This is my Italian grandmother's recipe from long ago. She use to make these cookies for every Easter celebration. I have since picked up where she left off and now make these cookies as part of our Easter tradition. I love the anise flavoring but if you don't like anise you can substitute with almond extract and they are just as good! This is my favorite cookie to dip in my coffee! Enjoy!


Credit: Meredith Food Studio

Recipe Summary

15 mins
1 hr 30 mins
2 hrs 15 mins
30 mins
6 dozen cookies


Original recipe yields 72 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

  • Cream together shortening and white sugar in a bowl until creamy. Add 1 egg at a time, mixing well after each. Add 2 teaspoons anise extract and vanilla extract. Slowly add milk and mix until all ingredients are blended. Slowly add flour mixture, and mix until thick but creamy. Place dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to overnight.

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

  • Coat a work surface and hands with flour. Take a quarter-sized piece of dough and roll into a long narrow sausage shape. Form into desired shapes, such as "s" shapes, twists, candy canes, letters, etc. Cookies will puff up when baked, so be sure each cookie is only about the width of a pinky finger. Place cookies on a baking sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart.

  • Bake in the preheated oven until light golden in color and golden brown on the bottom, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely, about 1 hour.

  • Place confectioners' sugar in a bowl and add 2 teaspoons anise extract. Mix in milk 1 tablespoon at a time until icing is smooth and creamy and not too drippy. Coat cooled cookies with icing and top with sprinkles.

Cook's Notes:

You can use both whole or 2% milk.

For the icing, I use 2 teaspoons of anise extract but you can substitute with almond extract. Start with 1 teaspoon anise and taste; add more if needed, depending on your personal taste.

These cookies freeze well and they are great for dunking in coffee!

Nutrition Facts

91 calories; protein 1.6g; carbohydrates 13.3g; fat 3.4g; cholesterol 10.6mg; sodium 78.7mg. Full Nutrition