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.
4.97 stars (32 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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209 Comments

  1. This is always a winner at home and with my school colleagues (I teach food technology in the UK).
    I make personalised Christmas gifts and they are warmly received: “these are my favourite! I can hear from the recipients.

  2. my cookies flattened out – do you know why this might be?

    • Too much moisture in the almond flour most likely! You can try drying it out in the oven before you start (I do this for my pistachio amaretti cookies since pistachio flour tends to be less dry overall). Spread the flour on a baking sheet and bake at 170 degrees F for 30 to 45 minutes or until dry and toasty.

  3. Simply delicious,and so easy to make, nice recipe

  4. Awesome recipe! I made it twice and thought that 1/2 tsp of almond extract wasn’t enough so I added 1 tsp in the second batch and they were AWESOME! Just like how I remembered them from the bakery in Sorrento Italy!   I also used Costco’s Kirkland brand of almond flour and it was perfect.  These can easily be made into a keto recipe by substituting sugar for monkfruit and powdered monkfruit or white Swerve sweetener.  Needless to say they were eaten up before the 5 days! :)

  5. My Christmas favorite cookie of all time!  I follow the recipe exactly and they always turn out perfectly delicious.  Thank you for this recipe. 

  6. OMG! These are so incredibly delicious! My family are big cookie monsters, and this afternoon I was asked to make some cookies. After searching my pantry, I quickly realized my baking supplies were limited (which never happens). So, after seeing I had everything for this recipe I went right to it. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how the recipe was going to turn out because I had never baked cookies without butter or oil, and I’m not a huge almond flour fan. To my surprise these were super easy to whip up… 10 minutes if that. The house smells amazing BUT the flavor of these cookies are off the chart delicious! Crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside… so good! 10 stars from the cookie monsters!

  7. These are amazing, I’m so happy! Thank youuuu :)

  8. This is my family’s #1 favorite cookie and I’m asked to make them often. From the kids to the adults, they all love the marzipan-like center and chewy exterior. I use Blue Diamond extra fine almond flour and have been very pleased. I do add an extra egg white.
    Thanks for this oh so simple and oh so yummy recipe.

  9. Just made these for my daughter’s baptism and tested them on my sister  – “perfection!”
    Growing up in a big Italian family and having many family parties I was worried to bring back some traditional cookies but I can’t wait to have the grand parents and Zii  try these.
    Your instructions were fool proof – thank you!

  10. These are wonderful, it’s part of our tradition now that I make them every year at Christmas.

  11. These cookies were the hit of the holidays. I will definitely be adding these to my list of go-to cookies. They are the perfect texture, sweetness, and flavor. Amazing. Thank you for the recipe!

  12. This is now my family’s favorite cookie and has been demanded for the holidays! Made recipe as shown but did add an extra egg white.
    Crispy exterior with a yummy marzipan-like interior and so easy to make 😊

  13. Love this recipe. Tastes just like my nonna’s ❤️

  14. Have made this a couple of times. Have batch in the oven and another ready to go once they come out. 

  15. I have made these several times! They are simply delicious!!

  16. this came out perfect thank you!! The amaretti cooked and cracled beautifully

  17. Hey there! I am making these for Christmas this year, can I leave the dough in the fridge for a day or 2? I saw the comment about putting the dough in the freezer so I am assuming it’s OK. And should I let it come to temp before rolling?

    • Sure, I think you’d be fine to chill the dough. I haven’t tried baking from chilled dough, they may look slightly different but should taste just fine.

  18. I am heavily influenced by my contacts here in New Zealand within the Chinese community; as such, sugar is a no-no. In traditional terms, I used to make small cakes 150mm rounds with 100g of sugar. Now I make it with only 25g, and I still think it is sweet enough. So am going to experiment, having made your recipe, I will test it with less sugar and add beaten yoke, this may require a little more almond. In New Zealand almond floor is less available and twice as expensive, so I will make it with both the floor and the meal. I will let you know the results. If you want.

  19. I made half recipe and these turned out great, exactly has pictured here! I shall add some cardamom next time as a flavoring.

  20. I LOVE this recipe. Could it be any easier?! I added orange zest and 1/4 teaspoon fresh orange juice because I like the depth of flavor. But it doesn’t need it! Will make these for life. Simple enough to make with a four year old.

  21. A super easy, super delicious recipe! So perfect after a heavy meal. I wrap 3-4 in a clear gift baggie and tie with a pretty ribbon. Perfect stocking stuffer! Thank you!

  22. Thank you!
    This is a beautiful recipe and a beautifully delicious cookie!
    It’s a complex and interesting delicious bite while being a simple and non-fussy recipe ❤️

    I love in the directions where you said “Squish it, Smash it: we’re not making macarons!”

    Delightful crowd-pleaser. 

    Thank you. 
    Mark. 

  23. These turned out great.

  24. These are my favorite cookies! They are the most requested dessert I make and they are also quite easy. I would love to ask for help making a low sugar version! My husband was recently diagnosed as being a diabetic and I would very much appreciate a version that has less sugar. I have tried the monk fruit sugar substitute and do not recommend it at all! They were hard as a rock. I am continuing to try other options, and will follow up if I find a winner! In the meantime, has anyone had success with other sugar alternatives? Bananas, maple syrup, coconut sugar, honey, . . . .

