italian holiday cookies

Written by Beth - Budget Bytes

I couldn’t let the season go by without making at least one Christmas cookie. But what kind? There are bazillions of delicious Christmas cookies out there!

I decided to get all nostalgic and make these Italian holiday cookies that my mom used to make every year (among others). These little snow ball like cookies have many holiday memories attached to them, so I made sure to take the recipe with me when I moved away from home many years ago. Making them again instantly made it feel like Christmas :D

Okay, so maybe part of the reason I made them was because they are incredibly simple. The batter whips up in minutes (even faster if you use a mixer) and I had pretty much all of the ingredients on hand. I always seem to have left over shredded coconut and you can use any flavor jam that you’d like. I had to buy some jam, but luckily one of my favorites (apricot) was also the least expensive jam on the shelf! Yay!

So give these cute little Christmas cookies a try and maybe they’ll become part of your holiday tradition too! :D

Italian Holiday Cookies

Italian Holiday Cookies on cooling rack

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5 from 1 vote

Italian Holiday Cookies

Italian Holiday Cookies with a shortbread dough, coconut coating, and thumbprint full of jam.
Author: Beth - Budget Bytes
Prep Time: 50 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 5 mins
Servings: 15


  • 1/2 cup butter (one stick-room temp) ($0.95)
  • 1/3 cup sugar ($0.05)
  • 1 large egg, separated ($0.23)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract ($0.03)
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour ($0.28)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut ($0.78)
  • 5 Tbsp jam ($0.48)


  • Make sure the butter is at room temperature before you begin. Mix or “cream” together the butter and sugar. To do this use either a mixer or a fork to whip the butter and sugar together until it forms a soft, light yellow mixture.
  • Separate the yolk and white of the egg. Set the white aside and add the yolk to the butter and sugar mixture. Also add the vanilla extract. Whip or mix the ingredients together again.
  • In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and salt. When they are well combined, add them to the butter mixture. Stir everything together until the cookie dough is evenly mixed. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • After the dough has refrigerated, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide the dough into portions approximately 1 tablespoon each, and shape them into balls.
  • Place the shredded coconut in a bowl. Dip each ball of cookie dough in the reserved egg white and then coat in coconut. Place the coated cookies on the baking sheet. Press a finger into the top of each to make a dent. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of jam into each indentation.
  • Bake the cookies in the preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until the coconut is golden brown on the edges. Allow the cookies to cool so they can solidify and then enjoy!
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Serving: 1 ServingCalories: 163.89 kcalCarbohydrates: 20.01 gProtein: 1.76 gFat: 8.75 gSodium: 150.12 mgFiber: 0.63 g
Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclaimer here.

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Italian Holiday Cookies on cooling rack

Step By Step Photos

butter and sugar in mixing bowl
Start with the butter and sugar (aka “the good stuff”). Cream these together. I’m not going to lie, I did it by hand and wished I had used a mixer. I think my mistake was that I used a whisk. Don’t use a whisk. It will just all get stuck inside. Use a fork or a wooden spoon.

egg yolk separated from egg white
Separate the egg. You will be using both the yolk and the white, but at different times. I can’t figure out if this ceramic egg separator is cute or gross. But here are some helpful hints if you’ve never separated an egg before.

egg yolk and vanilla added to sugar and butter in mixing bowl and being whisked
So add the yolk and vanilla extract to the sugar and butter and whip it together again. Ignore the whisk in the picture and use a fork or wooden spoon… or a mixer.

creamed batter in mixing bowl
And then it looks beautiful and creamy like this… and THIS is the point where I find it hard not to sneak tastes. Even salmonella doesn’t seem to scare me away from this delicious mixture.

flour and salt in separate mixing bowl
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and salt so that they’re evenly combined before they go into the batter. Then add them to that awesome butter mixture.

flour and salt mixed in with wet ingredients and formed into dough ball
Mix the flour and salt mixture into the butter mixture until it’s all evenly combined and then use your hands to shape it into a ball. Wrap the ball in plastic and let it refrigerate for 30 minutes.

one tablespoon of dough scooped out
Take pieces of the dough (about 1 tablespoon each) and shape them into balls. They might be a little crumbly, but if you just squeeze it together with your hands, it will stick.

toppings station for cookies (egg white, coconut, jar of apricot jam)
Now it’s time to dress the cookies up a bit. Take the egg white that you had set aside (I kept mine in the fridge till I was ready to use it) and put your coconut in a bowl.

dress cookies (balls of dough dipped in egg white, then coconut flakes and then a dollop of jam on top)
Dip each ball into the egg white and then roll it around in the coconut to coat. Once you have all of the cookies coated in coconut, take your finger and make a dent in the top of each. Put about 1/2 teaspoon of jam in each dent.

baked cookies
Bake the cookies in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the edges of the coconut are nice and golden brown. Let them cool so they can stiffen up a bit before eating.

Top view of baked Italian Holiday Cookies on cooling rack
Awwwww, just like mom used to make!

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