Pizzelle Recipe (Thin and Crisp)
The thinnest, lightest, most crisp pizzelle ever! They’re as light as air, and this authentic recipe has plenty of sweet anise flavor.
*Originally published on December 12, 2016. Updated December 12, 2019.*
If you’re looking for the best pizzelle recipe, you’ve come to the right place!
This is one of my absolute favorite cookie recipes!
I make this classic Italian cookie every year for the holidays. For me, it just wouldn’t be Christmas time without this old cookie recipe that’s been passed down from generation to generation.
Pizzelle are unique in their flavor and texture, but just like pecan sandies, soft cut-out sugar cookies, and spritz cookies, they’re very delicate and so nice with a cup of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa!
Table of Contents
- Why I love pizelle
- Ingredients and notes
- Tools and equipment
- Where to buy a pizzelle press
- What are pizzelle cookies?
- How to make pizzelle step-by-step
- Expert tips
- Variations and substitutions
- How to serve
- How to store and keep
- A few more of my favorite cookie recipes
Why I love pizelle
I never thought I’d do this. These perfect pizzelles are so incredibly close to my heart. I have so many memories attached to these simple Italian cookies.
Remember when I shared that chocolate orange panettone recipe last week? And I told you all about my dad’s family and my years working in an Italian catering kitchen. Pizzelles were with me through all of that.
Even though my grandfather didn’t pass down much from his culture, I have vague memories of being at huge family gatherings with his siblings. He was one of 11 children. My great-grandparents, Calogero and Caterina, had a baby every other year for 22 years. Can you imagine?
I remember two great-aunts in particular. Aunt Antoinette and Aunt Josephine. I maybe only saw them a couple of times in my life, but they had on those printed aprons and sensible shoes, and they stood in front of huge vats of bubbling red sauce. There were stacks and stacks of pizzelle, spread out on a folding table covered with a vinyl tablecloth.
The taste of those pizzelle stayed with me for decades.
Years later, when I worked in that pastry kitchen, I became Aunt Josephine and Aunt Antoinette. My sensible shoes weren’t sturdy lace-up oxfords, they were non-slip steel-toed boots. I didn’t wear a printed apron. I wore houndstooth pants and a white chef’s jacket. But I stood before no less than four sizzling-hot pizzelle irons every week, breathing in anise-scented steam.
I eventually quit that job, but I could never leave pizzelles. Not a year has gone by since when I didn’t fire up the pizzelle maker, put on Christmas music, and sit, scooping batter, lowering the lid, and flipping out pizzelle after thin, crisp pizzelle.
Over the years, I’ve fussed, tweaked, and made slight improvements, here and there, to these traditional Italian waffle cookies. I really think it’s the best it could ever be.
It’s simple. You don’t even need a mixer! Just whisk the ingredients together in a bowl.
They’re sweet and a little buttery, with real, authentic anise flavor and little seeds that crunch between your teeth, giving bursts of intense black licorice.
They are one of our family favorites!
And best of all, they’re so thin and crisp. Lighter than air! The texture is what makes these pizzelles great, and I’ve had people begging me for the recipe for years.
Ingredients and notes
Eggs: Provide structure and help bind the ingredients together. Use large chicken eggs, or a plant-based egg substitute that can swap 1:1.
Sugar: Sugar adds sweetness (obvs!) but it also aids in browning. Regular white sugar is fine, or sub for another type of sweetener if you like. As long as it swaps 1:1 for granulated sugar it should work.
Anise: I like to use both whole anise seed and anise extract. Anise is a traditional flavoring for pizzelle, and it gives them a distinctive licorice-like flavor. Anise oil will also work, but you’ll need much less of it.
Vanilla: Vanilla extract adds a sweet, aromatic flavor to the pizzelle.
Butter: I like to use unsalted butter because it lets me control the amount of salt in the dish. Different brands of butter can contain different amounts of salt, so this way you get a more consistent result. For a vegan or dairy-free pizzelle recipe, use a plant-based butter that can substitute for dairy butter 1:1.
Flour: All-purpose flour is my go-to, but you can swap it out for any kind of whole-grain option if you like (you may need slightly less if you go that route). A gluten-free flour blend that can sub 1:1 for regular flour should also work just fine, if you’d like to make gluten-free pizzelle.
