Traditional Taralli Recipe from Puglia

When traveling through Puglia, the “heel of the boot” of Italy, food is everywhere.  Beneath majestic olive trees, there are fields of red earth planted with vegetables, and the night air smells like celery.  Long expanses of wheat fields produce the local flour used in excellent crusty bread, and then there are the raucous fish markets, teeming with wriggling sea creatures.  And we haven’t begun to get to the exquisitely creamy burrata cheese, the oh-so-sweet tomatoes, or the heady Primitivo wine, thus named because it describes your ability to make a sentence after a few glasses.

On one occasion, while traveling through Puglia with friends, we stopped in a bar inaperitivo of wine & taralli  Martina Franca to have an aperitivo, and the waiter asked if we wanted stuzzichini – appetizer snacks – with our drinks.  When we said yes, out came bowls of soft bocconcini of mozzarella, plump green olives, oven-baked black olives flecked with hot pepper, bits of salami, tiny one-bite pizzette, pickled lampascioni, sun-dried tomatoes, and crunchy taralli, spiced with fennel seeds and black pepper.

In other words, a meal for most people. When we commented to the waiter about how this could suffice as dinner, he laughed and said, “Only if you aren’t pugliese.”  And so, wanting to fit in with the locals, we headed off to dinner.  We found more taralli in the breadbasket at dinner, and they became our addiction during the trip.

Learning to make taralli will just be one of the many things we’ll be doing on our Pleasures of Puglia culinary tour, but since that is months away, I decided to make a batch at home.  You’ll find my complete taralli recipe at the end of this post, but here are the basics:

Taralli are quite simple to make, with an unleavened dough of flour, salt, extra-virgin olive oil, and white wine.  You can leave the dough plain or spice it with fennel seeds or cracked black pepper.

dough for Taralli from Puglia

Take walnut-sized pieces of dough and shape into thin ropes about 5 inches (10 cm) long, then bring the ends together to form a ring.  It’s okay if they look like a teardrop.

Taralli dough recipe

Next, the rings are briefly cooked in a pot of boiling water until they float to the dough for taralli in ring shapesurface, then removed with a slotted spoon and left to cool and dry on a clean cloth.

Place the taralli on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until the taralli are golden brown.  Cool on a rack and serve with an aperitivo – drink the rest of that white wine you used to make the dough – or fill a breadbasket and serve at dinner.

Read more about what we’ll be doing on our Pleasures of Puglia tour.

taralli from puglia

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Wild Asparagus Walk in Sicily

Traditional Taralli Recipe from Puglia

Prep Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Yield: About 100 taralli

Serving Size: Unlimited!

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (1 lb, 500 grams) flour
  • 1 tsp (10 grams) salt
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup (200 ml) dry white wine
  • optional spices:
  • 1-2 tsp fennel seeds or cracked black pepper

Cooking Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt.
  2. Add the oil and wine, and mix with a fork until the dough forms into a rough mass.
  3. Dump the dough onto a wooden board and knead it for about 5 minutes, until it is smooth.
  4. If you want to add any optional spices, knead them into the dough (or divide the dough and add spice to ½ of the dough) – knead well to distribute the spice.
  5. Cover the dough and let it rest, along with your arms, for 15-30 minutes.
  6. Pinch walnut-sized pieces of dough, roll first between your hands, and then against the wooden cutting board, so that the dough forms a thin rope, about ½ inch (1 cm) in diameter and 4” long (10 cm).
  7. Shape each rope into a ring, and seal the edges together by pressing lightly, then set aside the taralli rings on a wooden board and cover with a towel.
  8. In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to boil.
  9. Put 6-10 of the taralli into the boiling water, and when they float to the surface – this will only take 30-60 seconds – remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on a cloth to dry and cool.
  10. Tip: Try not to plop one tarallo on top of another when dropping them into the pot, and if they stick to the bottom, give them a gentle nudge with the slotted spoon
  11. Put the cooled taralli on baking sheets and bake in a preheated oven at 375°F (200°C) for about 25 minutes, until golden.
  12. Remove and cool on racks.
  13. Store in a closed container to keep them crisp, and serve with an aperitivo – they are the a nice accompaniment for the rest of that dry white wine – or pile them into a breadbasket at dinner.

