Italian cookie names guide

50+ Mouthwatering Italian Cookie Names Uncovered – Origins, Flavors & Traditions

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From amaretti to baci di dama, Italy is home to a delectable array of cookie names and flavors. These iconic treats have origins tracing back centuries and remain a beloved part of Italian cuisine today.

Whether enjoying the crunch of cantucci with espresso or the melt-in-your-mouth texture of biscotti al burro, Italian cookies offer a scrumptious taste of tradition and nostalgia. 

This guide dives into the histories, flavors, and celebrations behind over 50 mouthwatering Italian cookie varieties. Discover new biscuit favorites and learn the stories behind the treats Italians have cherished for generations.



Italian cookie names list
  1. Amaretti di Sassello (morbidi)
  2. Amaretti di Saronno (croccanti)
  3. Baicoli
  4. Baci di dama
  5. Befanini
  6. Biscotti al burro
  7. Biscotti alle noci di Trecchina e Maratea
  8. Biscotti di Castellammare
  9. Biscotti di Prosto
  10. Biscotti Regina
  11. Biscotti Tegale
  12. Buccellati
  13. Brutti ma buoni or Mandorlati di San Giuseppe
  14. Bracciatelli
  15. Brigidini
  16. Bussolai
  17. Cantucci or Biscotti di prato
  18. Cavalucci
  19. Ciambelline al vino e all’anice
  20. Crumiri
  21. Favette Triestine
  22. Finocchini
  23. Focaccine Fracide
  24. Frollini
  25. Gallette
  26. Lebkuchen or Pan Pepato Cookies
  27. Margheritine di Stresa
  28. Mostaccioli
  29. Novellini
  30. Occhio di bue
  31. Ossa di morto
  32. Pan de Mej or Pan Meino
  33. Papassini Sardi
  34. Paste di Mandorla
  35. Paste di meliga
  36. Petrali
  37. Pignoli
  38. Pizzelle
  39. Raffiuoli
  40. Raviole
  41. Riccarelli
  42. Rustici
  43. Savoiardi
  44. Savoiardi Sardi
  45. Squarcelle
  46. Spitzbuben
  47. Stomatico or Biscotti al Caramello
  48. Strucchi
  49. Susamielli
  50. Taralli dolci
  51. Tirulen
  52. Tozzetti
  53. Uccelletti di Sant’Antonio
  54. Zaletti
  55. Zuccherini



Biscotti Language & Origins

Biscotti is what Italians call both biscuits and cookies.

One is biscotto.

Many are biscotti.


Here is how we refer to them in sentences:

Un biscotto – A biscuit
Il biscotto – The biscuit
Dei biscotti – A few biscuits
I biscotti – The biscuits


Practice pronouncing biscotti with me.

Biscotti Pronunciation


Why are Italian Cookies Named Biscotti?

Biscotti from the Latin “biscottus” means baked twice: bis-cotti where bis means twice and cotti means cooked.

If you are asking why they are cooked twice, it’s because certain types of biscuits, like cantucci, are flipped halfway through the baking time to cook on the other side.

The Romans used to cook their biscotti this way, hence the name. 

italian cookies cantucci


Biscotti have indeed been part of Italian cuisine’s history since the Roman Empire (27 B.C. – 476 A.D). Supposedly, it might have been Apicius, a Roman cook, who created the first biscotto. However, their origin was not as delicious and as leisurely as we know biscotti today. 

They were much harder and replaced bread when the latter wasn’t available. Biscotti weren’t initially sweet and were eaten dipped in water or wine, mostly by soldiers during their expeditions.

Only later, biscotti started transforming themselves into sweet treats, with the addition of spices, dried fruits, and honey.

The first commercial biscuit produced and sold in Italy was Oro Saiwa, in 1956. It was a sweet flat biscuit to be enjoyed dipped in milk, or coffee.



Types Of Italian Cookies: 4 Categories

While biscotti is the main Italian name for cookies, different categories have specific names. Let’s explore the main ones:

Biscotti secchi o da inzuppo – These are crunchy, rustic cookies without butter, great for breakfast or snack time accompanied by milk or tea. That’s why they are called “secchi”, meaning dry, or “da inzuppo”, which means for dipping. Popular varieties include Oro Saiwa and Novellini.


Frollini – Frollini contain butter which gives them a soft interior with a slightly crunchy exterior, and they were originally created in convents. Their name translates to crumbly cookies.

Many commercial brands producing Frollini are available in supermarkets as these are equally loved by Italians for breakfast or with coffee. 

