Authentic Italian Pizzelle Recipe – Ferratelle Abruzzesi

Guido Pedrelli
Guido Pedrelli
Italian Cuisine Expert and Food Blogger
Guido Pedrelli
Guido Pedrelli, the mastermind behind Nonna Box, has honed his culinary expertise for decades, inspired by family feasts in Emilia-Romagna. Mentored by his restaurateur nonna, he mastered Italian classics and furthered his skills with professional culinary studies in desserts and gelato making from Mec3. Today, he shares this rich legacy and authentic recipes through Nonna Box.
Expertise: Italian cuisine, Pasta, Pizza, Pastry, Dessert

Ferratelle or Pizzelle, as everybody knows them in the US, are one of the most famous holiday desserts still made according to the ancient Abruzzo traditions.

authentic pizzelle recipe

Mostly known as ferratelle in Italy, pizzelle are delicious waffles with an original shape that are cooked with a special iron tool. They are typical of the cuisine of Abruzzo, but also of Lazio and Molise. Because their name changes depending on the Italian region in which they are made, they are also known as neole, pizzelle, nuvole, cancelle or cancellate. Pizzelle are so ancient they even had an name in Roman times when they were called crustule.

Our classic pizzelle recipe has very simple ingredients: just flour, milk, oil, eggs, sugar and various flavorings. These ingredients are mixed to create a batter, then cooked on a pizzelle iron or cast iron plate that is heated on the stove or in an electric stand-alone pizzelle cooker.

The iron tool has an imprinted design pattern which gives the characteristic rhombus weave, the most widespread pattern used in Abruzzo. But in the US, everybody thinks of a pizzelle as a round-shaped waffle with a snowflake design. Either way, enjoy this good recipe you’ll want to try for your next bake sale.

Equipment:

  • large bowl or medium bowl for mixing the cookie dough
  • whisk or electric mixer for combing the ingredients
  • pizzelle maker or pizzelle iron (or waffle iron)for cooking the batter
  • fork for removing the pizzelle from between the pizzelle irons
  • wire cooling rack or cookie sheet/baking sheet to put your cooked pizzelles

Ingredients:

  • Eggs (3) – they should be left out at room temperature before using them in this recipe.
  • All-purpose flour (1.5 cups) – or Italians use 00 flour for this recipe, and it should always be properly sifted so that your pizzelles come out light and crispy and without lumps.
  • Granulated sugar (3 Tbsp) – if you are going to use a very sugary topping you can slightly reduce the sugar if desired.
  • Extra virgin olive oil (3 Tbsp) – our top choice is a mild olive oil but sunflower oil works great too. You can use other mild oils if you prefer for these waffle cookies.
  • Lemon rind (1) – be sure to use an organic lemon so there are no traces of pesticides in your lemon zest. You can substitute with orange zest if you prefer or even lemon extract if you don’t have a fresh lemon.
  • Salt (pinch) – we love kosher salt, but table salt is fine too.
  • Cinnamon (1 pinch) – this is an optional flavor and can be included or left out as desired.
  • Anise extract (as desired) – if you like anise flavor then anise extract is a great inclusion, but go easy as it has a strong flavor.
  • Vanilla extract or almond extract (as desired) – more optional flavorings are vanilla extract and almond extract which are both great for their sweet and very aromatic addition to these Italian cookies.
  • Butter (as needed) – this is just to cook your pizzelle, so add a little every time before you pour the batter on the hot irons. If you prefer you can use vegetable oil cooking spray instead of unsalted butter, but be sure to use one or the other so that your pizzelle cookies don’t stick to the heated iron.

How to make pizzelle step by step

Make pizzelle batter: In a large bowl, add the eggs, the sifted flour with a pinch of salt, the sugar, and any of the optional flavorings you would like (photo 1). Either by hand with a whisk or with an electric mixer, mix the ingredients and then add the oil a little at a time. The mixture must appear thick and homogeneous, not too runny (photo 2). Let the batter rest for half an hour before moving on to the next step.

Cook the perfect pizzelle cookie: Lightly grease the pizzelle iron with a little butter (photo 3) (you can also use vegetable oil cooking spray if desired). Heat the iron on the stove (or follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using an electric pizzelle maker) and when it is hot and the butter has melted, pour a heaping spoonful of the dough into the center of the mold (photo 4).

Close the pizzelle irons together and cook the pizzelle for 20-30 seconds oe until each side is golden brown and crispy (photo 5). If you want your pizzelles to be crispier, then you can leave a few more seconds on each side. Keep making pizzelle until all the remaining batter has been used.

Top and serve: Remove each of the pizzelle cookies from the pizzelle iron with the help of a fork or other utensil and put aside on a wire rack lined with a paper towel (photo 6). Each pizzelle can be enjoyed by itself or sweetened with powdered sugar, jam, chocolate spread or even whipped cream.

Expert Tips for making pizzelle Italian waffle cookies

  • Use a cooling rack and let cool: If you want your pizzelle crispy, them them cool down on a wire rack so that both sides stay dry and don’t get soggy from being in contact with condensation. Let them cool completely before storing in an airtight container or ziploc bag.
  • Warm pizzelle up again: Put the oven on a very low temperature and heat the waffle cookies on a baking sheet for 20-30 minutes to make your pizzelles crispy again and ready to serve.
  • Pick out a new pizzelle maker: If you are in the market for a new pizzelle iron, check out or best pizzelle maker guide to pick the perfect pizzelle iron.

