12/16/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Virginia Willis, EatingWell

This crispy-on-the-bottom-and-chewy-on-the-inside gluten-free cookie recipe is a twist on traditional Italian holiday cookies – pignoli, or pine nut cookies. Look for almond paste – a mixture of ground almonds and sugar (available in tubes or sometimes tubs) – near other baking supplies in well-stocked supermarkets or specialty stores. Sweeter marzipan doesn’t work well in these cookies.

Pignoli Cookies: Traditional Italian Holiday Cookies

Makes 3 dozen cookies; serves 36

Active Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 1/2 hours


  • 2 (7-ounce) tubes almond paste (not marzipan), coarsely crumbled
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pine nuts, plus 3 tablespoons whole pine nuts for decoration
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons water


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Beat almond paste, sugar, chopped pine nuts, and salt in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until the almond paste is broken up into small bits; continue to blend until finely ground. Add egg whites and water and beat on medium-high speed, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl once or twice, until smooth, about 5 minutes. (The batter will be very thick.)
  3. Drop level tablespoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Gently press 5 pine nuts into the top of each cookie in the shape of a star.
  4. Bake, rotating the pan front to back halfway through, until golden, 13 to 15 minutes total. Let cool on the pan for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Notes and nutrition for these traditional Italian holiday cookies

Recipe note: Store in an airtight container between sheets of parchment or wax paper for up to three days.

Recipe nutrition per serving: 72 Calories, Total Fat: 4 g, Saturated Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Fiber: 1 g, Total Sugars: 7 g, Added Sugars: 2 g, Protein: 1 g, Sodium: 36 mg, Potassium: 47 mg, Folate: 9 mcg, Calcium: 19 mg.

Carbohydrate servings: 1/2.

EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at

© 2021 Meredith Corporation. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff