Growing up in an Italian family, I clearly remember my mother making this particular anise pizzelle recipe every Christmas season. These crispy and thin Italian wafers were always popular among friends and family. Spoiler alert – the anise extract is the secret ingredient in this recipe, but I’ve got lots of tips to ensure your special cookies come out perfect.
What is an Anise Pizzelle
An anise pizzelle is a classic Italian cookie, crispy and thin, flavored with a hint of anise extract, while coated with a dusting of white confectioners sugar. In Italy and Italian culture, anise is the most traditional method for flavoring pizzelles.
Pizzelles are generally very thin, however depending on the recipe and type of pizzelle maker or pizzelle iron used, the thickness can vary. Most traditional recipes produce a thinner pizzelle that is crispy. You can check out my post about pizzelle makers and what to look for when shopping for one.
If this is the type of pizzelle you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.
Using Pizzelle Makers
You can only make a pizzelle using a pizzelle maker. If you don’t have one, you can check this one out online at Amazon. The one I’m using in my how-to images was made by Cuisinart and doubled as a waffle maker. But it is no longer available unfortunately.
Mom still uses one that is at least 15 years old, shown above. She has to use cooking spray on the plates so the pizzelles doesn’t stick. You can do this as well if yours stick, but I’ve never had that issue.
The one I’m recommending on Amazon is as close as I can get to the typical pizzelle maker.
PRO TIP: Make sure you’re buying a press that is called a pizzelle maker on the packaging. There are Krumkake Bakers that will have pizzelle maker in the description on Amazon. These are “pizzelle-like”; do not buy these.
About this Anise Pizzelle Recipe
This Italian cookie recipe is adapted from a xerox copy of my mom’s recipe card she keeps stashed away for when the holidays roll around. They are easy to make and even the novice baker can have great success!
However, I took the liberty to update the recipe a tad by swapping some unhealthy ingredients like Crisco with butter. It tastes just as good, but I’d be inaccurate in saying it’s the absolute exact recipe.
Italian pizzelles can be made with all sorts of flavors, but nothing beats pizzelles with anise in my opinion. Mind you I’m not talking about adding anise seed; what you need is anise extract.
Follow along as I guide you through my recipe step-by-step.
- Pizzelle maker. This is the one I use and is required. The one in the images in this post is no longer available.
- Mixing bowls
- Small saucepan (for melting butter)
- Cookie dough scoop (optional). This is the one I use as shown in the images below.
- Cooling racks You can also use plates.
- Storage Tins (optional)
Here are the ingredients that you’ll need for creating perfect pizzelles each and every time.
- Olive Oil – you can use regular olive oil or extra virgin. The olive oil will not impact the flavor of the pizzelle.
- Melted and cooled butter
- Anise extract
- Confectioner’s Sugar (for the coating)
Instructions for Making Anise Pizzelles
This anise pizzelle recipe takes about an hour total, which includes making the batter and cooling the cookies. You do not need an oven or toaster oven – all you need is the pizzelle maker.
The exact measurements are provided for you in the recipe card below at the bottom of the post.
1- In a large mixing bowl use a handheld or a stand up mixer to blend together all the wet ingredients (eggs, oil, butter, and anise).
2- Next, mix the dry ingredients together (sugar, flour and salt) in a medium bowl.
PRO TIP: You’ll notice I do not use any baking soda.The reason is that it makes baked goods rise, thereby making your pizzelles thicker – something we don’t want. Some recipes I’ve seen include this so I just wanted to mention it!
3- Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients while mixing. Continue to mix the ingredients until the dough is very smooth. It should look like a wet cookie dough texture.
4- Heat the pizzelle maker using the settings usually on the front of the maker. Make sure to follow the owner’s manual.
5- When ready, drop batter onto each pizzelle imprint on the plate.
PRO TIP: I use my medium-size cookie scoop to keep the pizzelles consistent in size. It’s a huge help.
6- Lower the lid to press the pizzelle flat.
7- Cook until the pizzelle’s color is a golden brown. This will not always come out as an even color and that is normal. Do not let the pizzelle overcook and become dark brown.
8- Gently transfer the pizzelles to wire cooling racks, laying them flat and trying not to overlap. I recommend placing the racks on top of wax paper or a baking pan to catch any crumbs.
9- Let the pizzelles cool for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
10- Once cooled, dip them in confectioner sugar on both sides in order to fully coat. Gently tap off any excess sugar and place in an airtight container or zip lock bag. If you keep them piled up on a plate, they will be gone – so choose wisely… LOL
About Using Anise
Anise pizzelles have a nice distinct delicate flavor, and that’s because we use anise extract. Do not use anise flavoring which is different – you want extract. Extract is more concentrated so you use less, plus it’s flavor is less potent, making it suitable for baking purposes.
