Love and Olive Oil
Soft Amaretti Cookies

Soft Amaretti Cookies

Soft amaretti cookies are quite unlike their crispy cousins, so don’t get the two confused. With a chewy exterior and a soft, marzipan-like middle, they’re a treat for almond lovers everywhere.

Amaretti morbidi is what they’re known in Italy, morbidi meaning ‘soft’ in Italian (not morbid, I promise these are anything but). They’re naturally gluten-free, made with little more than almond flour, sugar and egg white with a splash of almond extract to amp up the almond flavor.

Amaretti Morbidi is a traditional Italian almond cookie recipe you'll adore!

This is a recipe originally posted back in 2013, and one of my all-time favorites, based on a cookie I enjoyed during our honeymoon in Italy. Not to be confused with the crunchy amaretti croccanti you buy by the bag (might I suggest making your next pumpkin pie with those?) these soft amaretti are chewy on the outside and almost marzipan-like in the middle. In other words, simply divine.

While the old recipe always got rave reviews, I’d gotten a few comments over the years noting that the cookies spread much more than the photo, and, if you know me, you know that I am very bothered by recipes that don’t behave as they should.

Being that it’s one of my favorite cookie recipes I figured it was time for an update (and while most bloggers would just update the old post, I’m a sentimental sap and want to keep my old photos and words preserved for posterity. Google probably won’t like the fact that I’m publishing this update as an entirely new post, but, whatever.)

So I set out to figure out the mystery of the spreading cookies.

Plate of Soft Amaretti Cookies Soft Amaretti Cookies

Soft Amaretti Cookie Recipe

I spent an entire Saturday making batch after batch (I split the recipe into quarter size mini batches, weighing out everything precisely in grams, and noting each changed variable in my recipe notebook).

I tested beating my egg whites to soft peaks and stiff peaks and even tried egg whites than were just barely beaten to a froth. I tested cookies with and without a tiny bit of flour (spoiler: it makes no difference in the final cookie, so I ended up removing it completely from the revised recipe to make them 100% gluten free). I tested cookies baked on a single cookie sheet and stacked cookie sheets and longer bake times and shorter ones. I mostly baked from room temperature dough, but I also tried chilling and even freezing the dough first. With a few small variations (most notably the version I added a bit of baking powder just for kicks), most of my cookies ended up looking virtually identical.

I also tested increasing the quantity of egg white, which is what I suspected as the cause of spreading cookies. I whipped up batches with 60g, 64g, 68g, and 72g of egg whites (a 20% increase!) and popped them in the oven to see what would happen.

Surprisingly, the cookies with 20% more egg whites were a bit softer in the middle, but the cookies themselves weren’t anymore spread out than the control group.

Which really left me baffled.

Soft Amaretti Cookies are chewy on the outside and soft and almost marzipan-like on the inside

The one variable that seemed to make the biggest visual difference was actually different brands of almond flour, I assume because the moisture levels can vary so greatly from one brand to another (also how fresh the flour itself is). A cookie made with older/drier almond flour held its shape much more than a fresher flour.

Pictured below, left to right: Old almond flour from my pantry (probably from Costco or Nuts.com), Bob’s Red Mill, and Simple Truth almond flour. Bob’s was my favorite in the end, so the final cookies were all made with that. (Note that I didn’t test making my own almond meal from finely ground almonds, which would, I’m assuming, behave quite differently, as most home food processors simply can’t grind up nuts as finely.)

Testing variables: different kinds of almond flour have different moisture content.

So, anyway, here I was ready to chalk up readers’ mysterious spreading cookies to a particular brand or home-ground almond flour.

Then I woke up on Sunday to make a full batch of cookies using my final recipe for photos.

And what would you know, they looked completely different. Not entirely spread out, but they are noticeably flatter with larger, rougher cracks. Other than it being Sunday, the recipe was identical to what I had baked the day before. Go figure.

Pictured below, left: cookie baked on Saturday, right: cookie baked on Sunday.

In the end, I actually like the way they look better than the stiffer balls from Saturday, the cracks are more dramatic and, especially with a thicker coating of powdered sugar, really highlight the texture of the cookie. So maybe it was meant to be afterall.