Baking powder: This recipe utilizes baking powder to make the cookies light and crisp. Baking powder is a double-acting leavener, so it starts things expanding both when liquid is added to it, as well as when it hits the hot press. Baking soda will not work in this recipe because there isn’t enough acid to activate it. But baking powder has a little bit of that acid built in.
Salt: Salt carries the flavors and intensifies them. The end result won’t taste salty, but it will make everything so much more flavorful! I like kosher salt best because it doesn’t have any additives (table salt usually contains iodine which can leave a bitter taste), so the flavor is pure. It’s also inexpensive and easy to find in a regular grocery store.
Powdered sugar: This is an optional garnish, but I think the pizzelle look so pretty when they’ve been dusted with it.
Tools and equipment
Put your cookie sheet away! You’re not going to need it!
To make this classic recipe, you’ll need a pizzelle maker. Back in the day, you’d hold this cast-iron press over an open flame.
Nowadays, most pizzelle makers are electric. If you don’t already own one, you can buy one here: pizzelle maker. I have more info on this below, under the heading “Where to buy a pizzelle maker.”
Where to buy a pizzelle press
It’s not too hard to find a pizzelle maker, especially during the holiday season.
I see them at kitchen or housewares stores all the time. Places like Williams Sonoma, Target, Kitchen Kapers, or Kohl’s will carry them.
The brand name is usually Cuisinart or CucinaPro. I’ve used both brands, and they’ve worked well for me.
Try to get one with non-stick plates if you can! It will make the whole process so easy for you.
If you’d like to order a pizzelle maker online, you can do that by clicking this link: pizzelle maker.
What are pizzelle cookies?
Pizzelles are a crisp, flat Italian cookie, traditionally flavored with anise, that looks similar to a thin waffle.
Anise is a sweet spice with a flavor like black licorice.
Pizzelle are very similar to the Norwegian krumkake. Sometimes, they’re also called ferratelle or cancelle.
They have a pretty snowflake pattern pressed into them, and they can be eaten flat, pressed into a bowl shape, or rolled into cylinders. Sometimes, they are sandwiched around or piped with a filling, such as a cannoli cream or Nutella spread.
They are especially popular around the Christmas and Easter holidays and are often found at Italian weddings and other celebrations.
How to make pizzelle step-by-step
Step 1: Prep the pizzelle maker
The first step to making a pizzelle is to prepare the pizzelle maker.
Give the plates a light misting of non-stick spray, then wipe off the excess with a paper towel so your pizzelle don’t come out too greasy.
Then plug in your pizzelle iron and let it preheat while you make the batter.
Step 2: Make the batter
Whisk eggs, sugar, anise seeds, vanilla, and anise extract together in a medium bowl until combined.
The anise seeds are optional, but I really love the extra flavor they give. I find them in the spice aisle of my regular supermarket, but if you’re having trouble locating them, try ordering them here: anise seeds.
Get everything well incorporated, then whisk in the melted butter.
Next come the dry ingredients.
Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt until a thick batter forms.
Step 3: Cook the pizzelle
Scoop the batter, about a tablespoon at a time.
Drop it right in the center of each of the hot plates.
Then, close the lid and observe.
You will see a lot of steam and hear a loud sizzle. As the pizzelle cooks, the steam will start to subside, and the sizzling sound will get quieter.
This is how you’ll know your pizzelle is probably done.
Open the lid carefully, peeking in to see the color. If they look lightly golden brown, they’re just right. Use a fork or small spatula to remove the hot cookies from the press.
You’ll notice at this stage that the pizzelle is very pliable. They can actually be pressed into a bowl shape or rolled into a tight cylinder while they’re still warm.
Transfer them to a wire cooling rack. This will allow any steam to evaporate away and let the pizzelle crisp up.
They only need a minute or two until completely cooled and crisp. The last step is to dust them with a flurry of powdered sugar. This step is totally optional, but it sure makes them look pretty!
How to keep pizzelle from sticking to the press: You shouldn’t have too much trouble if you have a pizzelle maker with a non-stick finish. But I think it’s best to lightly mist the plates with a little non-stick spray and then wipe off the excess with a paper towel. (You should only need to do this once, as the pizzelle iron is pre-heating. There usually is no need to do this for every cookie.)
