Gluten free Amaretti con Pinoli (Pignoli Cookies)

Marzipan versus Almond paste: Believe it or not, they are not one in the same. Almond paste has a softer consistency and is used in baking. Where Marzipan is firmer and is used to make candies, it tends to have a higher sugar content.

Pignoli is the Italian for pine-nut

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. But you should know that I find it almost impossible to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee without a little something sweet to enhance my pleasure. I have also oddly been known to feel like making cookies, just to realize all I really wanted was a super cold glass of milk, so what do I know? I know…

However, I love me a pinnate like nobody’s business. Seriously, on salads, sweets, in dressings, on meat, by the handful…not even kidding. The down side is those creamy little bites of deliciousness are QUITE expensive. So I don’t enjoy them as often as Id’ like. So this conversion recipe was such a treat. I got to work on a gluten free version of one of my favorite cookies AND was able to justify the huge quantity of pine-nuts I went through to accomplish the goal.

Thanks to me you have before you a fool proof recipe conversion of the traditional Italian Pignoli Amaretti cookie.

You. Are. Welcome!


gluten free pignoli cookies

gluten free pignoli cookies

Note: Many recipes say that pignoli cookies are gluten free, but keep in mind that most almond paste (and Marzipan) is not gluten free. If you’re not making you’re own, double check!

FREEZER FRIENDLY: When cookies are completely cooled place in a single layers in a zip top freezer bag.


14 ounces gluten free almond paste

1 cup sugar

2 large egg whites

finely grated zest of one orange

1 1/2 cups whole pine nuts


Preheat oven to 350° F.

Line two sheet pans with parchment.

In the bowl of a food processor, process the almond paste until it becomes fine crumbs (like bread crumbs).

Little by little add in the sugar. It is best if you do this with the motor running.When the sugar is incorporated add in the egg whites and then the orange zest. Process until it makes a smooth dough. More paste-like than dough-like. About 20 seconds or so.

Place the pin nuts in a shallow dish or a plate. Using a medium sized cookie scoop (about 1.5 – 2 tablespoons), scoop dough and drop onto the pine nuts roll the dough to coat in pine nuts. Then place onto the sheet pan spacing evenly. You could also put the dough in a pastry bag and pipe them out onto the sheet pan then sprinkle the pennants on the top of each cookie. Both methods are very easy to execute, I just notice less waste when scoops vs. piping.

Bake until lightly golden and springy to the touch, about 13 to 15 minutes, depending on your oven. Be careful not to allow them to brown too much.

Cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool completely.

gluten free pignoli cookies

gluten free pignoli cookies

NOTE: If you cannot find gluten free almond paste, it is very easy and relatively inexpensive to make at home. Recipe below.


1 1/2 cups almond flour (meal) 

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

2 teaspoons pure almond extract

1 teaspoon quality food grade rose water

1 egg white


In a food processor, place the almond flour and confectioner’s sugar in a food processor and pulse until combined and any lumps are broken up. Add the almond extract and rose water and pulse to combine. Add the egg white and process until a thick dough is formed. If the mass is still too wet and sticky, add more powdered sugar and almond flour. Keep in mind that it will become firmer after it’s been refrigerated.

Turn the marzipan out onto a work surface and knead it a few times. I would scoop then into 1 ounce portions then wrap each portion in plastic wrap then place all the portions in a zip top freezer bag. Or pack it into lidded condiment  cups before freezing. This will offer greta ease for future use. Makes about 12 ounces of marzipan or almond paste. 

It will keep for at least a month in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer. Bring to room temperature before using.

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