Grandma Anna's Italian Pepper Cookies

Spicy and sweet old-school Italian Christmas cookie recipe, like my grandma used to make. No electric mixer needed.

Prep Time:
25 mins
Cook Time:
30 mins
Additional Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
60 cookies



  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups white sugar

  • ¼ cup cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1 cup shortening

  • 1 cup milk

  • ¼ cup orange juice

  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup raisins

  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

  • ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts


  • ¾ cup confectioners' sugar

  • 2 tablespoons milk

  • 1 tablespoon orange juice

  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest

  • 2 tablespoons multi-colored sprinkles, or to taste (Optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

  2. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, pepper, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and cloves for cookies together into a large bowl.

  3. Place shortening in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 30-second increments until melted. Pour into dry ingredients and mix with a spoon.

  4. Add milk, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla; mix with a spoon to combine. Add raisins, chopped walnuts, and finely chopped walnuts and mix with your hands to combine. Roll dough into small balls and set 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.

  5. Bake in batches in the preheated oven until edges are golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet briefly before removing to a wire rack to cool completely, about 15 minutes.

  6. Prepare glaze while cookies cool. Place confectioners' sugar in a bowl. Add milk, orange juice, and orange zest and mix until smooth.

  7. Brush glaze onto cooled cookies or spread with a spoon. Decorate with sprinkles.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

114 Calories
5g Fat
18g Carbs
1g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 60
Calories 114
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 13mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 6%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 1mg 4%
Calcium 10mg 1%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 54mg 1%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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