Preheat the pizzelle iron: Ensure your pizzelle iron is thoroughly heated before cooking. This will help ensure even cooking and prevent sticking.
Don’t overfill: Use a measuring spoon or scoop to portion the batter onto the pizzelle iron’s center. Overloading it can cause the batter to spill out and result in uneven cookies. It may take some trial and error to find exactly the right amount.
Center the batter: Place the batter slightly towards the back of the iron’s center to allow for even spreading as you close the lid.
Quickly close and cook: Once you’ve placed the batter on the iron, quickly close the lid and cook the pizzelle. Pizzelles cook relatively fast, usually within 30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on the iron and recipe.
Watch for color: Keep an eye on the color of the pizzelle as they cook. They should turn a light golden brown. If they become too dark, they may taste somewhat bitter.
The term “pizzella” is derived from “pizze,” which means “flat” or “round,” reflecting the cookie’s flat, round shape.
These cookies are a famous and beloved treat in Italian cuisine, especially during holidays and special occasions.
Pizzelle have a long history. They’re one of the oldest cookies made in Italy!
Closely associated with Christmas and Easter, it’s a longstanding tradition for Italian families to make and enjoy pizzelle during these holidays.
People often make pizzelle in large batches and give them as gifts to friends and family during the holiday season.
Many times you’ll also seem them used as wedding favors and gifts for special occasions, which really reflects their importance in Italian culture.
The traditional flavor of pizzelle is anise, which has a licorice taste. The combination of anise seeds and anise extract gives these cookies an intoxicating aroma.
Variations and substitutions
Don’t like anise: Anise is traditional for authentic Italian pizzelle, but you can leave it out if you don’t like the taste. Then, you would have vanilla pizzelle. Other flavors include almond or lemon zest, depending on your personal preference. Add almond extract or lemon extract to get the flavor.
Gluten-free: Although I have never tried it, I believe this recipe could adapt well to being gluten-free. Just substitute the all-purpose flour for a gluten-free 1:1 baking flour.
Shape the cookies: You can shape your pizzelle into cones, cups, or tubes. Start with a warm, still pliable pizzelle, and use a bowl, wooden dowel, or cone-shaped mold to help shape.
How to serve
Lightly dusting pizzelle with powdered sugar adds a touch of sweetness and a beautiful appearance. Just use a fine-mesh sieve to distribute the sugar evenly.
Use pizzelle as the “bread” for homemade ice cream sandwiches. Simply place a scoop of your favorite ice cream between two pizzelle for a delightful frozen treat.
Make chocolate pizzelle by dipping one end in melted chocolate.
Dip them in hot coffee or hot chocolate, softening them slightly and infusing them with warm, comforting flavors.
Use them as cannoli shells, and stuff with cream.
Package them in decorative boxes or bags and give them as gifts during holidays or special occasions. They make a delightful homemade gift.
How to store and keep
Allow the freshly baked pizzelle to cool completely on a wire rack in a single layer before storing them. This helps prevent condensation from forming inside the airtight storage container.
Keep the airtight container in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and moisture.
Avoid storing them in the refrigerator, as the moisture in the fridge can make them lose their crispness.
Over time, pizzelle may become less crisp. If you notice they have lost their desired texture, you can try reheating them in the oven briefly to regain some of their crispness.
They will keep for up to 7 days.
A few more of my favorite cookie recipes
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Thin & Crisp Pizzelle
- 3 eggs, (large)
- 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons whole anise seed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon anise extract
- 1/2 cup (113.5 g) unsalted butter, (1 stick), melted and cooled slightly
- 1 1/2 cups (187.5 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- powdered sugar, (optional garnish)
- Preheat a pizzelle maker, and lightly mist the plates with non-stick spray. Wipe the plates of the pizzelle maker lightly, to remove any excess.*
- Stir in the melted butter.
- Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix until smooth.
- Place about a tablespoon of batter on each of the hot pizzelle maker plates, and close the lid.
- Cook until only a few wisps of steam are escaping from the pizzelle maker, and the pizzelles look lightly golden.
- Use a fork or small spatula to remove the cooked pizzelles to a wire rack to cool.
- Dust with powdered sugar, if using.
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