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Italian Easter Egg Cookies

April 20, 2011

In my home Easter cannot go by without baking these adorable egg cookies.  My mother baked these cookies every year sharing with family and serving for Easter breakfast.  These cookies were as excitedly anticipated as finding my Easter basket filled with chocolates!

My mother always prepared a full breakfast on Sundays either eggs, pancakes, waffles, French toast, bacon and or sausage.   But on Easter morning, cookies were our breakfast! Slightly sweetened, anise cookie with a light lemon flavored frosting. The hard boiled egg was eaten with a bit of salt making this a combination I simply long for every year.

Just like the Christmas season of endless cookie baking, the week prior to Easter was just as busy baking these cookies. My mother formed the dough into the basket shapes and when cooled, my mother would brush on the confectioner’s glaze and my job was to quickly add on the sprinkles before it set.  Remaining dough was shaped into “S” shaped cookies, baked and frosted as well. 

My mother’s recipe created a huge amount of dough as she prepared dozens of these cookies for family. I have had to adjust down the amounts as it is only my kids and I these days plus a small package sent overnight to my sister!

I have found recipes for Easter breads with the hard boiled eggs, but have not been able to find these specific Easter cookies. It seems that no one I have asked through the years has heard of these other than my immediately relatives.  I would love to hear from anyone who has had these cookies in their family.  Italians are known for having sweets or biscotti for breakfast with their morning cup of coffee as breakfast was normally a light meal to start off their day.

Italian Easter Cookies

For the dough:

8 eggs

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon anise extract

8 cups sifted all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

12 colored hard boiled eggs

For the Icing:

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/3 cup milk, slightly warm

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Food coloring, optional – I used red for a light pink color


In a stand up mixer, combine wet ingredients – eggs, sugar, butter, lemon juice and anise extract, beating well until light and frothy.  Add in dry ingredients and beat on low to combine; mixture will be thick and somewhat sticky.  Cover mixing bowl and allow to rest ½ hour refrigerated. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line several baking sheets with Slipat or parchment paper.  On a lightly floured surface begin to shape the baskets.  Taking about ¼ cup of dough, gently roll the dough into a long thin pencil, about 20 inches.  Cut in half and twist to form the basket handle.  Place the handle onto the baking sheet in a horse shoe shape.  Take about ¼ cup dough and form it into the “basket” shape, like a thick oval or egg shape.  Place that on top of the ends of the basket handles pressing lightly to mold together.  Take one egg and place it on the basket.  Push in lightly, but not so much as to push through the dough.   Continue making the baskets; about 4 baskets fit on each baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned.  Remove and allow to cool completely.  Makes approximately 12 baskets.

For the icing:

Mix together the confectioner’ sugar, milk and lemon juice until smooth and no lumps.   Add in food coloring if using, pastel colors look best.  I use a pastry brush to gently brush on the icing holding the cookie basket in my hands.  Place the cookie basket on a cooling rack over a baking sheet and sprinkle on the colored sprinkles.   Allow to rest and harden.  Store cookies in a covered container in the refrigerator for a week or so.  I like to make these the weekend prior to Easter to share with friends and family during the week.

71 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2011 9:19 am

    Those are really cool! I like the egg in a basket theme and that the recipe calls for anise.

  2. April 20, 2011 1:29 pm

    I love this idea – am always looking for Italian dessert recipes. :)

  3. April 20, 2011 1:42 pm

    These are truly the cutest and most unique cookies EVER. I love the idea of the hard boiled eggs in the basket and serving the cookie for breakfast. I can’t say I have ever heard of this tradition but I am anxious to hear if you get a response from someone else who has eaten these. I really would love to make these for Sunday but am not sure how I could ever make them look that beautiful.

  4. Stefanie permalink
    April 20, 2011 8:43 pm

    My Sicilian grandma always made these cookies for Easter! Pupa Cu L’Ova, I believe she called them. I’ve never had her write down the recipe (she always did it from memory), so I might try out your version this Easter :)


    • Lucia permalink
      April 4, 2012 4:57 pm

      Hi Stephanie, in sicilian “Pupa cu l’Ova” means “girl with the egg”.
      Every Easter, my grandmother was used to prepare one for every grand-daughter a biscuit shaped as a doll with a hard boiled egg on it. It was an ancient tradition to whish fertility :-)
      Thank you for having me thinking of this nice old memory :-)

  5. April 20, 2011 9:51 pm

    Yes, I do remember these from my childhood. How great that you’re maintaining the tradition in your family. They look beautiful.

