All Souls Day Cookies Mom's Recipe

Saturday, November 2, 2019
All Soul's Day Cookies, (sometimes called "Bone of the Dead Cookies" or "Day of the Dead Cookies), are in the shape of bones and are symbolic of that day to remember family, and friends and to honor all lost souls.

The cookies are made as a symbol on the Catholic holiday on November 2 in rememberance of all lost soul's.

All Soul's Day is a Roman Catholic day of remembrance for friends and family who have died. It is celebrated with church services and festivals in honor of the dead.

Mom would serve these cookies to relatives and friends when we had company with a cup of espresso and sambuca which is the perfect accompaniment.

The cookies are chewy spice cookies with a hint of cocoa in them that are one of our family's favorite fall cookies in flavor.

Through the years we have tried many styles from hard as a rock to "bone-like" are they are referred to as bones of the dead, to these soft chewy cookies from my mom and grandma's Regions in Italy, Bari, and Rome.

The cookies can be plain or rolled into powdered sugar and make a nice addition to any cookie tray to honor the memory of lost family members..

This is the Rome, Italy version of traditional cookies baked every year in our family and the cookies can be shaped into bones, logs, or any shape you like.

As another tradition mom would have, she would make this cookie to send when family or friends have lost a loved one on the funeral day.

This recipe for the cookies is delicious and easy to make, just scroll down to the printable recipe card at the end for the instructions.

these are cookies in a red ceramic bowl for All Souls Day also All Saints Day cookies. The cookies are spiced and rolled in powdered sugar. This recipe is how to make traditional All Souls Day cookies.

The Cookie Itself

The cookie is a spice cookie and chewy but there are many versions and recipes for different Regions in Italy and the textures.

It's really a different taste compared to most cookies we usually make and bursting with fall flavors.

The raisins in them are something our family adapted and their addition is a perfect match.

These cookies have a fascinating story behind them.

They're in the shape of bones, for bones of the dead, however not hard as a bone-like cookie.

Mom and Grandmom always made these cookies every year in remembrance to lost family members and it really was a tradition in our home.

these are spice cookies with raisins and walnuts referred as bones of the dead cookies

Catholic Traditions

All Souls' Day, sometimes called the "Day of the Dead," is on November 2 and follows All Saints' Day which is November 1st.

A Roman Catholic day of remembrance for friends and family who have died. It is celebrated with church services and festivals in honor of the dead.

Many customs are associated with All Soul's Day celebrations. Throughout Italy, cafes and pastry shops begin to sell special cookies in late October.

Among the many variations of these tasty cookies are these chewy spice cookies from Milan, ossa dei morti ("bones of the dead") cookies flavored with cloves from Sicily, aversion from the Piedmont made with almonds and hazelnuts, and one from the Veneto Region made with cornmeal.

Sweet treats like these are meant to bring some cheer to compensate for the sadness of the November 1 and 2 holidays.

If the living gets closer to the dead on All Souls’ Day, it’s also the time for the dead to get closer to the living.

Some believe that the spirits of those departed return to earth on this day.

To welcome them, one common Italian tradition was to set an extra place at the table or even put out a tray of food for invisible visitors.

these are cookies in a red ceramic bowl for All Souls Day also All Saints Day cookies. The cookies are spiced and rolled in powdered sugar. This recipe is how to make traditional All Souls Day cookies.

Ingredients for this recipe needed(for exact measurements scroll down to the printable recipes card.

  • butter
  • eggs
  • orange zest
  • cinnamon
  • honey
  • flour
  • cocoa powder
  • baking soda
  • walnuts
  • raisins
  • salt
  • powdered sugar for garnish

these are cookies in a red ceramic bowl for All Souls Day also All Saints Day cookies. The cookies are spiced and rolled in powdered sugar. This recipe is how to make traditional All Souls Day cookies.

Interesting Back Round of Events

All Souls Day is from being a somber affair, for many people the graveside vigil is an occasion to thank their ancestors, a celebration of their lives, and a chance for adults and children alike to chat to them as if they were still here.

In Rome where Grandma is from, there was even a custom to eat at a picnic graveside.

This was a way of sharing a meal with dead loved ones.

In other Regions, people left lanterns lit and fires burning overnight as their tradition.

In Cremona in Lombardy, it was customary to get up early on All Souls’ Day and make the bed to allow wandering souls to find rest.

