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Anise Cookies

Ready to fill your home with the warm, aromatic flavors of Anise Cookies? These cookies are a family favorite, especially with our son, and I’m thrilled to share the recipe with you today.

These cookies are easy to make with readily available ingredients. Typically sprinkled with multi-color nonpareils, I opted to stick with red and green for the holiday season.

With their sweet and slightly licorice-like essence, these Anise Cookies, also known as Italian Anisette Cookies, are a perfect addition to your Holiday Cookie Tray. So, roll up your sleeves, gather your ingredients, and let’s get baking!

What Are the Ingredients in these Anise Cookies?

Anise cookie ingredients

Unsalted Butter: Unsalted butter adds richness and flavor to your cookies without the extra salt. Make sure it’s at room temperature for easy mixing with other ingredients.

Eggs: Using room-temperature eggs ensures even mixing and better incorporation into the dough.

All-Purpose Flour: Be sure to measure it accurately by spooning it into the measuring cup and leveling it off with a knife for precise results.

Baking Powder: Baking powder is the leavening agent in this recipe, helping the cookies rise and become light and tender. Refer to this guide on Baking Powder and Baking Soda and remember to check the expiration date to ensure its effectiveness.

Sugar: Sugar not only sweetens the cookies but also contributes to their texture and tenderness. In this recipe, it’s a key ingredient for the perfect balance of sweetness.

Kosher Salt: salt enhances the flavors and balances the sweetness in the cookies.

Anise Extract: Anise extract is the star of the show, imparting that delightful anise flavor to your cookies. Start with the suggested amount, and you can adjust to your taste if you prefer a stronger or milder anise flavor.

Powdered Sugar and Cream are the basis of the icing/glaze.

Anise cookies on rack.

What’s the Difference Between Anise and Licorice?

Even though these two flavors originate from completely different sources, they share a similar taste profile. The flavor of licorice comes from the root of the licorice plant (Glycyrrhiza glabra), which is a botanical herb, while anise flavor comes from the seeds of the anise plant (Pimpinella anisum). Anise is a spice and a member of the parsley family. However, both plants contain the organic compound, anethole, which gives it its flavor. Fennel also contains anethole.

I get that you either love or hate anise and licorice; luckily we are mostly in the ‘love it’ camp.

Anise cookies on a plate.

Tips for the Best Anise Cookies

  • Quality Ingredients: Start with fresh and high-quality ingredients, especially anise extract. Fresh extracts will enhance the flavor of your cookies.
  • Proper Measuring: Use precise measuring cups and spoons to measure your ingredients accurately. This ensures that the cookie dough has the right consistency and flavor balance. The Scoop and Level method (described in full below) is the preferred method for measuring flour.
  • Room Temperature Ingredients: Allow ingredients like butter and eggs to come to room temperature before using them. Room-temperature ingredients mix more evenly and result in better cookie texture.
  • Mix Thoroughly: Cream the butter and sugar together until they are well combined and fluffy. This step ensures proper aeration and helps create a tender cookie.
  • Don’t Overmix After Adding the Flour: Overmixing can make cookies tough, so mix just until the flour is incorporated.
  • Anise Flavor Control: Adjust the amount of anise extract or anisette liqueur to your personal taste. Start with the recommended amount in the recipe and add more if you desire a stronger anise flavor.
  • Chilling the Dough: After mixing the dough, chill it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Chilled dough is easier to handle and results in cookies that hold their shape better during baking.
  • Properly Shaped Cookies: Use a cookie scoop or your hands to shape the dough into uniform-sized balls or other desired shapes. This ensures even baking and a consistent appearance. Flour your hands to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands.
  • Parchment Paper or Silpat: Line your baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (Silpat) to prevent cookies from sticking and to make cleanup easier.
  • Baking Time: Follow the recommended baking time closely. Anise Cookies are typically baked until they are just set and the edges are lightly golden. Overbaking can result in dry cookies.
  • Cooling: Allow the anise cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. This helps them set properly.
  • Storage: Store your Anise Cookies in an airtight container to maintain their freshness. They often improve in flavor after a day or two as the anise flavor melds with the other ingredients.
Anise cookie broken in half.

Scoop and Level Method of Measuring Flour

The “scoop and level” method is a common way to measure flour accurately when baking, which is essential for achieving the best anise cookies, or any baked good. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Scoop: Use a spoon to fluff up the flour within the container. Then, use a scooping tool, like a spoon or a scoop, to overfill your measuring cup.
  2. Level: Once you’ve filled your measuring cup, take the back of a knife (or any straight-edged utensil) and level off the flour. This means you’ll sweep across the top of the measuring cup to remove the excess flour so the flour is even with the top edges of the measuring cup.

Resist packing the flour into the cup or tapping the sides of the cup, as this will lead to more flour than your recipe intends, potentially making your baked goods too dry or heavy. The “scoop and level” method aims for a light filling of the measuring cup for a more accurate measurement. By using the “scoop and level” method, you can ensure that you’re using the correct amount of flour for your recipes, improving the outcome of your baked goods.

Anise cookies on red and green napkin

Anise Cookies

Discover delectable Anise Cookies that have just a hint of licorice magic. Perfectly spiced, these treats are a flavorful delight. Bake them today
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Refrigerated Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Baking Recipes + Tips
Cuisine Italian
Servings 3 dozen
Calories 1029 kcal


  • 1/2 cup 8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons anise extract
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar sifted
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk or cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon anise extract
  • Nonpareils for sprinkling


  • Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
  • When the butter and sugar mixture is fluffy, scrape down the sides. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed until well incorporated before you add the next one.
  • Add anise extract and beat to combine.
  • Add the flour mixture and mix on low until just combined. Do not overmix.
  • Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
  • Scoop 1 tablespoon of chilled dough and roll it into a ball. I use my 1 tablespoon cookie scoop and then roll it. You will get higher domes on your cookies if you roll the dough into balls with your hands; flour your hands to prevent sticking.
  • Place on prepared baking sheets, leaving 1 1/2 inches between each ball of dough.
  • Bake for 10 minutes. Cookies will be slightly brown on the bottom, but the tops will remain light.
  • Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  • Prepare icing by combining sifted powdered sugar, cream, or milk, and anise extract in a small bowl. Whisk until combined and no sugar lumps remain.
  • Dip the top of each cookie into the icing/glaze and return to the wire rack. while the icing is still wet, sprinkle nonpareils over top. I could dip 5-6 cookies at a time before the icing began to harden.
  • Allow cookies to dry fully for at least one hour before storing them in an airtight container at room temperature.


Serving: 2cookiesCalories: 1029kcalCarbohydrates: 154gProtein: 19gFat: 38gSaturated Fat: 22gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 253mgSodium: 328mgPotassium: 460mgFiber: 3gSugar: 73gVitamin A: 1250IUCalcium: 216mgIron: 6mg
Keyword anise, Christmas, cookies, holidays
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Anise cookies on red plate and striped napkin.
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