Pizzelle were originally made in Ortona, in the Abruzzo region of south-central Italy. The name comes from the Italian word for "round" and "flat" (pizze); this is also the meaning of the word pizza. Many other cultures have developed a pizzelle-type cookie as part of their culture (for example, the Norwegian Krumkake). It is known to be one of the oldest cookies, and is believed to have developed from the ancient Roman crustulum. Pizzelle are known as ferratelle in the Lazio region of Italy. In Molise they may be called ferratelle, cancelle, or pizzelle.
The cookie dough or batter is put into a pizzelle iron, which resembles a small variant of the popular waffle iron. Typically, the iron stamps a snowflake pattern onto both sides of the thin golden-brown cookie, which has a crisp texture once it is cooled.