Grain-free Italian Hazelnut Cookies

These healthier gluten-free, grain-free and dairy-free Italian hazelnut cookies are easy to make and so delicious!

It’s been a little while since my last post because I’ve started taking Italian lessons and I’m such a poor planner that I didn’t think of writing a post beforehand. I’ve wanted to take Italian classes since our visit to Tuscany last May so I decided it was time! I’ve already started planning a new trip to Italy and noting which bakeries and gelaterias to go to. Being as Mr. Texanerin never reads guidebooks and such things until we’re actually in the place we’re visiting, our plans always consist of where to get sweets and nothing else. Maybe that’s why I gained seven pounds in the 11 days we were there. But it was so worth it and I don’t regret those pounds at all. :)

Grain-free Italian Hazelnut Cookies

We only ate out once and the rest of the time, we bought ham and cheese and slapped it on a baguette and called it lunch and dinner. And the Provolone! Wow. We don’t have Provolone in Germany, and it’s not normally a cheese I really go for when I am in the US, but I got a store brand (Coop) Provolone and it was the best cheese ever. And being as I couldn’t bring any back with me due to our super clever planning, which included lounging about on the airport floor until our 7:00am flight, I couldn’t bring any back. So I had to eat a lot to get my fill and I might have eaten a few pounds. Again, I don’t regret it at all. It was awesome!

So the last month or so, I’ve gone crazy baking lots of Italian stuff, both sweet and savory, which I’ll be sharing with you over the next few weeks. And even if you think you don’t like Italian food, you like cookies and cake, don’t you? Sure you do! There will be cookies, cake and candy and then some pasta and bread. All of it healthified in some way!

So now we have some cookies. I don’t know if they’re actually authentic but they are delicious so I’m not too picky.

Gluten-free and Grain-free Italian Hazelnut Cookies

I made these Italian hazelnut cookies twice and they didn’t come out either time how they’re “supposed” to. The recipe says that they’re crispy, but mine were nice and chewy. Maybe it was because I used coconut sugar instead of granulated sugar. Or maybe I just messed them up. But I’ve made them twice. Perhaps the issue is that I don’t know what “stiff peaks” are or maybe I blended them too long in the coffee grinder and they released too much oil. They were also sticky. I don’t know what’s up with that but I liked it! I have nothing against sticky cookies. So if you make these, they might be chewy. Or they might be crunchy. It’s a surprise cookie! Weeee.

I put some homemade chocolate hazelnut spread between them. They’re sweet enough without, but I thought that they were kind of boring and ugly. They needed a little lift and my fake Nutella was just the right fit. You can also easily make 1/2 of even 1/4 of this recipe. 1/4 was enough for me!

Grain-free Italian Hazelnut Cookies

  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Ready in:
  • Yield: 80 mini cookies or 40 mini cookie sandwiches


  • 2 cups (270 grams) hazelnuts, toasted and blanched1
  • 1 cup coconut sugar (you can definitely use granulated sugar but they might come out differently – be sure to read the first paragraph after the second picture!)
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread, optional


  1. Toast the whole hazelnuts on a baking sheet for 8 minutes, or until fragrant at 350°F / 175°C. Stir halfway through. Let them cool for a few minutes, and then rub the nuts together in a clean and dry kitchen towel to remove the skins.
  2. Preheat your oven to 325°F / 162°C. Prepare two cookie sheets with Silpats or parchment paper and position two racks in the two middle positions of your oven.
  3. Pulse the hazelnuts and coconut sugar together in a food processor or a coffee grinder (you might have to do a few batches with a grinder) until finely ground. Be careful not to process too much or it’ll turn into nut butter. This is especially true of the coffee grinder!
  4. In a large bowl, mix the egg whites and salt on high until stiff peaks form. Fold the eggs into the nut mixture, and then very gently mix in the vanilla.
  5. I wanted to make them cute, so I made them really tiny. You can follow the original recipe and drop two tablespoons of batter for each cookie (that’ll yield 30) onto Silpats or pieces of parchment paper. They won’t expand very much, if at all, but still leave about a centimeter between them. My cookies were about 3/4″ – 1″ and that yielded about 80. I just used a spoon to drop the batter on the Silpats and then used my finger to make them perfect circles. You could also use a piping bag if you like (although I have no idea which tip to use). Bake the 1″ cookies for 6 minutes and the big cookies for 25 – 30 minutes, moving the bottom pan to the upper position and the upper pan to the lower position halfway through. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, and only 5 minutes. I let a batch sit longer and it was impossible to get them off without squishing them! Repeat with the rest of the batter. Store in an airtight container, but don’t let them touch. They’re sticky and you don’t want them to all stick together.


