Italian Rainbow Cookies

Italian Rainbow Cookies also known as Marzipan Slices or even 7 layer Cookies.

No matter what you call them, they are a staple in old fashioned bakeries.

They are not exactly rainbow though, since they are no where near the 7 colors in a rainbow.

Italian Flag Cookies are a good name since (if you do it correctly ~ umm, errr… not the way I did) the colors represent the colors in the Italian Flag!

7 layer cookie is also a good name since there is that many layers once you count the jam and the cake.

But for me ~ well…it seems I was making something completely different all along since my cookies have 4 layers of cake, 4 colors and 8 layers!

But they are Marzipan Cookies! So I’m kinda sorta on the right track!

The first time I learned how to make them was when I bought my bakery way back in 2005, and I just followed what was already being done and that was 4 colors!

What did I know!?

Well one thing I do know is that whatever you call them, no matter how many colors you use and whatever colors you decide you want~ it doesn’t really make a difference to the unbelievable taste of this authentic recipe.

This is, however,  an expensive cookie to make due to the hefty amount of almond paste, in addition to their intense labor involved. But they are well worth it!

4.8 from 4 reviews
Italian Rainbow Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Prepare 4- 1/8 sheet pans with pan grease and parchment paper as shown in the video.
Serves: 4dz
  • Almond Paste 1lb (454g)
  • Unsalted Butter 16 Tablespoons (226g)
  • Eggs large 6 (300g)
  • Vanilla Extract 2 teaspoons (10ml)
  • Cake Flour ½ cup (60g)
  • Raspberry Jam ¾ cups
  • Merckens Chocolate approximately 8oz
  • Red, Green and Yellow Gel Paste Food Coloring
  1. Soften the almond paste with the mixer to a smooth paste
  2. If it seems to be a little on the dry side, add one of the eggs to get it nice and creamy before adding the softened butter.
  3. Add the butter all at once and cream until all is mixed thoroughly, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl from time to time.
  4. Add the vanilla extract
  5. Add the eggs slowly, one at a time, stopping to scrape the bowl periodically.
  6. Add the sifted cake flour all at once and mix just until combined.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between 4 bowls.
  8. One will remain white, 1 will be red, 1 yellow and 1 green.
  9. Spread the batter evenly in the pans and bake in preheated 350°F oven for 16 minutes DO NOT OVERBAKE or these delicate cake layers will be DRY!
  10. Cool completely
  11. Take the first layer of cake and spread ¼ cup of jam very thin and evenly.
  12. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat with the jam and the next layer of cake and jam until you end with the last layer of cake.
  13. Freeze the entire stack for 15 - 30 minutes.
  14. Slice the entire sheet of cake into 3 strips
  15. Each strip will be brushed with a very thin coating of Merckens Chocolate and then sliced into the size cookie you desire.
Store cookies in an airtight container for about a week.

These cookies tend to dry out quickly.

Freeze wrapped well for up to 1 month





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  1. Hey, Gretchen, I was comparing this recipe to the previous recipe for 6 dozen cookies and was curious about using the same amount of cake flour though all the other ingredients are basically halved, with the other exception being the amount of butter which decreased from 454 g to 113g, so that is less than half.

    I know baking is a science, so does it have something to do with that?

    Like you said….it’s an expensive recipe and I wanted to check before making these. BTW, I have ordered those cute little pans. Thanks for finding them for us. You are the greatest!

  2. First comment!? I’ve been hoping you’d revideo this one–rainbow cookies are a favorite of mine. There is a local bakery that made delicious rainbow cookies. About two years ago it was bought and the new owners apparently have changed the recipe. I bought a few rainbow cookies and they were a disappointment. Now I can try making my own–thanks!

  3. Hi Gretchen,

    Been following you from the beginning. I have been waiting for this recipe two questions want to make the cookies in traditional three layers what size pans should I use and why do so many recipes seperate the eggs and then fold them in. Thanks for all the info and recipes love your channel.

    1. HI Thanks! i can’t really comment on other people’s recipes, but the separation foaming method is popular in lightening up cake recipes, like sponge cakes& genoise– BUT that lightness also creates a drier cake since air=dry.
      I wouldnt do that here, these cookies are meant to be dense, like marzipan has a denseness to it, and there is a really great moistness to them in this style of mixing.
      If you use just 3 colors then just divide the batter into 3- you will have slightly thicker layers but thats OK!

