Italian sesame seed cookies, also known as Biscotti Regina or Reginelle are crisp, slightly sweet, covered in toasted sesame seeds, and flavored with anise.
I am enjoying testing and researching the Italian desserts we never had as kids in my family. Most of these recipes my aunts have never even heard of! Shocking, I know.
Italian cookies have become my most recent obsession. The trouble with most “original” recipes is they usually don’t have exact measurements. Typically they bake according to feel.
Italian Sesame Seed Cookies
This is a classic Italian sesame seed cookie recipe. Traditionally it uses shortening instead of butter. I’ve made these with unsalted butter and they are very good and buttery tasting.
But we prefer using the shortening, they come out much crispier and crunchier. If you prefer less crunch just use butter.
Be warned these cookies are addictive! My husband has requested these be available at all times.
They go great with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine! Have them for breakfast or just an afternoon snack.
What are Sesame Seed Cookies?
My research shows they are traditional Sicilian cookies that are crispy, lightly sweet, covered in crunchy toasted sesame seeds, and flavored with anise.
If you don’t like the licorice flavor of anise extract you can omit it. But we HIGHLY recommend you at least try it with the anise!
Ingredients Needed for Italian Sesame Seed Cookies Recipe
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Kosher salt – Most recipes I’ve seen don’t call for salt. I add it to bring out the sweetness of the cookie.
- Vegetable shortening – Or as stated above, you can use softened butter.
- Granulated sugar
- Eggs – At room temperature.
- Anise extract – This adds the classic licorice flavor found in a lot of Italian desserts. But if you don’t like the flavor just omit.
- Vanilla extract
- Sesame seeds – Raw. They will toast while the cookies are baking.
- Milk – The milk is just for dipping the formed dough in to help the sesame seeds adhere.
How To Make Authentic Italian Sesame Seed Cookies
These cookies are so simple to make and come together quickly. They are not just for the holidays. Bake them anytime you have a craving!
But of course, they are perfect for your holiday baking list and your Christmas cookies trays!
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium-size bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl cream together the sugar and shortening until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, anise extract, and vanilla extract mix until well combined. This can be done with a handheld electric mixer or stand mixer.
In this recipe, I use 3 teaspoons of anise extract. If you’re not a big fan you can omit or cut back.
Add the flour mixture and mix on low until just blended.
Roll a piece of dough into 2-inch fingers ( about the size of your pinky finger) or logs. Dip into the milk and then roll in the sesame seeds to coat evenly.
Place about 1 1/2″ to 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
If using butter instead of shortening you probably will not need to roll the logs in milk first to adhere the seeds.
Using butter made the dough a little stickier than the shortening. Using butter also made the cookies spread a little more than using the shortening.
Bake for 17-20 minutes until browned as desired.
Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
How to Store Sesame Cookies
These Italian sesame cookies last for weeks (if they last that long) stored in an air-tight container. You can also freeze them for a couple of months.
Most Italian bakers will swear by storing cookies in cookie tins.
More Recipes You Might Like
Italian Sesame Seed Cookies (Biscotti Regina or Reginelle)
- 3 cups All-purpose flour
- 2 tsp Baking powder
- 1 cup Sugar granulated
- 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 cup Shortening
- 3 large Eggs room temperature
- 3 tsp Anise extract
- 2 tsp Vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup Sesame seeds raw
- 1/2 cup Milk
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium-size bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl cream together the sugar and shortening until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, anise extract, and vanilla extract mix until well combined.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until just blended.
- Roll the dough into 2-inch fingers ( about the size of your pinky finger) or logs. Dip into the milk and then roll in the sesame seeds to coat evenly. Place about 1 1/2″ to 2 inches apart on the baking pan.
- Bake for 17-20 minutes until browned as desired.
- Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Recipe adapted from ItalianRecipeBook