Variations of pizzelle

  • Chocolate version of pizzelle: If chocolate pizzelle cookies sound like a dream to you, then you have two options. You can either add a chocolate spread on top and serve the chocolate pizzelles warm, or let them cool and dip half of the pizzelle into melted chocolate and let it harden at room temperature before enjoying.
  • Soft and thick: Depending on the type of iron used, the ferratelle may turn out more thick and soft or thin and crispy. If you want them thicker and softer, use more pizzelle dough. Be sure to leave them long enough that they cook all the way through. Some pizzelle recipes call for adding a tablespoon of baking powder to the pizzelle dough to get extra puffiness.

FAQs

How to store pizzelle

You should leave the pizzelles on wire cooling racks to cool completely. Then store them in an airtight container for up to 7 days. You can also freeze them in a ziploc bag for up to two weeks or more.

How to make the perfect pizzelles

What makes all the difference when making pizzelles is using high-quality ingredients, letting the pizzelle dough rest for half an hour, and lastly making sure the pizzelle irons are hot and well greased before adding the batter for these Italian waffle cookies.

Abruzzo tradition for timing cooking

According to tradition in Abruzzo, the right cooking time of the waffle cookies should be calculated by reciting a prayer while cooking each side of the pizzelle: the time of a “Hail Mary” on one side and of “Our Father” on the other will ensure the perfect pizzelle that’s light and crispy.

authentic pizzelle recipe

Authentic Pizzelle

Delicious and so very simple, ferratelle can also be topped with jam, honey, hazelnut or chocolate spread or any other sweet sauce or topping. Here is our traditional recipe for making the perfect crispy and thin pizzelle your whole family will love.
4.19 from 54 votes
Print Pin Rate Save Recipe
Course: Dessert
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 138kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 (3) eggs
  • 3 tablespoons (44.36 ml) extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil
  • 1.5 cups (187.5 g) all-purpose flour sifted
  • 3 tablespoons (36 g) sugar
  • 1 (1) lemon rind grated
  • 1 pinch (1 pinch) salt
  • 1 pinch (1 pinch) cinnamon optional
  • anise extract as desired optional
  • butter as needed optional
  • vanilla extract or almond extract as desired. optional

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, add the eggs, the sifted flour with a pinch of salt, the sugar and any of the optional flavorings you would like.
    3 eggs, 1.5 cups all-purpose flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 pinch salt
  • Either by hand with a whisk or with an electric mixer, mix the ingredients and then add the oil a little at a time. The mixture must appear thick and homogeneous, not too runny.
  • Let the batter rest for half an hour and then proceed to cooking.
  • Lightly grease the pizzelle iron or waffle maker with a little butter (you can also use vegetable oil cooking spray if desired).
  • Heat the iron on the stove and when it is hot and the butter has melted, fill it in the center with a spoonful of the dough.
  • Close the pizzelle maker well and cook the pizzelle for 20-30 seconds or until each side is golden brown and crisp.
  • Remove the pizzelles with the help of a fork or other utensil and put them aside on a wire cooling rack. Each pizzelle can be enjoyed by itself or sweetened with powdered sugar, jam, chocolate spread or even whipped cream.
Serving: 100g | Calories: 138kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 23mg | Potassium: 39mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 72IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg
Liked this recipe?Follow us NonnaBox for more!

More recipes for other Christmas Italian desserts:

History of ferratelle: where did the pizzelle cookie come from?

An Italian historian who lived in the nineteenth century, Giuseppe Tassini, mentions ferratelle (i.e. pizzelle cookies) in his masterpiece “Curiosità Veneziane – Ovvero: Origini delle denominazioni stradali di Venezia“, also calling them inferriate or scalette for the similarity of how these treats look to windows and stairs.

It seems that the origin of this pizzelles recipe can be traced back to a distant era, as the ancient Romans used to prepare an Italian waffle dessert called crustulum with almost the exact same ingredients as the classic pizzelle recipe we use today.

However, the iron plates used to cook the ferratelle only began to appear around the 1700s. These iron tools, with double plates and handles, were forged by blacksmiths commissioned by brides from rich families in Abruzzo, who would request the plates be engraved with the coat of arms of the family or their initials. “Lu ferre” irons were in fact included as part of young womens’ dowries.

Today Ferratelle (pizzelle cookies) can be seen filling the window displays of Abruzzo’s pastry shops, but in the past they were considered “party sweets” to be prepared during the Easter week or during the celebrations of the patron saint, as sign of respect and devotion.

Many Italians who immigrated to the US also brought their own classic pizzelle recipe with them. This traditional cookie is in fact one of the most prepared recipes during the Christmas season today in Italian-American homes.

Pizzelle: The territory of origin

The true home of pizzelles is Abruzzo, but they can be found in many other Italian regions. For example, in Molise these sweets were served at least until the 60s during weddings and have always been known as “cancelle,” a name that alludes to the grooves that look like a gate.

Even in a one area of Lazio, the district of Cittaducale which is a former territory of Abruzzo, it is tradition to prepare these confectionery specialties. Here the pizzelle have even attained a PAT status which recognizes them as a traditional agro-food product from the area.

Leave a Reply