Ugly but Good Cookies (Brutti ma Buoni)

These delicious hazelnut cookies, known as ugly but good ( brutti ma buoni in Italian), come from northern Italy.  The origins are unsure, some say Piedmont, others Lombardy. Whatever the history, I can tell you that they are very delicious and, in the end, this is what matters most.

The term ugly but good  is quite appropriate because these cookies don’t look too attractive but vanish off the serving plate in minutes. You need only three ingredients: hazelnuts, sugar and egg white.

The exterior is wonderfully crisp and the interior soft and chewy.

As they are without flour, they are perfect for who is intolerant to gluten. All their fat comes from the natural oils in the hazelnuts and they are held together by nothing more than beaten egg whites.

Don’’t worry if these cookies are irregularly shaped and lumpy. The shape should not be too smooth, so they can turn out “ugly”

For more Italian cookie recipes, be sure to check out my Baci di Dama (Italian Hazelnut Cookies), Cantucci, and Savoiardi (Ladyfingers).

How To Make It: Ugly but Good Cookies

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Ugly but Good Cookies (Brutti ma Buoni)- Italian hazelnut cookies made with only 3 INGREDIENTS, no butter, no oil and gluten-free!


  • 1 egg white
  • a pinch of salt
  • ⅓ cup + ½ tablespoon (80g) granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup (100 g) hazelnuts


  • Toast the hazelnuts in the oven at 356 degrees F (180 degrees C). Spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast until the skins are mostly split and the nuts are light golden brown and fragrant (about 15 minutes).
  • Remove from the oven and rub the hazelnuts until the loose skins come off.
  • Let them cool completely and pulse in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Beat the egg white and salt in a bowl with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
  • Gently fold in the sugar and nuts.
  • Spoon the batter on the baking sheet with a teaspoon or a tablespoon (it depends on how big you want your cookies) about 1.5 inches (4 cm) apart.
  • Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool.
  • Store the ugly but good cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.


Serving: 1 cookie, Calories: 100 kcal, Carbohydrates: 9 g, Protein: 2 g, Fat: 6 g, Sodium: 20 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 8 g
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