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Italian Sesame Seed Cookies are the perfect sweet treat to serve with a cup of coffee or espresso.

Italian Sesame Seed Cookies

Holiday cookie baking season has begun – and these simple, sweet Italian Sesame Seed Cookies are a must-make treat for the cookie tray.

This very simple, buttery Italian Sesame Seed Cookie recipe comes from our favorite Italian cookbook, The North End Italian Cookbook. These sweet-but-not-too-sweet cookies can be flavored with either vanilla extra or anise extract, depending on your tastes.


Italian Sesame Seed Cookies

How do you make Italian Sesame Seed Cookies?

The Italian Sesame Seed Cookie batter comes together in a snap and is made with simple ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen.

You’ll cream together butter, granulated sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla (or anise) extract and baking powder. Then you’ll add flour until a soft and pliable dough comes together.

After allowing the dough to rest a bit, you’ll form balls that are dipped first in milk, then in sesame seeds. Then each ball is shaped into a rectangle and placed on a cookie sheet for baking.


Italian Sesame Seed Cookies

Your Italian Sesame Seed Cookies bake up light and airy and the sesame seed coating adds a little crunch as well as flavor to every bite!

I noted above that you can swap in different extracts based on your flavor preferences, and you can also swap in toasted sesame seeds for a more intense sesame flavor if you like!

These Italian Sesame Seed Cookies are the perfect addition to your holiday cookie tray – especially if you want to offer a lighter, simpler cookie option in addition to the more rich and indulgent cookies on the dessert table. I think they are perfect served with a shot of espresso or a cup of coffee.

Italian Sesame Seed Cookies

You may enjoy these other classic Italian Cookies:

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Italian Sesame Seed Cookies

Italian Sesame Seed Cookies

  • Author: A Family Feast
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 3 dozen
  • Category: cookies
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: Italian


1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)

1 cup granulated sugar

2 whole eggs

½ cup plus two tablespoons whole milk, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon baking powder

4 cups all-purpose flour, or less

2 ½ cups sesame seeds, see Notes below


Place softened butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer with paddle attachment and beat until smooth and pale, about one minute.

With mixer running on low, add one egg at a time. Scrape bowl and mix again.

Add two tablespoons of milk along with vanilla and mix just a few seconds to incorporate.

Add baking powder and mix.

With mixer running, gradually add flour until you have used 3 ½ cups. Check consistency of dough. It should be soft and pliable but not sticky. Use a little more flour as needed.

Use remaining flour to dust your counter and pour dough out onto flour and knead a few minutes, cover and let rest 15 minutes.

While dough is resting, preheat oven to 375 degrees F and place oven rack in top most position.

After resting, pour ½ cup of milk into a medium bowl and the sesame seeds into another.

Using a one-ounce scoop, scoop out 36 portions of dough onto your counter using all of the dough. Then roll each in between your palms to form 36 balls.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Take one ball at a time and dip in milk then roll in the sesame seeds. Pick up the coated ball and form into a rectangle with your hands getting the height between half an inch and three quarters of an inch high and place on cookie sheet.

Repeat for all 36 balls and place on the two pans, 18 per sheet. They don’t rise or spread very much so they can be somewhat close together. I staggered the rows to fit 18 per pan with plenty of space between them.

Bake on top oven rack for 15 minutes, baking one pan at a time.

Use a spatula and slide them off onto a cooling rack that is sitting over a sheet pan to catch the sesame seeds that fall off.

Cool and serve.


Club stores and some supermarkets often sell sesame seeds in larger 16-ounce containers or you can order them here.

Keywords: Italian Sesame Seed Cookies


Italian Sesame Seed Cookies


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  • roger rouellier wrote:

    I think I’m going to try these sesame cookies I just made 12 dz anso cookies but want to learn how to make diffrent Italian cookies that I remember as a child growing up thanks for the recipe s I see here

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re welcome Roger – Hope you enjoy the cookies!

  • Lori R wrote:

    Hope you & your family are staying healthy & safe.
    Delicious & easy, thank you so very much.
    Quick question, do the Italian sesame cookies freeze well?
    Thank you

    Peace & God Bless & Blessings in 2021

    • Martha wrote:

      Happy New Year Lori – hope you are healthy and safe too! While freshly-baked is always best, overall these cookies freeze well…some of the sesame seeds might fall off while you are packing them up, but they should thaw nicely.

  • Kyle T wrote:

    Nice recipe. First time making these cookies. The old man said they taste like his childhood Christmas, so that’s a win!
    Some changes for next time:
    Baked as directed these cookies are huge. Can get twice the amount from the same recipe with baking time remaining the same.
    I used a mix of roasted and unroasted sesame seeds cause the recipe didn’t specify, so I figured why not. I threw away a ton of seeds afterward. Would start with 1 cup and use more as needed.
    Lastly, next time I won’t roll in seeds, but either just sprinkle or roll the tops. Darn sesame seeds are like glitter! Every where! Thanks for the recipe. Will definitely make again.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks for your feedback Kyle.

  • Jennifer wrote:

    Just makes these today! I was so excited as I am Italian and my grandmother always made them growing up but being gluten free I replaced with gluten free flour and they were amazing!!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Jennifer – we’re glad to know that gluten-free flour will work in this recipe.

  • Louisa T Richards wrote:

    I don’t know if I failed to do something wrong while cooking my cookies but they were too soft. Anytime I have purchased sesame cookies they have been crunchy . I cooked them as directed. Could you please make suggestions so that I could have a crunchy cookie T. Y.

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Louisa – I suppose you could try baking these cookies for longer but without testing out a new recipe, I can’t say for sure off the top of our head how to change this recipe to achieve the texture of a store-bought cookie.

  • Lord Peralta wrote:

    Prepared virtually as written except I used 1/2 tsp. vanilla & 1/2 tsp. almond extract. Delicious!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you!!

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