Tarallucci al limone are traditional Italian lemon knot cookies from southern Italy. They were very popular at weddings as they symbolize two people “tying the knot” in holy matrimony.
Today you will find them mostly at holidays and family gatherings. You’ll also find other shapes, such as the twist or a single ring form such as the ciambelle cookies.
They were not a typical cookie from my childhood, however most Italian families have a version of these tarallucci al limone.
My first encounter with these soft lemon cookies came from a local bakery and I fell in love with them at first bite! I set out to replicate them at home. However, after a few enquiries, I quickly came to realize that there are many ways to make them.
Some use butter or crisco shortening and others a vegetable oil.
The first time I tried them, I had opted for an oil based cookie and really have never looked back since.
They turned out soft, ever so tender and with a sweet lemon kick.
How to make Tarallucci al Limone: Italian Lemon Knot Cookies
These Lemon knot cookies are pretty simple to make and with ingredients you probably already have on hand.
Start by whisking together the flour, baking powder and the salt in a medium sized bowl.
Then with a stand mixer or a hand held mixer you’ll beat the eggs and sugar together.
Next in are the oil, cream, vanilla, lemon zests and juice while mixing until combined.
Add in the flour mixture and mix til thoroughly combined.
How to form knots for Italian Lemon Cookies
You can start forming the knots as soon as your tarallucci dough is ready, however if your dough is too soft simply cover it with a plastic wrap and set it aside for 15 minutes.
This will make it easier to roll out and it bears mentioning that the dough is very forgiving. So if you mess up the knots at the beginning, simply re-roll them!
Start by scooping out pieces of dough slightly smaller than a golf ball.
With lightly floured hands, roll the piece of dough out to about 7 inches long.
Twist the dough to form a loop while inserting one end through the loop to form a knot.
Place them about 2 inches apart on your cookie sheet allowing them room to grow.
They don’t spread out too much but puff up rather prettily. When they’re ready they’ll look pale golden in colour with a slight browning on the outer edges.
My oven tends to darken cookies on the outer edge of the baking sheet. However it didn’t change the overall texture of the darker cookies.
Once the tarallucci cookies have cooled, dip them in a lemon glaze and place them on a wire rack to allow the excess glaze to drip off.
Make sure to place the wire rack over a baking sheet to catch all that drip.
Tarallucci can also be topped with sprinkles of your choice. But all you really need to adorn this simple Italian cookie is a luscious lemon glaze.
I love them just the way they are! Easy to make and oh so delicious!
And if you love lemon cookies as much as I do then you’ll adore these Lemon Ricotta Cookies. They’re an Italian classic cookie. So soft and with a melt-in-your-mouth bite!
This recipe was first Published June 19 2016 and republished June 10 2020 with updated content and photos.
Tarallucci al Limone: Italian Lemon Knot Cookies
LEMON COOKIE DOUGH
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- generous pinch of salt
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup canola oil vegetable or sunflower oil is also fine
- 1/4 cup cream I used 15% cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 ½ tablespoons lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 1/2 cups icing sugar
- 5 tablespoons lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
- With a stand mixer or hand held mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together for about 1 minute.
- Add the oil, cream, vanilla extract, the lemon zest, lemon juice and mix until combined.
- Mix in the flour mixture beating for 1 minute til the dough is thoroughly combined.
- The dough will be soft and tacky but still easy to work with.
- Transfer the dough to a work surface.
- Cut off pieces of dough, slightly smaller than a golf ball and roll out into a log about a 1/2 inch wide and 7 inches long.
- I start rolling the dough between the palm of my hands while keeping my hands lightly dusted with flour. And then finished rolling the dough out to 7 inches on a work surface.
- Twist the dough to form a loop inserting one end through the loop while forming a knot.
- Place on the prepared cookie sheet;
- Repeat with remaining dough, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.
- I was able to fit 12 onto each pan.
- Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes. When done the cookies should be pale in colour with lightly browned edges.
- Let cool on wire rack.
- In a medium size bowl, whisk together the icing sugar and lemon juice.
- Transfer the lemon glaze to a smaller bowl for easy dipping.
- Dip cookies one at at time in lemon glaze, letting excess glaze drip off.
- Place cookies on cookie rack till glaze is completely set.