76 thoughts on “Traditional Taralli Recipe from Puglia

  1. i made this recipe today and they turned out great! i made plain, fennel & pepper ones. dead easy to make just needed to add a bit of water to dough as was a bit dry.

    1. @Tina – So glad to hear that you made my taralli recipe and they turned out well! Flour can differ from place to place, but it sounds like you got the right consistency. Do you have a favorite flavor of the 3 you made?

  2. We just returned from Puglia where our guide gave us her recipe for these. She did not mention the boiling step. Have you ever made them without boiling before baking?

    1. Hi Louise – While I have seen recipes for taralli that don’t require boiling, I have never made them that way, and think the boiling step is what gives the characeristic smooth surface and particular taste to taralli – (similar to method used for making bagels). Why not make both and compare? Let me know how they turn out- Ciao, Anita

  3. I made these today and I love them! I lived in Rome for a year and am addicted to these. They are easy to make however I found them a bit heavier than the store bought taralli. Any ideas why?

    1. Diane- Glad to hear you made the taralli successfully. If they were a bit heavy, try cutting back on the flour, as the dough should be soft. Buon appetito!

  4. Born and raised in Trani, Puglia, I know taralli.
    Just made a batch of them following your recipe. Fantastic and delicious . Grazie

  5. thank you for the taralli recipe, its what I”ve been looking for. Im so excited I cant wait to make them, will let you know how they turned out.

  6. My grandmother is from Bisceglie in Puglia. She made taralli every year at the holidays but used a yeast dough as we still do today. Our family taralli are coveted by our friends and family.

  7. In Jerusalem there is a little snack like this- called beigele-for lack of anything better. A big fatter, but more or less the same.
    Enjoy, everyone, whatever the version.

  8. @ Anita – My children love the fennel ones and all the adults love the black pepper ones. just printed off the receipe again as over this wknd i will be making a few hundred for me, my mum & brother for the festive period. It takes me a long time to make them as my 6 & 7 yr old will be helping me but thats what it’s all about. Happy christmas & New year

  9. I have been making boiled pepper biscuits for a long time ( 85 years old) the way my sainted mother taught me. In her recipe she used yeast. I notice that there is no yeast listed in your version. Does this recipe require no yeast?

  10. Had these growing up and remember watching my mom and aunt with the pot of boiling water. we called them salt and pepper cookies. so glad i now have the recipe and make them for myself. i did find a bakery in NJ that makes them.

  11. I made my first batch over the Holidays, and they turned out exactly lie the ones I remember from an Italian deli in elm wood park, Illinois. Today I am going to make another batch and send them to my 96 year old father in law.
    The hints about the moisture vs dryness were really helpful ; I live in the southwest and a little bit of extra wine and oil made them perfect! Thanks!

  12. Wow, these are clearly difficult to mess up, YAY!! I have been buying store bought tarallis that me and my 2.5 year old love. Being someone who is always trying to make things healthier, I decided to try a half whole wheat version. So I used 50% whole wheat pastry flour and 50% organic white spelt flour – the dough was too dry, but I kept kneading and kneading 🙂 only to realize after letting it sit for 30 minutes that it was truly too dry to stay together when rolling! So I sort of crumbled it all up again, randomly added extra oil and wine and kneaded a little more, then followed the rest of instructions. They turned out perfectly!! Great texture. I used fennel which I love. Can’t wait to see how my daughter feels about them. Next time I want to try some spicy ones, dry chilli pepper? Thank you so much.

  13. My 4 year old and I are rapidly finishing the first bag I ever tasted and brought home from Italy yesterday….. Glad my quick thinking brought me here, LOL! I have to start baking before my little one goes into withdrawal! Thanks!!!!!!

  14. hi.. i loved this recipe.. i would like to know is there any substitute for white wine.. because dont take alcohol in any form. And whats the difference between bread flour and plain flour. pls help me.

