Biscochitos are New Mexico’s State Cookies! And for good reason, they are buttery, sweet, and spiced just right. This is our favorite Biscochitos Recipe!
(I originally published this recipe in 2014. It is the most popular recipe here on Some the Wiser this time of year! I’ve updated the pictures and the wording of the recipe for clarity.)
Biscochitos (sometimes spelled Bizcochitos) are a beloved New Mexican treat. Although I wasn’t born here, I’ve lived in New Mexico for more than half my life, so my roots here feel pretty sturdy at this point. These days, I definitely consider myself a New Mexican through and through.
One of the best parts of living in New Mexico is the unique food tradition here. I love that you can order “Christmas” chile (red and green chiles mixed together) on just about anything. I can’t pass up a hot Sopapilla with honey drizzled inside, and I eat Green Chile Stew and Carne Adovada year round. But what I really love are Biscochitos during the holiday season!
Biscochitos are New Mexico’s State Cookies. It’s true! New Mexicans love Biscochitos so much that they made it official in 1989. It’s not Christmas here without them!
What are Biscochitos?
Biscochitos are similar to shortbread, or butter cookies, but with their own unique flavor twist. The biscochito dough is made with a generous amount of crushed anise seeds, as well as a hint of orange and cinnamon. They’re packed with flavor, covered in cinnamon sugar, and practically melt in your mouth. Delicious is only the tip of that flavor iceberg.
Making Biscochitos during the holidays is one of our most favorite holiday traditions! Really, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Biscochitos in the cookie jar at my house in December.
How to Make Biscochitos
If you live in the Southwest, you can probably find Biscochitos to buy, but they are easy to make and so much more delicious! This particular biscochito recipe is my best family secret but since the world will only be a better place with more delicious cookies, I’m happy to share it with you!
To get started you only a need a few simple ingredients:
Most of the ingredients are normal pantry staples that I’m sure you’re familiar with. If you haven’t ever used anise seeds before, they’re easy to find at just about any grocery store in the spice section. This is a crucial ingredient that gives the biscochitos the unique flavor they are known for!
This recipe calls for crushed anise seeds. You can do this by crushing them with a mortar and pestle, or run them through a spice grinder. I use this little coffee grinder (this is an affiliate link) as a spice grinder and it works like a charm!
About that Lard
There is also Lard on the ingredient list, but don’t let that deter you! You can sub in butter or vegetable shortening, but they won’t be the same. For an authentic New Mexican biscochito, you need to use lard. I’ll make my case:
- First, it’s the holidays and who said the treats need to be healthy.
- Second, call it historical research and then study every bite because these cookies are famous around here and have been since the first Spanish colonists rode into the state way back when.
- Finally, these cookies were the first cookies ever to be given the title of “official state cookie” which, as far as I’m concerned, is a pretty solid endorsement.
I buy my lard in the grocery store – it’s normally down the baking aisle, near the cooking oils and shortening.
A Few Tips and Tricks
These are easy cookies to make, but there are few tricks to ensure they turn out just right every time. Here are all my secrets for biscochito success.
First, be aware that this dough is not like other cookie dough. It’s more like working with pie crust dough. After you have mixed all the ingredients together, as instructed in the recipe below, you will have a crumbly mixture like this:
Go ahead and dig in with your hands and work the dough into a ball, like below. Keep working until you have all the loose dough and flour pieces incorporated.
After the dough has been refrigerated for 30 minutes, I like to separate it into three balls before I roll it out. Then I work each dough ball in my hands, kind of kneading it, until it really comes together into a smooth soft dough before I roll it out on a lightly floured surface.
If you try to roll it out and it still feels crumbly, just work it a little more. The lard really needs some kneading to make a smooth, workable dough.
Tips for Cooking Biscochitos
One of the most important tips for success is to make sure you don’t overcook them. They will be just barely turning golden when they are done. This happens in my oven at precisely 12 minutes, but if you’re trying this at home for the first time, set the timer for less minutes and check them often.
When they’re done cooking, take the pan out of the oven but don’t touch the cookies. I leave them on the pan for 10 minutes and if I try to touch them before those ten minutes are up, they will crumble. You can sprinkle some cinnamon-sugar on top while they’re on the pan.
After the 10 minute waiting period, you can gently give them their cinnamon-sugar bath. I like to lay them in the cinnamon-sugar for a dusting on the bottom and then I spoon a little more on top.
And now you’re ready to get started. Definitely give this Biscochitos recipe a try! I’ve received SO MANY messages from people who love this recipe as much as I do. It really is the best biscochito recipe around. Enjoy!
Looking for more New Mexican Inspired Recipes? Check out these favorites too:
- Hatch Green Chile Breakfast Casserole
- Roasted Green Chile Relleno Casserole
- Hatch Green Chile Raspberry Muffins
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons crushed anise seed
- zest of one orange
- 1 1/4 cups lard
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Topping
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in the crushed anise and orange zest.
- In a separate large bowl, combine the sugar and lard. Then, using an electric mixer, beat the lard and sugar until light and fluffy - about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine. Gradually beat in the flour mixture and stop as soon as mixture is combined. Dough will be crumbly and more like a pie crust dough and than a normal cookie dough (see picture in post above).
- Using your hands, work the dough into a ball, like you would a pie crust, incorporating all the loose pieces of flour mixture. Then, wrap in plastic and refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon for topping.
- Take the chilled dough and separate it into 3 balls, roughly the same size. Take one dough ball at a time and work it in your hands, kneading it until it is soft and smooth. If it feels crumbly when you try to roll it out, just knead it a little more until it comes together - the lard needs a little extra help. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out cookies (I used a 2 1/2 inch circle cutter and a 2 1/2 inch star cutter).
- Place cookies on lined baking sheet and bake until just barely golden and set, about 10 to 12 minutes (be careful not to over cook!). Let cookies cool for 10 minutes on the pan (they will crumble if you take them off any sooner). While they are on the pan, sprinkled them with some cinnamon and sugar on top. When they've cooled for 10 minutes, you can then carefully dunk them into the sugar mixture. Place on cookie rack until completely cooled.
Traditional Biscochitos use lard and taste better because of it, but you can substitute vegetable shortening if you can't find lard.