These Italian Christmas cookies are the most tender, fluffy cookie around. With a cake-like texture and a not too sweet buttercream frosting, these are the perfect Christmas cookie.
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**This post has been updated since its original post date in 2011. Text and photographs have been updated. Cookie recipe remains the same and the frosting recipe has been tweaked a bit to improve it.
I say this every time but this recipe may be my favorite Christmas cookie. They look simple enough but the texture of these cookies is unreal.
The secret Italian ingredient is the key to these cookies and a total baking game changer.
Ingredients for Italian Christmas Cookies
As you can see, the ingredient list is super simple. And right there in the middle of it is the secret ingredient, ricotta.
I know it may seem weird but it creates the lightest, fluffiest texture in the cookies. They almost have a cake-like texture and they melt in your mouth. They are kind of Christmas cookie magic.
How to Make Italian Christmas Cookies
These cookies are surprisingly easy to make. Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F.
Add the softened butter and granulated sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream until super light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. This breaks down the sugar granules so you don’t have the crunch of sugar throughout the cookies.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing between additions. Next up is the ricotta and vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
In a separate bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. Add them to the creamed mixture and mix until just combined.
Prepare for Baking
Line several baking sheets with parchment paper or spray well with nonstick cooking spray. Using a cookie scoop, portion out the cookies, leaving two inches between them.
Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, being careful not to overbake. That will ruin the lovely, light texture we created.
The centers will look just cooked, like when baking a cake. They should spring back when you lightly press on them.
Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
Make the Frosting
Add the butter and powdered sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream until combined.
Add vanilla and milk to the mixer and whip until it’s super light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
Spread over the cooled cookies and decorate with sprinkles.
More Festive Desserts:
Italian Christmas Cookies
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 (15 oz.) container ricotta
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
For the Frosting:
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 to 4 Tbsp. whole milk
- Festive sprinkles
- In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in ricotta and vanilla. Combine flour, salt and baking soda; gradually add to the creamed mixture.
- Drop by rounded teaspoons 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
- For frosting: in a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Add enough milk until frosting reaches spreading consistency. Frost cooled cookies and immediately decorate with sprinkles.
December 8, 2011 at 11:35 pm
Found you on Miz Helen’s…be still my beating heart! Tada’s (or what we call our Italian Cookies) are my most favorite in the world, but I’ve NEVER tried them with ricotta. Sounds awesome! And they’re absolutly adorable! Great job:)
December 9, 2011 at 11:57 am
December 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm
Your Italian Christmas Cookies look so pretty and I am sure would taste delicious. This is a great recipe! Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday. Hope you are having a great week end and come back soon!
December 11, 2011 at 6:23 pm
OO YUM! you have to link these up A Themed Baker’s Sunday!
December 11, 2011 at 8:33 pm
These cookies look and sound amazing. I would love it if you came to link to my holiday recipe swap blog hop. It is my first ever! Love these recipes.
December 11, 2011 at 11:06 pm
hi! Just wanted to let you know I will be featuring this recipe at tomorrows Tasty Tuesday party. Hope you can come by and check it out. Grab a featured button if you haven’t already! http://nap-timecreations.blogspot.com/
December 16, 2011 at 11:16 pm
Oh wow! Every recipe that I have seen on your blog so far has left me drooling!! Your food looks absolutely amazing!! I am so happy that you came and shared all your talent with us! Thanks so much for linking up to Strut Your Stuff Saturday! We hope that you will join us tomorrow!
December 17, 2011 at 10:28 am
Thanks so much Camille! I will be dropping by for sure with my latest creations!
December 22, 2011 at 11:02 am
[…] Week 10 – Italian Christmas Cookies […]
January 8, 2012 at 3:57 am
Congrats! You were featured on this week’s Themed Baker’s Sunday. Come by and grab a ‘I was Featured’ Button and join the next linky party this Sunday where the theme is Citrus’s! Hope to see you there.
December 14, 2012 at 9:02 pm
how many does this yield?
December 14, 2012 at 10:24 pm
The recipe makes about 50 cookies. Enjoy! They are one of my favorites!
December 18, 2012 at 11:50 am
These look so good! We would love it if you would link up these pretty cookies on our Cookies For Santa virtual cookbook linky. You can find it here: I hope we see you there! Thanks for sharing. Holly
December 12, 2013 at 3:49 pm
[…] Do you have what it takes to be the big guy? 1. How comfortable are you eating cookies prepared by strangers? megseverydayindulgence.wordpress.com […]
December 24, 2013 at 8:13 am
[…] Italian Christmas cookies. So, so excellent!! I did not use the frosting like in the recipe. The cookies are so delicious you don’t want to drown out the flavor, so I just used a powdered sugar glaze (powdered sugar and milk). Add some Almond extract of vanilla to it for a hint of flavor. […]
December 26, 2013 at 10:29 am
Made them for Christmas presents. They are delicious!
December 23, 2014 at 9:40 pm
These look divine! Can the dough be refrigerated?
December 25, 2014 at 1:12 pm
Yes, it can be refrigerated.
June 28, 2015 at 12:22 am
Hi I was just at a church fair today and someone made these cookies but called them lemon ricotta cookies. If I wanted to make them lemon what would you suggest the amount of lemon juice that I should put in the cookie dough and frosting?
The cookies I had today were divine!
Thank you in advance for an answer.
June 28, 2015 at 7:39 am
For the dough, I would add the zest of 1 lemon to the cookie dough. There is more flavor in the zest so it will provide more of a lemon flavor than lemon juice would (when baked). To make a lemon frosting, I would leave out the vanilla and replace the milk with lemon juice. Let me know how they turn out! A lemon version sounds absolutely divine and I think I’ll be trying it soon too!