  4. Dear Gretchen,

    They look yummy! Thanks for the recipe. I have ONE BIG problem here which is I cannot find almond paste in my country. Can I substitute it with something else? Or Can I make it myself?

    1. Hi Thanks! I would not recommend to make your own for this recipe and there are no subsitutions for this one, since the bulk of the recipe is almond paste.
      (You can however make thin cakes like my white cake and color the batter that way- but they wont be almond paste cookies, they will just be – hmm I don’t know…cake cookies? LOL)

    2. I have made these with a slightly different recipe.
      I do make my own almond paste and it has worked fine, whether it will in this recipe I cannot say, but it is worth a try with perhaps a 1/2 batch.
      Almond paste, 8 oz blanched almonds, whole or slivered, 8 oz ( 1+1/2 cups) powdered sugar, 1 egg white, 1 tsp almond extract.
      Grind almonds in food processor till finely ground, may add some of the sugar to help process.
      When finely ground add balance of sugar, process, add egg white and extract .
      Process till it comes together, this makes 1 lb of paste.
      excess may be frozen wrapped well.
      Happy Baking!

  5. Do u think if I cut them and put a thin layer of chocolate on all 4 sides of each slice , that will keep them from drying out?

  6. Hi Gretchen! For your Butterfinger Cake recipe it only says to make 1 recipe of the Chocolate cake (which makes 2 layers), but in the video you had 3 layers. Should I make 1 1/2 recipes of the chocolate cake or just divide 1 recipe into 3 pans? Thanks so much!

  7. I’ve never made or even tasted one of these. I know they are called cookies but am wondering if they are more like a small piece of cake. I wanted to make them back when you videoed them long ago, I even bought the pans, just never got around to actually doing it. Love all your recipes and have been enjoying your videos from the very beginning. Thank you.

  8. Gretchen,

    These look absolutely AMAZING. I’ve tried recipes where the egg whites are beaten separately. This is so much easier. My favourite colours are pink, green and white. The recipe makes a gorgeous cake. Thanks for the tip of lightly painting on the chocolate — a thick coating over powers the marzipan. This cookie steals the show. It is like the Italian Peach Cookie .

    Love your videos Gretchen. You are so entertaining and your recipes GREAT. How kind of you to share.

    1. I’ve made these cookies for years and love them. I’m so going to go on Amazon now and see for the pans. I’ve also always done the egg whites separate and this will make these cookies so much easier not having to separate them. Thanks

  9. Gretchen,
    I have baked for years. You always inspire me and continue to teach me something new with recipes I’ve made and have been passed down from family. Continued success.

  10. Gretchen, wouldn’t these make gorgeous Petit Fours. What icing would one cover them with. Can I skip the buttercream and just use the poured fondant icing and decorate them with little marzipan rosebuds. That would be so pretty. Thanks.

  11. I never made these cookies for one good reason….I could never find the mini pans. This week I searched Michael’s, ACMoore, Penny’s, Macy’s, Joanns…nothing!!! Then I was just looking over your recipe and BANG. Right in bright red print..1/8 mini pans!!!! Exactly 2 minutes later I was Amazon Priming away and those babies should arrive Tomorrow. Thanks Gretchen. It’s so nice to get complete instructions.

  12. Hi Gretchen~ For the rainbow cookies could you possible substitute something else for the almond paste? I love all your recipes and videos, thanks for sharing your culinary knowledge! Sharon

    1. Hi Sharon, well I suppose you could use very thin cake layers, but it will be very fragile, hard to handle, will most likely break up upon cutting and then again when someone tries to eat them. It just isn’t rainbow cookies unless it is almond paste (Frangipane cake)

  13. Hi Gretchen,

    I made this recipe and it was addicting! I have the Wilton Easy Layers instead of the 1/8 sheet pans and I think they’re 10×4. I baked for 16 minutes and it came out great but just making sure – bake time would be the same?

  14. Hi Gretchen,
    I can’t wait to make this.!!!
    Can I use three 9×13 pans and divide the batter into 3 instead of 4 colors?
    Will that still work ?

