Italian Sprinkle Cookies (Taralli) & Guest Appearance on NPR’s WNYC Radio!

Italian Sprinkle Cookies or lemon Taralli are cookies that my mom makes every year at Christmas and that she also use to make with my great-grandmother when she was little.  These cookies are very versatile — you can use different extracts depending on what flavors you like.  I personally like the almond and lemon combination, so usually stick with those flavors.  You can also decorate these cookies with different sprinkles and colored sugars.  I like to divide up my sprinkles into different small bowls and dip the cookie tops into the sprinkles.  This makes for an easier cleanup and also coats the cookies more thoroughly than shaking sprinkles on top would.  This recipe makes about 3.5 dozen if you hand-roll the dough into small 1” balls, but you could also use a cookie scoop and just yield a smaller amount.  My mom’s recipe is this same recipe, except doubled.  She uses a cookie scoop to make bigger Taralli and makes about 5 dozen larger-sized cookies.  I’ve seen all sizes of Taralli and have even seen them braided into rings as well.  This is a wonderful, classic cookie recipe that you can truly customize to your own liking!

Because I love these cookies so much, I submitted this recipe to a cookie swap.  I have to thank my mother-in-law!  She was thoughtful enough to forward me a link for a Holiday Cookie Recipe Swap hosted by WNYC’s (the NYC-based NPR radio station) The Leonard Lopate Show.  The Leonard Lopate Show “lets you in on the best conversations with writers, actors, ex-presidents, dancers, scientists, comedians, historians, grammarians, curators, filmmakers, and do-it-yourself experts.”  With that being said, the guest speaker on today’s show will be renowned food celebrity Sara Moulton.  Sara will talk about her new cookbook The Gourmet Cookie Book.  This is where I come in — I submitted this Italian sprinkle cookie recipe and was selected to talk about my recipe on the show!  I’m so excited (and also nervous too).

The show is airing live today (December 8th) at 12pm Eastern time.  If you live in the NY-Metro Area, tune in to 93.9 fm or 820 am or go to the WNYC website to listen on your computer.  They’ll be calling me between 12-12:20 pm to discuss these Italian sprinkle cookies, so please tune in!!


  • 3 eggs
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tbsp plus 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1.5 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp lemon extract


  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon zest
  • Colored sprinkles


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat eggs on high speed until light and foamy, about 5 minutes and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and baking powder.  On low speed, gradually beat in shortening and extracts until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
  4. Gradually add beaten eggs (dough will be stiff).
  5. Roll dough into 1″ balls and place 2″ apart on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies are golden brown.
  7. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, milk, lemon zest, and extract until smooth (Add additional sugar to make frosting thicker or more milk to make frosting thinner).
  8. As soon as cookies are removed from the oven, quickly dip into the glaze and place on wire racks.
  9. Immediately top with sprinkles (I like to place my sprinkles in bowls, so I can just roll the top of the cookie in it).
  10. Let dry completely before storing in airtight containers.

Yield: About 3.5-4 dozen



Filed under Baked Goods, Desserts

18 responses to “Italian Sprinkle Cookies (Taralli) & Guest Appearance on NPR’s WNYC Radio!

  1. Wow Kara these look awesome!! Good luck today! Can’t wait to hear all about it.

  2. Russ

    I learned of your blog listening to Lenny & Sara in NY. Wow! I can’t wait to try out the recipe – the cookies look beautiful. Thanks for sharing with us.

  3. Mary

    Just heard you on WNYC. These cookies are such a fixture here on Long Island. Thank you for publishing this recipe!

  4. These look so adorable, and I love the versatility in the flavorings. Looks like melt-in-your mouth crumbly cookies :).

  5. These would be a great for a cookie swap, and they are so festive!

  6. Congrats! I would award these cookies with radio time too, they look amazing!

  7. Wow!! How exciting! 🙂 I would be nervous too! Good luck! These cookies look so yummy…the perfect bite sized treat for a holiday party!

    Christina @ Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

  8. These cookies look like a perfect Christmas treat! Congrats on the radio gig 🙂 How exciting! I hope it went well for you!!

  9. Nina

    I just wanted you to know that I have never been into baking Christmas cookies as much as I have these past few days. Your blog makes me want to call in sick from work and bake, bake, bake. This morning, I mixed together the all ingredients for the cookies and put it in the frig, so when I get home from work tonight, all I have to do is roll them out and put them into the oven, then decorate them. Thank you Kara for taking the time and sharing your favorite cookie recipes with us. Happy holidays.

    • Nina,

      I’m so glad to hear that my blog has put you in the baking holiday spirit!!! That’s such a smart idea to make the dough ahead of time too. Have fun decorating your cookies (that’s my favorite part). I’m baking more cookies tomorrow with my sister, so will have some new recipes to share with you next week!!!


  10. jenn

    Hi! I just have a quick question for you . . . are these cookies similar to Italian Anisette Cookies? My boyfriend is Italian and I’m trying to find a recipe that will impress his mother. Any idea? Thanks. Jenn

    • Yes they are! Just substitute anise extract! Other classic Italian cookies that are sure to impress his mother are my almond paste cookies, Venetians or Ricciarelli. I’ve made all of these within the last couple weeks, so you can find the recipes on my blog. Keep me posted with what you end up making! 🙂

      • Linda

        I usually put the anise in the frosting. My recipe calls for melting the shortening and letting it cool before using. I think this gives the cookies an even lighter, airer testure.

  11. Pingback: Cookie Countdown to Christmas Recap | Happy When Not Hungry

  12. We make something very similar at our house…call them Italian Sponge cookies

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