Italian Fig Cookies (Cucidati)

published Nov 13, 2021
Fig Cookies Recipe

These fruit-filled cookies are the star of the holiday cookie plate.

Makes32 cookies

Prep1 hour

Cook22 minutes

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Cucidati (Italian fig cookies, where the outer cookie is pastry dough, covered with icing and topped with rainbow sprinkles) on a cooling rack
Credit: Meleyna Nomura

Cucidati are fruit-filled cookies that come from the Italian island of Sicily. The dried figs, dates, nuts, and citrus tell the story of the island’s many influences, from Greece to the Middle East.

I do not have a drop of Italian blood in my body, so I turned to my Italian mother-in-law for insight. Consulting her spiral-bound community cookbooks and the many nonnas and uncles on YouTube and blogs, what I thought was a fairly simple fruit-filled cookie proved to be a pretty complex little biscuit. Filling ingredients ranged from all figs to a mixture of dried fruits. Some had marmalade, candied citron, or maraschino cherries. Some had no nuts, while others had multiple kinds of nuts. There were some with chocolate, but most without. Some add wine and coffee. All include at least a dash of brandy, while some are distinctly boozy. 

I ended up leaning into the holiday spirit when deciding what to include in this version and that meant going over-the-top. Figs, dates, and golden raisins are all invited, along with both walnuts and almonds. Marmalade or fresh orange lends flavor and sweetness, along with a spoonful of honey. It’s all rounded out with a bit of warmth from winter spices and a splash of brandy.

Are Cucidati Christmas Cookies? 

Cucidati are traditionally made during Christmas time. With a filling of dried fruit and nuts, they bring sweetness to the table without relying on out-of-season fruit. Cucidati are slightly labor-intensive, so they feel like a special treat. Making the filling used to require running the fruit and nuts through a grinder. And many recipes make dozens upon dozens of cookies, with the intention of cookie assembly being a family affair, with enough for everyone to take home. Cucidati often make a reappearance in early March in communities where St. Joseph’s day is celebrated.

Fortunately, the invention of the food processor has cut down massively on the prep work. This recipe is easy enough to put together on your own, but special enough to be the star of your holiday cookie plate

How to Assemble Cucidati

There are myriad ways to shape this filled cookie. From horns to bracelets to X-shaped to everything in between, the “correct” way to do it seems to vary between each family and location. It’s not uncommon for nuggets of dough to be torn off and filled individually. This seems to be especially common when many hands have gathered to make the cookies together. 

I decided to go for ease in assembly, rolling a log of filling into a sheet of dough. It’s cut into individual cookies that give you a crisp cookie shell stuffed with sticky-sweet filling. A dip in a lemony glaze and a shower of sprinkles complete these holiday treats.

Credit: Meleyna Nomura

Can Cucidati Be Made Ahead?

Yes! There are a few steps to making these cookies that allow it to be spread over a few days if needed. 

  1. Make the dough and filling up to two days ahead of time.
  2. Fill, shape, and bake the cucidati up to three days ahead of time.
  3. Glaze and decorate the cucidati up to a day ahead of time.

Fig Cookies Recipe

These fruit-filled cookies are the star of the holiday cookie plate.

Prep time 1 hour

Cook time 22 minutes

Makes 32 cookies

Nutritional Info


For the dough:

  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) cold unsalted butter

  • 1 to 2

    medium lemons

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 2 1/4 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/3 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

For the filling:

  • 20

    dried figs (about 7 ounces)

  • 6

    dried dates (about 4 ounces)

  • 1/2 cup

    walnut halves (about 1 1/2 ounces)

  • 1/4 cup

    slivered almonds

  • 1/4 cup

    golden raisins

  • 1/4 cup

    orange marmalade

  • 2 tablespoons

    brandy, whiskey, or dark rum

  • 1 tablespoon


  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground allspice

To decorate:

  • 2 cups

    powdered sugar

  • 2 tablespoons

    freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons


  • Nonpareils, for decorating (optional)


Make the dough:

  1. Cut 1 stick cold unsalted butter into small pieces. Finely grate the zest of 1 to 2 medium lemons until you have 1 tablespoon. Set aside the lemon to juice for the icing. Lightly beat 2 large eggs in a small bowl.

  2. Place the lemon zest, 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and process until the butter is evenly distributed, 10 to 20 seconds. With the motor running, add the eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract through the feeding tube. Process until a dough ball forms on the blade, about 1 minute.

  3. Remove the dough from the food processor and divide in half. Roll each portion into a fat log and flatten slightly. Wrap each log tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days. Meanwhile, make the filling.

Make the filling:

  1. Trim the stems from 20 dried figs and halve each fig (about 1 cup). Pit and halve 6 dried dates (about 1/2 cup). Transfer the figs and dates to food processor fitted with a blade attachment. (No need to wash out the bowl.)

  2. Add 1/2 cup walnut halves, 1/4 cup slivered almonds, 1/4 cup golden raisins, 1/4 cup marmalade, 2 tablespoons brandy, whiskey, or dark rum, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice. Pulse until no large pieces of nuts or raisins remain, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Some texture is great, it does not need to be a smooth paste. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to assemble the cookies.

Assemble and bake the cookies:

  1. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 350ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

  2. Unwrap one piece of dough and place on a well-floured work surface. Roll into a rectangle slightly larger than 8x10-inches. (If the dough starts to crack, just push it back together — it’s quite forgiving.) Trim the long edges, then double check it measures 8 inches wide. Halve the dough lengthwise to make 2 (4x10-inch) rectangles. Make sure they aren’t sticking to the work surface. Set aside 1 rectangle while you fill the first.

  3. Take 1/4 of the filling mixture and roll it into a 10-inch log with wet hands to prevent sticking. With a long side of the dough closer to you, place the filling down the middle of the rectangle. Carefully lift and wrap the top third of the dough over the the filling, then roll the dough and filling over the bottom third, continuing to roll until the seam is facing up. There should be a small overlap. Carefully pinch the seam shut.

  4. Roll it over again so the seam is on the bottom, and gently roll along the length to seal. Trim the ends. Cut the log in half crosswise, then cut each half into 4 pieces, each about 1 1/4-inches long. Place on the prepared baking sheet. (They won’t rise or spread much, so can be placed fairly close together.) Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

  5. Bake for 12 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets from front to back and between racks. Bake until firm and the bottoms are lightly golden, 8 to 10 minutes more. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool completely.

  6. Arrange the cookies on the wire rack over a baking sheet. Place 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons milk in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Dip the tops of the cookies in the glaze and return to the rack glazed-side up. Let sit for about 30 seconds, then sprinkle with nonpareils if desired. Let the glaze set completely before serving.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: For a more pronounced orange flavor, use 1 half of a tangerine or 1 whole clementine, roughly chopped with peel, in place of the marmalade.

Make ahead: The dough and filling can be made and refrigerated, well-wrapped, for up 2 days before baking. The cookies can be baked ahead up to 5 days and decorated before serving.

Storage: Cookies can be stored at room temperature well-wrapped or in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 3 months. Sprinkles may start to bleed into the glaze after a couple of days. If freezing, skip the decorations and let thaw fully at room temperature before glazing.