Grandma's Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies

Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Grandma's Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies is on every holiday Christmas cookie tray every year without fail.

I think just about everyone in Upstate New York, especially in the Utica, New York area, makes these cookies for Christmas and wedding trays.

These chocolate cookies have a sweet chocolate spiced flavor and a perfect fall-flavored cookie.

Decorated with a delicious white homemade easy frosting, it adds just the right blanket of snowy feel to bring a feeling of winter comfort to the cookie tray.

Of course, being such a popular cookie on Italian wedding trays and local bakeries, these were referred to as meatball cookies, maybe a little more familiar name for you.

Like most kids back in the 1960s we seem to all have different names for our Italian foods in every household.

You may even have named them something different like frosted chocolate balls, spiced chocolate cookies or maybe just those chocolate chocolate chip cinnamon balls.

These cookies ended up being the most popular for my kids growing up and their favorites.

We also make 24 different kinds every year and still do along with Girl Scout Copycat Cookies and a few other favorite childhood cookies!

It doesn't matter who or what you named these, they are a must-make and wonderful memory of my childhood cooking and baking days at Christmas time.

This recipe is simple, just scroll down to the recipe card and print it off.

this is a recipe on how to make a chocolate Italian spice cookie these cookies have cinnamon in them and chocolate. They are frosted with a white frosting and are a popular Italian Christmas Cookie

chocolate meatball cookies cooling on a wire rack

Homemade Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies

Throughout the years, this vintage recipe has been given many names, you may also know it as "Chocolate Meatball Cookies", they are dark with chocolate chips with fall spices. Grandma always called them chocolate spice cookies or spice balls cookies.

If I had to guess, I would say this recipe is over 100 years old since Grandma and Mom made these since I was a little girl year after year around 1960 and Grandma was already in her late 80s.

These cookies were another staple when a family member was getting married and always on the wedding cookies tray, but a must make around the Christmas holiday, it was through the generations every child's favorite including my own two sons.

iced chocolate meatball cookies

Ingredients That Go into Grandma's Chocolate Spice Cookies

  • butter
  • sugar
  • cream cheese room temperature (softened)
  • evaporated milk
  • vanilla extract
  • flour
  • baking powder
  •  unsweetened cocoa powder
  • cinnamon, cloves,  nutmeg

collage of chocolate meatballs cookie dough

Grandma's Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies Pin for later

pin for later chocolate meatball cookies

Cherish The Moments

How fast the time goes by, and these by far are the hardest of posts to write, tears of the happiest days and times gone by, but life goes on.

We all continue making new memories to share through our lives through the foods we share with our families and friends.

chocolate meatball cookies

Traditional Cookies Passed Down for Generations

Great moments in time last forever through our cooking and sharing recipes.

Those tastes are embedded in our memories forever from our childhoods long into adulthood and that's what makes these holidays so special.

Someone else somewhere has made the same kind of memories that last forever, so this plain and simple cookie became a very special part of our Christmas baking and will for years to come.

Grandma's Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies are a delicious cookie to start your own family traditions and in our family keep her memory alive as we reminisce on the fond memories of baking together.

A vintage classic cookie that never gets old.

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Yield: 32
Author: Claudia Lamascolo
Grandma's Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies

Grandma's Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies

This is a vintage chocolate spice cookie referred to meatball cookies on an Italian Wedding Tray or during the Christmas Holiday season. The cookie is iced with white thick frosting and laced with cinnamon spice.
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 15 MinTotal time: 25 Min


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 - 8-ounce package of cream cheese room temperature (softened)
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 5 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together.
  3. Add softened cream cheese.
  4. Add all dry ingredients and alternate with the 1 cup of evaporated milk.
  5. After you have blended thoroughly, fold in the 2 cups of chocolate chips and (1 cup of walnuts these are optional).
  6. Roll into the size of a walnut bake on a greased cookie sheet or parchment paper-lined sheet at 350 degrees, for 15 minutes, cool completely.
  7. Frost with white icing.
  8. Frosting Recipe:
  9. 2 cups powdered sugar
  10. 2 tablespoons of shortening add evaporated milk a little at a time till easy to spread but still nice and thick, on cooled cookies.
  11. If you like a thin glaze just add more milk.
  12. You can decorate these with colored sprinkles on top of the frosting or use finely chopped nuts or coconut for a change.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

15 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

9 g

Carbs (grams)

22 g

Net carbs

16 g

Sugar (grams)

27 g

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.

Grandma's Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies Pin for later

Here are more of our favorite cookie recipes:

Cucidati Fig Sicilian Cookies

24 One-Stop Cookie Shop

Fried Bow Tie Cookies

25 Holiday Cookies

this is a recipe on how to make a chocolate Italian spice cookie these cookies have cinnamon in them and chocolate. They are frosted with a white frosting and are a popular Italian Christmas Cookie

This is an affiliate link and I do make a small commission See Disclosure Policy

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


  1. These sound wonderful. I just printed out the recipe and can't wait to try em. Thanks so much for sharing!!!

  2. wonderful cookies and memories!time fly,fly,fly...

  3. Such beautiful family story...just warms my heart. Thanks for sharing. Love the cookies...soft and firm. I would really like them.

  4. Aww .. I know what you mean. You wouldn't trade those memories for all the world, but sometimes they can make you a little melancholy. It's a bittersweet thing - thank you for sharing! And it goes without say - but I'll say it anyway - those cookies look very very delish.