Italian cookie name Frollini


Biscotti Al Burro – Butter biscuits are soft, buttery cookies flavored with vanilla. While likely originating from Scotland or Denmark, these cookies are beloved in Italy for holidays, birthdays, and after Sunday lunch. 

This category includes baci di dama, lingue di gatto, and other melt-in-your-mouth cookies. Compared to frollini, these have even more butter for an ultra-soft texture.


Biscotti Rustici – These hearty, whole-grain cereal cookies pack fiber and flavor into the start of your day. Rustic biscotti made with oats, bran, and other grains are perfect for dunking into milk or coffee. 


Biscotti Integrali – Wholemeal biscuits are crunchy, hearty whole grain cookies made with whole wheat flour and healthier sweeteners like honey or raw sugar. These rustic treats are a nutritious, fiber-filled option.



I am not sure what the exact number of Italian cookies is. While Wikipedia only lists about 46, I am am almost certain the number is much higher, when you count in all the regional variations and special recipes.

I have already shared a list of 55 Italian cookie names above, but it’s unlikely you will go buy and eat all those cookies right away. To make it easier and more delicious for you, I will be listing here the most popular and favorite Italian cookies, from nutty to chocolate flavored.

Next time you are in Italy or your supermarket biscuit section have a look at what’s available and pick one from this list.


Cantucci (Almond Cookies)

Cantucci, also known as cantuccini or biscotti di Prato, are crunchy almond biscuits originating from Tuscany. Legend has it that they were born from the tradition of using the leftover dough scraps from making bread for the wealthy. These scraps, called “cantucci,” were baked twice to create the crunchy, almond-filled cookies we know today.

The first recorded recipe for Cantucci dates back to the late 1700s and is attributed to Amadio Baldanzi, a priest and physician. However, it was the Prato pastry chef Antonio Mattei who popularized Cantucci and made them a beloved Tuscan delicacy.


amaretti Italian cookie

Amaretti

Amaretti cookies come in two main variations: Amaretti di Saronno and Amaretti di Sassello. The dry and crunchy Amaretti di Saronno originated in the 18th century in the town of Saronno, in the Lombardy region. It’s important not to confuse them with Disaronno, the famous almond liqueur.

Meanwhile, the softer version, Amaretti di Sassello, is believed to have originated around 1850 in Liguria, coinciding with increased almond production in the region.

All Amaretti have a distinctive sweet-bitter taste, a more or less convex discoidal shape, a rough and cracked surface, and a beige-golden color.


Savoiardi

Savoiardi, also known as ladyfingers, are delicate, sponge-like biscuits originating from Italy. The history of Savoiardi dates back to the late Middle Ages, specifically in 1348, when a pastry chef in the court of Amedeo VI decided to serve them during a banquet held in honor of the French royals. The success of these biscuits was immediate, and they were officially adopted by the Royal House of Savoy.

Savoiardi Sardi, a variation of traditional Savoiardi, are a specialty from Sardinia. They’re larger and less uniform, with a softer, lighter texture compared to their counterparts. These biscuits, perfect for tiramisu or enjoying on their own, offer a more artisanal and softer touch to desserts.


Italian cookie name Paste di mandorla

Paste di Mandorla (Almond Paste Cookies)

Paste di Mandorla are typical Southern Italian almond pastries, particularly in Sicily. The recipe to make them is very simple and requires a few ingredients: almonds, sugar, eggs, and colorful candied fruits. These delightful treats are often adorned with a candied cherry or an almond in the middle and sometimes dusted with icing sugar. 

These delectable pastries are believed to have originated from convents. Legend has it that they first appeared around the year 1100 in the convent of Martorana in Palermo.

Paste di Mandorla holds a special place in Sicilian culture and cuisine. They are revered as the number one delicacy to purchase in Sicily and bring back as a souvenir. These pastries are a staple at weddings and other celebratory events.


Ricciarelli

Ricciarelli are traditional Sienese almond cookies made with almonds, sugar, egg whites, and flavored with orange zest and vanilla. These soft, chewy cookies have a rough, crackled surface and are often enjoyed during the holidays.

Legend has it that these delightful treats were introduced by Ricciardetto Della Gherardesca, a knight returning from the Crusades, who was reminded of the pointed shoes worn by Middle Eastern warriors, hence the name “ricciarelli,” which means “little curly ones.” These cookies have been a cherished part of Sienese culinary tradition for centuries.