  1. I think hazelnuts are a huge pain to blanch. I’d definitely buy them blanched if I could and then toast them myself.

Adapted from Italian hazelnut cookies on Eating Well

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26 comments on “Grain-free Italian Hazelnut Cookies” — Add one!

  • Erin says
    December 2, 2012 @ 8:19 pm

    I hope you enjoy them! They were really yummy. The texture thing I mentioned was a bit weird but someone in the comments mentioned that this was probably humidity (and it was humid on that day!)

  • Paleoliscious says
    December 2, 2012 @ 8:07 pm

    This looks absolutely showstopping, and I love the simplicity of the recipe. Definitely going to give it a try!

  • Erin says
    June 14, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

    Anon – THANK YOU! That definitely explains the problem. It's always very warm and humid, especially in the kitchen. No AC will do that! We even have a humidity alarm it's so bad. I will have to make these again when the humidity is really low. You are awesome. Thank you! And I'm happy you liked the cookie dough bites. :)

  • Anonymous says
    June 14, 2012 @ 6:04 pm

    I suggest that you make meringues in cool weather with dry conditions.
    When it is warm and humid, they will be chewy and sticky. You will be surprised in the difference. Meringues will be dry and crisp.

    Just tried your chick-pea dough bites—delish!

  • Erin says
    June 7, 2012 @ 8:30 pm

    Marta – Good luck with that! I had three years in high school and four in college and people still stare at me like I'm crazy when I try to speak it. This is part of the reason why I've started learning Italian. I'm just done with German. It sounds terrible, doesn't it? Oh well. I don't know many Italian sweets either but I'm trying to learn. I hope to share some with you all. :)

  • Marta @ What Should I Eat For Breakfast Today says
    June 7, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

    I don't know many sweet italian recipes, but I like this one. Good luck with your Italian, I've just started an intensive german course, and hope to be fluent within a month ;)

  • Erin says
    June 6, 2012 @ 9:34 pm

    Heidi – Thanks! I think it's pretty neat. I just wish I had enough time to study and bake. :)

    Baltic Maid – Inspiring? I don't know about that, but thanks. :) I'll try to keep the Italian stuff coming. And today I ordered cannoli foermchen! Yay!

    Sarah – Have you never used it before? It's great stuff! I have no idea if it's easy to find in the US but it's got a kind of caramel-y flavor and it's way lower on the glycemic index than normal white sugar. I love it!

    Chung-Ah – Thanks! I'm happy that sandwiched was the right way to go. :)

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious says
    June 6, 2012 @ 11:37 am

    I absolutely love these cookies, and I love them even more sandwiched!

  • Baking Serendipity says
    June 6, 2012 @ 2:54 am

    Coconut sugar?! I love this! A trip to Italy sounds exactly perfect…but so do these cookies :)

  • Baltic Maid says
    June 6, 2012 @ 2:02 am

    These cookies look amazing! I am really excited about your Italian recipes. I love Italian food! Good job with learning Italian. That is inspiring!

  • Heidi @ Food Doodles says
    June 6, 2012 @ 1:31 am

    Oooh, learning Italian? That's awesome. These cookies are so cute. I love hazelnuts! (and chocolate, duh :D)

  • Erin says
    June 5, 2012 @ 10:52 pm

    I hope you enjoy them if you try them! I've never had florentines or macarons so I can't really compare them, but I'm guessing these are probably much softer/chewier/stickier. At least my version is. The proper version with normal white sugar is supposedly crunchy!

  • brighteyedbaker says
    June 5, 2012 @ 7:36 pm

    These look yummy :) They remind me of macarons but also of florentine cookies. I don't have hazelnuts at the moment but favorited them on foodgawker so if the opportunity comes up in the future I can try them!

