Best Italian Sesame Seed Cookies

Sunday, November 17, 2019
These are the Best Italian Sesame Cookies I have ever had.

Once you try them you'll see why no other recipe will compare to these authentic style cookies.

Grandma from Rome, Italy, made these often to go with her espresso, there was always sesame seed cookies on a tray for company.

We were spoiled and never had to ask for these cookies, once they were gone another batch was made immediately.

That is long ago, and now I carry on that same tradition and make these almost as often.

Everyone loves them in the family, lemon-flavored being the favorite flavor of choice.

If you love sesame seed Italian cookies, this will be bar none, the last recipe you will ever have to look for.

I continue to make these in Grandma's memory all year long, the best cookie on the Christmas tray that's gone first.

For years I made these for my brother John (they were his favorite cookie on earth!) but as of 11/16/2019, he became an Angel, and now I will make them in his memory along with Grandma's, as she watches over him and they are now together in heaven.

Keeping their memory alive in the kitchen is very important to me.

If you love Italian cookies, try some of the ones on my one-stop cookie shop roundup, they're delicious also!

Scroll down for Grandma's authentic Italian cookie recipe.

these are cookies on a dollie with espresso, a espresso spoon and sesame seed Italian cookies

My brother John and me and a photo of each of us with his favorite sesame seed cookies I made for him

My Brother John and Sesame Cookies

My brother John was my biggest fan of these cookies, he couldn't get enough of them.

On November 16th, 2019, cancer took his life.

My whole world shattered that night, he was my best friend, a loving brother and I will miss him so much.

John would ask for these cookies every time we got together I had to make a double batch, a memory that will live on of with him in my heart and in the kitchen.

As I write this I am heartbroken but know when anyone bakes them, he will be thought of every minute with beautiful memories from everyone that knew him.

I hate cancer and pray for everyone that has to battle this horrible life taking disease.

I pray he is with mom, dad grandma and the rest of the family eating as many as he wants there.

Please make them and keep his memory alive.

My brother was so kind to everyone with a super big heart, talented and most loved piano man.

He continued with total bravery to battle cancer, still worked playing piano and never complained.

He showed us a pillar of strength with the hope to beat this.

He will always be in my heart and soul as I make these sesame seed cookies, this one's for you John, until we meet again.

A cookie sheet full of sesame Italian cookies baked golden brown

Family Favorite Cookie in the 60s

These were always in the cookie jar when I was a child back in 1960 something.

I am not sure who loved them more, my father or my brothers.

At the time I wasn't a huge fan.

Being a child I liked the typical sweet cookies like chocolate chips and other chocolaty delights.

As I grew up I really learned to appreciate Italian cookies and now miss my mom's and grandmother's baking.

Anisette, lemon cookies, oh and my favorite pistachio biscotti . or any other kind of flavored biscotti, are my favorite dunking cookies!

I have to make them every time my brother John comes to visit, he would be so disappointed without bringing a batch home. They are his ultimate favorite cookie.

this is a tray of unbaked sesame seeds cookies on a cookies sheet ready to bake

Ingredients You will need for Best Italian Sesame Seed Cookies

  • flour
  • shortening
  • sugar
  • egg separated
  • milk or half and half
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • vanilla, almond, lemon extracts, anise, orange..... anyone of those will do well.

this is a tray of unbaked dough for cookies called sesame cookies

The Dough

This should be smooth and firm, not wet and not dry, if yours doesn't come together like the photo, it's not correct.

I use an industrial mixer to make the dough evenly formed.

This can be done by hand like my grandmother and mom made them, it does take a little time.

Ensure the dough is a solid smooth uniform ball.

this is  pie plate of sesame seeds and a plate of beaten eggs whites and a whisk

Tools You Will Need for Sesame Cookies

  • Wire Whisk
  • Pie Plates
  • Cookie Sheets
  • Silpat mat or parchment paper
  • Mixing bowl
  • Mixing cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Mixing spoon
  • Electric mixer or stir ingredients by hand
  • Egg separator

this is a frying pan with sesame seeds toasting in it

Toasting the Seeds

The best flavor comes from toasted sesame seeds.

If you can't find them toasted, I will also give those instructions in the recipe card below, it's pretty simple.

You can either toast them on top of the stove or in the oven.

I recommend toasting them to get an even nuttier flavor out of the sesame seeds. I explain how easy it is to toast them. You can buy them toasted but will pay twice the price.

these are the worlds best sesame seed cookies with a cup of espresso

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cookies with sesame seeds and a cup of espresso

Cookies We Love

Almond joy biscotti
Italian Rainbow Cookies
Italian Fig Thumbprints
Spumoni Biscotti

My brother John and me and a photo of each of us with his favorite sesame seed cookies I made for him


As I close this recipe with family at heart, please join me in celebrating in your kitchens to keep their memory alive.

Time goes by so fast, hug your kids, tell the people in your lives how important they are and that you love them.

I had a wonderful journey with my brother, it was an honor to be his sister, and I will treasure all the days we spent together, laughs and good times.

A family favorite, especially with my brother John Colenzo, may he rest in peace until we meet again.

these are cookies on a dollie with espresso, a espresso spoon and sesame seed Italian cookies

Best Italian Sesame Cookies

Yield: 28 to 36 cookies
prep time: 25 Mcook time: 15 Mtotal time: 40 M
These are the best Italian sesame seed cookies ever. Really, one bite and you'll be addicted. If you have tried others, you won't be disappointed as these an Authentic recipe handed down by my Grandmother from Rome Italy.
Nothing compares trust me.