Cavalucci

Cavallucci are rustic, irregularly shaped cookies from Siena. They have a dense, sponge-like texture and are flavored with nuts, anise, and candied fruit. Legend has it that they were offered to travelers by stable workers, hence their name, which means “little horses.”

These unique cookies have been a part of Sienese culture for centuries, with their recipe passed down through generations. Their hearty and flavorful profile makes them a beloved treat during festive occasions and gatherings.


Baci di dama Italian cookies

Baci di Dama (My favorite)

Originating from Piedmont, specifically the city of Tortona, these delightful cookies were born about a century ago. Their name, which translates to “lady’s kisses,, comes from their composition of two hazelnut dough halves joined together by chocolate, resembling two lips ready to kiss.

Legend has it that Baci di Dama emerged from the imagination of a chef in the House of Savoy in the autumn of 1852, at the request of Vittorio Emanuele II, who wanted to try a new sweet treat.

A noteworthy variation is the Baci di Alassio, a Ligurian delicacy made with hazelnuts and cocoa, featuring a delicate chocolate ganache filling. These have a similar shape but with a more intricate design, and they are fully chocolatey both in pastry and filling.


Crumiri

Hailing from Casale Monferrato and born in 1878, Crumiri cookies likely took their mustache-like shape as a tribute to Vittorio Emanuele II, who passed away that year. They’ve even earned a place among Piedmont’s traditional agri-food products.

Created by pastry chef Domenico Rossi, Crumiri were meant to be a delightful after-dinner treat, perfect when paired with a good dessert wine.


Canestrelli (Sugar Cookies)

Dating back to the Middle Ages in Canavese and the Susa Valley, they were traditionally served at weddings, baptisms, religious festivals, and during carnival celebrations.

These buttery and crumbly flower-shaped cookies with a hole in the center are a Piedmontese delicacy made from flour, butter, and powdered sugar.

Legend has it they were even used as currency due to their precious ingredients, particularly in Liguria.


Brutti ma Buoni (Hazelnut Cookies) 

These are dry biscuits made from meringue and IGP hazelnuts from the Langhe region, in Piedmont. The name “Brutti ma Buoni” translates to “Ugly but Good“, which perfectly describes their rough and uneven appearance that may not be visually appealing, but their taste is unbelievably delicious.

Originating from Northern Italy, the birthplace of Brutti ma Buoni is contested between Lombardy and Piedmont. They are believed to have been invented either in 1878 by pastry chef Costantino Veniani in Gavirate, Lombardy, or in 1869 by a pastry shop in Borgomanero, Piedmont.


Italian cookie named mustaccioli

Mostaccioli (Italian Chocolate Holiday Cookies)

These diamond-shaped cookies, about 10-12 cm in size, are coated with chocolate glaze and filled with a soft, flavorful mixture of honey, aniseed, and cumin. Originating from various regions including Puglia, Calabria, and Sicily, they’re sometimes referred to as Mustazzoli or Mostaccioli.

Considered among the oldest cookies in Italian pastry, a similar sweet (called gateaux) is said to have appeared in 1348, prepared by Amedeo VI, Count of Savoy, to curry favor with Carlo IV of Luxembourg.


Occhio di Bue (Italian Sandwich Cookies)

Occhio di Bue, or “Bull’s Eye,” cookies are a typical Italian treat made with two layers of shortcrust pastry sandwiching jam or chocolate spread. Originating from the Trentino-Alto Adige region, they were traditionally filled with apricot jam.

Some say the name comes from their resemblance to a “bull’s eye” egg (a fried egg sunny side up). These cookies have been a cherished part of Italian pastry tradition for centuries, with their buttery pastry and sweet filling delighting generations of dessert lovers.


Novellini

Novellini are rectangular-shaped biscuits popular in Italy. With their light and tasty texture, they’re among the most popular breakfast cookies in Italy. Originating from a recipe devised by Pietro Gentilini, these biscuits are meticulously crafted using a slow and careful process.

Gentilini, a renowned pastry chef, developed the recipe for Novellini with the aim of creating a biscuit that would delight both young and old alike. The result is a delightful treat that has stood the test of time and remains a favorite among Italians for its simplicity and delicious taste.



The Best Italian Biscuits For Coffee

The selection of Italian cookies below includes a variety of cooking, ranging from dry and simple to rich and sweeter. Either type is delicious, depending on what you are after.

