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Biscochitos (Traditional New Mexican Cookies)

4.67 from 3 votes
Traditional New Mexican Cookies called Biscochitos are delightfully crumbly, perfectly spiced, and likely to become your new favorite Christmas cookie!
Homemade Biscochitos cut into a star shape and coated in cinnamon sugar are served in a Christmas tin with red tissue paper.

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Hi Bold Bakers!

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS RECIPE: My Homemade Biscochitos recipe yields crumbly, anise-flavored cookies! It’s no wonder why they are the official Christmas cookies of New Mexico — these cookies are packed with delicious cinnamon flavor in a shortbread-like dough!

Though you can never go wrong with a plate of chocolate chip cookies for holiday parties, it’s never too late to experiment with flavors from around the world in the kitchen.

This winter, I’ve made a Homemade Biscochito cookie recipe that is sure to be a crowd favorite. From its cinnamon sugar coating to the anise-flavored dough, these cookies are the epitome of comfort and spice. I even cut them into a beautiful star shape to give them some extra holiday flare! 

Round up your friends, family, tools, and ingredients, and make this a baking project for the books. In about an hour, you’ll have fresh Bisochitos to gobble up before Santa can even get to them.

Table Of Contents

A close-up image of homemade Biscochitos, or traditional New Mexican Christmas Cookies, are presented in a gift tin. The cookies are cut into star shapes and coated in cinnamon sugar.

What Are Biscochitos?

Biscochitos, or bizcochitos, are thin and crisp butter cookies from New Mexico. They are typically made with lard, sugar, cinnamon, and anise flavors and are usually cut in the shape of fleur-de-lis, crosses, stars, and moons. I used star cookie cutters in this recipe, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand.

These cookies have an incredible history, dating back to Mexico’s Battle of Puebla in 1862. They were developed by New Mexico residents over centuries and have now become a staple treat at weddings, baptisms, and religious holidays — especially Christmas.

They’re typically served with Hot Chocolate, making this dynamic duo perfect for chilly winter days.

What Does Anise Taste Like?

Anise, or aniseed, is a flavorful and aromatic flowering plant native to Eurasia. It tastes similar to star anise, fennel, licorice, and tarragon. They have a variety of colors, from pale brown to greenish-gray, and look like smaller fennel seeds.

If you’ve never tried any of these herbs and spices mentioned, anise has a robust licorice taste. They are typically found in alcoholic beverages but work very well with cinnamon and sugar. It’s primarily used in baking to add a touch of aromatic sweetness and spice to the dessert.

Tools You Need To Make Traditional New Mexican Cookies

Ingredients You Need To Make Biscochito Cookies:

For Biscochito Cookies, You’ll Need:

  • Lard: Adding animal fat to your Biscochitos will make them extra tender and flaky. Lard used to be used in a lot of cooking — don’t you remember always having a big tub of Crisco in your house? But many homes switched to using butter and oil over animal fat. You can find lard in the grocery store by the cooking oils, in the international food aisle, or at your butcher. Find tubs that are labeled “rendered leaf lard” for the best flavor.
  • Granulated sugar: Granulated sugar or “white sugar” will give these cookies the perfect amount of sweetness in each bite.
  • Ground aniseed: Aniseed, or anise, will give your cookies a spicy kick!
  • Orange zest: The outer peel of the orange adds a subtle citrusy boost to your Biscochitos.
  • Salt: Just a pinch will get the job done, but you need it to bring out all the different flavors.
  • Egg: Eggs are our binding agent in this recipe. They’ll make your Biscochitos tender while giving it structure.
  • Vanilla extract: Vanilla extract enhances the rest of your ingredients. Try a Homemade Vanilla Extract version!
  • All-purpose rlour: Just as the name suggests, all-purpose flour works for various baking recipes, including cookies.
  • Baking powder: Baking powder is a combination of baking soda and acid, which helps your cookies rise in the oven.

For The Biscochito’s Topping, You’ll Need:

  • Granulated sugar
  • Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a highly aromatic spice, making it a great addition to your comforting Biscochitos.

How To Make Biscochitos

Cookies:

  1. In a stand mixer, beat wet ingredients together until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides to ensure even mixing.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients separately before gradually beating them into the wet ingredients. Your dough should be crumbly.
  3. Knead the dough until it just comes together, press it into a ball, wrap it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
  4. Roll out half the dough, and cut as many cookies as you can with a cookie cutter.
  5. Place cookies on a baking sheet, bake them off and let them cool.

Topping:

  1. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
  2. While the cookies are still warm, dip them into the sugar and cinnamon mixture.
  3. Transfer to a wire rack to cool while baking off the other half of the cookies.

Festive cookies cut into the shape of stars, anise-flavored Biscochitos, are presented in a Christmas tin.

Can I Make Biscochitos Ahead Of Time?

