Breakfast and Brunch, Cookies, Dessert

Nonni’s Lemon Cookies

Loreto October 29, 2017

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Nonni’s Lemon Cookies are these spongy ultra soft lemon flavored cookies that go so well with milk, tea, or a cup of coffee. A perfect European breakfast made by my mother and father with lots of love!

Song of the day: “Be Italian” from the musical “Nine”.

Nonni's Lemon Cookies

[This post is sponsored by The Italian Centre Shop. We’ve been compensated but -as always- all opinions are our own.]

Nonni’s Lemon Cookies is a recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation in our Italian family. Wonderful ingredients supplied by The Italian Centre Shop and graceful nonni‘s hands create this soft billowy lemon cookie that is sunny, refreshing and comforting at the same time, one we anxiously await my parents to make.


Nonni in English translates to grandparents, and my mother and father are just that. Ilia and Americo Nardelli. Our family has quite unique names and we would never get lost in a crowd because when someone yells out our names as my mom did on several occasions to locate us, we were the only ones to respond, that is my brother Mauro and I.

My parents are immigrants from Italy. They were born in a small town just a few hours south-east of Rome. A placed called Atina, in the province of Frosinone. In 1958 they got word from an uncle that good times were to be had in a far-off northland of Canada. With bags packed and very little money on hand, because it took all the money they had to do the trip and all the paperwork to get there. I always think to myself that was sure courageous of them, leaving their homes and friends, and not knowing what was coming or if they were going to make money. Add in the climate change and a historic memory was made. In 1958 there were a lot of immigrants coming to Canada from all parts of Europe and with them came traditions and of course recipes, delicious homemade ones that fill my memory banks with plenty of stories to tell.

My parents did well. My father had a successful construction company and my mom wore many hats starting with being a seamstress for GWG jeans to working retail in many different stores. They made a wonderful life for themselves. They have never returned to Italy as my father didn’t have a desire to return, my mother a different story as she always talks about returning. I always left that question lingering in my mind as when I heard him answer to people who asked him, there was this sadness that filled his eyes. Both my parents survived the war. They don’t talk much about those times but I have heard the stories from family members who live in Italy and I think those are better to be buried.

So this brings us to the present day and me wanting to share this recipe, our Italian life, and these wonderful treats that I so enjoy, to the world. I give you Nonni’s Lemon Cookies. 

I just want to send a big thank you to The Italian Centre Shop for giving us the opportunity to share recipes and stories, plus supply us with wonderful ingredients and memories. For me, The Italian Centre Shop is a place I loved going as a child and still to this day get excited to shop there. I remember being a kid and just looking at all the ingredients, tasting meats and cheeses from the deli. The chatter of Italians requesting things and talking with friends and especially loved wine season and going to pick up grapes. That smell oh so sweet and fruity coming from cases upon cases of grapes. I especially enjoyed Frank Spinelli, always ready to help anyone, and always a warm handshake and smile. I always felt special and important going to the store, thank you! These are wonderful memories with many more to experience during our shopping excursions as Teresa Spinelli is doing an amazing job keeping the Italian traditions alive and taking The Italian Centre Shop into the future with much growth and success.

Nonni's Lemon Cookies

Let’s get in nonni‘s kitchen and learn to make “Nonni’s Lemon Cookies”.

There are not a lot of ingredients in this recipe. Simply flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs, canola oil, and of course lemons. I have to tell you these traditional recipes are serious business in Italian homes. I bet all of us Ital-Canadian kids can come to this understanding. When learning a recipe from our nonni they are the bosses and listen, watch, and learn, are key elements to reproducing these recipes. Accept the fact that you will never make them as good as they do and cherish the time you have to spend with them as they are never forgotten. With this being said, my mom jumps right into foreman mode and starts barking out orders and procedures. I laugh at the measuring tools they use. A little of this and a little of that, and just enough to fell that it is right. Thankfully, my mother let us measure things so that we could share a somewhat accurate measurement to make successful cookies. One thing I might add is to get ready for an arm work out as the hand blender and motions of your arm throughout the mixing process will have you with a few muscle burn episodes.

Nonni's Lemon Cookies

It starts first with the eggs and sugar, blended for a long time until all fluffed up and then adding the oil. The part I love best is when the lemon zest goes in, and cheer joyous feelings well up inside of me as I am getting the glass of milk ready for the dunking. Next, the sifted flour/baking soda mixture goes in very little at a time. This is where the mixer goes into overdrive and the arm burn comes to play.  My mom comes in to check the dough and says it is good to go!

