Pignoli Cookies

Pignoli cookies are standard at any Italian bakery. But they are the simplest of cookies to make at home, mixed in one bowl and ready in[ under an hour. Anne Burrell's special touch? A bit of honey.]

Total Time:
35 min
20 min
15 min

about 40 cookies

  • One 15-ounce can gluten-free almond paste, finely crumbled
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups pine nuts
  • Special Equipment: disposable pastry bag

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line sheet trays with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment, beat the almond paste on high speed until it is really broken up. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix on slow speed until well combined.

Add the honey, cinnamon, salt, egg whites and lemon zest and beat on medium speed until the mixture is well combined and very thick, about 5 minutes.

Fill a disposable pastry bag with the dough. Push the dough towards the tip and cut the tip off the bag. Pipe 1-inch balls onto the prepared sheet trays. Top with the pine nuts, pressing them into the dough to secure. Bake until the cookies are golden, 12 to 14 minutes.

Pine nutty!

From Food Network Kitchens; after further testing and to ensure the best results this recipe has been altered from what was in the actual episode.

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    As an Italian from NY, I can tell you that the secret to these cookies is you absolutely MUST make your own almond paste. It's super simple and WAY cheaper than buying it. Plus the flavor cannot be compared to anything store bought.  
    Here is my favorite recipe for almond paste: 
    2 Cups Slivered Almonds  
    ½ Cup Granulated White Sugar 
    2 Egg Whites 
    4 Tbsp Butter (softened)  
    2 Tsp Pure Almond Extract (get the good stuff, not imitation) 
    Blend almonds and sugar in food processor until you get a fairly fine powder. (Will still be a little gritty, don't worry about that.) Add in egg whites, butter & almond extract. Remove paste and store in tightly sealed container in refrigerator. Can also form into a ball when cold and wrap in plastic wrap and wax paper, then put into a zip lock bag. Stores well in freezer, will stay fresh in fridge for at least a month. That's it!
    I braved the crowd last night & got the ingredients only to realize that I bought 2 15 oz. cans of the almond paste. Do you recommend just using one can, or opening the second can for the extra ounce? Thank you. I'm giving it 5 stars simply cuz I love these cookies & can't wait to try them.
    I made the mistake of not viewing the video first. I used 16 oz. almond paste, however, it was NOTHING like the almond paste Anne used. The consistency was still too runny. I ended up cooking as I would brownies, sprinkling pignolis on the top. I CAME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT THERE MUST BE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ALMOND PASTE & ALMOND FILLING! That must be what all of us that have 'runny' batter have problems with.
    I braved the crowd last night & got the ingredients only to realize that I bought 2 15 oz. cans of the almond paste. Do you recommend just using one can, or opening the second can for the extra ounce? Thank you. I'm giving it 5 stars simply cuz I love these cookies & can't wait to try them.
    I was very excited to make these, as these are one of my favorite cookies. I was utterly disappointed with this recipe as the proportions are completely off. The 2 egg whites made the consistency way too liquidy, causing the batter to be too runny. Adding more sugar would have made them way too sweet. These were a complete waste of ingredients, very disappointed with the whole thing. :(
    Oh, my, this brings back one of my favorite memories! I haven't had these cookies since I was a child.....when my Dad would stop at the Italian Bakery on the way home from visiting my Grandparents in Detroit.......my favorite cookies, pignoli! We are Italian but were never able to find the perfect recipe.....until now and I'm 53 years old!  
    We just watched the video together, which will become a great memory too! Thanks so much, Anne, for this great recipe, which IS the childhood cookie I remember so well!
    The recipe calls for 1 cup powdered sugar but in the video Chef Anne added a cup and half. I initially put 1 cup powdered sugar, but the finished dough was a bit wet, so I added another half a cup. The result was excellent and, contrary to my initial worry, it was not exceedingly sweet. Also, the recipe says to beat the paste first before adding the sugar, but in the video Chef Anne added the sugar before beating. The latter method worked better because it was impossible to beat the paste by itself--it just bundled into itself and my mixer almost jumped off the counter.
    The almond paste is very tough, and was hard on the mixer. But the result was a good cookie.
    Flavor was great. Didn't have trouble with the ingredients. They looked great in the oven, but quickly went flat on the cooling rack! Did not see your updated recipe fix till now. This is the second time I am making these, so I will try again! 
    Any other suggestions? Can you double the recipe? It is never enough! 
    Update: Our culinary team has changed the amount of almond paste to two 8-ounce cans and the amount confectioners sugar to 1 1/2 cups. 
    Admin Customer Service
    amazing, melt in your mouth, and gluten free to boot!
    Tasted wonderful and really easy with the right tools. I did not have a stand mixer so I used my hand mixer that is now in the trash. It quit under the pressure. Also use parchment paper--the cookies stuck to a greased cookie sheet.
    Not sure how to rate these. They are a bit of a pain to make, and a little pricey, but hey it's Christmas. They are very chewy and after a day in the tin they were even softer. I will try it again and maybe use a little less honey and more sugar. I didn't have a pastry bag and used a Ziploc bag, which worked but it would have been easier with a disposable pastry bag. I also might try baking them longer. The other thing is the amount of almond paste. It doesn't come in 15 oz cans. It comes in 7oz tubes. So the recipe is a little off. The taste was good.