Testing variables: one cookie was baked on a humid day, one baked on a dry day.

At this point I’m still not firm in my conclusions, but being that the weather on Saturday was cool and drizzly, and on Sunday it was dry and sunny (and much less humid), I suspect that humidity has a noticeable effect on these cookies. Although I would have thought the cookies baked on a humid day would have absorbed more moisture into the dough and spread more as a result, when in reality it seemed to be just the opposite.

Perhaps a drier, more air-filled meringue actually produces more defined cracks and causes more spreading? And on humid days we all know that getting really stiff peaks out of your meringue isn’t an easy task; the resulting softer, wetter meringue makes for less cracks and a firmer ball shape. That’s my current theory, anyway. At this point I have to wait for another humid day to test out if I’m right or not, but for now, I have updated the original recipe to include a speck of lemon juice to help the meringue whip up more stably, even on humid days.

Let me just say that while your cookies might not look identical to mine, maybe they spread more or cracked less or browned more on the bottoms, regardless of what they look like, they will still taste fabulous.

Here’s how to make them:

How to make Amaretti Morbidi cookies: Beat egg whites to medium-stiff peaks.

Beat your egg whites to medium-stiff peaks. The tip should lean ever so slightly, not curl or droop, and not stick straight up like an albumen alfalfa.

In my testing the egg whites that were beaten to stiffer peaks produced more defined cracks and slightly more spreading, but it was really a miniscule difference. Just try not to overbeat them (if they look like dry styrofoam or dish suds, you’ve probably overdone it).

A tiny bit of lemon juice brings up the acidity and helps form a more stable meringue, especially in more humid conditions (a pinch of cream of tartar would work in the same way).

How to make Amaretti Morbidi cookies: the dough should be sticky and yet still workable.

Stir the egg white into the almond flour. You could also pour the dry ingredients into the bowl with the egg white and let your stand mixer do the work for you.

Let me just say: you are not making macarons. You’ll be here forever if you try to ‘fold’ in the egg whites. There’s no need to be delicate, smush and stir and smash the heck out of it.

I also found using my hands towards the end really helped bring it all together into a smooth, sticky dough.

How to make Amaretti Morbidi cookies: roll in powdered sugar Soft Amaretti Cookies ready to be baked!

Traditional amaretti morbidi (soft amaretti) do use some bitter almond or even ground up apricot kernels (which have a similar intense almond flavor, believe it or not). Since bitter almond flour is pretty much impossible to find here in the States, I used a little almond extract instead to help amp up the almond flavor in its place. But by all means, if you have access to bitter almond flour, use it! 20g or so should do you just fine.

You can reduce the sugar in these cookies by about 25g or so (so use 175g instead of 200g) for a slightly less-sweet cookie. Reducing the sugar any more than that will result in a cookie that’s not as soft and chewy and doesn’t spread/crack as much, so I don’t recommend it.

Recipe for Amaretti Morbidi, or Soft Amaretti Cookie

Want to see how these delightful little cookies are made (along with the chocolate, matcha and raspberry variations)? Check out the video:

With a chewy crystalized crust, crunchy browned bottoms, and a soft, marzipan-like center, these cookies are the ultimate almond cookie. Not to mention they are incredibly easy to prepare and ever so satisfying. They keep well and stay soft for days, making them perfect for make-ahead holiday parties and cookie gifts shipped across the country.

Soft Amaretti Cookies

Soft Amaretti Cookies

Soft amaretti (amaretti morbidi) cookies are a treat for almond lovers everywhere, with a chewy exterior and a soft, marzipan-like middle.
5 stars (28 reviews)

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups / 200 g almond flour or very finely ground almonds , sifted
  • 1 cup / 200 g granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 2 large / 60 g egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • confectioners’ sugar, as needed

