6-Ingredient Chewy Italian Almond Cookies (Ricciarelli): Gluten Free & Dairy Free by Ann Marie Patitucci

6-Ingredient Chewy Italian Almond Cookies (Ricciarelli): Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Ricciarelli are dense, chewy Italian almond cookies with a crackled top that may date as far back as 15th century Tuscany, specifically Siena. If you ask me, any cookie that’s been around that long, passed down from generation to generation, must be amazing!

Ricciarelli make a wonderful gluten-free and dairy-free cookie option, so they’re perfect for parties and potlucks because you know they’re safe for your gluten and dairy-free friends and family. Another bonus: these cookies, with their cracked surface, are meant to be perfectly imperfect, so they’re great for inexperienced bakers or those who do not have time for cookie decorating or complicated recipes.

If you like macarons, this cookie is sometimes referred to as an “Italian cousin to the French macaron.” However, it is far less fussy to make than macarons. That sounds like a win-win! Serve these Italian cookies with coffee or tea, preferably the next day if you can wait. Why? Ricciarelli taste best the day after they’re made!

Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes plus 4 hours to chill 
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 4 1/2 hours
Servings: Makes about 18 cookies


  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 cups ground almonds (or almond flour)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

Here’s how to make it:

  1. In a bowl, whisk egg whites, almond extract, orange extract and zest with a fork until frothy.
  2. In a separate large bowl, combine ground almonds and sugar. Add the egg white mixture to the large bowl and mix together with a spoon until ingredients start to combine.
  3. Using your hands, form the dough into a ball, ensuring that everything is well incorporated. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for a minimum of 4 hours up to overnight.
  4. Remove the dough from the fridge and shape it into a large log. Cut the log into 1/2-inch pieces and roll into balls. Press and shape the balls into ovals and place on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet. Dust generously with powdered sugar and allow to sit at room temperature for about an hour, or until the tops have dried out and formed almost a little shell, before baking (which may take longer in humid areas). Pre-crack the shell by squeezing the cookies slightly from opposite corners. (Pre-cracking will give you that signature crackle and white-gold contrast but skipping this step won't affect the taste.) 
  5. Bake the cookies in a preheated 300-degree F oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Ricciarelli will still seem moist and pale; this is OK. Let them cool completely. 

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Almonds $5 & Up
Almond Flour
Almond Flour $6 & Up
Sugar $2 & Up

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Elisa Schmitz
OK, this recipe sounds absolutely delicious whether you are gluten-free or not. What a wonderful dessert for anyone, thanks!
Light and decadent all at once, love it.

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