Italian Lemon Glazed Cookies, a classic cookie prepared in most Italian households. These cookies have a soft, cake-like texture and are delicately flavored with lemon. A must on your holiday or family gathering cookie tray! Most Italian nonnas make some version of these lemon cookies. Some call them lemon knots; others call them anginetti; they may be drop cookies (such as these) or rolled and twisted into knots. Regardless of these differences, I have yet to taste one I don’t like!
They are usually soft and cake-like on the inside and the lemony icing gives them that refreshing zing that makes them irresistible. But of course, I’m partial to my mom’s version of this recipe and let me explain why!
The secret ingredient is…
I always thought that my mother’s lemon cookies recipe had lemon in them as well as in the glaze. But I just found out that they don’t! As I arrived at her house earlier this week to make these cookies, she pulled out the bottle of Galliano liqueur.
I know that this liqueur is one of her favorites and she explained that they often served Galliano back in Sicily when they had guests over. They enjoyed dunking their cookies in it.
What is Galliano?
Galliano has a sweet vanilla-anise flavor. It differs from other anise flavored liqueurs such as Anisette or Sambuca due to the vanilla. There is only one tablespoon of Galliano in these cookies, therefore the flavor is quite subtle. Yet I always noticed the hint of a certain je ne sais quoi in these cookies that I couldn’t quite identify.
You can add Galliano liqueur to your cookie batter or simply substitute the same amount of freshly squeezed lemon juice or limoncello liqueur instead.
The following are step by step instructions to guide you through this recipe. Please scroll to the end of this post for the detailed, printable recipe card.
Step by Step InstructionsThe process of making these cookies is quite similar to that of the Sweet Anise Taralli I posted last week. Except that these cookies are baked and not fried.
All ingredients are combined in one bowl starting with the eggs; sugar; vegetable oil; and Galliano liqueur or lemon juice.
Next, the dry ingredients (flour and baking powder) are incorporated and mixed until a smooth sticky, dough is formed.
Now for the shaping part. The dough is VERY sticky and not easily handled with your fingers. The best way to shape these cookies is to spoon about 1 tbsp of dough and scrape it into a dish of flour using a second spoon. Turn it over to coat the other side….
…and shake off the excess flour by passing the ball of dough from one hand to another two or three times. This is the technique that I found worked best for me.
Even my mother was surprised and liked my technique as it results in perfectly rounded, plump, fluffy cookies!Bake in a 350 degrees F preheated oven for 20-22 minutes, until they are lightly browned underneath. Let cool completely before topping with the lemon glaze.
Lastly, prepare the lemon glaze by stirring 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar into the freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon. Whisk until smooth. When the cookies have cooled, dip each cookie in the glaze and let the excess drip off.
Let the glaze harden before serving or storing, about an hour.
Substitutions and Variations;
- If you don’t have Galliano liqueur, substitute with the same amount of freshly squeezed lemon juice or limoncello liqueur.
- You can create more festive looking cookies by topping your freshly glazed cookies with colored candy sprinkles.
- Avoid over handling the dough with your hands as it is very sticky.
- Be sure to shake off excess flour when shaping the cookies before placing on your baking sheets.
- Allow the glaze to completely harden, about an hour, before storing in an airtight container.
- These cookies can be frozen. Just make sure to place a sheet of waxed or parchment paper in between layers of cookies to prevent the glaze from sticking. You can defrost an hour before serving.
Italian Lemon Glazed Cookies are just one more of those essential Italian cookies that everyone should have a good recipe for. I hope you enjoy these and if you make them don’t hesitate to let me know how much you like them by using #mangiabedda or @mangiabedda on Facebook or Instagram. And feel free to share this post with your friends!
Here are more favorite Italian cookies for you to try!