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Stack two matching, heavyweight, light to medium colored cookie sheets one inside the other (stacking two cookie sheets together keeps the bottoms of the cookies from getting too brown). Line with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, sugar and salt until evenly incorporated.
  • In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and lemon juice until they hold soft peaks.
  • Add beaten egg whites and almond extract to dry ingredients and stir until mixture forms a soft, sticky dough, kneading with your hands if necessary. No need to be gentle here, we're not making macarons. ;)
  • Lightly dust your hands with powdered sugar. Use a small cookie scoop to portion dough into 1-inch balls. Roll into a smooth ball, then roll in powdered sugar. Arrange on parchment or silicon-lined baking sheets, leaving 1 inch of space between cookies.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until tops are cracked and bottoms are just barely golden (if you are NOT using doubled cookie sheets your cookies will brown much quicker, and will likely only need 25 minutes, so watch them closely). If you prefer crunchier cookies you can give them an extra 5 minutes or so or until the tops begin to brown too. Remove from oven; let cool a few minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  • Cookies will keep at room temperature in an airtight bag or container, for up to 5 days.
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200 Comments

  1. They look amazing!!!
    May I substitute regular flour for Almond Flour or substitute half and half?
    Thank you!

  2. I just made these amaretti cookies – so easy to make and they taste delicious ! Followed the recipe exactly as written so now I’m real excited to make the macha, chocolate and raspberry amaretti also as I’m thinking they will make great Christmas gifts too. Thank you for this wonderful recipe :)

  3. These are my new favorite cookie – very easy to make, and absolutely delicious. They’re even better on the second day, when the thin, crackly crust sets up a bit. You bite down on that little bit of crisp, into a pillowy, marzipan-like center – (chef’s kiss)! Looking forward to trying your suggested variations as well.

  4. I made these lovely cookies – and I am making them again this evening. They are fantastic and lovely the way amaretti should be. Didn’t change a thing, Used the almond flour which is made by finely grinding almonds. I just adore these and will continue to make them for years to come. Thank you so much for the recipe.

  5. Almond flour and (even finely) ground almonds are not the same. Almond flour contains far less oil (due to extraction during processing) and leads to a firmer texture, while a dough made with ground almonds cannot absorb the humidity and will likely spread. Some people might just have confused almond flour with ground almonds in your recipe?

  6. I used to work at an Italian bakery and the Italian baker used to make the best soft amaretti biscuits.  He always piped them on parchment and on trays and left them overnight at room temperature before baking them the next day.

  7. I made these cookies today with a few modifications and they came out okay. 
    1. I used monkfruit sweeteners instead of sugar and used only 1/2 cup (125gr). 
    2. I used powdered monkfruit sweeteners instead of powder sugar for coating. The sweeteners also made the dough and cookies have darker color than in the pictures here.
    3. My cookie scoop is probably much bigger so only yielded 12 cookies. 
    The results:
    1. The coating completely melted by the end of 30 minutes in the oven so the cookies look “naked” and brown instead of having a white layer of sugar outside.
    2. The cookies didn’t spread at all, but they also didn’t crack either. 
    3. Since I realized midway through baking that my cookies are 2X the size in the recipe so i also increased baking time. The outside ended up being very crunchy but the inside not as soft after cooling. I guess I overbaked a bit. 
    Will try again and see if it’s possible to use sugar substitutes and still achieve decent quality. 

  8. These are amazing and so delicious. However, I cannot vouch for whether they will last for five days in an airtight container… they were all eaten long before 5 days!

  9. These were very delicious, received complaints from friends and family. 
    I used blue diamond ground almonds.
    I used 1 tablespoon of pure almond extract.
    Thank you for sharing!

  10. These were so easy to make and was so delicious. I do not like my stuff too sweet so I cut down on sugar and still turned out OK. Two of us ate the whole batch in less than 24 hours.

  11. These are absolute perfection! They turned out just like the ones from my favourite Italian bakery. I can’t believe I’ve never thought to make them, considering how easy they are! 

    My kids helped me make these and we added mini eggs to the tops since it’s Easter Sunday. Thanks for the great recipe! :)

  12. Finally, somebody has all the question I’ve had on amaretti, including all of the “but, why’s.” Now I can happily abandon my own continuous testing …& just bake!
    Perfection.
    Thank you!!!

  13. Wow! These were fantastic. Mine spread out a little bit but tasted divine. I love the taste of almond so next time will double the amount. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi! Can I use lemon extract instead of almond?

      • Definitely. Not sure about quantity, you’d want to start with just a little as lemon extract can be very strong. Adding a little bit more lemon juice and some zest might also work too!

