Breakfast and Brunch, Cookies, Dessert, Gluten-free

Cornmeal Cookies, Italian Style [G.F., Dairy Free]

Nicoletta April 26, 2017

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Cornmeal Cookies, Italian Style, are inspired by a famous Italian cookie made of cornmeal, with a soft interior and a crunchy exterior, perfect in the morning to be dunked in a cappuccino or tea, in pure Italian fashion.

Song of the day: Yellow Ledbetter – Pearl Jam.

Cornmeal Cookies

Such a beautiful deep yellow color, these Cornmeal Cookies, Italian style, round and bright as a full sun that shines high in a Spring blue sky.



Not the case, unfortunately, on this side of the world, where gray and gloomy skies, with a touch of white from random snowflakes, continue to unfold one day after another. We are in full Spring as per season, but nobody reminded Mother Nature of that, ’cause she seems lost in her thoughts and forgot to switch the season channel.

For those of you that follow my ramblings, this impossible, dreadful weather is affecting me profoundly, and I cannot help but talk about it and all the ways I contrive to hold it together. In Rome Spring has started early, here, by the time Spring will come (they will call it Summer, but for me, it’s not), give it a couple of months and Winter will come again (taking Autumn right out of the picture). It is not only the lack of warmth that affects me, it is also the lack of color all around me. It seems I am trapped in a sepia cartoon.

Baking is one of my cures for the gray blues, and today, it’s Cornmeal Cookies, Italian style time.

If you know something about Italian families and their breakfast habits, you know that the colazione (breakfast) is very dissimilar from the North American savory “feast” with a high protein content. There are no eggs at breakfast, eggs are consumed at lunch or supper, and definitely no bacon, pancetta is reserved to making Carbonara. From North to South Italy, typically, breakfast is made of a beverage, like cappuccino or caffe’ espresso, occasionally tea, orzo, or ginseng (which has gained popularity lately), with something sweet to eat, like cake, cookies, pastries, brioches, croissants, bread and jam/chocolate spread, or in Sicilian-style, brioche and gelato or granita. Many people like to eat out for breakfast on their way to work or school, but not at a drive-through, instead, they stop in the plentiful bars & cafés for a cappuccino and pastry, often standing at the counter. When at home, cereal in milk or yogurt is an option, although not as common, while homemade or store bought pastries and small breakfast cookies are king. I have made some breakfast cookies before, here, here, and here and explained that they are a family favorite. We all love to dunk cookies in our cappuccino, but my dad has his own way: he breaks all the cookies that he can possibly fit in his big caffellate mug and then eat the soaked cookies by the spoonful. A pleasure to watch 🙂 .

The cookies that I’m reproducing here today, the Cornmeal Cookies, Italian style, are my effort to try and recreate a popular gluten-free, delicious cookies called Munaretti (#nosponsor), delightfully crunchy, with a lovely lemon hint, a sugar top, and the unmistakable brittle texture.

Cornmeal Cookies

I found few Italian recipes that wanted to recreate the same cookies. In some, the cornmeal is mixed with all-purpose flour (or 00 flour, to be precise, as in most Italian baking), in others, the way I chose wanting to keep it gluten-free, the cornmeal is mixed with brown rice flour. Some use butter, some olive oil, and although the original cookies seem to have a buttery taste and texture, I decided to go dairy free and use e.v.o. oil, instead. Another huge difference is made by the type of cornmeal you’re going to use. The finer the better. I had a very coarse one, and the texture of my Cornmeal Cookies, which I love, by the way, is a bit gritty and very similar to polenta. I like my Cornmeal Cookies very crunchy, like the original, so I tried to roll the dough very thin and to bake them longer.

They are easy to make and they have very few ingredients, the longest part is to let the dough rest in the fridge before rolling it out and cutting. You can have fun and experiment with different shapes, I had fun using the “homemade” stamp, kind present from my dear cousins.

Cornmeal Cookies

If you feel adventurous and want to bake some gluten free cookies Italian style, hope you give this recipe a try and enjoy your Cornmeal Cookies with your loved ones.

Song of the day: Yellow Ledbetter – Pearl Jam.

Cornmeal Cookies

Cornmeal Cookies, Italian Style [G.F., Dairy Free]

  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: about 18 cookies medium size 1x


Recipe adapted from Dolci Senza Burro


  • 200 g fine cornmeal
  • 200 g brown rice flour
  • 150 g light brown sugar
  • 60 g e.v.o. oil
  • 2 eggs, organic free-range
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 organic lemon, the zest, grated
  • turbinado sugar, for the top


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the dry ingredients: sugar, both flours, baking powder, pinch of salt and mix.
  2. Add the eggs, the oil and the grated lemon zest. Blend the dough for a few seconds until all the ingredients have been mixed together in a smooth dough.
  3. Remove the dough and form a ball. Wrap it in plastic and let rest in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
  4. Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper with a rolling pin.
  5. Cut out your cookies with your favorite cookie cutter.
  6. With the help of a spatula, place the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet, re-shaping and re-rolling the dough until finished.
  7. Sprinkle turbinado sugar on top.
  8. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven at 350° F (180° C) for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown at the edges.
  9. Let cool on a wire rack.


