These Persian rice cookies are a common feature at Nowruz, Persian New Year, as well as many other celebrations. Once you try the delicately flavored little bites, it's easy to see why: fragrant, crumbly and gently sweet. They're a true Middle Eastern treat.
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Ever since I made Persian walnut cookies last year, I have been meaning to try some other Persian cookies. Of course, it has taken me almost a year but hey, it was worth the wait.
These are not your typical cookies as the flavorings are very much of the region, but they're easy, delicious and naturally gluten free.
These rice cookies are one of the most popular for Nowruz celebrations, where you'll also find other symbolic foods like kuku sabzi, Persian herb fritatta. (I have another savory recipe coming soon, so keep an eye out). You'll also find them at celebrations like weddings and birthdays.
How to make Persian rice cookies
As with many traditional recipes, there are some variations. The basic ingredients of rice flour, sugar and egg are pretty constant from one version to another. But while many use oil, some use butter - I stuck with oil as much for ease as anything.
Most use rose water as the main or only flavoring, but others use cardamon. I used a bit of a mix of both, as I love what both bring flavor-wise. Then all seem to agree that you should leave the mixture for a good 6 hours in the fridge to firm up and let the flavors mingle. Then shape, decorate if you like, and bake.
I'm sharing these cookies today as part of an event coordinated by the fantastic Julie from The Little Kitchen to help raise money for Cookies for Kids Cancer. Each of the bloggers participating is not only sharing a tasty cookie recipe (see below!), we've all donated to this good cause.
Plus, by donating through this event, some great sponsors (Dixie Crystals, Mediavine and OXO) have each agreed to match donations up to $3,000, which we're excited to say we have reached. But we can still raise more, so join us in helping this charity fight cancer in kids. Big thanks to Julie for organizing, and the sponsors for their donations, too.
See how easy these Persian rice cookies are to make in the short video!
These Persian rice cookies remind me a little of Spanish polverones, as they are relatively crumbly, but with the distinctive rosewater flavor that make them aromatic and bright.
True, it's not a flavor for everyone - my younger son and various friends loved them, but my older son was not so sure. But I'd recommend trying them as they're so easy, there's a good chance you'll find a new favorite treat.
Try these other gluten free cookies:
- Spiced maple cookies
- Healthy cranberry apricot cookies
- Oatmeal pistachio cookies
- Maple chestnut cookies
- Plus get more snack recipes, both sweet and savory, as well as Persian recipes in the archives.
Tools to make these cookies
(affiliate links) I'd recommend using a Silicone Baking Mat on top of a Half Baking Sheet to make these.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.
Persian rice cookies (nan-e berenji)
- 4 ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ cup confectioners sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon rosewater (see notes)
- 1 cup rice flour
- ⅛ teaspoon cardamon powder
- ½ teaspoon pistachios crushed, or sesame seeds, optional
- Whisk together the oil and confectioners sugar until well combined and glossy. Whisk in the egg yolk and the rosewater.
- Add the rice flour, about ½ cup at a time, and the cardamon and mix well. Use your hands as needed to press together. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight, to help the flavors to mingle.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F/175C. Take small handfuls of the dough and press together into a slightly flattened ball. Place the cookies on a baking sheet (lined is probably better but they don't really stick so not too drastic).
- Lightly score the tops of the cookies in a cross shape either with the tip of a knife or the edge of a spoon to be more rounded. Be careful not to cut in too far or the cookies will split wen you bake.
- Top with a little crushed pistachios or poppy seeds, if you like, then bake for approx 20 minutes until still not browned but they look more dry. Allow to cool before moving.
See all the #helpingcookies being shared today - enjoy some tastiness in a good causes!
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oops. I just read through the comments. My problem was a common one: dough a little too dry. I saw the hint to add a teaspoon of oil and a teaspoon of water. I'll try that. Thanks.
Glad you enjoyed, even if a little crumbly - I'll add the suggestion on a little more oil and water into the recipe card to make it easier for people to find who may have a similar challenge.
I made these following the recipe exactly. They were delicious, but I had a problem making them: the dough barely held together. it was dry and crumbly. While it finally did bake up into cookies, and they were delicious, they too were very crumbly. Anything I can do to make them hold together better?
Any hints on how to replace the oil with butter? The only oil I have is olive oil, and given how strongly flavoured it is, seems like it'd be a bad idea for a dessert.
Yes I don't think olive oil would be the best here, but honestly not sure butter would be quite right either. I would definitely suggest finding another oil if possible (eg vegetable, canola, sunflower) and if butter is only option, it would probably be an equal volume swap but I really can't say if they would come out quite the same.
Can these be frozen?
I haven't tried so can't say for sure. I imagine they should as long as wrapped to avoid freezer burn.
Couple of adjustments should be made to this recipe. Not sure if it was just the brand of rose water that I got (Nielsen-Massey) but the rose water is very, very strong and made these inedible. I would cut the rose water to 1/2 tsp.
I also wouldn't wait too long to bake them, if at all. The flavors do come through fairly quickly (around 1 hour after making the dough)
Additionally when assembling them i would add about a teaspoon of oil and a teaspoon of water and mix up before making little balls and slightly flattening them. The texture on mine came out perfect, but i couldn't move forward with the rest because the rose was so strong.
Sorry to hear they didn't work out, indeed rosewaters can vary greatly in strength so I will add a note to test after a small amount to see how the flavor is. And appreciate the suggestion on a little oil when assembling - it will depend a little on your flours etc but yes this can help if needed.
I need help. When I try to roll the dough into balls, it just falls a part, it is too crumbly. Your advice would be appreciated.
It is a crumbly mixture and you don't roll the dough but instead press it together into balls - the warmth of your hands should help it to stick together. If you still struggle, you can try adding a little more oil to the dough. Good luck!
My dough came out very dry. Any suggestions?
Hi, it is a very dry dough, you kind of have to press it together to form the cookies. You can also try adding a little extra oil to help it be a little more moist. Hope they work out for you!
Thank you for a beautiful recipe for such a worthy cause!
Your Mediavine swag is on the way and should be to you soon. It's just a small token of our appreciation for your time and efforts to wipe out pediatric cancer.
~Jenny, Mediavine Marketing Associate
Thanks Jenny, and thanks to Mediavine for matching donations too.
Michele @ Bacon Fatte
Looking forward to making these cookies, Caroline... You always have such fun recipes!
Thanks Michele, that's so kind!
Love the Middle Eastern flavors here! Definitely on my to do list! Thank you for sharing!
Thanks Hadia, the flavors are great. Enjoy!
I'm sooooooooo ready to make these!!! Simply divine!! Great video!
Thanks Ally, enjoy!
Rose water, cardamom, Yum!
Thanks Robin, indeed!
what a unique delicious snack! love it!
Thanks, I agree that bit different but tasty!