Ladyfingers, called Savoiardi in Italian, are an easy to make, simple Italian cookie with a long shape and spongy but firm texture. Ladyfingers are a bit like a small sponge cake and are often used as the base for other, more complex, Italian desserts such as tiramisu, Italian trifle (zuppa inglese) or zuccotto.
Keep reading for expert tips and a step-by-step guide to creating delicious sponge fingers at home to dip in coffee or to use them to create a mood-lifting tiramisu recipe.
What equipment is needed to make homemade ladyfingers?
two baking sheets or cookie sheets
large piping bag or pastry bag and round tip
spatula or wooden spoon
This recipe makes about 25 to 30 lady finger cookies and if you follow our step-by-step instructions they will taste even better than the commercial bakeries’ lady fingers. Between prep and baking, the total time you’ll need to make these sponge cookies is under 45 minutes! It is sure to become one of your favorite cookie recipes.
What ingredients will I need to make homemade lady fingers?
Here are all the ingredients you’ll need to make homemade ladyfingers that taste just like Italian Savoiardi cookies with a crunchy outside and sponge like interior. So instead of having to buy lady fingers for your next tiramisu, consider making them yourself.
Egg whites (70 grams/from about 2 large eggs) – you should use room temperature eggs when making light and fluffy whipped egg whites.
Egg yolks (45 grams/ from about 2 large eggs) – we love farm fresh eggs so that is what we recommend using. You will need to leave the eggs out so they come up to room temperature before you use them.
White sugar (62 grams + as needed) – also called granulated sugar. You will need the amount the recipe calls for and also a little more for sprinkling on top the cookies before baking them.
All-purpose flour (62 grams) – be sure to sift your flour very well so that it is easy to combine with the eggs and doesn’t deflate the mixture. If you just dump it in all at once without sifting, your cookies will be flat and not spongy.
Salt (1 pinch) – we love sea salt, so we recommend you use a fine sea salt in your cooking.
Powdered sugar (as needed for sprinkling on top) – powdered sugar in Italy usually comes with vanilla flavoring, but this recipe specifically calls for plain powdered sugar.
How to make ladyfingers cookies step by step
Preheat the oven to 390° F | 200° C.
Line each baking sheet with parchment paper.
Take the whole eggs (they should be room temperature) and separate the yolks from the whites into separate medium bowls.
Add the granulated sugar and a pinch of salt to the egg whites and beat it with an electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the wire whisk attachment photo 1. Beat on medium high speed until stiff peaks form, it should be like a shiny meringue. Remember the peaks should be much stiffer than just soft peaks so keep whipping until they are very firm photo 2. (This step is crucial for obtaining a thick batter with plenty of air that can hold its shape).
Next, in a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with a fork until smooth and free of lumps or chunks. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites mixture photo 3.
With the help of a spatula or wooden spoon (do not use the hand mixer!) gently fold the two together very slowly for just a few seconds, folding in the yolks without deflating the egg mixture, which should remain stiff photo 4.
Now, in two or three batches, add the sifted flour to the egg whites and gently fold in using the spatula, still being careful not to deflate the mixture photo 5. The result should be frothy, light and fairly uniform.
Immediately scoop the mixture into a large pastry or piping bag fitted with a wide piping tip (approximately 13 mm diameter opening) photo 6.
Squeeze the prepared piping bag from the back to form long, straight, thick lines on the baking sheets, one next to the other. Each raw ladyfinger should be a little over 1 cm high and 8 cm long photo 7. Fill the two baking sheets with ladyfingers, leaving space in between so they don’t stick together.
Now sprinkle the raw lady finger cookies with a handful of white sugar, lightly dusting the top of each cookie. Next dust them very lightly with powdered sugar using a sifter and gently tapping the side over each cookie photo 8.
Bake in the oven at 390° F | 200° for 5 minutes (adjust oven rack to be fairly centered if possible). After 5 minutes, open the oven slightly to let some air in to dry the cookies, and check that they are not browning too quickly. Leave for another 2 minutes or until just golden brown.
Lift the baking paper with the lady finger cookies still on it and carefully set it on a cool, flat surface or on racks and let the ladyfingers cool completely. They can then be removed easily by hand.
If desired, you can dust the lady finger cookies again with powdered sugar, especially if they will be eaten alone and not used in a recipe.
