Anise Cookies

Anise Cookies

When it comes to coveting anything and everything anise-flavored, I am Italian through and through. I just love the bright licorice-flavored aroma that seeps from baked goods that have anise in them. Anise pizzelles may be my favorite, but these anise cookies are a very close second. They are light and almost cake-like in texture, with anise infused not only in the cookie, but also in glaze for that extra kick. Just smelling these cookies reminds of my great aunt (Zia Lena), who traveled here from Italy with my grandfather and their two other brothers when they were in their teens. When I opened the container I was storing the cookies in days after making them, one whiff transported me back to her house in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where we often visited during the summer when we were kids. I could almost smell her kitchen.

Anise Cookies

These cookies are very easy to make and are great for any cookie table, especially around the holidays, and go especially well with your afternoon cup of tea (or coffee). Note that the amount of baking powder called for is not an error – this is what gives the cookies a light lift and a cake-like texture. Between the anise in the cookie and the anise in the glaze, there is definitely not a lack of anise flavor here, but if you want a stronger flavor, substitute 1 teaspoon of anise oil (often found at pharmacy counters) for the tablespoon of anise extract in the cookie.

Are there any food smells that remind you of a specific person or place?

Anise Cookies

One year ago: Scallion Pancakes with Ginger Dipping Sauce
Two years ago: Fresh Blueberry Pie

Anise Cookies

Yield: 2 to 3 dozen cookies (depending on size)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10-12 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


For the cookies:
3½ cups all-purpose flour
7 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup vegetable shortening
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon anise extract
2/3 cup half-and-half

For the glaze:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2½ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup milk
1½ teaspoons anise extract


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3. Cream the butter, shortening and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as needed, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the anise extract.

4. On low speed or with a wooden spoon, mix in the flour and half-and-half alternately, beginning and ending with the flour.

5. Using 1-2 tablespoons of dough, roll into balls (or use a medium-sized cookie scoop) and place on the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly with your fingers. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until just lightly browned. Remove to cooling racks to cool completely before glazing.

6. For the glaze, whisk together the melted butter, powdered sugar, milk and anise extract until smooth. Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze, letting the excess drip off, and set right-side-up on the cooling rack. The glaze will harden once it dries. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature.

* Note 1: The amount of baking powder is not an error - this is what creates the cake-like texture of the cookies.

* Note 2: For an even more potent anise flavor, substitute 1 teaspoon of anise oil for the 1 tablespoon of anise extract in the cookies.


39 Responses to “Anise Cookies”

  1. Tina from PA on July 7, 2010 at 10:08 am

    I love anise too! The smell of anise reminds me of my mom , she always made Anise Snowcaps at christmas . She liked anise flavor too.


  2. Nick (Macheesmo) on July 7, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Anise is kind of a love it or hate it thing… luckily I love it.

    These look nice a fluffy!


  3. The Housewife on July 7, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Somehow I’ve never tried Anise in anything baked… being Indian we’ve always used anise only in savory dishes! But these cookies look so amazing… like you said they’re perfect with a cup of coffee!


  4. Ariana from Chicago on July 7, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    You are such a good italian girl! I feel bad, despite being a decent baker I don’t do Italian much. I have yet to try your cuccidati recipe, I leave that job to my “suocera”! If I ever made them, I bet they would be better, and we can’t do that to a mother in law, now can we? 😉 Thanks – keep these italian recipes coming!


  5. Amber - Loves Food, Loves to Eat on July 7, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Wow, these look so good! I want one with coffee in the morning! And with ice cream at night!


  6. Eliana on July 7, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    I love cakey cookies so I would devour these if I had them in front of me. As for food smells – although not in the same vein as these cookies the smell of roast pork always reminds me of home, as making roast pork shoulder is a holiday tradition in my family.


  7. Hungry Jenny on July 7, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    I only found out a few months ago what anise was actually, I’ve tasted it many a time but never knew what the flavour was called – I was being nosey in my mum’s kitchen and found she had 3 jars full of star anise. I didn’t know what it was at first, opened it to sniff it and the whiff of it just reminded me of all my mum’s wonderful cooking! These cookies look amazing, I love that they look cake-sized 🙂

    Hungry Jenny x


  8. Gitte on July 7, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    I have never baked anything with Anise in it. I really have to try it, your cookies look so good.


  9. Jason Phelps on July 7, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Anise is such a comforting smell and flavor. These cookies look fantastic.



  10. Cookin' Canuck on July 8, 2010 at 12:01 am

    I can practically taste these cookies. The anise flavor is so enticing.


  11. Maggy@ThreeManyCooks on July 8, 2010 at 7:55 am

    These look delicious! Love the thickness, they’re almost like a scone.


  12. Alisa on July 8, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Wow, those cookies look like absolute perfection. I confess that I’ve never baked with anise, but may have to give it a go.


  13. Maria on July 9, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Such pretty cookies!


  14. Magic of Spice on July 10, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Love anise…These look great:)


  15. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction on July 13, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    These look great! I had a co-worker whose girlfriend was Italian, and he used to bring in anise cookies… They were always one of my favorites! I really think I should have been Italian.


  16. Jen @ How To: Simplify on July 13, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    How cute are these cookies?! They look fantastic!


  17. Chris on July 16, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    These cookies are fantastic. They were a big hit. Grandma never made them with icing, dad liked them better this way.


  18. foodlvr on August 22, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    These look interesting. I don’t think anyone else in the house would like them. I might. Thanks for sharing.


  19. Rosemarie Royce on November 30, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    LIke you, I am Italian. I LOVE the Italian Anise cookies. I made a delicious recipe last year. I tried to find it this year, but made the wrong one. Then I looked on your site and you had one too. I made them last night….STUPENDOUS! Thanks, yours is the best one I’ve tried—reminds me of being a little girl. Yummy!


