Anise cookies (a traditional Italian Christmas cookie) frosted and topped with rainbow nonpareils

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Why I love these anise cookies

Do you like anise? I know it’s a controversial flavor. Some people love it, others can’t stand it, but I’ve always been a fan.

Growing up, pizzelle cookies laced with anise seeds were a staple in our house, and often times, these Italian anise cookies were too. Both are a favorite of mine, but I especially love the soft texture of the anisette cookies.

The best part about anise cookies? They’re super easy to make dairy free. All you need is a little almond milk (or whatever dairy free milk you prefer) and some cooking oil.

Italian anise cookies on a cooling rack after being frosted and topped with rainbow nonpareil sprinkles

Here’s what you’ll need to make Italian Christmas cookies

How to make anise cookies

Whisk the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with baking soda and salt. This helps distribute the baking powder to ensure the cookies bake evenly.

Beat the wet ingredients. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, oil, milk and extract until they are nice and smooth.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Once cup at a time, add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and mix until it’s evenly distributed before adding the next cup.

Roll the cookies. Roll dough into balls that are about 2 tablespoons in size, and place them on your prepare baking sheets.

Bake the anise cookies. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or until the tops have set. Allow them to rest on the cookie sheet for a few minutes (this will cook them a bit more), and then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting. Whisk the frosting ingredients until completely smooth. Add the liquid 1 tablespoon at a time, and only use enough milk to make your frosting slightly runny so it stays on the cookies.

Dip the cookies into the frosting top side down. Allow the excess to fall off on it’s own before flipping your cookie back over. Place them on a cooling rack and top with sprinkles before the frosting dries.

Italian anisette cookies

FAQs and tips for making the best anise cookies

What is anise extract?

Anise extract is an extract made from star anise and vodka, which is steeped for a long period of time to infuse the liquid with it’s strong licorice flavor.

Should I refrigerate cookies after baking?

I don’t even refrigerate my cookies after baking. You would introduce levels of moisture that could ruin the frosting of these anise cookies. If you want to make these cookies ahead of time, follow the instructions below for freezing the dough instead.

How long will Italian cookies last?

These cookies should last for about 1 week after baking. Once they have completely cooled you can store them in an airtight container.

Can I freeze anise cookie dough?

Yes. This is a great option for making anise cookies ahead of time, since freezing frosted cookies can affect their appearance more than other cookies.
Prepare cookie dough balls as if you’re going to bake them, and pop them into the freezer. When you’re ready to bake, simply thaw the cookies until they’re slightly softened and bake as directed.

More Christmas recipes:


Italian Anise Cookies

These Italian anise cookies soft, flavorful, and even better than your grandmother’s. They’re the perfect addition to your selection of Christmas cookies this year. #dairyfree #Christmascookies

  • Author: Melissa Belanger
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: about 30 cookies 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup dairy free milk
  • 2 teaspoons anise extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 34 tablespoons almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise extract
  • Nonpareil sprinkles, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat sugar, eggs, oil, milk and anise extract until smooth.
  4. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, 1 cup at a time, beating until each addition is evenly combined.
  5. Roll dough into balls about 2 tablespoons in size. Place balls onto prepared cookie sheets and bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or until tops have set. Remove from oven and allow cookies to rest for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. They will need to cool completely before frosting.
  6. To make frosting, whisk ingredients together until smooth. Dip cookies into frosting and allow excess to fall off before transferring to a cooling rack. Sprinkle with nonpareils before frosting dries completely.


  • Serving Size: 1 cookies
  • Calories: 150
  • Sugar: 8.4 g
  • Sodium: 30.5 mg
  • Fat: 6.1 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 21.8 g
  • Fiber: 0.5 g
  • Protein: 2.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 18.6 mg

Keywords: dairy free, christmas

Last Updated on November 11, 2021 by Melissa Belanger

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