Nonni's Lemon Cookies

Look at these nonni hard at work, showing us how it’s done. Nonna dolloping the dough on the baking sheet and nonno sprinkling the sugar. What a team!

Nonni's Lemon Cookies

Nonna says it should not slide off the spoon but slowly drop with the aid of your finger as this dough is a bit sticky and thick.  My mother and father slowly get all the cookies onto the parchment covered baking sheet all nice and round with plenty of room around them to grow a bit and all shimmery with that sugar sprinkle on them. We had some fun and added a few colored sprinkles, and this would be a great thing to get the grandkids involved in.

It is beautiful to watch the nonni in action with few arguments about process and times, with my mom winning most of the battles as my father is quite like me and does not like to argue. Or let’s rephrase that, I am just like him and don’t like arguments. These wonderful cookies are now ready for the oven. I am forever looking at them bake and watching them rise. It seems like an eternity but finally, the bell tolls and these Nonni’s Lemon Cookies are coming out of the oven.

Oh that aroma, freshly baked with that bright lemony scent. I want one right now!

Nonni's Lemon Cookies

I grab my glass of milk and slowly take a bite of one of the lemon cookies. So soft, still warm. That lemon just awakening my mouth. The way the spongy inside melts in my mouth and those crispy edges adding that wonderful taste and texture. Then the milk goes down mingling with all that flavors only to cleanse the palate and another round to start.


I just love these cookies. When my parents make them it is usually in the hundreds and we each get an ice cream pail full. In the morning I am so excited to get the coffee made and to grab one of the lemon cookies and do the dunk. It absorbs the coffee so well, and I love the way this lemon cookie melts on my tongue. This is the epitome of Italian breakfast. A nice cappuccino and some biscotti (in Italian biscotti is a general noun for any kind of cookies) and we are set for the morning and day with a wonderful smile on our face thanks to the memories, traditions, and recipes like this one for Nonni’s Lemon Cookies. 

Thank you, mom and dad, for sharing this with us. We love you!

Next time you want to experience a little bit of Italy, get that oven on, do some warm-up arm stretches and get to making this delightful recipe.

Buona giornata!

Song of the day: “Be Italian” from the musical “Nine”.

Nonni's Lemon Cookies

Nonni’s Lemon Cookies

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  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: about 2 dozen


  • 3 1/4 cups (356 g) “00” flour (or all purpose)
  • 3 tsp (12 g) baking powder
  • 6 eggs room temperature
  • 6 ounces (169 g) granulated sugar
  • 6 ounces (169 ml) canola oil
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° F (180° C).
  2. In one bowl sift flour and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. Grate the sides of the lemon for zest. Cut in half and squeeze juice. Set aside.
  4. Crack eggs in a glass bowl.
  5. Beat with a hand mixer.
  6. When eggs are velvety and smooth add sugar and beat on a high speed.
  7. Add lemon zest and lemon juice, keep beating.
  8. When mixture is smooth, add canola oil a little at a time and keep beating, until well mixed in.
  9. While still beating, add baking powder/flour mixture to the egg/sugar mixture a little at a time.
  10. Blend till it becomes a thick, soft, silky, workable batter that you can spoon.
  11. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  12. Scoop a tablespoon of the batter and using your finger release it from the spoon and onto the parchment. It will form itself as it slowly settles into the pan.
  13. Sprinkle tops with some granulated sugar and if you want gets the kids involved, use some decorative colored sprinkles.
  14. You should be able to fit about 12 cookies on one regular size baking sheet. TIP: Remember to leave some room in between the cookies as they will expand a bit.
  15. Place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 15 minutes.
  16. Take out of oven and let cool.
  17. Enjoy with a glass of milk, tea or cappuccino.

Nonni's Lemon Cookies

[This post is sponsored by The Italian Centre Shop. We’ve been compensated but -as always- all opinions are our own.]

P.S. Making our recipes? Take a pic and tag us on Instagram: #sugarlovespices. You’re going to be in our gallery!

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  • Reply Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop October 29, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    This is such a lovely story. I am always amazed by the recipes and techniques of my grandmother. These cookies look lovely. Tell your nonni thanks for sharing all her love and knowledge!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 29, 2017 at 6:59 pm

      Thank you so much. They will really appreciate that acknowledgement. Thank goodness that some of us have the opportunity to experience these moments. Some could not have those time with grandparents. It is always an aha moment when you here the stories behind the recipes and the memories. I love it. I feel myself falling back in time when I am captivated by the stories. Heres to all our Nonnies.
      Have a wonderful week!