    Thanks Gretchen 🙂

  15. Hi Gretchen, I purchased the little pans from Amazon and am ready to make these for Christmas! I previously used a different recipe, but am very excited to try your recipe. I have just one question. Because I want to make these this weekend, can I just leave the cookies in the freezer until I am ready to slice and coat with chocolate in a couple of weeks? Thank you!

  16. Hi Gretchen, Merry Christmas!
    Baking starts for me this week as my holiday party will be on the 20th.
    I want to make these cookies, though I only have one 1/4 sheet pan. Will this batter hold long enough to bake each layer separately? If so, should I keep the batter refrigerated while waiting to bake.
    Thanks for all your fantastic recipes.

  17. Dear Gretchen, thanks for all that you do for the home cooks! I am going to try the Italian
    Rainbow cookies tonight, and was wondering if another brand of melting or dipping
    chocolates would work the same as Merkens? They are Ghirardelli candy making and
    dipping, dark melting wafers. And, would freezing overnight be ok, too, before I start
    brushing on the chocolate? Thanks! I have all my gear together, your pans, your colors
    and that almond paste! Deb

    1. Great you are welcome! Yes to any kind of candy melts or couverture chocolate that has been tempered
      Yes to freeze however if it is too cold the chocolate will chunk up rather than brush on nicely- you will know right away of they are too cold

  18. Hi Gretchen!

    I’ve made your recipe before (it was a larger recipe before wasn’t it?? I remember using 1/4 sheet pans) I’m making it again for Christmas and I can’t wait. I just wanted to let everyone know how AWESOME this recipe is!!

    Thank you for all you do!!

    1. I’ve made the previous Woodland Bakery recipe using quarter sheet pans as well and since we can no longer access that blog have lost the measurements for the larger batch. Would you mind sharing the original measurements? Many thanks!

  19. Just an update to my previous post. I chickened out and did not freeze overnite but did freeze for thirty minutes. Then frosted. The chocolate for candy melts worked well and it came out very perfectly! Then I carefully wrapped it in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil and froze it. Yesterday, I unfroze it and let it sit for about an hour til it was completely thawed out, took my sharpest serrated steak knife and it came out beautifully! Some edges will break off a bit, but not much. Cut the end to get the feel of the cake cutting . I hope that I am not writing too much, but I like to beware of pitfalls that might happen during the actual process of making it. Then for the cookie trays that I was giving out, I wrapped each piece in saran wrap so that it would not dry out as fast. Best of all, they are moist, almondy and taste GREAT! Thanks, Gretchen! Deb

    1. I loved these cookies. I live in southern Ohio and spending over 16.00 for some almond paste just wasn’t an option. So I made my own. Blanching whole almonds was easier than I expected. I ground them in my food processor and it was delish! I used disposable aluminum 9×9 square pans and it worked great. However, how do you cut these without the chocolate chipping off? After I painted them with chocolate, I put in fridge to set chocolate. Then I left them out so the chocolate was a little softer, but, the choc still chipped.
      I love the colors, flavor and look of these cookies. The twins and I are spending the day tomorrow making the Nutella cookies, Italian Spritz and hopefully some other cookies. After 4 years, they/me still love all you share with us. They only recognize two chefs, Gordon and Gretchen!
      Hugs and Merry Christmas!

  20. I tried your Italian Rainbow cookies and had one rather spectacular failure (wrong baking pans) but tried again and the results were such beautiful, perfect cookies -and so delicious – that I now make them to impress people! Thanks so much!

  21. Hi ! Some time ago I did a recipe like this from your old videos, and I think the recipe was bigger you did on a half sheet pan 2 colors at the time, just wandering just did this recipe today and seems to be much smaller,Thanks.

  22. I thought there was a mistake because wasn’t sugar in the recipe other than what is in almond paste. I added sugar when I beat almond paste and butter and they came out great-not too sweet. Is your almond paste very sweet? What brand did you use? Otherwise everyone is raving about them. I made my own almond paste as described above. I liked your recipe because of large amount of almond paste and no beating excessively of egg whites. Thank you for any response

  23. How could we make this gluten free? I have a gluten free flour blend with xantham gum, could I use that in place of the cake flour?

  24. Thanks for the recipe Gretchen! I made a half recipe, used a 1/4 sheet pan and didnt bother colouring any of the batter. Divided the cake into 3, filled one layer with apricot jam and the other with cherry jam. Made about 30 pieces, sliced thinly about 1/2 inch thick.

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