Canestrelli – Italian Shortbread Cookies

Canestrelli-Italian Shortbread Cookies

Canestrelli are delicious, friable Italian shortbread cookies with a typical flower shape and dusted generously with powdered sugar.

They are made of simple and natural ingredients: flour, sugar, butter and….hard-boiled egg yolks! Really, I am not joking! ūüėÄ Hard-boiled egg yolks give them a¬†distinctive crumbly texture.

The yolks are pressed through a fairly fine sieve. Don’t skip this part or you will end up with lumps of egg yolk in your dough.

You can substitute potato starch with corn starch.

If you don’t have¬†a small¬†round¬†shaped cookie cutter to cut out the center, use a piping nozzle or a bottle cap.

Canestrelli will last for up to a week in an airtight container. They are even better after a day or two, if they last that long!

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Canestrelli - Italian Shortbread Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Prep time doesn't include 1 hour chilling time
Serves: 35
  • 100 grams (3/4 cup+1 tablespoon) flour, sifted
  • 45 grams (1/3 cup+1/2 tablespoon) icing sugar (powdered sugar), sifted
  • 65 grams (1/2 cup) potato starch, sifted
  • 80 grams (1.58 ounces) butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 hard-boiled egg yolks
  • Icing sugar for dusting the cookies
  1. Boil the eggs, alllow them to cool then press the egg yolks through a fairly fine sieve.
  2. In a large bowl, put the flour, potato starch, vanilla extract, icing sugar, lemon zest, salt and butter.
  3. Then add the egg yolks
  4. Canestrelli - Italian Shortbread Cookies
  5. and knead until you have a soft, smooth dough.
  6. Canestrelli - Italian Shortbread Cookies
  7. Make a ball, wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge for 1 hour.
  8. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (340 degrees F).
  9. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out to about 1 cm (1/2 inch) thickness.
  10. Using a flower-shaped cookie cutter cut out the cookies.
  11. Cut out the center with a circle shaped cookie cutter.
  12. Canestrelli - Italian Shortbread Cookies
  13. Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  14. Canestrelli - Italian Shortbread Cookies
  15. and bake for 18 minutes.
  16. Let the cookies cool on the pans for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer onto a wire rack until completely cool.
  17. Once cooled, sprinkle the canestrelli with plenty of icing sugar.

Canestrelli-Italian Shortbread Cookies


  1. Caroline says

    Beautiful post & recipe! I find your blog to be fantastic! Will you please tell me if these canestrelli cookies freeze well? I would like to make them in advance for my son’s baptism. Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Caroline! Thank you so much for the compliment.

      You can make the cookies and freeze them raw. Also these cookies, if kept in an airtight container, last up to 2 weeks.

        • Caroline says

          Hello Elena,

          Today I have made your beautiful cookies (according to your original measurements – by weight) & they came out perfectly! I will make them again next week, the afternoon before my son’s baptism & hopefully, they will be well-enjoyed by our family! Thank you so much for sharing such a special recipe. Please continue to share with us your Italian recipes!

          Many thanks!

          • says

            Hi Caroline! Sorry for the late reply and thank you for your beautiful comment.
            Congratulations on your son’s Baptism :) I am happy you enjoyed the cookies, I can’t wait to hear if your guests liked them too.

          • Caroline says

            Thank you, Elena! It was such a beautiful and special Baptism day for our son Sebastian. Your cookies were such a success! Everyone loved them and asked about them. Thank you for sharing your recipe! I can’t wait to try more.

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