The prep time includes the resting time. The thinner the cookies, the crunchier they are. These cookies keep for up to a week in an airtight container.

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Cornmeal Cookies

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  • Avatar
    Reply Natalie Browne April 26, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    I always love reading your posts and learning a little about Italy along the way. Cookies for breakfast are definitely an idea I could get behind, lol. These look delicious!!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 27, 2017 at 8:14 am

      Oh, thank you, Natalie! I am glad you’re enjoying my insights on how life is in Italy. These cookies are delicious and not as bad for you as other cookies, so I do not feel guilty to have them for breakfast 😉

  • Avatar
    Reply Dawn - Girl Heart Food April 27, 2017 at 7:02 am

    I could eat so much of these right now! We had snow here this past weekend, but it’s gone now. It’s kind of grey out today, like it’s going to rain so these would be perfect to brighten anyone’s day. Love cornmeal and the lemon touch is just perfect!! Pinned! Cheers to a lovely (hopefully sunny) weekend!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 27, 2017 at 8:12 am

      Hi, Dawn! Too bad that the weather is not good there as well! What’s wrong with Spring this year?? In the meantime, we can eat one of these cookies after another, that will keep us smiling for awhile 🙂 . Anyway, the lemon touch is really nice! Thank you so much for your comment!

  • Avatar
    Reply Pamela @BrooklynFarmGirl April 28, 2017 at 10:25 am

    These cookies look divine I’m sure they taste amazing!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 29, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      Thank you so much Pamela! They are really good, I just love them and can’t stop eating them 😊.

  • Avatar
    Reply Milena | Craft Beering April 28, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    Nicoletta, you are totally introducing me to so many subtleties of Italian daily traditions, including of course the cooking. These are amazing. I love crunchy cookies with my coffee. I can imagine a big glass jar of these in the middle of the kitchen table in the morning. So inviting, with a touch of sunshine!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 29, 2017 at 6:16 pm

      I am so happy Milena that I am introducing you to my heritage, especially the culinary traditions. I realize we eat it is so different there 😉. Thanks! These cookies are my favorite crunchy cookies, I make sure to make them thin and bake them a nice golden brown.

  • Avatar
    Reply Mita March 12, 2019 at 11:10 am

    I came to your channel after looking through a recipe on SheLovesBiscotti. Oh my God, what a collection of dessert recipes you have. I just wish the measurement of ingredients was available in cups too.

    Your blog and Maria’s blog(she loves biscotti) could be my go-to blogs for Italian recipes. So glad I found both of you.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 12, 2019 at 11:30 am

      aww thank you so much! So glad you found us. Maria has a wonderful collection of recipes on her blog, we have a high esteem of her. I have a few dessert recipes using cups, or both, but for the majority, they are old Italian recipes and we use the metric measurement.

  • Avatar
    Reply Sharon August 12, 2019 at 2:26 am

    I didn’t have a lemon so I used most of the zest of one orange. Turned out very nice.
    I googled the conversion from grams to cups but I think it was a little off because the dough was very dry and wouldn’t come together. So I tossed in another egg.
    And then I didn’t roll them thin enough. They turned out more chewy than crunchy but still have a very nice flavor.
    I will make them again and this time use my kitchen scale to weigh the ingredients and roll them thinner.
    Has anyone tried them with a little chocolate glaze or dip?

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta August 12, 2019 at 10:34 am

      Always grateful for the feedbacks! I would make them again weighing the ingredients, but like the orange zest in here and I think one side dipped in chocolate would be nice!

  • Avatar
    Reply Barb April 26, 2020 at 10:14 am

    These turned out great, even though I had to make a few changes due to what I had on hand: I used coarse cornmeal (aka polenta here in Europe) and white rice flour. Maybe because of the different kind of cornmeal, the dough was very dry and crumbly and wouldn’t come together, so I added a third egg. I also only had 100g of (white) sugar, but they are sweet enough for me. The coarseness of the cornmeal turned out to be great in the end, as it lends a very nice crunch to the cookies. I will definitely be making them again! Thanks for this great recipe!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 26, 2020 at 11:27 pm

      Thank you so much! Yes, the coarser the cornmeal the crunchier the cookies. I like that too. So happy you are going to bake them again!

      • Avatar
        Reply Barb July 26, 2020 at 1:36 am

        I’ve made these cookies for the second time now and it will not be the last batch. They are delicious. Simple, but delicious! I am not a great baker, but they turned out perfect both times. Again, I had to use a third egg, as my dough wouldn’t come together properly and I also cut down on the sugar a bit. I love them!

        • Nicoletta
          Reply Nicoletta July 26, 2020 at 8:20 am

          Thank you, Barb, for the feedback! I will make them again and maybe I will adjust the sugar a bit, too 😉 . Enjoy the cookies!

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