Cuccidati - Sicilian Christmas Cookies

Cuccidati - Sicilian Christmas Cookies

Cuccidati means “little bracelets" and are traditionally made with figs. This is the Orlando family recipe that would have originated in Sicily as primarily a fig cookie, but seeing as the Orlandos are prune farmers, the main filling in ours is prunes. Of course we wouldn't stop there. The filling is an amazing combo of ground up prunes, figs, raisins, walnuts, almonds, orange peel, and chocolate. Each filling is wrapped in dough, baked, and topped with lemon icing and RAINBOW SPRINKLES. And yes, it absolutely must be these sprinkles.

Beautiful Cuccidati cookies with lemon icing and sprinkles

(Side note: My husband knows to grab these sprinkles when he can find them, after spending several Yuletides running all over town.)

This is my oldest family tradition, and a labor of love that brings the family together for hours (and hours). It's basically an ancestral marathon that goes well with coffee. If you are making these for the first time it is important to enlist helpers, or maybe just try a half batch.


  • 6 C. Flour
  • 1 ½ C. Crisco or Softened Butter
  • 1 C. Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 5 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 C. Water or Milk

  Fruit Filling:

  • 2 C. Walnuts
  • 1 C. Almonds (toasted)
  • 1 C. Dried Figs
  • 2 C. Raisins
  • 4 C. Prunes
  • 1 Orange Peel
  • 2 Tbs. Vanilla
  • Chocolate Chips


  • 1 Egg White
  • ½ Lemon Juice
  • Powdered Sugar

The Dough: In a mixer, cream the butter, mix in the sugar, salt, baking powder and eggs. Scrape down the bowl. Alternately add flour and milk until combined, trying not to overmix. Add a bit more flour if the dough is too sticky. (Dough can be made several days ahead and kept in the fridge.)

Ground fruit and nut filling for Cuccidati cookies

The Filling: Combine fruits, nuts and peel in a large bowl, then grind in an old-fashioned meat grinder (2 passes) or electric meat grinder on coarse (1 pass). Add ½ C. sugar dissolved in ½ C. warm water, vanilla, and mix. Fold in semi-sweet chocolate chips. Chill if desired. Roll filling into 2” “fruit weenies”. (These can also be made a day ahead.)

Dough balls and filling for Cuccidati cookies

 Assembling: Working with half the dough at a time, roll by hand into approx. 1 ¼” balls, then roll them into oblongs on a floured surface. Wrap each dough around a filling leaving the seam side down, pinch the sides closed, and trim if desired. Bend into crescent shapes. Bake at 350* for 12-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Mix up the icing, using enough powdered sugar until it is a little bit thick. Brush onto the cooled cookies and top with candy decors. Store in a tin and they will last for weeks! 

Icing and sprinkles on Cuccidati cookies

While our grandmother, Marie Orlando, was actually Portuguese, the Orlandos probably taught her this recipe. She handed it down to my mother, and I have tweaked it a little bit from my mother’s copy. My father remembers these being made nearly every Christmas, and carried on the tradition with us by pulling out his mother's ancient meat grinder and hand-grinding the filling. I hope you attempt this recipe at least once and enjoy them with your loved ones!

Mother and children icing Christmas cookies.
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