- Chewy Amaretti
- Easy Anise Biscotti Recipe
- Chocolate Pizzelle
- Cuccidati – Sicilian Fig Cookies
- Pistachio Amaretti
- Biscotti di San Martino
- 3-Ingredient Hazelnut Cookies
- Italian Nut and Jam Rolled Cookies
- Tetù (Sicilian Chocolate Spice Cookies)
- Biscotti Regina
- Classic Almond Biscotti with Variations
- Chocolate Espresso Amaretti
- Italian Pizzelle Cookies
- Genovesi Ericine
- Sheet Pan Almond Biscotti
- Nutella and Pistachio filled Heart Cookies
- Italian Breakfast Cookies
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp Galliano liqueur, or freshly squeezed lemon juice or Limoncello liqueur
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 5 tsp baking powder
For the lemon glaze
- 1 lemon, freshly squeezed juice of
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350F and prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl combine the eggs, sugar, vegetable oil, and liqueur or lemon juice. Mix with a whisk.
- Add flour and baking powder and mix using a fork or wooden spoon until all ingredients are well combined and a soft, sticky dough is formed.
- Have a shallow plate with flour nearby. Using 2 spoons, scrape tablespoonfuls of batter into the plate with flour. Carefully flip to coat both sides.
- Pick up the flour coated ball of dough and pass from one hand to another 2 or 3 times to shake off excess flour.
- Place on parchment covered baking sheets. Continue with remaining dough.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes until bottom of cookies are light brown.
- Let cool. Meanwhile prepare the glaze by whisking the lemon juice and icing sugar until smooth.
- Dip the tops of the cooled cookies in the glaze, allowing the excess to drip away. Place on a cookie rack until the glaze has hardened, about an hour.
I have been searching a recipe that my mother in law made but of course never wrote down, and this as it! Identical! And it is truly a delicious and very easy cookie to make. I did however made one change to your method and would love to share it: instead of using spoons, I use a very small ice cream scoop and then drop the batter into a small flour filled hand held mesh strainer. I then quickly shake and bounce the batter with the strainer. It forms into a bal and is perfectly coated with the flour, and no sticky batter anywhere especially on my hands. Genius – if I say so myself!
Hello Rosemarie, I am so glad you found my recipe. And thank you very much for sharing your tips with my and my readers, I think it’s a great idea to use the strainer. Thank you for taking the time to share your wonderful tips!
Can we sub with Limoncello?
Hi Anna, oooh what a wonderful idea! You are the first person to suggest this and I don’t see why it wouldn’t work well, although I haven’t try it myself. Sounds amazing and please do let me know how they turn out!
I had a batch of eggs about to expire so I made these. No Galliano so i used lemon juice and zest. They turned out very well. I’ve tried other recipes but the cookie is always granular and not cake like. These are cake like and are basically the same as lemon drops sold in Italian bakeries. These will impress my Italian wife and relatives. I believe I will try with Galiano or Lemoncello next time . Home run Nadia!
Hi Tom, so glad to hear you enjoyed them. I agree they are more cake like than others. Do try them with the Galliano, my mom always adds it and it gives the cookies a little something extra that we enjoy! Thanks for your kind feedback!
They are delicious 😋
My mom has the exact same recipe!
Thanks for sharing and passing down Sicilian traditions ❤️
Hi Josy, so glad you enjoyed them!
Oh yes Galliano liqueur! That’s one liqueur my parents always had around for guests but never actually baked with it. These look absolutely delicious Nadia and have me craving some!
I always remember that tall yellow bottle in the bar we had in the basement! Remember those? Ah, memories!
There’s a step missing. How do you get the cookies from the slab of dough??
Hello Fran, in step 5 of the recipe I specify that you must pick up the ball of dough that you dropped into the bowl of flour, shake off the excess flour and place onto the baking sheet. Hope this helps!
Maria from She Loves Biscotti
I love using Italian liquors in desserts! This looks like a true authentic lemon cookie recipe… thanks for sharing Nadia ❤️
Imagine, I never knew she put liqueur in these cookies until this week! Thanks Maria!