This easy classic pizzelle recipe produces light and crispy vanilla Italian waffle cookies using a pizzelle iron! Includes tips for how to make pizzelles + variations for making traditional anise, almond, lemon, and chocolate pizzelle cookies.
Pizzelle Recipe For Italian Waffle Cookies
So here’s the thing — pizzelle cookies were never really on my radar until I got married. Oh, I’m sure I’d eaten them before, but I’d never made them.
As a newlywed, my husband begged me for weeks to make pizzelles for Christmas. I kind of smiled and nodded and said I’d look into making them — you know, brushed him off, basically… I mean, I had no idea how to make them!
Then one day he mentioned that his grandmother made them every single year for Christmas. How an Italian waffle cookie became a Polish family tradition is beyond me… But at that point, I knew I couldn’t keep putting him off.
So I scoured the Internet for a pizzelle recipe — because, of course, he didn’t have his grandmother’s recipe. Using several different sites, I created one that sounded like what he’d described.
Only problem? We didn’t own a pizzelle iron.
Electric Pizzelle Iron
Traditionally, pizzelles were baked with a cast iron pizzelle iron over an open fire, a hot and tedious undertaking.
Thank goodness for modern conveniences! We can now purchase electric pizzelle irons that make baking pizzelles simple and easy.
After a little research, I settled on this nonstick pizzelle maker. The price was slightly more than I was hoping to spend, but I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth from it over the years… We only pull it out a couple times a year, but it’s still as shiny and pretty as ever!
Vanilla Pizzelle Recipe
The most common flavor used in pizzelle recipes is anise, which is a spice that tastes a bit like black licorice. If you’re not a fan of the flavor of anise (I am decidedly NOT), don’t worry… Pizzelles are wonderfully flexible when it comes to both flavoring and shaping them.
Vanilla, chocolate, almond, citrus — these are all fabulous flavors to add to the pizzelle cookie batter. And warm pizzelles can be shaped into cones or cannoli shells, formed into bowls or tacos, and much more.
I really need to start using my pizzelle iron more throughout the year!
I opted to keep these pizzelle cookies very simple, just flavoring them with pure vanilla extract. Sometimes, I’ll change it up and use a vanilla bean paste — the flecks of vanilla bean are SO pretty.
This recipe is also easily adapted into a chocolate pizzelle recipe, and my kids are always thrilled when I make chocolate pizzelles.
Whatever flavor you fancy, when you’re making a recipe as simple as this, high-quality ingredients make ALL the difference. So choose the best you can afford!
Pizzelle Making Tips For Perfect Cookies
Just like when you make pancakes or waffles, it’s not unusual for your first couple of pizzelles to turn out a little wonky. They will still TASTE good, they just may not be as pretty as you’d like.
Here are a few tips for making pizzelles that will help you turn out the most perfect pizzelle cookies!
1| Even if you’re using a nonstick pizzelle maker, you may still need to mist it lightly with oil before the first use.
2| Place your batter slightly behind the center of the mold because it will spread forward as you close the lid. I highly recommend this medium cookie scoop for measuring perfect portions and releasing the batter easily.
3| Speaking of closing the lid, do it slowly to allow steam to escape easily and not burn the heck out of your fingers. Don’t ask…
4| Have a couple of wire cooling racks easily accessible next to the pizzelle maker to keep things moving.
5| It’s virtually impossible to achieve perfect edges on pizzelle straight from the iron. Any excess pieces can be trimmed with kitchen scissors while the pizzelle are still warm. Or you can carefully break off the ragged edges once the pizzelles have cooled.
Best Pizzelle Recipe Workflow
I’ve found that the best workflow for me is to use a wooden spatula to remove the cooked pizzelles from the pizzelle maker to the cooling rack.
Then I start another batch of pizzelles cooking in the iron. When the new batch is almost done cooking, I move the cooled pizzelles to a stack to make room for the next round of fresh and hot cookies.
How To Make Pizzelles Crispy
Don’t expect your pizzelles to be crispy when you remove them from the pizzelle iron. They will actually be super flexible, and this is totally normal. If you want to mold your pizzelles into a different shape, it’s ideal to do it now while they’re still warm and pliable.
Pizzelle cookies will crisp up as they cool. And the real secret to perfect pizzelles is that you should allow them to cool completely before stacking them. If you stack them too soon, they will basically steam each other.
Spreading them out on wire racks allows the air to circulate around them, making for the crispiest cookies. I actually prefer my pizzelle after they sit for about a day, but they don’t often last that long!
If you live in a humid area or your pizzelles are still not as crispy as you’d like, you can crisp them up in your oven. Place the pizzelles on a cookie sheet and bake them at 350 degrees for about 2 minutes.
How To Store Pizzelles
The best way to keep pizzelles crisp is to store them in an airtight container. They will keep at room temperature for up to two weeks. If they do happen to soften up, you can restore them by baking them in the oven as outlined above.
You can also store pizzelle in a ziploc bag in the freezer. Thaw them on a wire cooling rack, and they should be as crisp as when they’re freshly made!
Over the years, making this classic pizzelle cookie recipe has become a Christmas Eve tradition. When they were younger, my kids would help by pulling the cooked pizzelles off the pizzelle iron, while I started another batch cooking. Then they’d stack the cooled pizzelles up to make room for the next batch.
Now that my girls are older, they make the pizzelle batter earlier in the day and pop it in the fridge for later. Then we can just pull the pizzelle dough out and let it warm up for a few minutes before we cook the pizzelles later in the evening.
I’m hoping they continue this tradition with their own kids someday!
Variations On Classic Pizzelle Cookies
Want to try a new take on this pizzelle cookie recipe? In addition to the chocolate pizzelle pictured above, you can easily modify this vanilla pizzelle recipe to make the flavor variations below:
almond pizzelle recipe
— substitute 1 tablespoon of pure almond extract for the vanilla extract in the recipe above.
lemon pizzelle recipe
— reduce the pure vanilla extract to 1 teaspoon, and add 2 teaspoons of finely grated lemon zest.
traditional anise pizzelle recipe
— add 1/2 teaspoon anise seed to recipe above.