Rustici – described above

Cantucci – described above

Cavallucci – described above

Frollini – described above

Savoiardi Sardi – described above

Canestrelli – described above

Amaretti – described above


Essi – Castellamare’s oldest and most renowned biscuits, said to have a semi-sweet taste heightened by cinnamon and vanilla, with a tradition of soaking them in Madonna’s Water, the local fountain water, for added softness.


Biscotti di Prosto – Traditional artisanal biscuits from Prosto, Lombardy, crafted with only three ingredients: flour, butter, and sugar.


Finocchini – Rectangular biscuits named after the fennel seeds in their dough, reminiscent of biscotti, hailing from Southern Italy.


Biscotti di CastellammareCigar-shaped biscuits from Castellammare near Naples, with a semi-sweet flavor enriched with vanilla and cinnamon, enjoyed worldwide.


BracciatelliCircular or oval-shaped treats made from wheat flour, sugar, eggs, lard or butter, and ammonium as a leavening agent, offering a unique balance between sweet and savory notes.


Biscotti regina sesame cookies from Sicily

Biscotti Regina Sesame-covered biscuits, also known as “reginelle,” typical of Palermo but widespread across Sicily, known locally as “viscotti ca gigiulena.”



The Best Biscuits With Milk Or Tea

If you have read my Italian breakfast post, you already know that biscuits are the number one Italians’ favorite breakfast food along with other delicious options. Below I am suggesting the best biscuits for dipping in your milk or tea, ranging from dryer and less sweet to buttery and rich.


Rustici

Ricciarelli

Occhio di bue

Frollini

Novellini


Zaletti: Originating from Verona and Venice, these flavorful biscuits take their name from the characteristic yellowish color (“zaletto” in Venetian dialect) derived from the use of cornmeal. The dough is then enriched with butter, sugar, and raisins.


Bussolai: Fragrant and delicious shortbread cookies, known as bussolai or buranei, typical of the Veneto region and made with a rich dough of egg yolks, sugar, and flour.


Raviole Italian cookies

Raviole: Resembling shortcrust pastry, these biscuits are traditionally filled with Bolognese mustard or plum jam in Bologna. They are also known as “biscotti di Bologna” and their shape resembles the hat worn by Italian carabinieri.


Raffiuoli: These delicate oval-shaped biscuits flavored with lemon are typical of the Neapolitan Christmas tradition. They are prepared with a soft, fat-free dough covered with a lemon-flavored white icing.


Margheritine di Stresa: These biscuits are made with a buttery, crumbly shortcrust pastry consisting of butter, powdered sugar, and hard-boiled egg yolks. Margheritine di Stresa are typical biscuits from Stresa on Lake Maggiore.



With so many Italian cookies, it’s clear that many of them are especially dear to Italians at specific times of the year, to celebrate certain religious feasts and national holidays. Let’s find out which cookies are especially popular during Christmas, Easter, weddings, and other celebrations.


Italian Christmas Cookies 

Mustaccioli

Pan Pepato Cookies: Typical of the Alto Adige region, these cookies are made with a soft and spiced shortcrust pastry using rye flour, honey, sugar, eggs, and spices.


Spitzbuben: Also known as Tyrolean biscuits, Spitzbuben are jam-filled cookies made with a delicate sablé shortcrust pastry that melts in your mouth.


Italian cookie name strucchi

Strucchi: Traditional treats from the Natisone Valleys in Friuli, Strucchi are small pastry parcels filled with dried fruits.


Buccellati: Known as “Cucciddati” in dialect, Sicilian Buccellati are shortcrust pastry cookies filled with dried figs, typical of the Christmas season.


Befanini: Delicious rum-flavored cookies typical of the Tuscan tradition, prepared for the celebration of Epiphany, known as the Befana.


Italian Wedding Cookies

Paste di mandorla

Biscotti al Burro Glassati – butter biscuits glazed with white icing sugar and white decorations.


Italian Easter Cookies

Scarcelle Pugliesi (or Squarcelle): Traditional sweets from Puglia, usually prepared during the Easter period, made with a special shortcrust pastry and topped with a sweet glaze.

Biscotti di Pasqua: Homemade rustic cookies, reminiscent of a cross between a rustic and a butter biscuit, adorned with colorful sprinkles. Various dough variations exist, ranging from rustic to buttery textures.