  • 2 heaping cups of flour
  • 2/3 -cup Crisco shortening
  • 3/4- cup sugar
  • 2 egg separated( keep whites in a bowl) you need the yolks for the cookie dough
  • 1/4 cup milk or half and half
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla, almond, lemon extracts, anise, orange..... anyone of those will do well.


How to cook Best Italian Sesame Cookies

  1. In a separate bowl add sesame seeds in it to roll cookies into
  2. 1- 1/2 cups of toasted sesame seeds. 
  3. Mix everything in a large bowl except the egg whites. 
  4. Beat the whites and set aside. 
  5. Roll into egg-shaped logs, dip in the egg whites, roll into the sesame seeds. 
  6. Place on a greased cookies sheet. 
  7. Bake at 375 preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. The longer you bake them the crunchier they will be.
  8. Note to toast seeds: 
  9. When toasting, use a wide frying pan.
  10. I spray mine with cooking oil.
  11. They will pop on high heat.
  12. If you have a silicone
  13. splatter cover to place on top and keep a close watch.
  14. Heat the sesame seeds
  15. on medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally.
  16. Remove the seeds when they darken and become fragrant.
  17. For toastingInside the oven: 
  18. preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  19. Spread the seeds out on a baking sheet on parchment paper
  20. Bake until the seeds brown and become fragrant.
  21. For both methods, allow the toasted seeds to cool.
  22. Store in a covered jar at room temperature.
  23. Tips: It usually takes 3 and 5 minutes to toast sesame seeds
  24. in a frying pan, and about 15 minutes using the oven.
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best ever sesame seed cookies, sesame cookies, Italian lemon sesame cookies, Italian sesame cookies
cookies, dessert, Italian cookies
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More of Our Favorite Cookie Recipes To Try:

Chocolate fudge rolls
Jam filled bow ties
Almond Paste dipped crescent cookies
Macadamia chip
Cherry Almond

these are cookies on a dollie with espresso, a espresso spoon and sesame seed Italian cookies

Disclosure: This recipe was originally shared in 2009. It was edited and re-published in 2019.


  1. Oh my gosh I love these!!! Nobody in the family makes them now. I'm gonna beg my cousin Anna, the baker, to make these. In fact, I'll email her your post!

  2. This is my type of the the sesame:)

  3. This cookie sounds really wonderful, and unique. I have never had one before, but will definitely have to try one soon!
    Take care,

  4. Ahhhh, Italian food makes me smile. :) These are just the cookies that I look forward to when I go to visit my friends who happen to be Italian...their nonna makes the best sesame seed cookies! I should give them a call soon...I need to feast on some yummy Italian food.

  5. Oh, I've never had this cookie...but it looks fabulous...and I know it would be lovely with a cup of tea. Thanks, Claudia!!!

  6. Love the would be wonderful in a cookie.

  7. These look great and easy to make Claudia! Thanks for posting this. I'll certainly try them out soon!
    Thanks for visiting my blog and for your encouragement. I'm so glad you liked the Caponata recipe and that it was your dad's favourite! It is MY favourite as well! I love italian food in general!

  8. I'm a once-a-year baker, but these were easy to make and came out great. Grazie!

  9. I am so sorry to hear that you have lost your brother to cancer, Claudia. This is a lovely contribute to him. I love sesame seeds dearly, so these cookies are definitely right up my alley.

  10. Loved this recipe!! It's a must try!

  11. Best Sesame Cookies Ever and so simple to make!! My family and I love them! Thank you Claudia!!

  12. This recipe is spectacular! It will be my go-to recipe for sesame cookies.

  13. Such a wonderful treat in memory of your brother. The flavors sound amazing and definitely perfect for pairing with espresso.

  14. Family recipes are always the best. Thank you for sharing this one with us. They sound fantastic.

  15. These sesame seed cookies turned out fabulous! I will definitely be making these again. Thanks for sharing!

  16. I love italian cookies but I never made them before until this recipe! They were delicious and the step by step instructions were super helpful. Thanks for the recipe!

  17. I actually like anything that has sesame seed! The nutty smell! I love that. I will definitely try this soon!

  18. I love anything with sesame seeds so this is totally right up my alley! Perfect with my cup of tea!

  19. Claudia.. I lost my 26 yo son on 11-26-18 so I know the heartache you go through daily, esp this month.. these cookies are a great way for you to celebrate and remember your brother, and this recipe sounds really good.. sesame cookies are one if my favorite, so thanks for sharing your story and your family recipe.. God bless all who are missing a loved one at this time ..

  20. I’ve been looking for a crate, sesame seed cookie recipe, for whatever reason it was the only one I didn’t pay any attention to when I was a kid when I used to make the Italian Christmas cookies with my grandmother. I got everything else down pat, but I never bothered with the sesame because sweet cookie shouldn’t have sesame on them like I thought. Boy was I wrong!! these are by far the best sesame seed cookies I have had since my grandmother made them back in the 60s and 70s the ones yeah that I didn’t like, I can’t get enough of them now. I make them for the house and they’re gone shortly there after. Soft inside beautiful I absolutely love them. I use the egg whites as per your suggestion and the seeds stick beautifully. I can’t wait to try the cherry almond snowdrops. Yours is just slightly different than the one my grandmother had but I’m willing to try something new since these sesame seed cookies were so good.

  21. These were my favorite cookies that my Nonna would make at the family restaurant! My job as a very young child was to roll them in the sasame seeds. After they were baked, she and i enjoyed a cookie with espresso (mine was very diluted with cream) lol.
    Unfortunately the recipe died when she did. I can't wait to try this recipe!

    1. my brother (RIP) would drive 3 hours a month back and forth to pick up these cookies, The recipe is probably over 125 years old now and still the best I have ever eaten would love to here your thoughts on how you liked them thanks for your kind story it was very heartwarming


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