Italian Butterball Cookies

Source: Noni Clara cir. 1970’s

Italian Butter Ball cookies
Italian Butter Ball cookies

Italian Butterball Cookie

These Italian butterball cookies have been in my family since forever. My mother baked these, my aunties baked these, and my Nonni baked these. The typical Italian Christmas cookie which is soft, delicate and loaded with Italian roots. The balls almost melt in your mouth, and you can somehow picture the Roman’s munching on these hundreds of years ago. Some cookies, foods, etc., just resemble a culture, and for me, this is one of those recipes. If you walk down the streets of any Italian town, you will see these cookies in just about every baker’s window. Italians love to bake during the holidays. From the “torcetti, to the “biscotti“, “pizzelle” and the fried “cenci”. I’m stopping here, but there’s oodles more. Every one of the Italian bakes has that subtle flavor, yet screams Italian. In my opinion, the Italian’s nailed their love of baking, and has proven to be a taste that has been handed down generation to generation.

In my childhood, it was common to expect the usual’s during the Christmas time of year. Biscotti, nutrolls, pizzells, and the butterballs were always on the table. Always the same in appearance as previous years, and always the same taste too. The butterball is in short, a small little ball-cookie with crushed walnuts and a subtle sweetness. Finished in a roll of powder sugar-it’s the perfect image of a snow ball in winter. And, it melts in your mouth the same way a snow ball would! For me, the butterball is simple proof that food triggers memories. Transgressing straight back to childhood after your first bite, well, it’s indescribable. But, I’m sure you can relate when I talk of food and its triggers.

Start your own baking traditions

My Noni would make these upon demand. They were said to be a family recipe, but I’ve found this recipe all over the internet and even in many ‘American’ cookbooks. So, maybe this recipe is soo good, it’s been stolen from the Italians. You’ll find my recipe is very light and delicate. Keep the walnuts and don’t substitute with pecans or almonds. The walnut gives the perfect delicate touch-even though their crushed and not whole, it’s a great addition, and is almost important as the final roll of powder sugar. Make this a family tradition. Baking brings families together, and lives on generation after generation. In fact, create your own generational baking book for your family members. If your short on recipes, add what you like. As its never too late to start your family traditions that can live on forever.

Italian Butter Balls

A delicious family recipe that everyone will love. 
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Cookies
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Resting Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 25 minutes
Servings 40 balls


  • 1 cup butter soft at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1 pack vanilla sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup walnuts chopped


  • combine all ingredients and form cookies into small balls.  Let them sit in a chilled room, or outside for 3 hours
  • bake @ 325 F. for 15-20 min.
    When cool, roll in powder sugar. 
    Italian butter ball cookies finished
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