  6. Michael Demma permalink
    April 21, 2011 1:43 am

    My family has been making these consistently for over a hundred years. Passed from mother to daughter. In my case my wife learned from my mother and now bakes them without fail with our grandchildren.

    Ours look a little different as they have a cross on them for Easter but essentally the same.

    Does anyone know the Italian name for these?

    Buona Paschale

    • April 21, 2011 7:59 am

      I am so happy to hear from so many others that they know about these cookies. Yes, my mother also make the cookies with a cross on them. I did make a few that way but they didn’t get in the picture. I just like the cute basket look! I’ve now heard the Italian name is Pupa Cu L’Ova and another referred them to Cududua. Happy Easter to all!!

      • Lita Ristuccia permalink
        April 21, 2011 2:02 pm


        I loved seeing your post about the easter cookies with the eggs baked in! My grandmother made these for us every single Easter. I loved them. She used her basic biscotti recipe, worked out the shape of the basket, put an egg in a slight hollow and covered the egg with a cross shape. No icing or sprinkles but they were always delicious anyway!

      • February 26, 2012 7:07 am

        I am new to your blog, but wanted to add to your Easter cookie comment. My Italian Nonnie made these for all her grandchildren every year until her death at 96 years old.(never sick a day in her life!)
        However , she used your same recipe but shaped them like cookie “dolls” or maybe closer to gingerbread people. She put the egg in the tummy and put a cookie cross over the egg.
        When we went to her house on Easter morning, getting our cookie doll was a real highlight of the holiday. it was her favorite time of the year and her anticipation of the the rebirth of life.

      • Lucia permalink
        April 9, 2012 6:16 am

        Laraine, my grand mother did exactly the same.
        Was your grandmother from South Italy? Because I think this tradition belongs to the culture of South, I never heard aout this in the North Italy.
        Anyway, nice memories, thank you :-)

  7. April 21, 2011 7:25 am

    Linda, the cookies look so perfect and they must be delicious with the anise extract! Happy Easter. :)

  8. Danielle permalink
    April 21, 2011 10:28 am

    Like you, I also grew up with having these cookies on Easter with my Italian family. My grandmother also shaped them into the shape of Easter baskets and put a hard boiled egg into them. I have looked everywhere for a recipe for these and couldn’t find one anywhere! Thank you so much for posting this!!!

    • March 25, 2013 8:35 pm

      Thank you Danielle. I’m so glad to share my mother’s recipes, they are so very special to me!

  9. April 21, 2011 10:31 am

    So pretty and Easter-y! I love ‘em!

  10. April 21, 2011 3:23 pm

    Could these be ANY cuter? What a darling and inventive recipe. Happy Easter and thanks for sharing!

  11. April 22, 2011 10:01 am

    I have never heard of or seen these cookies before, but they are so cute and so perfect for Easter. They almost look too pretty to eat!

  12. Irene permalink
    April 22, 2011 6:57 pm

    I have tried many recipes taken off the web and never commented, but this one “ITALIAN EASTER EGG COOKIES” I must say thank you for this wonderful recipe……….I have just cleaned the last dirty pan and the cookes are all done and decorated and they taste just like when I was a kid at my Grandmas…..(I am 73 yrs old and this is the best recipe for these cookies) Now my Grands will enjoy these beautiful cookies.

    • April 23, 2011 4:15 pm

      Irene, Thank you for taking the time to comment – it was the sweetest compliment and I am so happy that I could share this recipe with so many people. I hope you have a blessed Easter!

    • salmell permalink
      March 25, 2013 6:14 pm

      Our family has been making these cookies for generations. My grandparents were from Sicily so we always had them every easter. My Mother made them and it’s been my turn for a long time now. My daughters will help this year and carry on the tradition. The younger grandchildren always look forward to the big cookie Easter sunday.

      • March 25, 2013 8:12 pm

        I’m so happy to find all these wonderful comments on families making these cookies!! You have no idea how touched I am!!

  13. Gloria permalink
    April 23, 2011 10:58 am

    I saw that you included in your blog! Pretty cool! It’s great! Love the pictures. Happy Easter!! Thanks again for the cookies!