  15. hi.. i loved this recipe.. i would like to know is there any substitute for white wine.. because we dont take alcohol in any form. And what is the difference between bread flour and plain flour. pls help me.

    1. You might try using a bit of vinegar or lemon juice mixed with water instead of the wine. Bread flour has morre gluten, but using plain flour is fine. Let me know how they turn out!

  16. ” … Because don’t take alcohol in any form … “. By the time the taralli are boiled AND baked there will be no alcohol left. Ethanol evaporates at a lower temperature than water, so if you have dried the taralli the amount of alcohol remaining will be undetectable.

    Do you use artificial vanilla, other flavorings? They virtually all have alcohol, but the same principle applies. By the time your food is cooked the alcohol has evaporated.

  17. i am italian, born in Canada, and these are one of my favourite italian snacks! theres a great italian grocery and cheese factory in Toronto where my family always go to, and we’d buy Taralli by the pound, all different flavours….but now i live in Germany and in the town i live in there arent many Italians, so i cant find all the delicious italian treats i crave. so i stumbled on this recipe and thank god i did. they turned out so so fantastically, that ive made several batches in the last few days using fennel seeds, caraway seeds, crushed chili…ive even experiented with a bit of tomato paste mixed with drived basil and oregano for a sort of pizza flavour like i used to find at that grocery in Toronto and they all worked out amazingly!. they are delicious and just exactly what i needed in my home-sick state! thanks for posting!!

  18. Just back from Italy and found your recipe just as withdrawal was setting in. Do these freeze well? I’d like to make a huge batch to have around for drop-in company.

  19. I loved these little snacks I discovered in Puglia. Great article and thank you so much for the recipe!! I will give it a try!

  20. Years ago my mom used to buy a biscuit she said was Italian and I loved it. Anyone help me find some. They were round like a bagel, very shiny and the inside was chewy, very white, chewy but a bit hard, just a little sweet, I remember how chewy and they were and white inside. I called them bagels but they really did not resemble a bagel. So good. Love to find some. Please help/ Thank you

  21. Since returning from my very first trip to southern Italy, and have tasted the taralli from the Naples region, I have been obsessed with discovering the one “true” taralli – that is a taralli that isn’t almost precisely a bagel, but is rather more of a lighter, almost biscotti result. I am dying to try your recipe. Until our Italy trip, my only prior experiences with taralli were with my family. Theirs were always completely hard, like a cannon ball. I also knew of no taralli recipe in which they were prepared unleavened. As a child, I had an aunt that made her version of taralli at every Easter. We kids used to scatter to the four winds whenever she brought her taralli to the family Easter table. Those horrible things didn’t even dissolve when dunked into boiling hot coffee!

    When I tasted taralli in Naples, and I begged the bakers to share secrets, I learned all of them made these wonderfully different treats alike. Theirs were made with wine and no yeast. I am going to try my own hand at resurrecting the venerable taralli to our family table. Your recipe looks closest to what I was able to learn from my trip. Oh, one tip – the local Neapolitan bakers added crushed hazel nuts to their recipe. I guess hazel nuts are a big part of southern Italy baking, and a tasty and wonderful addition.

  22. Since returning from my very first trip to southern Italy, and have tasted the taralli from the Naples region, I have been obsessed with discovering the one \\

  23. I’m just back from Venice and I bought a bag of Taralli on a market. This is the second time i have tasted this ‘biscuit’. These are rosemary flavoured and I cannot think of any better herb to go with it, I can’t have enough of them!! When it’s all gone I’m sure ill be making a bunch of them as the recipe sounds so easy! Thanks for the post;)

  24. Hi Anita.
    I love your site. I’m from Foggia, Puglia. A little town called Bovino. My Mom and Grandmothers and Zias make these amazing taralli but use flour, melted shortening, eggs, sugar, and a shot of whiskey to in the dough. Have you come across this recipe?
    I love dunking these babies in red wine. A tradition at our house still today. Thanks for sharing. D.B.

  25. My mother used to make Taralli, but I don’t have her recipe. In the stores there are 2 types: One is crispy sort of like a cracker. The other is hard and crunchy. These are the ones my mother mother made. Finding this variety in the stores is rare. I like them so much better than the cracker type. Does your recipe come out like a cracker or hard and crunchy?