    • Michelle on December 1st, 2010 at 8:56 am

      Aw, I’m so glad you enjoyed these Rosemarie! It’s always a bummer to lose a favorite recipe, but I’m glad this one was able to replace yours!


  20. Marjorie on December 6, 2010 at 7:58 am

    These cookies are really yummy! I don’t think I’ve ever used so much baking powder in a single recipe but it makes them very light. I made them yesterday and brought them into my office today — I’m just sitting back accepting compliments right now!


    • Michelle on December 6th, 2010 at 11:56 pm

      Yay for impressing the coworkers!


  21. Jenni on December 10, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    I couldn’t find an anise flavoring, but I’m wondering, would almond extract work here, for an almond cookie as opposed to an anise cookie? I’m going to give it a try.


  22. Rosemarie on December 15, 2010 at 1:22 am

    Jenni, I made them with almond extract last year because some people don’t like the anise (too bad for them!). Anyway, the almond extract tasted yummy too.


  23. Terri on December 21, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    I am looking for a recipe for very hard texture Anise cookies. My great-grandmother used to make them and they are white and were pressed into a small cookie press with pretty little designs in them. They sort of remind me of a teething biscuit. The cookies were best when soaked in hot tea to soften them up. Does anyone know of this recipe? I would love to have it.


    • Sheri Fahy on December 25th, 2010 at 12:48 pm

      Anise Cookies (Springerli)

      2 Cups Fine granulated sugar
      4 eggs
      4 1/2 cups cake flour
      4 drops of anise oil (anise extract add 1 tsp.)
      Anise seed for pan

      Beat whole eggs till thick. Add sugar gradually, beating well between each addition until all is combined and then beat well for about 15 min. This makes the finished cookies fine grained and light. Fold in the four lightly. Roll out the dough about 1/2 in thick. Flour the springerli mold carefully and press firmly into the dough. Remove mold and cut the cookie along the line of the imprint. Place on buttered cookie sheets. Flour the mold each time it is used. Sprinkle anise seed, if desired, on the buttered cookie sheets before placing the cookies on them.

      Let cookies stand overnight in a cool place to dry. In the morning, place first in moderate oven(375) to set the shape but reduce the heat immediately to 300. In 15 minutes the cookies should be light in appearance of having been iced.

      Keep Cookies in a tight can for 2 to 3 weeks before using to have the best flavor. To soften them, put a cut apple in the can a day of 2 before using. The apple also adds a delightful aroma to the cookies.

      And PS: Merry Christmas!


      • Ann Marie on November 28th, 2011 at 11:23 pm

        I’m thinking the cake flour would make these pretty soft & the recipe, maybe I’ll try this one…I love these cookies


  24. Rosemarie Royce on January 6, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Ok, Michelle and All, you know HOW MUCH I LOVE THESE COOKIES….it’s after Christmas and YES, we are still eating our Christmas cookies (although I brought some to work, so everyone here can enjoy them too)….Anyway….I had one of the cookies today…it was a bit hard (I wouldn’t say “stale,” but a bit hard). IT WAS AMAZING….I KNOW!!!! It tasted just like a Stella Dora Anisette Cookie. I’m not kidding….So, to all of you who are worried about your “stale” anise cookies, rethink it as a coffee cookie now.



  25. Chris on March 10, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    I love anise, anisette, sambuca, liccorise, and anise pitzielles I love them all!


  26. Sheela on June 14, 2011 at 10:38 am

    I’m from Sarawak (in East Malaysia) and my husband hails from Catanzaro in Southern Italy, and it’s fascinating how we share a common use of Clove; Cinnamon; and, yes, Anise. We typically tend to use it more in savoury dishes though 🙂 I had a question about this recipe .. would I be able to substitute the Anise extract with Anise itself? Or Ground Anise?

    xo Sheela xo


    • Michelle on June 14th, 2011 at 12:16 pm

      Hi Sheela, To be honest, I’ve never used regular or ground anise in these cookies. If it’s something you bake with regularly I say give it a shot! Would love to know how they turn out!


  27. Sheela on July 10, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Trying it out today, Michelle 🙂 xoxo


  28. Sheela on July 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Oh. My. Goodness Gracious. Michelle, they turned out beautifully!! Light and fluffy and not at all overwhelming. I did manage to find the Anise Extract in the end so I used that, the only thing I changed was using all Butter, no Shortening whatsoever. I also made mine a little larger so that they were more like Anise Scones 🙂 THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for sharing this recipe!!

    Much love,


  29. Cara on December 23, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    Just made these cookies today. They came out perfectly amazing! Thanks for the great recipe!


  30. Holly of Sinful Sugar on July 12, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    Thanks for sharing your family recipe of Angianetti’s. My family recipe dates back to the 1800’s. You put the flour on the table, make a well in the center for the eggs, and mix through with a fork. No mixers or handy kitchen gadgets. We typically use lemon peel, but thanks for spotlighting anise, a sometimes forgotten Italian flavor.


  31. Diane H on December 11, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    This sounds like the “S” cookies my sister make. We shape them in s’s! They have 7 cups of flour 7 eggs etc….I will have to give these a try and compare. I eat mine for breakfast with hot coffee!


  32. Laura on December 23, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Did anyone else think these were bitter? I am assuming it was from the baking powder. My mother used to make cookies very similar to these, and hers called for 2 Tablespoons baking powder, so I don’t know of that was the problem or not…


    • sandra on March 6th, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      I recently had a bitter after taste from anise cookies too. I just googled bitter after taste anise cookie and found this recipe. Now I know I am not crazy….


  33. sandra on March 6, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    The cookie I had was not from this recipe…I purchased the cookies from ETSY baker and just searching for an answer. Will have to try this recipe from BEB.


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