  14. Love these cookies ! Easy to make….I dislike the powdered sugar before cooking …I dislike the rollIng etc but does add to the flavor!

  15. Oh. My. God. Perfection!!! Can’t thank you enough for this recipe. Simple ingredients, simply prepared and a wonderful result. Brava!!!

  16. Have to say any time I make these cookies, mine do not spread at all..They stay in the shape I make them. Have tried so many times..will be trying your method and hope they will at least spread a little.

    • They’re not supposed to spread much at all, just puff and crackle a bit. I find that dry or old almond flour can prevent this from happening – try a different brand of almond flour perhaps or add a teaspoon of water to your final dough.

  17. A friend of mine shared these delicious cookies, and provided me with the link to this recipe. They were a huge hit with my family and will forever be in the Christmas baking list! Scrumptious and easy! Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  18. Can I use almond flavor instead of extract?

  19. The spreading has something to do with the meringue. I remember reading or watching a cooking show that talked about it.  

    • There’s definitely something going on regarding the meringue, however I’ve tested these using meringues in various stages (from barely whisked to super stiff peaks) and have not found a correlation. Right now the brand/variety of almond flour seems to be the biggest factor in spread (coarser/homemade almond flours will spread more).

  20. Just took them out of the oven.  Look wonderful and my husband already nabbed one. Delicious !!  Thank you 

  21. Hi! Do you know how well these freeze for longer keeping? Thanks!

  22. So my significant other just said this was the best cookie I ever baked!! On that note, YES! you can veganize this. I used aquafaba instead of egg and they are yummy! I can’t wait to do another batch with cocoa, freeze dried fruits and matcha!
    A note to others with too much browning – I use ceramic cookie trays and this always seems to protect any cookie from over browning the bottoms.
    I got some beautiful cracks and spread, but I think I used a bigger scoop – I would probably make them smaller next time – because you’re going to want more than one! Thank you for sharing this recipe

  23. I just compared your recipe to my mother’s recipe card. Pretty much the same, except she started with slivered almonds and processed them with the sugar. She did let them dry for two hours on the baking sheet until tops dry (helps retain their shape).

  24. I love this recipe- I am 300 cookies in so far over the past few months! … Its Nov 2- and I want to make them ahead and freeze them for Christmas gift giving – how long will they last? Haveyo uever madethem wiht toasted almond bits mixed in or some candied citrus bits? I was thinking ….. ;)

  25. I made them ones, making again today. They were very delicious. Thank you!

    Engin

  26. Hello,
    It would be nice if you could make this with the same texture but using fake sugar for my diabetic relative.
    Thank you :)

  27. How much alcohol could I add if I choose to do do? Also where do I find the powder flavors? 🙂

    • I have not tested adding alcohol to this recipe, the extra liquid would likely affect the consistency/spread of the final cookie.

  28. OMG these are my new go-to, and everyone loves them!! For specific health reasons, I am gluten free and also cannot have saturated fats like butter or coconut. These are perfect for my diet, but of course what matters is they’re YUMMY. And so easy, love that you don’t need to baby the egg whites. I am wondering if this would work with chai spices? 

  29. Recipe is superb. I made them today. I got 25 amaretti out of the recipe. I’ll post the photo on Facebook. Thanks so much for sharing.

  30. Got a beautifully chewy cookie, didn’t use lemon juice but used amaretto liqueur and sprinkled a couple of pine nuts on the top :) nice one thank you! 

  31. My mom and I made one batch of these and one batch of the chocolate ones!  I love the texture and flavor & they were so easy to make.  Thank you!

  32. I just made the Cookies and they are absolutely delicious!  I’m so happy I stumbled across your sight!!!

  33. First batch (recipe to the T) came out delicious. I only had one aluminum pan w/o parchment paper so I was worried about sticking/burning. I removed after 25 minutes and felt they were undercooked and I put them in for an extra 10 minutes. Took out to cool and put in a second batch (altered recipe.) The bottoms did not burn, but did stick to the pan. I used a spatula to transfer cookies to baking rack; so no well done bottoms at all.

    Second batch, again recipe to the T but this time I kept the yolk as I was curious how much of a difference it would make. The egg white recipe was lighter/fluffier, with the yolk; more yellow and not as light/fluffy, still yummy though. I used a glass casserole dish, light sticking/no burning and cooked for 35 minutes.

