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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Newman

Pine Nut Cookies

Pine nuts and fennel seed aren't necessarily ingredients you expect to find in
cookies—really, they sound much more like they're going into a pesto—but
they're the secret flavors in this buttery, flaky shortbread dough that will melt in
your mouth. Ground fennel seed isn't as easy to find as the whole seeds, so
buy them whole and grind them at home in a mortar and pestle or coffee/spice
grinder. I like to make this dough ahead of time and freeze it, then bake it off as needed. 


Pine Nut Cookies

Prep Time

15 minutes

Cook Time

15 minutes




Giada De Laurentiis

Image of Pine Nut Cookies


  • 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, at room
  • temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour


  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, ground fennel seed, and salt with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Add the flour and mix just until blended.
  2. Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into an 8-inch-long log. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 heavy, large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Cut the dough log crosswise into 1/8- to 1/4- inch-thick slices. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, spacing evenly apart. Press the pine nuts decoratively atop the cookies, and bake until the cookies are golden around the edges, about 15 minutes. (The cookies can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)
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4 reviews & comments

  • Author's avatar image
    Jennifer Williams

    How come there’s no reply ever?

  • Author's avatar image
    Jennifer Williams

    Hi! I was wondering why it said there was almond paste in the holiday cookie description but then in the actual recipe there’s no mention of almond paste. I think almond paste would add so much. I see another viewer mentioned this as well in the comments. Can you please let us know if and how much almond paste to use. Thank you !!! Pine nut cookies are my husbands favorite cookie and I’ve never been able to replicate his favorite cookie that my great aunt made.

  • Author's avatar image
    Marcia Wittmann

    Although the article in The Definitive Guide to Italian Holiday Cookies that discusses pignoli cookies mentions almond paste, this recipe doesn’t include any.

  • Author's avatar image
    Tanya Doucette

    I’m not a fan of the flavor of licorice, can I leave out the fennel without an issue, or should I sub something else in?

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