These biscochitos are a New Mexican Christmas cookie classic. Their trademark flaky texture and flavor comes from using lard in the dough, along with cinnamon, sugar, anise, and brandy.
Biscochitos (pronounced be-sko-chee-to) boast historical significance for being declared the first official state cookie by New Mexico back in the late 1800s. The classic Christmas cookie is traditionally rolled and cut into shapes, although those pressed for time or bored by such efforts can instead shape the dough into a log and simply slice and bake the rounds.
The form is far less critical to the biscochitos experience, though, than the truth behind the tradition, which is the flaky texture, lent to the cookie by rendered lard, and the taste, which is not too sweet and with a faint touch of anise. Yes, lard in a cookie.–David Leite
Why Our Testers Loved This
Tester Deneen M. loved that these cookies are “super flaky and tender” and “not too sweet.” The dough is easy to make, comes together quickly, and is a breeze to roll and cut.
Notes on Ingredients
- Lard–This gives the cookies their signature flaky texture. If you can get leaf lard, it’s perfect here, but regular lard will work well, too.
- Brandy–You could also substitute a sweet table wine or Madeira here, although brandy is traditionally used.
How to Make This Recipe
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment. Mix 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.
- Beat the lard until fluffy. Mix in the remaining sugar, eggs, and anise seeds.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add it to the dough, then add the brandy and mix to combine.
- Roll out the dough. Cut into desired shapes, place on the prepared baking sheets, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
- Bake the biscochitos until pale golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.
What are biscochitos?
Biscochitos are lightly sweetened cookies made with lard and anise seed. They have a texture similar to shortbread and are often cut into star shapes. They are usually served dusted with cinnamon sugar.
How do I toast anise seeds?
To toast anise seeds (or, for that matter, any seeds, including cumin, coriander, caraway, and so forth) place them in a dry skillet over medium heat. Allow them to toast for about 2 1/2 minutes, stirring or shaking the skillet often, until fragrant. Immediately remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the seeds to a plate to stop the cooking.
Can you freeze biscochito dough?
Yes, you can. The unbaked dough can be frozen for up to 1 month. Baked and cooled cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Store baked biscochitos in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 5 days. They can be frozen for longer storage.
- This biscochito recipe is suitable for dairy-free diets.
- You can use a cookie cutter to shape your cookies as desired or try using a ruler and pizza cutter to create the diamond pattern shown above.
- Don’t overcook your cookies. They are done when they are a pale golden color.
More great holiday cookie recipes
☞ If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David
- 1 1/2- to 2-inch cookie cutters
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 cups (1 lb) lard preferably leaf lard
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons anise seeds toasted
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup brandy
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Lightly butter 2 baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon.
- In a large bowl with an electric or stand mixer, beat the lard until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar, eggs, and anise seeds and beat until well incorporated.
- Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl and combine this with the lard mixture. Add the brandy and mix thoroughly.
- On a generously floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness and cut into desired shapes. Sprinkle the cookie shapes with the cinnamon sugar mixture and place the cookies on the prepared sheets, spacing them at least 1 inch apart.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
- Transfer the biscochitos to wire racks and let cool completely. (Store the cookies in airtight containers at room temperature or in the freezer.)
- Toasting seeds–To toast anise seeds place them in a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast for about 2 1/2 minutes, stirring or shaking the skillet often, until fragrant. Immediately remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the seeds to a plate to stop the cooking.
- Storage–Biscochitos can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
- Dietary–This recipe is suitable for dairy-free diets.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This biscochitos recipe was what youʻd expect. The process was good and everything baked well. My husband brought them into his office and people loved them. While I found them a little on the savory side, they were quite popular.
Originally published December 19, 2020
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
This biscochitos recipe makes exactly the kind of cookie I like. Super flaky and tender (could have a lot to do with the leaf lard I used), not too sweet, and a tiny bit herbal from the anise seed.
It was also an incredibly easy dough to work—it came together quickly and rolled, cut, and (most importantly) transferred well from the work surface to the baking sheet. I started adding the flour to the lard mixture by hand but thought better of it and put it back in the stand mixer, which made it really easy. Also made adding the brandy a snap. I was able to roll the dough to 1/8-inch thickness with no problem.
I ended up with 10 dozen biscochitos. I used a ruler and pizza cutter to cut them into diamonds that were 1 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches. I really like the end result. I might increase the anise just a little the next time but overall, really good.
I will definitely make these biscochitos again.