    • April 23, 2011 4:16 pm

      Gloria, you are very welcome! I wish we were sharing the holiday together. Miss you very much!

  14. April 28, 2011 12:59 pm

    What a great cookie! I also love the story of you growing up and helping to bake them with your mom. :) So sweet.

  15. August 24, 2011 4:15 pm

    These are fantastic! Here in Spain we make something very similar for the Feast of San Marcos – 25th April. a sweet bread with a hard boiled egg. I love the coloured eggs, so gorgeous!

    • March 25, 2013 8:33 pm

      Tanya, I’ve heard of the sweet bread and have wanted to try that. Maybe on April 25th, after my Easter Cookies are all gone :) I will make the bread!!!

  16. November 3, 2011 8:49 pm

    I can’t believe I found someone else who knows about these cookies! Our recipes are different but the same concept. You can see mine on my blog
    I really enjoyed your blog!

  17. January 26, 2012 1:07 am

    I can’t believe I found this recipe!! My mother (yes,Italian) made bunny cookies, ten inches tall with an egg in the tummy for us and we ate them for breakfast (and all day) as well. Thank you for posting this!!

    • February 27, 2012 3:45 pm

      I’m so glad you found this and that you know about these cookies!! and bunny cookies….how cute is that!! I’m trying to picture how they would look; really a wonderful idea!

  18. Angela permalink
    March 25, 2012 6:28 pm

    My great-grandmother made these cookies when I was a child. They were shaped like baskets, bunnies, baby chicks and ducks with the egg in the middle. Grandma refused to pass along the recipe to anyone who wouldn’t take the time to make them with her, and it was never written on paper…Either you learned to make them from memory, or you didn’t make them. My mother was the only one in the family who ever took the time. I learned to make them last year, and we are looking forward to this weekend when we will make them together for all of my little nephews. Our recipe is somewhat different, but I suppose that is also what makes them so unique! Thank you for sharing. :-)

    • March 25, 2013 8:32 pm

      My mom mentioned that as well, her mother did not write down recipes, but she learned by watching and only began to write the recipes down as she shared with her sisters. Your Grandma made some very special ones, baby chicks and ducks and bunnies!! I love hearing all these family stories, thank you so much!!

  19. doreen permalink
    March 27, 2012 5:34 pm

    my mom made these for us each Easter for breakfast a few differences in recepie and my mom (from italy) shaped them in each of our first inatial then pressed the egg in and no icing!

    • March 25, 2013 8:30 pm

      ooh, I love the idea of shaping into an initial – then everyone has their own special cookie!! Thanks for sharing Doreen!!

  20. Michele permalink
    March 28, 2012 12:10 pm

    My grandmother made these cookies every year for Easter. She had the recipe in her head and I don’t think she ever wrote it down, so when she passed 13 years ago, we haven’t been able to duplicate it since. She decorated them with Jelly Beans, but the end result was always the same and the “S” cookies always followed. This has been a wonderful trip down memory lane for me and I can’t wait to give them a try. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

  21. Robyn permalink
    March 30, 2012 6:21 pm

    I helped frost these cookies every year with my Italian grandma, mom and great aunts. We call them (forgive the spelling I have no idea) CA(hard c) soup a (short a sound)s. I am actually going to make them with my cousins this weekend and next weekend with my mom and sisters. Love them. We make the twist ones with the hard boiled egg in the center and them some that are not twists, just cookies. They are yummy. Love them.

  22. Pat permalink
    March 31, 2012 6:56 pm

    My Grandmother made these every Easter and I have never seen them in any bakery even in my old Italian neighborhood. Thanks for the recipe!

  23. jamie permalink
    April 4, 2012 9:01 pm

    My grandmother used to make a version of these cookies every year for Easter (yes she was Italian). I loved them and I wanted to make them for my kids this year. Gram is no longer with us and all she had written down were the ingredients so I was looking for a recipe to help me out a bit. She did not glaze hers but I might try that next year. They look so pretty. Thanks for sharing!! :)

    • March 25, 2013 8:29 pm

      It is so nice that you are continuing your grandmother’s traditions, I believe it keeps their spirit alive. Happy Easter Jamie!

  24. Marcia King permalink
    April 10, 2012 9:01 am

    My Sister-In-Laws make these every year for Easter. They are so cute and we love them!