The anise flavor is often associated with a licorice flavor, as it’s also called Black Licorice. But it is so slight that you can barely notice it. Don’t worry it won’t taste like you’re eating a Twizzlers!
You can purchase anise extract online here. You won’t need a lot, so make sure to get the appropriate size such as 2 oz. It should run anywhere from $4 to $10 depending on brand and size.
Also do not use anise seeds, These will be too strong in flavor and will not taste good as part of the cookie, especially the texture!
You can store these in airtight containers in the fridge for up to two weeks. You can also leave them out in an airtight cookie tin as shown above. Use wax paper between the cookies and the container and they should retain their crispy texture.
Pizzelles can also be frozen which is great if you want to make them in advance. You can store them up to 3 months in the freezer.
Take them out the day before and then coat them with the powdered sugar. I would not coat them right away since they may have absorbed a little moisture while being in the freezer.
If you have your own storage tips, let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear them!
When to Make Pizzelles
These delicious and delicate Italian wafer cookies are most often enjoyed during the holiday seasons, especially Christmas time. Their snowflake looking pattern is a classic pizzelle design. Plus with the white sugar coating –it just shouts Christmas holidays, doesn’t it?
Of course, if you ever want to make them for other special occasions, by all means do!
Using Pizzelles as Gifts
When it comes time to planning Italian Christmas gifts, pizzelles should be top on your list. These iconic Italian cookies are recognized globally and their beautiful appearance makes it look like you slaved all day making them!
Seriously though, pizzelles do make great gifts for friends and family, or for cookie exchanges. I recommend placing them in a large zip lock bag and then placing them in a decorative tin cookie container. The bag will help keep the sugar from falling out and making a mess. Or you can wrap them in plastic wrap as well.
PRO TIP: Most pizzelle makers produce 4.75” cookies so make sure the container will be large enough to hold them.
Frequently Asked Questions
The imprint is made by using a pizzelle maker. It works the same as a waffle maker. The plates in the maker make the imprint when you press down to form the pizzelle.
Yes, vanilla is very common with pizzelles and can be substituted for the anise.
The original flavor for pizzelles is anise which is also called black licorice. Anise is a common Italian herb and used to flavor many dishes including cookies and desserts.
Anise flavoring and extract are different, and will have different potencies. For pizzelles it is best to use extract which is more concentrated and contains less flavor which makes it useful for baking.
Anise is not the only type of flavor for making Italian pizzelle cookies. There are lots of different flavors you can use such as chocolate, vanilla, and even lemon. Feel free to experiment and have fun because you may find a new favorite!
If you love recipes like my pizzelle cookie recipe, here are some additional Italian cookies you may enjoy.
Anginetti Italian lemon cookies are another Italian classic recipe. This recipe is not a crispy Italian cookie, but soft and airy. It can make up to 72 cookies and they can be frozen too!
Italian toto cookies are one of my favorite cookie recipes. If I don’t freeze them quickly, I’ll eat them all up way too fast. This recipe uses a drop of whisky which takes them up a notch!
Italian almond biscotti will be the talk of the party. This recipe may not be quick but they are easy and well worth the effort. If you want an authentic recipe, this is it!
Additional Holiday Posts
Enjoy these exciting Italian side dishes for Christmas!
Delicious Pecan Christmas Recipes range from appetizers to desserts.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my anise pizzelle recipe. I’m so proud of this recipe because it came from my mom and it’s nice to pass it along to you – even though I changed it just a tiny bit.
If you like this recipe or made tweaks to make it your own, please let me know in the comments section below. I love to hear from my readers!
Anise Pizzelle Recipe
- 3 eggs
- 3 tsp anise extract
- 1/4 Cup olive oil
- 1/4 Cup butter melted and cooled
- 3/4 Cup sugar
- 1 1/2 Cups flour
- pinch salt
- confectioners sugar for coating
- Mix all the wet ingredients in a large bowl until well blended. I used a handheld blender with the mixing attachment.3 eggs, 1/4 Cup olive oil, 3 tsp anise extract, 1/4 Cup butter melted and cooled
- Mix the dry ingredients in a smaller bowl.3/4 Cup sugar, 1 1/2 Cups flour, pinch salt
- Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until smooth. It should resemble a wet cookie dough texture.
- Scoop a small amount into each pizzelle imprint/plate.
- Lower the lid and press down. Let cook until the pizzelle wafer is golden brown, but not dark brown. It's okay if it's not all the same color.
- Place on a cookie rack to cool.
- Pour the confectioners sugar onto a plate or in a wide bottom bowl.
- When the pizzelles are cool, dip each pizzelle in the confectioners sugar on both sides to fully coat. Tap off excess sugar.
- Place in a container or plastic zip lock bag to store. Or simply keep piled on a plate for everyone to enjoy right away!