Italian Almond Cookies {naturally gluten free}

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Crunchy, chewy, sweet and nutty, these cookies are one of the best things to come out of my kitchen over the past two years.

Italian Almond Cookies are a twist on the Italian Pine Nut Cookies I fell in love with last year.

italian almond cookies recipe

These cookies are naturally dairy free and gluten free, with just three basic ingredients; almond paste, sugar and egg whites. The end result is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

These Italian Almond cookies are like nothing else I have ever tasted. Words hardly do them justice.

Almond Paste Cookies

Using almond paste instead of any kind of flour gives these cookies their unique texture and nutty flavor. If you’ve never cooked or baked with almond paste before you might be surprised by how thick it is at first.

Before using it in this almond paste cookie recipe, you first have to break the almond paste up with a food processor. The pulse feature works great for this. Pulse it a few seconds at a time and scrape down the sides as needed.

You’ll know the almond paste is ready to use in the cookie recipe when its reached a granular texture. It should resemble fine sand before you add the sugar.

Look for almond paste (in a can vs in a tube) in the baking section of your favorite grocery store. Just be sure not to accidentally get marzipan or almond cake filling!

italian almond cookies recipe

Italian Almond Cookies

Like I mentioned earlier, this cookie recipe was inspired by the Pignoli Cookies {a.k.a. Pine Nut or Pinon Cookies} I adore so much. That recipe uses a dough with an almond paste base and tops it with toasted pine nuts.

I decided to take the almond paste cookie dough from that recipe, add even more almonds on top along with melted chocolate. This turned out to be an excellent idea, indeed.

If you like chocolate covered almonds then I promise you will love this Italian Almond Cookie drizzled in dark chocolate.

To make these cookies, take the granulated almond paste and gradually mix it with sugar. The almond mixture gets folded together with beaten egg whites then chilled.

I dropped the dough by the teaspoon onto a baking tray and added slivers of sliced almonds by hand. The almond slices on top add such a delicious crunch to these cookies.

Once baked and slightly cooled, each cookie gets a generous drizzle of melted chocolate. I used semi-sweet chocolate chips melted in the microwave to make this step super easy. Bittersweet and dark chocolate chips will taste excellent as well.

Italian Almond Cookies are begging to be included on your holiday cookie trays. With their melt-in-your-mouth texture and incredible chocolate drizzle, these cookies are the perfect balance between light and decadent. I’ve yet to serve these cookies to anyone who’s been able to resist a second (or third . . . or fourth. . . ) cookie.

Every bite of these almond cookies is better than the last. I cannot wait for you to try them!

For another terrific almond treat, you’ll want to check out how easy it is to make Bostock (a.k.a. Brioche with Almonds).

Gluten Free Cookies

I’ve had wonderful success making many of my favorite baked goods gluten free over the years. Thanks to the right flour substitutes and a little tinkering, everything from my Old Fashioned Apple Crisp  to my Old Fashioned Iced Oatmeal Cookies  have seen a delicious wheat free iteration.

While I firmly believe that gluten free substitutes can be just as delicious as the “traditional” versions, I get excited when I discover a naturally gluten free dessert recipe. Italian Almond Cookies don’t require any flour at all making them safe for anyone who avoids gluten.

While lots of gluten free recipes require a lengthy list of ingredients, these cookies use just FIVE. No substituting required.

For more naturally gluten free recipes, check out these Monster Cookie Dough Bites  and these Flourless Chocolate Turtle Cookies. On my list to try soon are these Fudgy Toffee Flourless Brownies from Mom on Time Out.

You might also want to check out all of the Gluten Free Dessert Recipes on this website!

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Italian Almond Cookies {naturally gluten free}

4.5 from 4 votes
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Servings: 30 cookies

Ingredients 

  • 8 ounces almond paste NOT marzipan or almond cake filling
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  • In the bowl of a food processor, break up the almond paste. I simply used the pulse feature on my processor for a few seconds at a time, scraping the sides as needed. It only took a few minutes to turn the almost rock-hard paste into fine sand-like pieces. Add the sugar in two stages, processing for a few seconds each time to combine.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the almond mixture into the egg whites, making sure the mixture is well-combined. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silpat mat or parchment paper (This is required for these cookies. They will stick to the baking sheet without it.)
  • Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheet. Press a few sliced almonds into the top of each cookie, pressing down slightly to flatten each ball of dough. Bake for 14-15 minutes, until each cookie is just barely browned at the edge. Cool 2 minutes on the baking sheet before removing to a wire rack. Let the cookies cool completely before drizzling with chocolate.
  • Place the chocolate in a glass dish and melt in the microwave 30-60 seconds at a time at 50% power, stirring at intervals. Drizzle or dip the cookies as desired and place them on a parchment lined tray and chill until firm. Enjoy!

