Italian Cornmeal Cookies


Warm out of the oven, these simple Italian cookies taste like little discs of toasted cornbread. They’re tender with a pleasantly gritty texture, and not too sweet. I love them best for breakfast with a cup of coffee, but they’re also perfect served alongside a scoop of ice cream or sorbet as a light and elegant summer dessert.

The recipe is based on Zaletti, which are Italian cornmeal cookies typically flavored with vanilla, lemon zest and grappa-soaked raisins. When I made the traditional version for my family, everyone suggested they’d be better plain and I agreed. Chalk it up to American tastes, but this simple vanilla-flavored version was the favorite by far. Just a few ingredients and the flavor of cornmeal really shines through.

Begin by creaming the butter and sugar.

Mix in the eggs, one at a time.

Add the vanilla.

Whisk together the dry ingredients.

Then mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture.

Chill the dough until it’s cool enough to work with, then pinch off pieces of dough and roll into balls. Place the balls on parchment lined baking sheets and flatten them into discs.

Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, until pale on top but lightly browned on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy!

Recipe adapted with modifications from The Italian Baker by Carol Field.

Italian Cornmeal Cookies

Print Recipe
Servings: 40 cookies


  • 11 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 1-1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off with knife
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy, about one minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool enough to handle, about one hour.
  5. Pinch off dough by the tablespoon and roll into balls. Place balls on prepared baking sheets and flatten into discs with your hand. Bake for 13-16 minutes, until cookies are pale on top and lightly golden on the bottom. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.
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  • Flamevine

    looks fabulous

  • Yum! I love the texture of cornmeal! I just put cornmeal muffins on my blog today too – we’re thinking the same thing! I love how it produces a more rustic texture, and isn’t tooth achingly sweet. These look great!

  • betty howard

    I would like for you to list calories and carbs. Thanks

    • Jenn

      Sorry Betty, I’m just not set up to do that.

  • Marty McG

    For Betty and your future reference, perhaps, to send inquirers??

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    have used both! Thank you for this yummy recipe!

    • Jenn

      Thanks, Marty!

  • Jane

    i love this idea.
    and will bake some this weekend!

  • barbara Wood

    Sound great. Will make some soon!!

  • Magdalena

    Got them out of the oven 10 minutes ago. They are delicious! Really glad I decided to bake them today :)

  • The recipe say 11 tbls, or is that 2 tbls?

    • Jenn

      It’s 11 tablespoons unfortunately :)

  • Dorothy Ruffin

    Thought these were going to be rather dry — no way! they’re scrumptious; couldn’t stop after just one.

  • These cookies were the best. Recently diagnosed with Celiac disease, I was able to substitute my flour with the cornmeal to make a delicious cookie which I could eat.

  • Love2bake

    Delicious without being too sweet. Great with tea.

  • I honestly didn’t think these would have much flavor, but they did! Delish :)

  • Flamevine

    I made the Italian Cornmeal cookies. My scoop was a bit larger as I didn’t quote net 40 cookies. These were great. Not too sweet. The texture from the cornmeal was evident. As stated excellent with coffee.
    And pretty pretty to boot.

  • Simple and humble…

  • teri pastorino

    i love italian cornmeal cookies almost as much as my biscotti. cookies were on my to do list today. i think i will try your version and check back in

  • Cristy

    These cookies are awesome! Not too sweet. Kind of addicting!

  • kelly almasy

    perfect with my afternoon cup of tea

  • Aban

    Love the crunch of cornmeal.
    I added some walnuts and they tasted great.

  • Linda

    I like the idea of adding walnuts..who would have thought cornbread could be so good? But I Always loved cornbreed with honey.

  • 11 Tablespoons !!!!!….That seems like an awful lot of butter to me…..

  • Christina

    I will try this recipe tomorrow morning. I do have a question, can I substitute butter with butter flavored crisco? I heard it’s best for baking!

    • Jenn

      Hi Christina, I’d stick with the real butter on this one…the flavor will be better.

      • Christina

        Okay will do! Thanks. :-)

  • I made these for the guys at work. They disappeared so fast! All recipies I have made have worked great! Thanks!

  • Esther

    These are not your ordinary cookie. I really think they are good, not too sweet. I liked the cornmeal flavor.

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