Italian Cornmeal Cookies

Tested & Perfected Recipes

These simple Italian cookies taste like little discs of toasted cornbread.


Warm out of the oven, these simple Italian cookies taste like little discs of toasted cornbread. These cookies are commonplace in pastry shops all over Northern Italy. 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.

What you’ll need to make Italian Cornmeal Cookies

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.

How to make Them

Begin by creaming the butter and sugar.

Mix in the eggs, one at a time.

How to make cookies

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.

How to make Italian cornmeal cookies

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.

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Italian Cornmeal Cookies

These simple Italian cookies taste like little discs of toasted cornbread.

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. 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.
  2. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.
  3. 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.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  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.
  6. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The Cookie Dough can be Frozen for up to 3 Months: Roll the dough into balls, let set on a baking sheet in the freezer, then place in a sealable bag and press out as much air as possible. Bake as needed directly from the freezer. (Allow 1 to 2 minutes longer in the oven.) To Freeze After Baking: Let the cookies cool completely and store in an airtight container separating layers with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Before serving, remove the cookies from the container and let them come to room temperature.

Nutrition Information

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  • Serving size: 1 cookie
  • Calories: 75
  • Fat: 4 g
  • Saturated fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 10 g
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Sodium: 42 mg
  • Cholesterol: 18 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Very tasty and subtly delicious. I rolled the dough balls in turbinado sugar before baking as well as added an extra 1/2 tsp vanilla to the dough. A wonderfully different treat and another winner of a recipe!

    • — Jackie on February 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Another great recipe! I used medium grind Bob’s Red Mill cornmeal and the cookies had a great crunch to them. Thanks Jenn!

    • — Kathy on December 30, 2020
    • Reply
  • This recipe was amazing. I added a tsp more vanilla, slivered almonds and dried cranberries. Big hit in my office and at home. Thanks you for sharing.

    • — Michelle Achong on August 28, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made these smaller and sandwiched with raspberry jam — delicious!! Thanks, Jenn!

    • — Sarah on May 11, 2020
    • Reply
  • Can I add can sweet corn to these? If so how much

    • — Dee on March 21, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Dee – I’d just 1/2 to 1 cup. I’d love to hear how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on March 23, 2020
      • Reply
    • Jenn – Does the grind of the cornmeal matter? Can I use a coarsely-ground or medium ground cornmeal? Or should I use a finely ground cornmeal? Thanks.

      • — Kathy on December 19, 2020
      • Reply
      • Hi Kathy, you could get away with any of them, but I’d probably go with the medium ground. Hope you enjoy!

        • — Jenn on December 21, 2020
        • Reply
  • What a great- well written recipe!!! I did add 1/2 tsp more of vanilla, one tsp total…just b/c I like vanilla. Thanks to you Jenn, I look like a better baker than I am. These cookies are on my favorites list.

    • — Janice Marie on September 3, 2019
    • Reply
  • These turned out great! They tasted just like ones I bought at an Italian bakery.

  • Has anyone added roughly chopped dark chocolate to these? Do you think it would work?

  • Modification of earlier review. These cookies are scrumdumptious made with polenta and a little less sugar.

  • I do but not everyone will know what 1-1/2 Tbsp equates to. Also, why put instructions to preheat oven as the first step when the dough needs to chill before you can handle it? Just my thoughts

  • These were delicious. I added dried cranberries to half of the batch. Yum! I served the plain ones with chili when they were hot out of the oven. Great recipe!

  • These cookies are delightfully different. Only got 30 cookies, made balls and flattened them with an upside down shot glass dipped in cornmeal. I will make smaller balls next time for thinner cookies as these stuck a bit in the throat. Husband liked them as is. Perhaps anise flavoring next time. Or seeds.

  • These cookies satisfy like only a corn muffin satisfies a cornbread hound like me … Good To Go in the car, minus the crumbly mess of paper muffin cups ! Thank You for this great recipe.

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

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

  • 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!

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

      • Okay will do! Thanks. 🙂

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

    • Then don’t make them.

      • — Vicky on February 14, 2021
      • Reply
  • I like the idea of adding walnuts..who would have thought cornbread could be so good? But I Always loved cornbreed with honey.

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

  • perfect with my afternoon cup of tea

  • These cookies are awesome! Not too sweet. Kind of hard to stop eating!

  • 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

  • Simple and humble…

  • 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.

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

  • Delicious without being too sweet. Great with tea.

  • 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.

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

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

    • It’s 11 tablespoons unfortunately 🙂

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

  • Sound great. Will make some soon!!

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

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

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    have used both! Thank you for this yummy recipe!

    • Thanks, Marty!

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

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

  • 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!

  • looks fabulous

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