Recipe for Cartellate (Christmas Pastries)

Kneading dough during a cooking classWhat is a wine cookie? It’s a cookie that uses wine as the main liquid ingredient. Wine cookies abound in Italy. These cookies, as you might expect, pair wonderfully with wines. But they also make a tasty addition to any dessert table. The wine as an ingredient adds a new flavor profile to the cookie, while also not making the treat too sweet, and the wine evaporates during the cooking process.

Cartellate cookies are one such wine pastry, and you can bet they’ll be on every table in Puglia during the holiday season, as they’re an important Christmas culinary tradition.

What are cartellate?

Cartellate cookies are a type of wine cookie that hails from the Puglia region. Cartellate pugliesi can be found on every holiday table in Puglia during the Christmas season, and every family has its own way of preparing them, although the basic steps remain the same.

One thing all cartellate recipes have in common is that the original recipe originated with the Greeks who brought their own version of the pastry over. In Italy, the recipe evolved, mainly due to Christianity, and became an offering to the baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary at Christmastime. Today, the design of the delicate pastry looks like ribbons, which is said to symbolize the crown of thorns or, according to some, the Baby Jesus’s swaddling clothes.

Every family in Puglia has its own version of cartellate pugliesi, and many don’t share their recipe with anyone but the next generation. 

Contemplating the countryside of PugliaSo what better way to end the year than with a holiday treat from our Puglia cooking vacation! Cartellate cookies originate from the northeastern Pugliese town of Altamura, which is the world-renowned “town of bread.” With this simple recipe recipe for cartellate pugliesi, you can bring a bit of Italy into your kitchen and holiday celebrations for some holiday cheer.

Whether you’re interested in learning more about the history of Pugliese cartellate cookies or simply looking for a great seasonal recipe, cartellate pugliesi are sure to please. You can discover Puglia on a culinary vacation in Italy to learn to make cartellate cookies and other specialties with our local chefs, all while exploring the region with our warm and friendly guides.

To make this Christmas treat, roll out very thin strips of dough (after all, the Italian word ‘carta’ translates to paper), and form the dough into the shape of a flower. After they’re fried, they’ll also be very dry, otherwise they could very easily fall apart. If the finished pastry isn’t already loaded with sweet toppings, some families dunk the fried dough pastry into a wine syrup called vincotto. Alternatively, they can be dunked into honey.

Learn more about why we love the Puglia region of Italy!

Christmas Cartellate Cookie Recipe from Puglia


Delicious cartellate pastries from Puglia after they have been dipped in a sweet syrup.

Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 2 minutes
Cook method: Frying
Servings: 48

For the Dough:

  • 5 cups flour
  • 3.5 oz of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 oz white wine (possibly sparkling)
  • oil for frying


  • 2.25 cups honey or Sapa (grape syrup)
  • 1 glass of water or (better) white wine
  • Some sugar and cinnamon powder

Looking for more pastry recipes for special occasions? Try this one for Easter fiadonetti.


Making cartellate Christmas pastries by hand1. Mix the flour, olive oil, salt, and white wine. If needed, add more white wine so that the dough has a not too soft, but not too dry consistency.

2. Roll out the dough (it should be very thin), then cut it into strips about one finger-width wide and 15 centimeters long (preferably with a fluted pastry cutter).

3. Fold the strip in half, pinching the dough together every couple of inches to create pockets, then roll the strip to form a rose-shaped decoration. (Make sure there are pockets and also some gaps between the dough.) Repeat until all dough has been used.

Cartellate pastries on a culinary tour of Puglia4. Fry each piece of dough in hot oil until golden, only 1-2 minutes.

5. To create the decoration, warm the honey by adding water or white wine until it’s completely melted.

6. Dip each cartellata into the honey and then dust with some sugar and cinnamon powder.

You might also want to try other Italian Christmas pastries such as Caggionetti from Abruzzo or the famous Panettone.

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7 thoughts on "Recipe for Cartellate (Christmas Pastries)"

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  2. grace guglielmo says:

    Hi is there a reduce version of this recipe

    1. Peg Kern says:

      Yes, you could easily cut the recipe in half!

  3. Theresa says:

    I purchased ticket to one bottle from Italy. The ingredients are figs and water. I thought I remember my Nanna using red wine in it. Can I mix red wine into it over the stove or no?
    I really want to surprise my family with these on Christmas.

    1. Peg Kern says:

      Do you mean for the syrup? I do think you could try using red wine. Let us know how it goes!

  4. Mary says:

    My mother just drizzled honey and sprinkled chopped walnuts on top. Delicious.

    1. Peg Kern says:


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