  26. Anita, I have tried these twice and they are gummy inside. What am I doing wrong? They don’t seem to rise well either. They taste ok but look raw inside

  27. Anita,
    My grandparents came from Bisceglie in the early 1900’s and my Nonna brought many recipes with her, this included. My Mom, who just passed away last year at 92, always made taralli to perfection. I always helped her and have our family recipe. We always use anise seeds and have yeast in the dough.
    Lots of good family memories.

  28. Anitas I love your tarralli. I make the same way you recommended and I have made with dry garlic and dry basil, another dry onion it they are delicious. I only have one problem is they stay golden when they come out but some of them get tuff. What do you recommend I do. Also I have seen a italian video making tarralli and they add white vinager to the hot water before putting in the tarralli do you know what does the vinager to to the Tarralli?

  29. I tried the taralli recipe today and they turned out lovely! I made four kinds: fennel, nigella, pepper and plain and liked the nigella best.
    Thanks so much for sharing the recipe, I’ll definitely make them again!

  30. My grandmother used to make something similar to these with the fennel seeds and called them “taralli” but they were more like a bagel. Do you know of a recipe that would be like a bagel with the fennel seeds. I would greatly appreciate it if you would share this with me. Thank you in advance

  31. i made the recipe but used 3 1/2 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of olive oil. the dough was soft and easy to work with baked them with 360 F oven took about 30 minutes to become golden but the taralli came out a bit too hard any ideas why?

  32. As I read your recipe my head kept remindng me that is exactly what my mother did. Almost brought tears to my eyes. She was from Trani, Italy a province of Bari. Thank you for a wonderful memory. My son is just getting through making a batch.

  33. Just made it and very good indeed. Thank you for sharing recipe.
    I would like to add two remarks:

    * flour is exactly 1 pound or 445 gr
    * I baked for 30 mins on 375 F than 10 on 350 F than 30 mins on 250 F. That helped to make them very crispy inside as well.

  34. My mother was from a town near Bari, Palo del Colle. I grew up eating Taralli. Mom called them,” biscotti”. Have made them in the past but forgot them as I grew older.

  35. I stayed for 2 weeks in Puglia earlier this year and loved the taralli so thank you Anita for the recipe. I have been making it with water to mix (as I don’t often have wine) and the taralli have been just as good. Today I am experimenting using some beer to replace the wine as I had a small bottle in the fridge. The dough looks good so far. I will report on the flavour later.

  36. OMG so excited to find this on your site! I googled Taralli because we just ate the last packet that Alitalia served us. Anita, you are the gift that keeps on giving. 🙂

  37. For years I have being making these taralli\\\’s with no success. I was given a recipe using Crisco. I made them with my kids & grandchildren to keep my tradition alive. Every year it was a disaster. They always came out very hard. I finally found your recipe & they came out just the way I remember when my mother made them. Flaky in the mouth. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Domenica

  38. I am 2nd generation Italian and lived in an Italian neighborhood growing up in New England. Our neighbor, directly from southern Italy (don’t know the exact location), made Taralli (we, who were born in the US, always pronounced them as “thralls”, lost something in the generation and Italian language). They were bagel like as well as others were thinner like what you describe on this site with spices. The bagel-like ones were very puffy egg-like color center and almost hollow like a croissant, but firm and crunchy on the outside. I only recall one thing about the recipe that they were boiled in water first (nothing was written down and always made my our neighbor’s “Noni”). They were an Easter treat and coated with anise flavored powder sugar glaze with colorful sprinkles on the glaze. Baked fresh they were great for eating as is, but older/stale, they were hard as a rock and could only be eaten by dunking in hot coffee. You’ve brought fond memories to me with this site and your recipe. Thank you and may God bless you!

  39. Dear Anita
    I made these but I put egg to glaze just before I put them in the oven. I am convinced my mother use to do this

  40. Hi, can the dough be kneaded in my kitchen aid stand mixer and for how long?
    These look so good, can’t wait to make them!

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