  25. Michele Anne permalink
    April 12, 2012 7:19 pm

    Robyn – our family calls them Casoupa (sp?) too. Tried to find them on line by typing in that name. Happy to have found this site. Just got the recipe from my mother-in-law on Easter Sunday and can’t wait to make them myself. Thank you for this recipe!

    • March 25, 2013 8:25 pm

      You are so welcome Michele, I love that you had found this. I know how sentimental family traditions are and I try to continue them because it just means so much to me.

  26. Jennifer permalink
    June 21, 2012 10:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing this! I do think it’s a Sicilian tradition..I am from Milwaukee, my grandma made these every year and yes, we at them for breakfast :) I moved to St. Louis, Italian community but not Sicilian and I don’t see these here at Easter. Thanks for the recipe. I’m going to try them next Easter!

    • March 25, 2013 8:26 pm

      I love hearing that you ate these for breakfast!! Some people find that a bit odd to have a cookie for breakfast, but the combination is just something special and so much needed for a special holiday as Easter!! Thanks Jennifer!

  27. November 3, 2012 10:22 am

    My Grandmother always made cookies with hard boiled eggs for Easter. She’d decorate them with icing, non pareils and jelly beans…

    • March 25, 2013 8:24 pm

      Jelly beans…now that is an interesting idea!! Thanks Josephine for stopping by. I wish you all a happy Easter!!

  28. Vikki permalink
    February 21, 2013 8:47 pm

    Thank you! Thank you! I have been looking for someone who knew something about these cookies for awhile now. I am not Italian, but every Easter my Nana bought these cookies for my sisters and I when we were children. They were in the shape of bunny’s, but the sprinkles, anise flavored cookie with the pastel colored egg are the same ones you describe. We lived in New York and I believed she bought these at a little Italian bakery in the Bronx. I’m in my fifties now and I can’t wait to bake them.

    • March 25, 2013 8:22 pm

      Vikki, thank you for leaving a comment, I love hearing about other family’s cookies! The bunny sounds so cute, I am going to try to figure out how to shape it!! I do hope you try this recipe and have a wonderful Easter!!

  29. Sara Ann (Ferreri) Agnor permalink
    March 14, 2013 8:15 pm

    YES! I can vividly remember every Easter my grandmother would bring these over only hers were in the shape of a pretzel with the colored egg in the middle. I have been trying to find the “cookie” version of this as I see alot made with a bread dough. Thank you so much, Easter is only 2 weeks away and my grown children are now looking to keep up with their Italian heritage traditions, Christmas is always easy to find receipes for but these….well they just bring a smile to my face and a very warm memory from my childhood.

    • March 25, 2013 8:21 pm

      Hi Sara Ann, I’ve heard of the shape of a pretzel as it being the hands in prayer so it makes sense that they would shape them as such being that Easter follows the Lenten season. It has brought such a warm smile to my face to receive your comments and so many others that have this tradition in their family. Thank you for stopping by.

  30. March 16, 2013 8:43 pm

    My Mom made these cookies every year for Easter. The flavoring in her recipe is orange and a can of crisco instead of butter. It is actually the same recipe she used for Sesame Seed Cookies. My sister and our daughters are trying to keep the tradition going since our Mom’s passing. I always loved these cookies and cherish the memories. Family and friends loved Millie’s Easter Egg cookies. Happy Easter!

    • March 25, 2013 8:19 pm

      My mother used Crisco in many of her cookie recipes, “shortening” as she handwrote! She then later scratched it off and switched to butter. I’m so glad to hear you are keeping the tradition going, my cousins also do make them at Easter with their daughters too!

  31. March 24, 2013 7:54 pm

    I make these too. My mother used to make the yeast ones, but
    my father talked about the cookies and I started making them.
    Both sets of grandparents were Sicilian, but from different Provinces.
    My family loves these and looks forward to them every year. It wouldn’t be
    Easter without them. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

    • March 25, 2013 8:16 pm

      Thank you Theresa, I so agree, I have to have these cookies every Easter or I will feel like a huge tradition is missing!!

  32. Theresa Benvenuto permalink
    March 25, 2013 11:04 pm

    OMG – I finally found these. My Grandmother has been dead since 1988 and I will always remember these cookies. She would make these cookies and then give them out to all her friends after church and we would eat for breakfast too. I kept looking for this recipe and always found breads but not this cookie. THANK YOU!! I am going to make this for my children and start the tradition again..