Yes, you can make Biscochitos in advance. Simply make the dough, wrap it well in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. 

When you’re ready to bake them, take them out of the refrigerator, cut them into shapes, and bake them off as usual. This cookie dough is great to have on hand when you need some homemade cookies in a pinch!

How To Store Biscochitos

If you have leftover Biscochitos, store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. You can freeze the dough and baked cookies as well.

Can I Substitute Lard In Biscochitos?

For lard, I recommend substituting it with shortening, butter, coconut oil, vegetable oil, olive oil, avocado, or mashed banana. These ingredients won’t have that dense flavor of lard, but it should work nonetheless. Try some test runs with different substitutes, and see which works best for you.

FAQs

Where can I buy anise?

Anise is usually found in the spice aisle of many grocery stores. If you’re looking to find whole pods, you might want to check out stores that sell them in bulk. You may also come across them at your local farmer’s markets. 

Why is my Biscochitos dough so crumbly?

Don’t worry if your cookie dough is crumbly — it means you did it right! All you need to do is knead it a bit more until it comes together. If you find that the dough doesn’t come together, add an extra bit of lard, and it should do the trick.

What do I do if I don’t have a stand mixer or electric hand mixer?

If you don’t have a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, use a whisk and silicone spatula to combine all wet and dry ingredients. Make sure to thoroughly combine.

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips

  • Anise can be hard to find, but it is the defining flavor of this cookie, so don’t make them without it!
  • Lard is another authentic ingredient for these cookies, but you can certainly replace the lard with shortening for the closest substitution or butter for a more shortbread-like texture.
  • These cookies are very delicate when warm. Let them cool for at least 5-10 minutes before attempting to lift them off the trays and dip them in the cinnamon sugar.
  • These make great sandwich cookies: Cut the cookies into circles and, once cooled, fill them with a teaspoon of homemade Ganache or Dulce de Leche.
  • Use these cookies for a unique and different Cookie Crust.

For More Holiday Recipes, Check Out:

And don’t miss more everyday baking recipes in my NEW Bigger Bolder Baking Every Day Cookbook!

Biscochitos (Traditional New Mexican Cookies)

4.67 from 3 votes
Traditional New Mexican Cookies called Biscochitos are delightfully crumbly, perfectly spiced, and likely to become your new favorite Christmas cookie!
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 36 cookies
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Chill Time 30 mins
Traditional New Mexican Cookies called Biscochitos are delightfully crumbly, perfectly spiced, and likely to become your new favorite Christmas cookie!
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 36 cookies

Ingredients

For the Cookies

  • cups (10 oz/284 g) lard
  • ¾ cup (6 oz/170 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground aniseed
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (15 oz/426 g) all-purpose flour
  • teaspoons baking powder

For the Topping

  • 1 cup (8 oz/225 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Instructions

To Make the Cookies

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or with a handheld electric mixer and a medium bowl, beat the lard, sugar, aniseed, orange zest, and salt together on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and vanilla extract and continue beating until blended, scraping down the sides to ensure even mixing.
  • Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a bowl, then turn the mixer speed to low and gradually beat into the lard mixture until just combined. (The dough will be crumbly.)
  • Knead the dough until it just comes together, then press into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • On a floured surface, roll out half of the dough to a thickness of ¼-inch (6-mm). Cut as many cookies as you can with a 2½-inch (6½-cm) cutter of your choice.
  • Gather and reroll scraps until the dough becomes too soft to handle. Refrigerate the warmed dough until it is cool enough to keep rolling, then continue to roll and cut the remaining dough.
  • Place the cookies 1½ inches (3½ cm) apart on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until pale golden. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes.

To Make the Topping

  • While the cookies are baking, make the topping by combining the sugar and cinnamon together in a small, shallow bowl.
  • While the cookies are still warm, carefully dip them on both sides in the cinnamon sugar mixture and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely while you finish baking off the remaining cookies.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
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Courtney Smith
Courtney Smith
1 month ago

Can I use fresh ground nutmeg in this instead of the anise?

Betty Duncan
Betty Duncan
1 month ago

As a New Mexican I would never use orange zest or vanilla. I’ve never seen a traditional recipe call for them. I use butter instead of lard (I’ve seen either or in recipes) and the recipe I use calls for brandy. A lot of people use water, I do a very untraditional thing and use cream sherry. The sherry is very mellow and compliments the anise.

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, a cookbook author, and the creator of Bigger Bolder Baking. I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere with my trusted and tested recipes and baking tips. You may have seen one of my 500+ videos on YouTube & TikTok or as a guest judge on Nailed It! on Netflix or the Best Baker in America on Food Network. No matter your skills, my Bold Baking Team & I want to be your #1 go-to baking authority.

 

Weeknight Family Favorites Chapter from the Bigger Bolder Baking Every Day Cookbook