cookies Recipe

Anise Cookies

Anise Cookies

I loved making cookies with my mom when I was a boy. I don’t remember doing a lot of rolled cut-out cookies, but I do remember doing a lot of “ball” cookies.  My mom is famous for her Italian-American “Meatball Cookies”. They’re a chocolate cookie with walnuts and raisins. I’ll try to post her recipe soon! Meatball Cookies are formed by rolling dough into a ball and baking, they don’t rise very much so they retain a dense ball shape. This recipe also makes A LOT of cookies… and believe it or not… they’re pretty quick to make! The batch I made for the cookie swap made 60 cookies, but mine were on the large side.

Anise Cookies

I was invited to a cookie swap holiday party recently. My first thought was to make my mom’s Meatball Cookies, but then I realized there were some nut allergies on the guest list so I opted for another Italian-American cookie, Anise Cookies… or as people in the area I grew up call them “Italian White Cookies”.  I cannot eat just one of these cookies.. they’re dense balls of anise flavored goodness topped with sugary icing.

Anise Cookies

In my opinion, MORE IS MORE when it comes to sprinkles! I have a bit of a sprinkle problem actually, every time I’m in a baking store I gravitate to glitter, sprinkles, nonpareils. NY Cake & Baking Supply is my go-to place for any of this. I found some of the items I used for these cookies on Amazon also: Black Glitter, Gold Star Glitter, Rainbow Nonpareils, Gold Pearlized Sugar, & Silver Pearlized Sugar.

Anise cookies

I couldn’t resist taking a bite! Now some might balk at the vegetable oil and shortening in this recipe, but I love the taste just how it is! I’ve tried to make the recipe substituting the shortening with butter, but the cookies go flat. While vegetable shortening isn’t my go-to fat in a recipe, I’m fine using it from time to time!

Anise cookies
Anise Cookies
5 from 3 votes

Anise Cookies

A quick and lovely recipe with wonderful anise flavor. This recipe is adapted from my dear friend Michele Mazurowski and has Italian-American roots.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 24 minutes
Total Time 54 minutes
Servings 60 Cookies
Author we are all magic


For the cookies:

  • 3 eggs large
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable shortning
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar 334 grams
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour 750 grams
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk whole
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp anise extract

For the icing:

  • 16 ounces confectioners sugar 453 grams
  • 2 tsp anise extract
  • 1/4 cup milk plus more to get to desired consistency

To decorate:

  • various sprinkles more is more!


  1. Preheat oven to 375F/190C

  2. In a stand mixer, cream vegetable shortening and sugar for 3-5 minutes on medium.

  3. Add eggs, mixing until incorporated between each egg.

  4. Measure out dry ingredients, mix together, then slowly add to the sugar/egg/shortening mixture on low speed.

  5. Add anise extract, oil, and milk and mix until fully incorporated.

  6. Form dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter and place on a lined baking sheet. Dough balls can be placed relatively close together because this cookie does not get much bigger during baking.

  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies begin to crack a bit on top. You don’t want the cookies to brown at all.

  8. Allow cookies to cool completely on a wire rack.

  9. For the icing, combine all ingredients and mix well. You want the consistency to be thick. Test out a cookie or two and add more milk if you need to think out the icing.

  10. Dip each cookie into the icing, shake off excess, place on a rack and immediately decorate with sprinkles and then allow them to dry completely until the icing is set.

Anise Cookies

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  • Reply
    December 11, 2017 at 10:03 pm

    These are so festive and look delicious!!!

  • Reply
    alyssa | everydaymaven
    December 14, 2017 at 4:56 am

    These are awesome – printing!

  • Reply
    Lindsay @ The Live-In Kitchen
    December 14, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    Such a fun little cookie!

  • Reply
    Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes)
    December 15, 2017 at 5:38 am

    These cookies look so soft and chewy!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Reply
    December 15, 2017 at 11:27 am

    This is one of my all time favorite cookies and I love those sprinkles!

  • Reply
    Lise - Mom Loves Baking
    December 15, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    5 stars
    I love how colorful your photos are!

  • Reply
    December 16, 2017 at 2:31 am

    5 stars
    I can’t wait to try making these!

  • Reply
    Christmas Cookie Recipe Roundup - Friday's Featured Foodie Feastings
    November 23, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    […] Anise Cookies from We are All Magic […]

  • Reply
    Robyn Kramer
    November 7, 2020 at 11:23 pm

    5 stars
    I tried this recipe once and it turned out fantastic. I saved the leftover dough and made 3-4 cookies for a month whenever I craved some! I didn’t save the page and tried a different recipe the second time and they were not nearly as soft, buttery, and addicting as your recipe, Paul! I just made them for the third time and wow, perfection! I use the gram measurements, which I’m so thankful you provided! Can you tell me how to make them lemon flavored? I tried using lemon extract and they tasted too fake.

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