Notes

Almond Paste can be found in the baking aisle in many grocery stores. It is typically sold in an 8 ounce can. The paste will be very firm and the food processor step is required in order to work with it. The paste will not blend with the other ingredients until it has been broken into a granular mixture.
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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Erin Dee says

    I have to make these! We don't have almond paste here but we do have marzipan, which I've always used interchangeably. So I might just have to ignore your warning. 😉 OR! I could just look up a recipe on how to make almond paste.

    Anyway, thanks so much for this recipe! I'll let you know how they come out once I make them. 🙂

    • Mary says

      I think the most important thing is to make sure the only ingredients in the almond paste (or marzipan) are almonds and sugar. It's my understanding that marzipan can have additional ingredients as well. If you do try it, let me know how it works for you!

  2. Retired Pastry Chef says

    Almond paste us usually 50:50 almonds to sugar, while Marzipan is usually 60:40, sugar to almonds. Providing your Marzipan ingredients are just almonds and sugar (no other ingredients), you could try decreasing the sugar in the recipe by 10%, by weight. If you have almond flour or want to grind some almonds you could add in 10% almond flour, by weight.

    • Mary says

      Thank you! That's actually very helpful. I just remembered hearing/reading that they were not interchangeable in this type of recipe. I appreciate the tips!

  3. Mariann says

    To make your own almond paste, add 1 1/2 cup blanched almonds, 1 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, 1 egg white and 1 1/2 teaspoon of almond flavoring to a food processer and process until smooth. Makes 1 1/2 cups of almond paste. Store any extra in a air tight container.

  4. Lee Nelson says

    I put my cans of almond paste in the fridge or freezer for a few hours. Then I grate the block of almond paste on a cheese grater. I get very small, evenly sized pieces that are easy to fold into other ingredients. They thaw and get soft in no time. These cookies look fabulous and I will be making these for the holidays. Thanks for the recipe!

  5. Deborah Neubauer says

    Will these cookies last a few days in the fridge or in a sealed container adding the chocolate right before serving? I need to make them ahead of time as I will be serving them at a retreat and don’t have access to food processor or oven.

  6. Dianne says

    Easy recipe to make, the cookies were crispy on the outside and a little chewy on the inside. Baked a little longer but ovens do vary. Have some in the freezer for Christmas cookie platter. Nice recipe, easy cleanup. Mine look just like the photo.
    Only difficulty I had was desiding how long to pulse the almond paste. But it all worked out well.5 stars

  7. Emily says

    I have tried making these cookies twice now. The flavor is good but I cannot figure out how to get a cookie-like texture. I use Odense brand almond paste (it comes in a tube inside a box). The food processor and metal blade starts to break it up, but not too fine before turning it into a firm dough ball. The cookies were flat and and taffy-like in the center. The second time, I tried freezing the almond paste first (30 minutes). It broke up into more fine pieces and mixed much better with the sugar and stiff egg whites. I refrigerated the dough for 90 minutes as well. But the cookies were still very flat and really sticky/doughy in the center. Please let me know what brand of almond paste you use and any advice you have!3 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      Hi Emily! I am so sorry for your hassles. I’ve never used almond paste in a tube, so I had to do a little research. It turns out that Odense brand almond paste is 45% almonds with more liquid added to it, vs 66% almonds with the Solo brand almond paste that comes in a can (in firm little chunks). I will make a note on the recipe that it needs to be almond paste in a can not a tube. I had no idea!

    • Emily McCrea says

      Just made these again using Solo Brand Almond Paste (it came in a box). They were perfect and look just like the ones you pictured. Thank you for the tip. My kids love them too!5 stars