In Sicily, those who return bring something with them.

Children who’ve been good and remembered dead relatives in their prayers all year long are rewarded with gifts of toys and sweets, sometimes hidden around the house on the morning of November 2nd.

In another area, it was customary for the living to give gifts.

In Sardinia, children go from house to house on All Souls’ Day collecting treats of cakes, nuts, and dried fruit in exchange for a prayer for the deceased.

All Saints Day All Souls Day

"All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day are related, but they are two separate celebrations.

"On All Saints' Day, there's a call to live as saints, to remind us how we're supposed to live.

On All Souls' Day, we're talking about all souls and asking God's mercy for them.

We're talking about those people who have died before us, and their process of getting to heaven, through Christ."

Tips and Additions

  1. top them with raisins
  2. craisins
  3. coconut
  4. nuts
  5. chocolate chips
  6. shape into logs, bones, football shapes
  7. cookies freeze well plain, roll in powdered sugar after thawing
  8. cool before rolling into powdered sugar
  9. the dough should be stiff add more flour when rolling if they are sticky
  10. to reduce spreading refrigerate the dough before baking for around 1 hour
  11. altitudes may affect the shape of the cookies the middles should look dry in the center when completed cooking. Liquids evaporate faster, so amounts of flour, sugar, and liquids may need to be changed to prevent batter that is too moist, dry, or gummy.

All Souls Day Cookies Mom's Recipe Pin for later

this is a pin for later of how to make bones of the dead cookies on All Souls Day

More Traditional Recipes

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25 Holiday Cookies



Mom's Ricotta Pistachio Cookies

Spice Cookie

Even if you don't celebrate All Souls Day or are Catholic, these chewy spice cookies are wonderful.

A great little easy recipe to try and great with any hot beverage to go along with them..

This cookie is always a cherished blessed time of the year to remember our loved ones long past and a continued tradition in our home.

All Souls Day Cookies Mom's Recipe

All Souls Day Cookies Mom's Recipe

Yield: 30
Author: Claudia Lamascolo
Prep time: 10 MCook time: 12 MTotal time: 22 M
these are cookies made on All Souls Day and Catholic traditions for baking these cookies. All Souls Day cookies are spice cookies with powdered sugar on them.


  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2-1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pinch of sea salt or kosher
  • 1/2 cup raisins a mixture of golden and dark
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • powdered sugar for garnish


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. You will need 2 parchment-lined cookie sheets set aside.
  2. In a large bowl combine all wet ingredients and mix together. 
  3. Add the dry ingredients and stir the raisins and walnuts last. 
  4. Shape the cookies into 2-inch logs and place them on baking sheets. 
  5. Slightly flatten the logs, placing two inches apart, I add a few more raisins to the sides and top if not enough. 
  6. Bake for 12 minutes on 350 degrees. 
  7. When completely cooled, place the powdered sugar in a zip lock bag and shake the cookies gently into the sugar. 
  8. You can freeze these up to 6 months and they are also sturdy cookies for mailing during the holiday season.
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All Saints Day, All Souls Day, cookies, Catholic cookies, cookies for holidays, bones of the dead cookies
cookies, desserts, holiday cookies
Created using The Recipes Generator

how to make all souls day cookies with spice and traditional Catholic chewy cookies

More Cookie Recipes

Grandma's Wedding Cookies

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Almond Paste Cookies


All Souls Day Cookies Mom's Recipe Pin for later

this is a pin for later on how to make Catholic All Souls Day Cookies

Disclosure: This recipe was originally shared in 2012. It was edited and re-published in 2019


  1. These cookies so rich and spicy look amazing. I didn't kwown them. Thanks to your mom for the recipe and thank you for sharing :) Bye, have a great we

  2. There has to be a flavor party in these cookies with cocoa, orange, honey, etc. I may just have to give these a try.

  3. I like all of the flavors in this cookie, and they seem easy to make. Have to add these to the list.

  4. With walnuts, raisins and spices, these cookies for sure taste great!

  5. Nice, I dont know if I had come across the cookies before, but they surely look and sound great.

  6. mamma che buoni! I absolutely love this. It is a version I don't know and it is certainly very very nice. Sei la migliore Claudia. Baci

