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Orange Cookies – Easy Italian Recipe

Orange cookies are the perfect companion to a cup of tea or your favorite coffee.  Slightly crispy on the outside and light and airy on the inside, these refreshing cookies remind me of orange flavored lady fingers.  

This is a dish of Nonna's Simple Orange cookies with crinkled tops and touched with powdered sugar.

Traditional orange cookies are are so easy to make that you don’t need to wait for a special occasion, although these sweet cookies do make the perfect addition to a Christmas cookie tray. Just like Nonna’s Pineapple cookiesAnginetti and Sicilian Almond Paste Cookies, they are perfect to enjoy all year round. 

Great for breakfast or any time of the day

This recipe comes straight from my mother’s kitchen. Nonna’s “biscotti all’arancia”, or orange cookies, are a family favorite. Our family is scattered all over the east coast and when they come to visit, Mom always makes sure she has a batch of these citrusy cookies on hand. We have some fussy cookie eaters in the family and this recipe seems to please everyone. My brother doesn’t like frosting on his cookies, the kids want something sweet, and my son doesn’t like chocolate. But everyone loves Nonna’s orange cookies.

Orange cookies make a deliciously light but sweet dessert after a big meal or as an afternoon snack.  The sweet citrusy flavor combination makes this the perfect cookie to pair with a cup of espresso.  

Ingredients and Notes

These cookies are made with simple ingredients.

  • Granulated Sugar
  • Shortening:  Shortening is used in many of my mom authentic Italian cookies.  This is what they used years ago because it was readily available.  But these days they continue to use it because it makes cookies soft and fluffy.
  • Eggs:  Make sure your eggs are room temperature.
  • Fresh Orange Juice and Zest:  This is about the juice and zest of a whole medium orange.
  • Flour:  all purpose flour works beautifully for this recipe.
  • Baking Powder:  Check the expiration date on the package to make sure it is fresh.
  • Powdered Sugar or Confectioners’ Sugar:  This is all the decoration these cookies need.

Nonna’s simple orange cookies are just that…simple

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cover you baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer. Combine the sugar and Crisco in a large bowl and mix on medium speed for 2-3  minutes.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until the eggs are fully incorporated.
  • Pour the orange juice into the egg mixture and mix well.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder and orange zest in a medium bowl.
Beating Sugar and criso.
  • With the mixer on low speed gradually add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. Beat for a minute or two and scrape down the sides to ensure that all the ingredients are evenly distributed
Cookie dough batter on a electric mixer beater shows the soft tender dough.
  • Prepare a small bowl with powdered sugar.
  • Drop a tablespoon of dough into the powdered sugar and roll the dough to coat it on all sides. Carefully shape the dough into an oval and place them on your prepared cookie sheets.
Orange cookies have been covered in powdered sugar and are lined up on a cookie sheet before baking.
  • Lightly tap the dough with your fingers to slightly flatten the cookie.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough. Make sure to leave about 2 inches between the cookies as they will rise and expand.
  • Bake the cookies for 12 minutes or until the cookies are crinkled and lightly golden.  Let the cookies start to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes so they don’t break while moving them.  Then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling
Italian orange cookies fresh out of the oven are crinkled with powdered sugar on them.

Tips

  • It is easiest to grate the orange zest before you squeeze the orange juice.  Use the small end of a cheese grater or a micro plane grater to remove the zest from the orange.
  • If you want to increase the orange flavor in these cookies there are a couple different things you can do:
    • Add a teaspoon of orange extract, or
    • Combine the fresh orange zest with the sugar.  Then work the zest into the sugar until the sugar looks a bit like wet sand.  This takes a few minutes but it will release the oils from the zest and distribute the orange flavor evenly though out the cookies.
  • If you want to make a smaller cookie, use a teaspoon rather then a tablespoon cookie scoop to make the cookies.  You will need to adjust your cooking time for their small size

FAQ

How to store these delicious cookies?

I find that the best way to store orange cookies is in an airtight container with waxed paper between each layer. They will stay fresh for a about a week if they last that long. I would not recommend refrigerating these cookies. Refrigerating them will make them go stale quickly.

Can these cookies be frozen?

Yes! My mother freezes most of her cookies just in case she has unexpected company and needs something special to serve with coffee or tea. This is also a great way to get a head start on the holiday season baking craze.  You can freeze them right in the airtight container you would store them in. Mom always wraps the container in plastic wrap to make sure that the seal is good, and she has never had a problem.
You can also lay them in a single layer in a plastic freezer bag. Just make sure that you don’t put anything on top of them in the freezer as the cookies are delicate and will break.

Italian orange cookies are cooling on a rack.

Try one of these traditional favorites:

Pani Di Cena

Nonna’s Cuccidati – Italian Fig Cookies

Or some chocolatey good recipes?

Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies

I love to get your feedback so if you tried this Orange Cookie recipe or any other recipes on this website, please leave me a comment below.  I hope you enjoy our recipes and look forward to hearing from you!

You can also follow me on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest for more recipes your family will love!

Nonna's simple orange cookies are piled together on a board dusted with powdered sugar.

Orange Cookies – Easy Italian Orange Cookies

Slightly crispy on the outside and light and airy on the inside, they remind me of orange flavored lady fingers.
4.67 from 3 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes
Course Cookies, Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 36 cookies
Calories 100 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Shortening
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Orange Juice
  • 1 Orange Zest
  • 3 cups Flour
  • 4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3/4 cups Confectioners Sugar

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Using an electric mixer, combine the sugar and shortening and mix on medium speed for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time and mix until the eggs are fully incorporated.
  • Pour the orange juice into the egg mixture and mix well.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder and orange zest in a medium bowl.
  • With the mixer on low gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Beat for a minute or two and scrape down the sides to ensure that all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  • Prepare a small bowl with powdered sugar.
    Drop of tablespoon of dough into the powdered sugar and roll the dough to coat it on all sides. Carefully shape the dough into an oval and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Lightly tap the dough with your fingers to slightly flatten the cookie.
    Repeat with the remaining dough. Make sure to leave about 2 inches between the cookies as they will rise and expand.
  • Bake the cookies for 12 minutes or until the cookies are crinkled and lightly golden.

Nutrition

Serving: 36cookiesCalories: 100kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 1gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 51mgPotassium: 22mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 21IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 30mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Nonna’s Orange Cookies, Orange zest, orange juice, Simple Orange Cookies
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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14 Comments

  1. Yum, Enza, you have the best recipes. I pin so many. These I will definitely try! I hope you’re all well. The baby is so beautiful!

    1. Thank you so much Angela! Let me know what you think of the recipe when you make the cookies. I would love to get your thoughts.

    1. Hi There! I have not tried making them with butter so I can’t say how they would turn out, but I think that it should be okay. If you try I would be interested in knowing how it works for you.

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  4. 5 stars
    These cookies are so delicious and easy to make! The perfect little treat for afternoon coffee , tea or anytime of day! Will definitely be making them again!

    1. Mary I am so happy that you loved these cookies! You are right, they are perfect for anytime of day and they are delicious with a cup of coffee or tea!

  5. I love the orange taste but do you think I could also make this cookie with lemon juice and zest?

    1. Hi Nancy
      I absolutely think that you make these cookies with lemon flavoring instead of orange. You may have to adjust the amount of juice that you use since lemon will have a stronger flavor. I may even give it a try myself.

    1. Hi Antionette
      Cinnamon or clove or even a combination of the two might be very interesting in this recipe. I might try starting with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of clove (it can be strong) and see what you think. I would not want to completely lose the orange flavoring in the cookies. Let me know if you try it. I would love to hear how they come out.

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