    Great tasting cookie! I made my own almond paste (probably not again and my dough was too wet. Unfortunately I did not read the reviews prior about the canned paste and possibly adding a little flour to thicken. I did use the pastry bag but needed to fold & clip bottom between trays so it wouldn't run out. I also cooked them at 300 degree oven for 15 - 18 " till light but slightly golden. My family loved them!
    I followed this recipe to the letter and the cookies still came out raw in the middle and brown on the surface. Note that the recipe was altered after the video was shot. I did set my oven to 350 on bake/convection so perhaps that affected the baking irregularity. I used two spoons to scoop out the cookie dough - did not need the pastry bag. I am going to try it again though because it seems like a simple enough recipe.
    Fantastic cookie! This is an easy and fast recipe. The cookies are light, sweet and nutty. I did not have a pastry bag, tried a ziplock bag but the dough was too heavy. I ended up using a spoon and rolled dough in the palms of my hands. The dough is sticky but works ok if you wet your fingers a little.
    I have been trying to make pignoli cookies for years and have never found the right recipe.......until now! Thanks Anne Burrell - my search is over. These taste exactly like the bakery. Delicious!
    Cookies tasted awesome but the major problem is finding the type of almond paste she used in the video. I happened to buy an almond paste that was more on the gel side and that made my cookies flat and wateryish texture. I am sure if i came across the right type of almond paste i would have had better cookies. What i did taste, the dough was awesome.
    These were only ok for me, the flavor was ok, but the texture was chewy in a way that it stuck in your teeth. I probably won't make these again.
    Excellent taste and easy to make. Almond paste usually comes in 7 or 8 oz tubes or cans so you would need 2 of them to the 1 cup of confectioners sugar. The texture and consistency was perfect.
    My cookies came out thin, very thin. I made the recipe twice thinking I did something wrong the first time. It wasn't until I went back and wtached the video and it shows she uses two cans of almond paste and 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, is that correct? Mine were not thick like her's were at all. When she piped it out of the pastry bag it was solid, mine was completely runny. Help?!?
    this was the first time I made these, and they were so easy and delish! Next time I will double the recipe
    These were good, but not what I was hoping for! The only other time I have had pignoli cookies was at an Italian Bakery, and they were amazing! While this recipe was good, they tasted nothing like authentic pignolis. I think these tasted more like almond flavoring/marzipan than they do pine nuts. Also, the texture was very soft, but stuck to your teeth a bitâ?¦
    Just finished the cookies and they are delicious. The pastry bag is unnecessary as if you place 1/2 tsp of dough and pat down (with wet fingers they come out perfect. Expensive cookie to make but worth it! 1 cup of confections sugar is perfect.
    I read all the reviews and made the following adjustments. Made my own almond paste. Using 1 1/2 cups almonds makes the perfect amount. Used 1/2 cup powdered icing sugar, and only one egg white and only half the amount of honey. I mixed on high for 8 minutes or so and they were firm enough to spoon out. I found the 1/2 cup of pine nuts to be too much. The cookies were lovely and light. Quite sweet still, but I have never had then before. I liked them.
    Super easy cookie. Made a 1/2 batch per recipe to test. It took 5 stores before I found almond paste in a can and it only came in 8 ounces, not 15. Plan ahead. It was $5.60 a can. The dough came together easily. I will probaby add a bit more lemon zest and cinnamon the next time.  
    I used a cookie scoop...about 1 tablespoon. Yes the dough is sticky but it is manageable. I baked it the convection for 12 minutes and think I could have gone to 13 or let it sit on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to cool.  
    For half the cookies, I added some gold coarse sugar after pressing the pine nuts in the dough. I really like the effect...a bit more festive for the holidays. 
    Calories per cookie: 99 based on getting 18 cookies out of the half batch and using 6 tablespoons of pine nuts across 18 cookies. 
    Husband hasn't tried them yet so I'll update after he comments.
    These are my favorite cookies!! So easy to make!! I will make these cookies again and again!! Thanks Anne for a great recipe!!!
    This is a terrific cookie! I did a half batch and they turned out crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. Will definitely make again. I work with almond paste often and always use the canned. It is drier than the tube and makes a firmer dough.
    Made exactly as recipe is written. Delicious flavor and texture. 
    Made a second time but used macademia nuts. Also terrificl 
    Annie , Fremont , CA
    I have tried similar recipes but they all have been disasters. This one however was excellent. These are my husbands favorite cookies and I was having trouble letting them cool down as he kept eating them. I did not use a pastry bag and didn't use the lemon peel as I had none. Best pignoli cookie recipe around....thanks Anne!
    Although the cookies were very good, the recipe is very confusing. Read on another review that you have to get the 'canned' almond paste, the recipe does not say this. Therefore the cookies came out very sweet. I encourage the chef's to read these reviews.
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    This recipe is featured in:

    12 Days of Cookies