  • Erin says
    June 5, 2012 @ 6:07 pm

    Julia – Hazelnut meal would save so much time. I don't know why I didn't think of that! I will definitely try next time and let you know. If you want to try before that because it might be a while, I'd try making 1/4 of the recipe and see if it works. 1/4 is still a lot and I'd hate it if they didn't come out for you. Thanks for pinning! And thanks for the nice comment. :)

  • Julia @The Roasted Root says
    June 5, 2012 @ 3:29 pm

    Kudos to you for taking Italian classes! I think it's great to know other languages and give you props for your efforts! Your cookies look fantastic! So…I have a bunch of hazelnut meal…think that'll work in place of the whole hazelnuts? Just pinned this on my "to try" board!!

  • Erin says
    June 5, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

    Amy – Thanks! I think they're so much yummier / more interesting that way. I think I'll have to do this with future cookies. :)

    Angie – Thanks. :)

  • Angie's Recipes says
    June 5, 2012 @ 12:54 pm

    These hazelnut cookies look splendid!

  • amy @ fearless homemaker says
    June 4, 2012 @ 11:47 pm

    these sound delicious + i love that you made them into sandwich cookies with your homemade nutella. yum!

  • Erin says
    June 4, 2012 @ 11:04 pm

    Becca – I don't know what's with the comments! Yours just popped up although it says it was made 35 minutes ago. Weird.

    Anyway, thanks! I hope you have a great time in Europe. I've never been to Paris, although I really want to go, so I'm jealous! You're going to be eating so many pastries. It'll be great. :D

  • Erin says
    June 4, 2012 @ 10:34 pm

    Miryam – That's how I felt all winter. Grey, grey, grey all the time. And now it's raining all the time. There's such wonderful weather here. :)

    Well, there's no date set for Italy. It's all just in my head now. And in a text file. You have to go to Tuscany some time! And check out Amanda's pictures I linked to in the first paragraph. Best Italy pictures ever! Next time you come to Europe, we can meet in Italy and just eat all the baked goods in sight. It'd be great. :D

    Cassie – Thank you! And will do. I have a bunch of pictures / recipes all ready to go. :)

  • Becca says
    June 4, 2012 @ 10:32 pm

    I know what you mean about onl looking or sweets when on vacation. Whenever I'm in a new place I google search so many bakeries. I'm going to England and Paris in a few weeks for m senior trip and I'm so excited. But I'd love to go o orally as well. I'm lookin forward to all the recipes you com up with :D

    O an these cookies look so cute and delicious !

  • Cassie/Bake Your Day says
    June 4, 2012 @ 9:21 pm

    These look amazing. I have some hazelnuts in the pantry right now too. Can't wait to try them out. Keep the Italian treats coming!

  • says
    June 4, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

    Wow, these look really, really good. I want to have a few right now :-) I been wanting to make some cookies for the past few days and can't find the time. Plus the weather is awful to take any pictures.

    I am so jealous that you are getting to go to Italy!! I have been to Milan and Venice, but a long, long time ago and I would love to go to so many other places there……Maybe one day. For sure if I go I will probably gain 20lbs at least. I would just eat anything and everything in site :-) I love authentic Italian food. By the way, you need to post some pictures when you go again, I want to see the food and day dream!!

    Good luck with your Italian. Arrivederci amica mia :-)

  • Erin says
    June 4, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

    Kathryn – Haha, that's true. It's such a pain so I always do a few kilos at once. To be honest, I'm not really familiar with meringues, but aren't they just sugar and egg whites? So maybe these are meringues with the addition of hazelnut flour. :) What's weird is that in the reviews for the recipe, nobody said that their cookies came out differently. I must have done something strange… I just wish I knew what it was. The only thing I changed was the type of sugar!

    Katrina – Thanks! :)

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says
    June 4, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

    These are simply the cutest! Love these little cookies.

  • london bakes says
    June 4, 2012 @ 12:32 pm

    I'm pretty sure that life is too short to skin hazelnuts but I may reconsider for these cookies. They look just delightful and I would expect them to be quite chewy myself because they're pretty much meringues aren't they? Either way, they sound so tasty!


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