze them in order to use them when I want to make this recipe.
If you have leftover egg whites you can also make this white chocolate vanilla cake, but the cookies somehow seem easier to me.
For this recipe I figured it would be useful to also show you some different flavors even though the taste of traditional amaretti is my favorite one.
Traditional: The original recipe uses bitter almond extract which is the signature flavor of Italian amaretti cookies. If you have some vanilla extract you can optionally add ½ a teaspoon in order to accentuate the flowery notes of the almond.
Matcha and lime: A combination of matcha green tea and lime zest is something a lot of people like. Especially the ones who prefer citrus taste in desserts.
Coffee: The taste of coffee pairs very well with hazelnuts, that's why I made this variation with ground hazelnuts instead of almond flour. But you can totally use almond flour if you can't find hazelnut.
For the coffee, freshly brewed espresso coffee is used, which adds more moisture. This extra moisture results in more flour as you'll see in the recipe card.
According to Taste Atlas, in Italian, the word amaretti is derived from the word amaro, which means bitter. And so in order to get the true authentic taste of amaretti cookies, you must use ground bitter almonds or replace them with bitter almond extract.
Some recipes also use amaretto liqueur (or another almond liqueur) instead of almond extract since it's very similar in taste.
Luckily, most almond extracts have already bitter almond extract as their base because that's what gives them their intense scent, but you should make sure to smell your extract.
If it smells intensely and like Disarrono liquor then you're good to go. If it's not very intense you may have to increase the quantity given in the recipe card below.
Ground apricot kernel seeds will also give a very similar flavor to that of bitter almonds, so if it's easier for you to source these you can use a 1-2 tablespoons after you finely process them in your food processor.
(Please talk with your doctor before eating apricot kernel seeds. Though they can have some health benefits, over-consumption can cause cyanide poisoning).
The procedure for how to make theses Italian almond cookies is very easy:
1. Mix the almond flour with the sugar (dry ingredients) in a small bowl.
2. Whisk the egg whites and the salt in a large bowl, until soft peaks form. I've found that it's not necessary to reach the stiff peaks stage. You're good to go as long as you don't see any liquid whites at the bottom of the bowl. You can do that with a stand mixer, a hand mixer or even with a whisk.
3. Make the dough: Add the almond extract, the vanilla and the almond flour to the egg whites and mix well with a wooden spatula.
4. Shape the cookies: Use a small cookie scoop or a regular tablespoon to scoop out the cookie dough and roll it on the palm of your hand until you get a small ball. Then coat each dough ball in icing sugar.
5. Bake. Baking time will depend on the size of the cookies.
Many recipes (like these amaretti cookies from loveandoliveoil) require equal amounts (in weight) in almond flour and white sugar. This will make the cookies fairly sweet.
I have experimented with less sugar (about ⅔ of a cup) and found that this quantity is enough to keep the texture and the taste of the cookies right without them being overly sweet.
However, if you have a sweet tooth, you can certainly increase the sugar to 1 cup which is equal in weight with the 2 cups of almond flour.
Roll in icing or granulated sugar?
Rolling these Italian almond cookies into sugar before you bake them is optional, but they look much nicer this way.
Some recipes (like these soft amaretti from shelovesbiscotti) roll them in caster sugar and other recipes roll them into icing (confectioners sugar).
I prefer icing sugar because it makes them prettier and because I don't like the crunch that the caster sugar gives.
Storing and Freezing
These Italian almond cookies keep very well and will last for at least 6-7 days when stored properly.
After you bake them and they have cooled completely, transfer them to an airtight container and store them at room temperature.
Can you freeze amaretti?
These Italian almond biscuits freeze really well when baked, but you can also freeze the dough before baking them.
Split the dough into individual cookies and omit the step of rolling them into icing sugar. Flash freeze them and wrap each portion. Thaw the portion you need and roll in icing sugar before baking.
We prefer freezing the dough rather than the baked amaretti, because this way the cookies are a tad fresher.
Which dessert wine would you choose to serve these amaretti with? See this list with the best Mediterranean sweet wines and let me know in the comments.
Can you use whole almonds for amaretti?
The traditional recipe uses blanched almonds since they provide "cleaner" taste and white color. However, if you want to, you can use whole ground almonds.
How do Italians eat amaretti?
Amaretti cookies are usually served with espresso coffee. They can also be served with dessert wines such as Vin Santo, Marsala or the bubbly Moscato D' Asti.
What is hard vs soft amaretti?
The soft kind are also known as amaretti morbidi. They have a crispy, crackled outside and a chewy interior.
The crunchy ones are made with the same ingredients but they're usually smaller and they're baked for longer time until they are golden brown with a crunchy texture.
Easy Italian almond cookies recipe - soft amaretti
For the basic almond amaretti recipe:
- 2 egg whites (60 grams), room temperature
- pinch of salt
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅔ cups (130 grams) white sugar
- 2 cups (200 grams) almond flour
- icing sugar for coating
- Preheat your oven to 325°F (160°C).
- Transfer the egg whites and the salt to the bowl of your electric mixer and beat on high until soft peaks form. You can also do that by hand using a whisk. Add the almond extract and the vanilla and mix well. Smell the mixture and if the almond scent seems too weak, add another ¼ of a teaspoon almond extract.
- Add the sugar and stir until combined. Then add the almond flour and mix well with a spatula until a dough is formed. It may be a little sticky but that's okay.
- Transfer some icing sugar to a shallow plate. Take heaped tablespoons of dough the size of a small walnut (about 25 grams / 0.88 oz).Shape the cookies into small balls by rolling them briefly between your hands. Transfer the balls to the icing sugar and roll them to coat well.
- Transfer to a baking pan and press them gently to flatten them a bit. Bake for 22-25 minutes. You don't want them to brown.Let them cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Baking time will depend on the size of the cookies. Smaller cookies will need less baking time while larger cookies will need more.
- Depending on the brand of your almond extract you may need to increase it to ½ a teaspoon.
- Use room temperature egg whites because they will whip up much faster.
- If you like these italian almond cookies, you'll love this easy French Creme Brulee
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They were very easy to make and came out so good. I'll be making them again very soon
Thanks and bon appetit 🙂
very easy recipe…..the cookies were scrumptious!!!
Thank you Apura, enjoy!
Made it. Loved them. We added pulsed pistachio nuts as an additional flavor – so simple and quick
That's great! Thanks for the feedback Phil 🙂
Could I add some processed unsalted pistachios and make them pistachio flavored?
Hi Sam, I haven't tried it but I think it will work!
I seem to something.. the icing sugar melted when I pit them in the oven so they don’t have that dusted look
Hi David, is it possible that the dough is too wet and melts the coating? If yes, I would add a bit of almond flour more. Another option is to double coat them with icing sugar and see if that works
Beautiful, simple, flavorful cookies. I rolled mine in finely chopped almond slices and then drizzled it with chocolate. So many flavor possibilities with this recipe – thank you!
Hi Julie, what a great idea 🙂
Thanks for the feedback and your kind words!
Can you freeze the cookies after?
Hi Nancy I haven't done this but I'm 99% sure you can freeze the cookies before or after baking them. The only problem with freezing them after baking I can think of, is that the icing sugar coating may become moist.