Use an electronic kitchen scale. For this recipe, weighing the ingredients on an electronic scale is the absolute best way to ensure that you have exactly the right amount of each ingredient and the portions aren’t off even by a tiny bit. This will ensure that your recipe comes out perfectly and your cookies has the right consistency and flavor.
For a harder ladyfinger more like store-bought. After your first make them, your lady fingers will be more soft and spongy (think sponge cake). But if you want them to be harder and more like a store-bought version, simply let them dry overnight uncovered and then once they have developed a harder exterior, transfer them to an airtight container for storing longer.
Use a ziplock bag instead of a piping bag. If you don’t have a large piping bag, just fill a large ziplock bag and cut off one corner. Transfer batter to the bag, seal the top of the bag and gently squeeze from the top, pushing the mixture through the hole to form each cookie.
Homemade ladyfingers variations
Here are some variations to try when making your ladyfingers sponge cake cookies:
Add some lemon zest. If you are planning to enjoy your sponge fingers on their own, then how about adding some lemon zest? Stir in the zest of 1/2 organic lemon when you are folding in the flour for a dash of lemony goodness you are sure to love.
Add a dash of vanilla extract. If you love vanilla flavor, you can add a dash of vanilla extract when you are mixing the yolks for a lovely, vanilla aroma and taste for your lady fingers.
You can store ladyfingers in a cookie tin or airtight container for up to 10 days. If you want them to become harder, like a store-bought Savoiardi cookie, you can leave them out uncovered, spread flat to dry for a day before storing them in a tin.
Can I freeze ladyfingers?
We do not recommend freezing ladyfingers as they will be too mushy when defrosted because they absorb the moisture of the freezer, even in an airtight container.
Other Italian traditional cookies recipes for you to try out:
45gramsof egg yolksthe yolks of about 2 large eggs
62grams(0.31cups)white sugar+ as needed for sprinkling on top
62grams(0.5cups)of all-purpose flour
powdered sugaras needed for sprinkling on top of lady fingers
2 baking sheets or cookie sheets
1 large piping bag or pastry bag and round tip
1 electric mixer
Spatula or wooden spoon
Preheat the oven to 390° F | 200° C.
Line two cookie trays or baking sheets with parchment paper.
Separate the eggs (which should be at room temperature), putting whites in a large bowl and yolks in a separate bowl.
Add granulated sugar and a pinch of salt to the egg whites and beat it with an electric hand mixer or the wire whisk attachment on a stand mixer. Whisk on medium speed until the whites form a firm and shiny meringue, which is a step beyond just stiff peaks so keep whipping until it is very hard. (This step is the basis for obtaining a mixture that can hold its shape for baking).
Next, in a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with a fork until smooth and free of lumps or chunks and fairly light and fluffy. Pour the beaten yolks into the hardened egg whites mixture.
With the help of a spatula or wooden spoon (do not use the hand mixer!) gently fold the yolks and whites together very slowly for just a few moments, folding in the yolks without deflating the whites. The mixture should still be stiff.
Now add the sifted flour mixture into the whites as well, in two or three separate batches, and mix in very gently using the spatula, still being careful to not deflate the mixture. The result should be frothy, light and fairly uniform.
Immediately put the mixture into a pastry or piping bag with a large piping tip (approximately 13 mm diameter opening).
Squeeze the pastry bag from the back, keeping the bag straight over the sheet pan, to form long, straight, thick lines on the lined baking sheets. Each cookie should be a little over 1 cm high and 8 cm long. Form each raw lady finger apart from each other so they don’t stick together when cooking, fill the two baking sheets with ladyfingers.
Now sprinkle the raw lady finger cookies with a handful of granulated sugar, lightly dusting the top of each cookie. Next dust them very lightly with powdered sugar using a sifter and gently tapping the side over each cookie.
Bake on the middle rack in an oven at 390° F | 200° C for 5 minutes. Then open the oven slightly to let some air in to dry the lady fingers, and check that they are not browning too quickly. Bake for another 2 minutes or until golden.
Lift the baking paper with the lady fingers still on it and carefully set it on a cool, flat surface or on racks and let the lady fingers cool.
If desired, you can dust the lady fingers again with powdered sugar, especially if they will be eaten alone and not used in a recipe.