Bake Well, Be Well with Mediterranean-Inspired Ingredients

Olive Oil Sugar Cookies with Pistachios and Lemon Glaze, now don’t they sound fantabulous? The Mr. found them during a favorite pastime of combing through online recipes, and thought it might be a great addition (or substitute) for my typical, but much-loved, Easter decorated sugar cookies. As soon as he told me about these, I knew immediately that I would double the amount (which made 62 cookies, to be exact, with a 2 1/4″ cookie cutter).


They taste even better than they look. With ingredients such as extra-virgin olive oil, pistachios and lemon, we dubbed them “Mediterranean-Inspired” which prompts a more pious attitude when eating cookies, no? To that end, be sure to use a high-end more neutral olive oil such as an Arbequino.


To begin, it’s worth remembering that extra virgin olive oil is similar to wine in key ways. Like Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay, which are named for their grape varietals, Arbequina and Arbosana extra virgin olive oils are named for the olives that are crushed to make the oils.

The Arbequina olive hails originally from Catalonia, in Spain. It produces more delicate, fruity oil—great for baking. Here’s a couple novel ideas: Sprinkle over meats to bring out their intense flavors. OR, for a really easy treat, drizzle it on good French vanilla ice cream along with a tinkle of flaky sea salt. But I digress…

Enter the “Shelter-in-Place” mandate and now I had plenty of time to bake. Thank goodness because the only pistachios available at the grocery store were still in their shells, increasing the time component. Speaking of time, there is a lot of refrigerating/freezing you need to take into account, so plan accordingly.

Son David was also going to be celebrating a birthday on Easter weekend, so we did a drive-by (admittedly 2 weeks early) to drop off his present along with a gift box of these fabulous cookies. David, girlfriend Vikki and dog Olive are shown below keeping their 6-foot distance….


Olive Oil Sugar Cookies with Pistachios and Lemon Glaze

  • Servings: 2 1/2 doz. cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients (Single batch. This makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies)


  • 1/3 cup whole pistachios, plus 1/3 cup chopped for sprinkling
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup high-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • large egg
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Lemon Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 to 4 Tbsp. heavy cream or whole milk

NOTES: For a double batch, I needed two lemons. However, my fruits were very large so I only used the zest from 1 1/2 lemons. As far as the milk, I used 4 Tbsp. for the double batch and the glaze was a perfect consistency.



  1. Place the pistachios in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until finely ground. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Pulse to fully combine and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium until creamy. Add the granulated and confectioners’ sugars and beat on medium until light and fluffy, 2 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add the olive oil and mix on low until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg and vanilla, mixing on low until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix on low until combined.
  4. Gather the dough, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.
  5. Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough to 1/4-inch thick. Using a 2-inch (or slightly bigger) biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out circles. (Any dough scraps can be rewrapped and chilled while the cookies are baking/freezing.)
  6. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Gently slide a metal spatula underneath each round and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet. Place 12 on each sheet.
  8. Put the first baking sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes. After the dough has chilled, put the first pan of cookies in the oven, and then put the second pan in the freezer. Repeat with the leftover dough.
  9. Bake 10 to 12 minutes one sheet at a time, until the cookies are just beginning to brown on the edges. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool completely on the pan.

Lemon Glaze

  1. In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar and lemon zest. Whisk in the lemon juice.
  2. Whisk in the heavy cream (or whole milk), 1 tablespoon at a time. Add just enough cream to make a thin glaze.
  3. Using an offset spatula or kitchen knife, spread a thin layer of the glaze on each cooled cookie.
  4. Sprinkle with the chopped pistachios and let the glaze set a few minutes before serving.

Recipe by Sarah Kieffer found on

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