  • Reply Milena | Craft Beering October 30, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Lovely story, and I can promise you that you too have the courage to do what your parents did by moving to Canada, you were just blessed to never have to seek it in yourself. It is there though. These lemon cookies really do signify home and family. I think that it is soo great to make recipes where there are no precise measurements. I certainly have a few recipes that I’ve learned from my grandmother in which I simply eye ball and/or feel the ingredients and they turn out pretty good. It is a great comforting feeling. Awesome post!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 30, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      Thank you Milena, it really means alot. These stories are to be cherished and celebrated because Canada was built on imigrants who worked hard and helped build Canada to what it is today. As you I too love instinctual cooking using feel, smell, sight and sound to make heart felt recipes that not only family have the opportunity to enjoy but others as well, and I don’t know if you kbnow this, if you have been envited to an Italian families home you are treated like family. Thanks again for such an incredible comment.
      Have a wonderful week!

  • Reply Diane Galambos October 30, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    So wonderful – and THE BEST SONG OF THE DAY!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto October 31, 2017 at 4:47 am

      Hi Diane, thank you I cherish those family recipes and would hate for them to parish, I also make wine. I don’t drink much but wanted to keep the wine making tradition alive. I too love the musical Nine and this song is the bet! Thank you so much for commenting!
      Have a great day!

  • Reply maria November 3, 2017 at 8:09 am

    I too have such admiration for the thousands that immigrated to Canada for a better life. It is wonderful that you can still bake together with your loved ones… this my friend, is priceless!
    These lemon cookies are simply irresistible… I am sure, as you say, they make the perfect dunking cookie. Can’t wait to give them a try. Thanks for sharing ♥♥♥

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto November 3, 2017 at 10:37 am

      Hi Maria, thank you so much for your heart felt comment, it means alot to Nicoletta and I and my parents. This is what food is about, memories, stories, and of course all that delicious food!. I think you are going to love the way these cookies just sponge up all the coffee or tea and when you bite into them all that flavor just explodes in your mouth. CAUTION, keep mouth closed, lol. Enjoy!
      Ciao for now.

  • Reply Jessica November 3, 2017 at 11:06 am

    I love the stories that go with recipes, and this is such a lovely and heartwarming way to spend time with family, cooking in the kitchen! Looking forward to trying out the cookie recipe too – they sound divine!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto November 3, 2017 at 12:31 pm

      Hi Jessica thank you for taking the time to experience our post, the writing, and the recipe. Family recipies are the best because if generations keep them alive, they live forever. It is always interesting to find old recipes and hearing the stories of ancestors and their lives. Makes cooking or baking a whole different experience.
      Have a great weekend!
      Ciao for now!

  • Reply diversivore November 3, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    I very much enjoyed your stories and reminiscences here – and I have no doubt I’d enjoy those cookies! I can tell from the batter that the density and consistency of them would be absolutely wonderful. It doesn’t hurt that I’m a total sucker for any lemon dessert too.

    You know I’m a little embarrassed to admit this after having grown up in Edmonton, but I NEVER went to the Italian center shop. Well I come back home often enough (lucky to be able to do that, and glad not to have any of the sad memories that need to stay in the past), so perhaps it’s time I do something about that.


    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto November 5, 2017 at 7:00 am

      Hey Sean better late than never I say. We could accompnay you on your adventure to the Italian Centre Shop. Always looking for an excuse to go there. I here you on lemon desserts, they are one of my weaknesses and as I have said in a one of my replies to a comment I do some wee morning snacking when our cats wake me up!. There is nothing like a glass of cold milk and a spongy, moist, delicate lemon cookie! As always really enjoy your comments, so thank you for that, and Have an amazing Sunday!
      Ciao for now!

  • Reply Nicole | Culinary Cool November 4, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Such a lovely story. I love reading about family traditions and recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. I’m a sucker for lemon dessert, and I know I would love these for sure.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto November 5, 2017 at 6:50 am

      Hi Nicole, thats what I love about food and how it affects people. It is amazing when you watch and listen to someone you have inspired with a recipe and story. Their eyes light up, and a passions roars out as memories begin to surface and heart warming stories are shared. You can’t get any more food love than that! These lemon cookies are the bomb. I am going to confess and say that when my cats wake me up in the wee hours of the morning I sneak a lemon cookie and a shot of cold milk, lol. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment, and have a great Sunday!

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