  33. Chuchi permalink
    March 29, 2013 9:49 am

    Thrilled to find this recipe. My aunt always made these every Easter and they are one of my favorites. I am determined to make these for my family this Easter. My grandparents were from Sicily. Can’t wait for Easter morning! Thanks again.

  34. Mia permalink
    March 30, 2013 10:17 am

    Thank you!!! I have been looking for a recipe for Pupa Cu L’Ova’s since my grandmother passed years ago. She would make them every Easter. Now I can continue the tradition with my family.

  35. Barbara permalink
    March 30, 2013 1:11 pm

    These look like cookies our Mom and Aunts made at Easter. I can’ t eat them anymore due to diabetes. Thanks for posting this recipe! Anyone have a diabetic friendly recipe?

  36. March 30, 2013 4:48 pm

    I have always wanted this recipe My Nannie Ferlazzo always made them for us Children GrandChildren at Easter and I Loved them. Her’s were not as fancy and had the dough around the egg completly and you ate the cookie to find the egg in side it. I can’t wait to make these Thanks so much for the recipe

  37. Megan permalink
    April 1, 2013 12:33 am

    Omg… I just came in contact with these cookies for the first time in my life today and I think they’re amazing!… Long story short: my 8 year old daughter just met her biological father’s family (including grandparents from Italy) today and they spoiled her rotten and sent her home with these cookies. After inhaling one I ended up here! Lol. Hopefully my daughter will adopt this tradition when she has a family of her own!

  38. Ed Greco permalink
    June 28, 2013 6:25 pm

    They are Sicilian! Growing up in Florida I always though it strange that we ate these for Easter breakfast. In 2004 my wife and I traveled to Sicily at Easter and saw many different version of these being made all over the island. I very recently bought a Sicilian cookbook just released by Phaidon. That book references them to the south west part of the island by the name “li cannilera”. Hope that helps. I am still looking for another recipe we had around Christmas. tiny, sweet, dough balls fried and stacked into a pyramid, they are covered with honey and sprinkles. No idea what that one is called.

    • Renee permalink
      March 21, 2015 6:51 am

      Try Victoria Granof’s book “Sweet Sicily”. They are called honey clusters or pignolata in her book.

  39. jennifer permalink
    September 14, 2013 1:56 pm

    we had a “cookie” like this one…..but the egg was in the basket with the handles going over it….happy to see how they are made…..

  40. March 27, 2014 7:13 pm

    My grandmother used to make the Easter Bread with the hard boiled eggs in them. Is this the same recipe or is it something different? If it is different do you have the bread recipe?

    • March 27, 2014 8:54 pm

      Hi Linda,
      No this is not the Easter Bread with hard boiled eggs, it is prepared with a slightly sweet cookie dough. My family did not make the Easter Bread though I’ve seen several recipes and have always wanted to try it, but always go back our family tradition. We would eat these for breakfast on Easter morning – so good dunked in coffee!!

  41. Ann permalink
    March 28, 2014 3:34 pm

    I am Italian (Calabrese) and my Mom made these for us when we were little for Easter, the recipe is a little different but basically similar. She made them in the shape of a doll and also in a braid. Loved them.

  42. Lorraine permalink
    April 11, 2014 5:34 pm

    It was great stirring up old memories. My Aunts did all the baking in my family, we also had a similar Basket with a colored egg.
    I also had no receipe, it was always a little bit of this and a pinch of that, you would have to measure flour by the way it felt not with a measuring cup. I am going to try your receipe with my five grandchildren, and start our own traditions.
    Thank You

  43. Cynthia Maddaluno permalink
    April 18, 2014 4:52 pm

    My nonna made these also every Easter,we are from Naples which is the southern part of Italy,she also never wrote her recipes down so I was very happy to find this, as my daughter asked for nonnas recipe, this too is very similar to her biscotti recipe.Also in response to Ed Greco they are called strufoli also a Sicilian recipe

  44. March 29, 2015 3:09 pm

    how far in advance can these easter basket cookies be made

    • March 31, 2015 4:16 pm

      I make these one week in advance of Easter to pass out to family and friends, and they will pretty much last another week. Always keep in the refrigerator because of the eggs. Sorry for the delay in responding, I’ve been so busy baking cookies!

  45. Kathy Tarver permalink
    March 21, 2016 12:18 am

    My grandmother made these for my family. Ours did not have the same shape, but we loved them

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