  7. I'm neither Italian (though I kind of wish I were) or Catholic, but these cookies look awesome!

  8. These cookies are so incredibly amazing...such a wonderful 'treasure' of a recipe of your sweet mom's. She is smiling down at you from heaven for making them. Thanks for sharing! xo

  9. these look divine. wonderful combination of flavors. Thank you for joining in the fun at the Thursday Favorite Things hop. Happy Tuesday wishes xo P.S. sorry I'm so late visiting :-)

  10. these look divine. wonderful combination of flavors. Thank you for joining in the fun at the Thursday Favorite Things hop. Happy Tuesday wishes xo P.S. sorry I'm so late visiting :-)

  11. Wait. Purgatory before heaven? Is that mandatory? Everyone has to go through that? Is death like getting in line at the DMV? I'm gonna need some cookies.

  12. These biscuits sound delicious and I love the old photo of you mum!

  13. I love the combination of fruit and spice in cookies! These sound delicious!

  14. What a lovely recipe and great memories, the picture of your mom is a treasure. No doubt that our catholic traditions unite us all. Blessings amiga!

  15. Never knew there were cookies for all souls day. These sound so tasty!

  16. Italians do follow the church's tradition and All Souls Day is a big day in Italy. My mamma would relate how all of their friends and family would get together for a huge picnic. Special foods and desserts were always a must. Your cookies really look delicious and I love the story behind them.

  17. Well, I am Ukrainian...and was raised in a Catholic household. Interesting story behind the cookies. I do like the sound of the spices happening here. Sounds like the perfect addition to my afternoon latte.

  18. I feel like a bad Catholic for not knowing these cookies are a thing!! They look delicious, and I do love a spicy cookie, so I'll have to give these a try

  19. Chewy cookies are my favorite kind! The spices in this cookie sound like they'd be perfect with a hot cup of tea. Can't wait to try your mom's recipe.

  20. wonderful combination of flavors. I didn't know these cookies and it looks like a rich decadent cookies. Your mom looks sooo beautiful. This is a precious post and the recipe is mind blowing!

  21. I love soft chewy cookies. My grand mom use to make day of the dead cookies. I've never made them myself. Can't wait to try these.

  22. Mmm I like these cookies. This is a really unique recipe. Your mother is incredible, and now thanks to her we have a great recipe.

  23. This is a really unique recipe! It's so cute to use the recipes of their parents. It is so important to adhere to the traditions. I'm sure that the recipe of your mother is very tasty. I think it's worth a try.

  24. I think it is such a beautiful tradition, my husband is Italian so I was introduced to all of his family traditions over the years and now we try to do them ourselves <3 These cookies really are as special as you say, we love the spice to them but the nuts give a nice light texture to the dough itself, all in all it is a delicious way to remember.

  25. This looks like more than just a recipe to me - definitely more like a tradition. Quite a great one to save - thank you so much!

  26. What a great tradition to keep passed through the generations. These look perfect to pair with a cup of espresso or a rich tea.

  27. Dear Claudia, your cookies look and sound delicious. I'd love to share some with you over a cup of coffee. I wish I had some of my mom's recipes...the best way to keep a memory alive is through tradition. Beautiful post dear! XO

  28. I really like how you incorporated tradition and memories into these cookies. I love the story and the recipe. What a lovely way to keep memory of a dear person alive.

  29. Just made these cookies for my mom, we just lost my younger brother, however, even though I followed the recipe exactly, they didn't look at all like your photo, but spread out flat. Taste is good but what went wrong? Please check the recipe, I am a practiced baker and in my experience when a cookie is very flat it is usually due to the amount of sugar. Looking forward to your response, I'd love to make them again!

    1. not knowing more about where you live and how you shaped them I am at a loss , We make them every year, add more flour when molding them that's what I do to hold their shape and cut the sugar to 3/4 of a cup but mine never spread out. The only other suggestion I have is to refrigerate the dough which I have never dough but that prevents spreading also. Wow I am so sorry about your experience this is a first and that recipe was posted in 2012. I do not see anything missing.

    2. Also feel free to email me if you have anymore questions since I see that instantly on my phone to answer you. I would like to know the altitude of where you may live.

  30. Hi, thanks for the suggestions, I live in long island, new york

    1. wow then it's not altitude problems just needs to add more flour and less sugar. These old fashioned recipes from mom are a little of this and a little of that. Utica NY here but this is a recipe from Bari Italy


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