  5. The cookies sound wonderful. And I just love how food brings back memories and connects us with your past...

  6. Wonderful memories and the cookies look amazing!

  7. Grandma's cookies have to be good. I am baking like mad this year - as my grown-up kids expect it! My 80-year old mother still whips up a storm in the ktichen. All with the idea - of passing the traditions on. Hard to see the years go. So satisfying when you know how much they counted. I love spice cookies, spice cake, spice bread. I know I will love these.

  8. As always another great post, I can't blame Chad for making these his favorite.

  9. Cookie recipes are the best ones to share, they seem to have the best memories. This is a lovely cookie receipe and the story that goes with it makes it priceless. The Christmas photo is just adorable, it really made me smile out loud!Thanks for sharing!

  10. If we want to keep the cookies in a cookie jar, then is it best not to glace them?

  11. These are great! It's always wonderful to have traditions like this!

  12. Great story and cookies! My grandmother used to make a similar cookie (no cream cheese though) called Tortos - they are divine. I always loved the different spices with the chocolate.

  13. So many great cookie recipes you have! I HAVE to remember these when I start doing my cookies for my son's bake sale :)

  14. Beautiful post. I really love to look back on the holiday baking traditions of my family, too. My mom and I would spend days making chocolates, pies and cookies before Christmas to give as gifts and to take to our own family gatherings. Your cookies look amazing. I can't wait to try them :)

  15. @kathleen thank you I hope you enjoy them as much as we have all these years :)
    @alison thanks alison
    @@marymoh thank you :)
    @tasty trix you are right about those feelings sometimes the holidays are so hard
    @andrea thanks andrea
    @5star thanks
    @claudia god bless your mom at 80! wow
    @daydreamerdsrts chad thanks you too!
    @kathyvegas glad it made you smile I miss that age too
    @cheah thank you
    @dollydoesdessert thank you
    @tastyeatsathome thanks
    @kriskishere those sound great too!
    @rochelle glad you like them thank you
    @chris appreciate your kind words :)

  16. Yes Grandma's cookies are always the best! Nice to see you way back then. My kids would love these cookies. Thanks for sharing the recipe and memories!

  17. even though the recipe is great - it is so much better with memories...thanks for sharing this

  18. Aw, I love your memories. We also used to make cookies over a whole weekend and we are going to do it tomorrow. We don't make as many any more. Thanks for bringing up such nice memories, and a delicious cookie!

  19. What a lovely sentimental post and, of course, the cookies look fantastic!

  20. what a great story....and wonderful pics! So many great things to try!

  21. I LOVE the retro photo! And the amazing looking cookies. It's like they were snowed on! VERY seasonal. :)

  22. Legacy of love from generation to generation. Looks good. My kids will love these.

  23. These sound fabulous! I love the thought of the chocolate and spice combination.

  24. Legacy of love from generation to generation. Looks good. My kids will love these.

  25. Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes with us. Happy holidays to you and your readers, from us at

  26. These cookies look wonderful...chocolate and spice lovely combo especially with the icing.

  27. Hi
    These sound great I have a wedding comming up and would like to make them seeing I am doing the cookies for favors. But I have a question
    I noticed there are no eggs is this correct?
    Thank You

  28. I've been looking for a recipe like this for years. My husband's grandmother made something like this and I've been trying to recreate the cookies he remembers. Thanks for sharing your family memory and hopefully letting my husband enjoy his memories as well!

  29. Oh, my gosh, 24 kinds of cookies??? I thought I was crazy, LOL. But such delicious memories you've made for your boys and now your grandchildren!

  30. Well if it is grandma's recipe it just has to be delicious. That is what I thought about my baba's cooking. My grandson always tells me "you are a good cooker gramma"! I would love these with my morning coffee.

  31. I love having holiday memories like that and I'm positive that each of my siblings and I have favorites from our childhood. I like your idea of freezing batches of dough ahead of time int he fall months to be ready for December so there's less work! These cookies look tasty and would be perfect with a mug of cocoa!

  32. What a great family recipe! The memories from recipes like this are priceless

  33. So true , they grow up so fast. My mom always complained that we grew so fast but I do the same. I feel the kids are really growing so fast. Love the memories we make and I'm sure the kids will treasure them as they go out. These sounds wonderful.

  34. Spicy cookies are a must at Christmas. It seems like Southern Italians were more into the cookies and cakes than the Northern Italians although we did have our desserts. My sweet MIL was German and she baked cookies like nobody's business. She made a pepper cookie and some fantastic spice cookies too. I'll have to make these - I really like adding to my cookie collection

  35. Love your memories, reminds me of my holidays as a child, house filled with wonderful flavors. These cookies looks delicious.

  36. Love this spice cookies, I like cream cheese addition along with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg for me these are spices for holidays. Yes keeping memories alive is always best. Now I know why your son like this cookies they indeed delicious.

  37. I love Christmas traditions. Your family favorite cookie making is fantastic! These cookies are so good and I need to give them a go with my youngest! She and I bake together every week. it is my turn to pick the baking ingredient and I will make these!

  38. Dear Claudia, what a sweet post. These cookies look and sound delightful...what a beautiful way to keep the spirit of the holidays. You are so right, the kitchen is the best place to keep memories alive. XO

  39. These cookies scream christmas if you ask me :) I love how flavorful these look. And super soft and just delicious. I'm saving this recipe for sure. My kiddo will be very happy when I make him these.

  40. Family recipes are the best. My nana always made "crickets" for Christmas, but they seem more Halloweeny since she told me they were real crickets in them! She's a funny lady. Anyways, wonderful recipe and thanks for the memories :)

  41. I love holiday spice cookies but haven't made them for years. Thank you for sharing your memories and reminding me that I need to make these cookies this year.


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