    I bought Blue Diamond Almond flour (3lb) from Amazon for $13 I will check Aldi and Publix if they carry it the next time I head on out to the supermarket.

  34. Delicious and easy! My husband is from Italy and he also approves :)

  35. Thank you.Yes Lindsay I doubled the baking sheets.I make your excellent amaretti using your original recipe, with awesome results. Yesterday, however, and in a hurry 
    I could not remember the precise baking time,and clicked on your new version of these amaretti, showing that  baking time of :30/35minutes.? Yes,  I  could have checked the  oven, I agree, but as I say,prior results were invariably right on (with your directions  of 18-20 minutes). I still would like to know, if I may, why you increased the baking time by 30%. Did I miss something somewhere?
    kind regards.
    odile

  36. omg! baking time of 30-35 minutes is WAYYY TOO LONG!
    cookies were dark brown!
    why the change from original recipe and baking time 20 minutes? 
    a typo?
    people, don’t bake these for 30 minutes, don’t!

    • Did you double the baking sheets? That makes a huge difference in my experience. All ovens vary, as do individual baking sheets (thinner and darker ones will brown the bottoms much faster). Keep an eye on them as they bake and take them out when they look done, it’s why I write the recipes with visual cues as well, because everyone’s equipment and circumstances will vary.

  37. A little bit sweet for me. Could I use less sugar? Apart from that I loved the texture even though I think I overlooked them by about 3 mins. 

    • You can reduce the sugar a bit, maybe 175g instead of 200, but any more than that and you will start to affect the texture of the cookie. You can also try leaving out the almond extract, I find almond flavor tends to amplify the sweetness of things (which I love, but some might not).

  38. Can I freeze the dough and thaw later to make cookies??

  39. I made these last night and they turned out amazing. They were done in about 30 min. The recipe yielded 23 cookies.

    Thank you for this fabulous recipe. They r almost gone already. Will definitely make again and again.

  40. Tried the recipe for the amaretto cookies…
    first batch came out like marbles…..my mistake too hot of oven.
    and too small of balls.
    2nd try: I also noted that they do not spread very much, but were very good and I think I have this….
    Iwill try again to get them a bit bigger and I thank you for your comments and instructions as I learn how to make these cookies…..

  41. Hi you mentioned alfalfa instead of egg white. Does that work with these? ( my daughter is egg and flour intolerant) 

  42. I never found that your original recipe spread at all. I’m baking in the UK. I do sometimes substitute 50g of ground almonds for plain flour. This is mainly due to the fact that ground almonds are so damned expensive! This still makes a good cookie but obviously not gluten free.  Off to bake some now.  

  43. Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. That’s my summary of this recipe. Thank you for all the work you put into this and for sharing it. By the way, the first attempt I forgot the sugar. At first I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t spread, but they were still delicious little amaretti balls. Second attempt they came out perfectly. I will be making these all the time! Yum! :)

  44. Dear Lindsay

    I made these cookies they turned amazingly delicious.
    I am planning to try the other flavors.

    Definitely will try some of your other recipes.

    Thanks.

  45. I just found this recipe. I love all things almond. These are amazing. Thank you for the recipe. It will definitely find a spot among my favorite cookies.

  46. Great yummy cookies!!!  But I can’t seem to avoid having them stick to the parchment paper or the ceramic coated metal cookie sheets.  What is the trick???  Thank you.

  47. I have a friend who is vegan and I was wondering if you think it’d be possible to substitute out the egg whites for something else or would that completely throw off the cookies?

  48. These are one of the best cookies I’ve ever made.  Thanks for sharing the recipe, all my friends love them 

  49. Just made these and they are my new go to for gluten free bakes! For health reasons, I avoid butter and gluten and that limits the types of cookies I can make or eat. LOVE these. So easy and delicious. Thank you! 

  50. I made both the chocolate and the almond ones today and I’m really pleased with the result. Thanks for such a great and well tested recipe. I used my baking sheets that have an air pocket built in between two layers, but they were done in about 23 minutes. I am thinking I might try a little rosemary and lemon zest in my next batch of almond flavored ones.

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