Despite its Italian name, the Mailänderli (‘little cookies from Milan’) is by far the most popular and most baked Christmas cookie in Switzerland. I don’t like the shop bought ones as they taste quite bland and boring, but the homemade ones are delighful. Unlike other Christmas cookies, the Mailänderli are usually made with many different cookie cutters from hearts to stars to bells or Santa or anything else, much to the delight of the children helping make them.



  • 250g butter
  • 250g sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 4 fresh eggs
  • 1 organic lemon
  • 500g plain flour


christmasbuffetLet the butter soften at room temperature. Add the sugar, salt and 3 eggs and stir until the mixture looks bright and pale.

Add the grated zest of the entire lemon and the flour. Only mix until combined, form a ball, cover with cling film and let it get firm in the fridge for about two hours or overnight.

Take the dough out of the fridge and let it warm up for 15 minutes at room temperature. Then roll out the dough on a little flour to about 8mm thickness. Make your cookies using cookie cutters. Place them on a baking tray (covered in baking parchment) and using a pastry brush, paint them with egg wash from one egg.

Bake at 200 C for about 10 minutes.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight cookie tin for 1-2 weeks, or in the freezer for 2-3 months.


7 thoughts on “Mailänderli”

  1. I’ve baked a batch of Mailänderli (my first) as a gift for a Swiss American friend and they are quite hard, at least on first bite. They aren’t even browned so overbakimg seems unlikely and it occurs to me that perhaps the traditional Mailänderli is a hard cookie. Is that true?

    1. Little Zurich Kitchen

      Hi there, it depends a little on how thick the dough was when you rolled it out. They’re never soft, but they can range from crunchy/crumbly when rolled out thickly, to hard when rolled out very thinly. I hope this helps!

    1. Little Zurich Kitchen

      Hi, that’s difficult to say as it depends on the size of your cookie cutters. Mine are quite small, I haven’t really ever counted them but I’d say between 20 and 40 cookies. I hope this helps!

  2. My mum used to make these every Christmas but I’m fairly certain she added ground almonds. Can I incorporate almonds into your recipe.
    Irene from Australia

    1. Little Zurich Kitchen

      Hi Irene, Mailänderli cannot contain ground nuts, otherwise they wouldn’t be Mailänderli anymore. Your mum probably might have made a different cookie with ground almonds. Zimtsterne contain almonds, and Haselnuss-Makrönli and Brunsli do too. But not Mailänerli I’m afraid.

      1. Swiss bakers have made Mailänderli with the flour at hand, as would be expected. The recipe book, *Swiss Cookies,* published by Bergli Books in Basel, presents a Mailänderli recipe with wheat flour.

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