All Saints Cookies

Ossa di Morto: Typical Sicilian biscuits, prepared for the commemoration of the deceased on November 2nd. They are characterized by a dual color and texture: white and softer on the surface, crunchy and darker at the base.


rame di napoli Italian cookies from Sicily
Rame di Napoli from Sicily – my favorite


Rame di Napoli: According to popular tradition, these sweets were brought to children by deceased relatives if they had behaved well throughout the year. They are spiced biscuits with a soft cocoa-flavored center, completely covered in dark chocolate glaze. They are delicious and one of my favorite Italian biscotto.


Ferragosto (15th August, Feast of the Assumption)

Biscotti di Prosto



If you prefer a specific biscuit or dessert flavor, this section will help you shortlist the biscuits that you are likely to enjoy the most.


Italian Almond Cookies – Paste di Mandorle, Cantucci, Amaretti, Ricciarelli.

Italian Butter Cookies – Biscotti al Burro, Baci di Dama, Frollini, Occhi di Bue, Margheritine di Stresa, Spitzbuben.

Italian Chocolate Cookies – Mostaccioli, Rame di Napoli, Baci di Dama, Baci di Alassio.

Italian Lemon Cookies – Biscotti Raffaiuoli, Pan de Mej.


Pan de Mej: Born in Lombardy, this biscuit derives its name from the use of millet flour. The original Pan de Mej has a crumbly texture, melts in the mouth, and boasts a sweet and buttery flavor.


Italian Ricotta Cookies – Biscotti di San Martino con la ricotta (an additional filling)


Biscotti di San Martino: These are typical Sicilian sweets made for November 11th in honor of the commemoration of Saint Martin. They are yeasted cookies, buttery and fragrant with anise seed and cinnamon. A richer version involves splitting them in half and filling them with ricotta, transforming them into ricotta sandwich cookies.


Italian Sesame Cookies – Biscotti Regina

Italian Anise Cookies – Ciambelline al vino e l’anice, Finocchini, Cavallucci, Mostaccioli.


Ciambelline al vino e l’anice: These are delicious and crunchy treats prepared without eggs, butter, or yeast. They are made with flour, sugar, oil, and wine, with the addition of anise seeds. They are similar in shape to taralli.



Final Thoughts On Classic Italian Cookies

And there you have it, an incredibly long but delicious list of the best Italian cookie names with their origins and descriptions. I suggest you make your curated list of the ones you can’t wait to try and save it on your mobile to refer back to next time you are in Italy or an Italian sweet shop. 

I am sure your mouth is watering and you can’t wait to have a tea or coffee break with a biscuit or three. 

Go ahead and enjoy that!

Want to learn more about Italian food?
Check out these other articles:

Italian Chocolate History & Best Brands
Italian Candies Names & Brands
Italian Food Glossary



Traditional Italian Cookies FAQ

What’s on a typical platter of Italian cookies?

A typical platter of Italian cookies includes an array of options like cantucci, amaretti, canestrelli, baci di dama, and cavallucci. The cookies come in different shapes, flavors, and textures to enjoy with coffee or dessert wine.

Cantucci are very popular cookies to enjoy with an Italian espresso. Their crunchiness and sweetness pair perfectly with the bold coffee.

What are pizzelle cookies?

Pizzelle cookies are thin, crisp waffle cookies made in a specialty iron. They can be enjoyed plain or sandwiched together with sweet fillings like chocolate or pistachio cream.

Some of the best Italian cookie recipes to try are amaretti, brutti e buoni, pignoli, cantucci, ricciarelli, and other regional specialties like savoiardi and mostaccioli.

Are rainbow cookies Italian?

No, rainbow cookies originally come from a bakery in New York.

What are pignoli cookies?

Pignoli cookies are small almond macaroons topped with pine nuts. The pine nuts are called “pignoli” in Italian.

What are the Italian hazelnut butter cookies called?

The Italian hazelnut butter cookies are called baci di dama.

What are the name of some Italian cookies?

Some names of Italian cookies include biscotti, amaretti, pizzelle, brutti e buoni, savoiardi, ricciarelli, pignoli, and many more.

What do Italians call their cookies?

Italians call cookies “biscotti” which means biscuits or twice-baked goods.

Cantucci and amaretti are two of the most popular cookies in Italy.

Are all cookies in Italy called biscotti?

Biscotti is the general name for Italian cookies. Other biscuit names are frollini, biscotti al burro, integrali and rustici.

What is the name for mini biscotti?

Mini or small biscotti are called biscottini.

The Italian twice-baked hard cookie is called biscotti.

What cookies are famous in Italy?

Some of the most famous cookies in Italy are cantucci, amaretti, ricciarelli, baci di dama and paste di mandorla.

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