    • I mix equal parts of Date Powder, Yacon Powder and erythritol together and use instead of sugar or sometimes 50/50 with sugar to sweeten things but cut the sugar/calories.

  25. These were  divine!! 😋 Absolute Perfection!!! Thank you 😊 

  26. Hi there,

    These amaretti looks amazing, I am planning to make them today but quick question can I add food colouring I need to make blue amaretti. I haven’t seen any dried freeze blueberry, is this possible adding food coloring???

  27. Rating: 5

    This is my go-to recipe for an easy, quick bake to bring to social gathering. They taste like warm marzipan!

  28. Rating: 5

    These are the best amaretti! I have now made these countless times for friends and family as they request them for Christmas and gifts. Really easy to make, and always a perfect outcome. I’ve also just read you can freeze them.. So my weekend plans are to batch cook more!

  29. These came out great! Easy recipe and so delicious. Thank you!

  30. These are wonderful!!! I added a little bit of Fiori di Sicilia from King Arthur Baking. Perfect Amaretti with a hint of Sicily!

  31. If they are amaretti cookies why is there no
    amaretti in the recipe?

    • I assume you mean amaretto, which is not the same thing as amaretti cookies. Both come from the italian ‘amaro’ which means bitter, and is used to refer to bitter almond flavor. These cookies as well as amaretto liqueur are made from bitter almonds.

  32. Where do you buy the raspberry or Matcha ingredient?
    Thx

  33. Can you please let me know how long I can keep the dough in the freezer before baking.  I am thinking starting to prepare my cookies for Christmas, and this one is an all time favorite of my family.

  34. Love these amaretti cookies  ; make them often. But please, please how many calories per cookie?
    Thanks 

  35. Always wanted to make them. I’m Italian and my mother never made these but we always ate them. 
    Was always afraid it was going to be a difficult cookie to make. The first batch is already gone my girls ate them when they walked in the door and making batch two now 

  36. I love these cookies and have made a couple of variations, chocolate and matcha, both were hits. FYI once, I was out of granulated sugar and used Swerve granulated sugar; the cookies did not turn out well at all. During the baking, the powdered sugar got absorbed and cracks never formed. The cookies took forever to cook; once done they were cloying. When cooled they were hard. Tossed them. 

  37. This recipe nailed Italian Soft Amaretti Cookies for me. The first recipe I tried was a disaster — the oven was too hot! I learned a lot and will always use double baking sheets to bake cookies to ensure golden bottoms. And I loved the idea of using raspberry, macha and cocoa powders to riff on an already great basic recipe. The thoroughness of your testing was very impressive!

  38. Love these cookies! Wondering if anyone has tried this recipe with sugar substitutes like coconut sugar (for Lent, I’m giving up refined sugars)?

  39. Real amaretti like amaretto is not made from almonds, but from apricot kernels. Does any one know where to find an amaretti recipe that tastes like an amaretti instead of an almond cookie?

    • It’s actually made with bitter almonds; raw bitter almonds are illegal here in the US and probably why so few recipes use it. Almond extract is made from bitter almond oil, that’s the primary flavoring in this cookie (not the almond flour). If you have access to bitter almond flour or apricot kernel flour you could certainly use a small amount in this recipe to achieve a similar flavor.

  40. Perfectly sweet and chewy. Love the look of the cookies with the cracks. Yum! Thank you for the great recipe.

  41. Just made these, so easy and came out perfectly cracked and not very spread out. Delicious! Will definitely bake them again :)

  42. Great recipe! Mine came out amazing! Even with sugar substitute! I used stevia. 

  43. These were delicious! I did the stacked sheets, but we don’t actually have two matching sheets, and I realized too late that the one on top is a cushioned pan designed to retain heat, so they weren’t cooking up, at first! They needed a bit longer to bake, and we thought they still looked too soft after an extra 8 minutes, but I didn’t want to overdo them, either. They definitely firmed up as they cooled, though. My mom already asked for the recipe!

  44. I just made these and they turned out great! I didn’t have any issue with spreading. Made half as thumbprints. Perfect recipe. Thank you! 

  45. How many cookies does this recipe make, and how many cookies per serving? Thank you.

  46. Cookies had a great favor but texture was a little grainy. Does anyone know if that is how it is supposed to be or did I do something wrong.

    • Could be the almond flour you used (or if you ground your own it would definitely be coarser). Granulated sugar can also vary quite a bit from country to country and standard vs conventional; if your sugar is on the coarse side just whir it in the food processor a few times first.

  47. My cookies were good but the texture was a little grainy. Does anyone know if that is how it is supposed to be or did I do something wrong?

  48. Have you ever tried freezing them? I want to make them ahead of time for Christmas and freeze them.

    • I recommend freezing the unbaked dough balls; you can then bake them right from frozen (just add a few minutes to the bake time) before you want to serve them.

  49. I love these cookies and am planning to try some of the variations. Can you tell me if they freeze well? 

    • I recommend freezing the unbaked dough balls; you can then bake them right from frozen (just add a few minutes to the bake time) before you want to serve them.

  50. I loved your cookies right after  I made them but they hardened after they cooled. Any suggestions? 

    • Sounds like you may have baked them too long. Try a few minutes less next time. Also be sure you are using the correct proportions; over-measuring the almond flour, or reducing the sugar too much can result in drier/harder cookies.

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