German Christmas Cookie Recipes

When I think of German Christmas cookie recipes, I think of lots of flavor. These flavors come from an assortment of spices, good butter, vanilla and other ingredients like honey and molasses. Candied fruits, raisins, chocolate and many nuts also add flavor and texture to German cookies.


Many German Christmas cookie recipes are popular in Germany but also in different parts of Europe. They may vary usually according to their local ingredients available. This may be variations in favorite spices or favorite available nuts.  The time periods in making German Christmas cookie recipes have caused them to evolve as far as the ingredients and perhaps the preparation. As it is here in the United States, products which I use today in some of my recipes were not available when my mother was alive and cooking. Even my application is different to a certain extent due to newer appliances and products.

German Christmas Cookie RecipesGerman Christmas Cookie Recipes

POPULAR GERMAN CHRISTMAS COOKIE RECIPES

ZIMTSTERNE or cinnamon star cookies are very much a large part of the German Christmas cookie recipes and the traditional German celebrations. They are deliciously flavored with cinnamon and almonds. These star shaped cookies can be served plain or with cookie icing.


LEBKUCHEN COOKIES are probably one of the most popular German Christmas cookie recipes. I have so many recipes for this cookie; enough for a separate section.  Some of these recipes are baked as round cookies; some versions know as gingersnaps. Some Lebkuchen are baked as bars. They can both be iced or left plain. Sometimes Mom would have them in bars and they were so delicious. Dad loved gingersnaps for “coffee dunking” but they are also good for “milk dunking” or simply cookies.


PFEFFERNUSSE COOKIES or pepper nuts are another one of the traditional German Christmas cookie recipes. This is also another one for which I have lots of different recipes. These cookies are full of spices which always include black pepper as the name suggests. They are usually rolled in sugar before and after baking.


SPRINGERLE COOKIES are a white colored anise flavored cookie. It is rolled out; then pressed with springerle molds to make indentations. This German Christmas cookie recipe are placed on baking sheets and allowed to dry before baking.


VANILLEKIPFERIN COOKIES or vanilla crescents are popular in Germany as well as all of Europe. Good quality vanilla is a favorite flavor in Germany and also one of mine. The German crescent cookie (Often in other shapes) usually contains finely chopped almonds or hazelnuts.


HEIDESAND COOKIES or sand cookies are thin shortbread cookies. These Northern Germany cookies are popular German Christmas cookie recipes as well as any time of year. The dough is rolled (Can be shaped in balls and flattened) and usually cut into rounds. Toppings or icing may or may not be added. 


BELOW ARE SOME OF MY FAVORITE GERMAN CHRISTMAS COOKIE RECIPES:

NUTCRACKER COOKIES

Nutcracker CookiesNutcracker Cookies

Every country has favorite cut out cookies for Christmas. This is my favorite of the German Christmas cookie recipes. The cookie is a flaky buttery cookie; even good without icing.

  • 2 Cups softened butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 Egg yolks
  • 4 Cups flour
  • ¼ Teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ Teaspoon salt
  • 2 Teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 Teaspoon almond extract
  • Powder sugar paints (Recipe below)

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl; set aside.

In mixing bowl beat butter on medium speed of mixer until creamy.

Gradually add sugar beating well; beat in egg yolks until well blended.

On low speed gradually add flour mixture to creamed mixture until blended.

Stir in vanilla and almond extracts; divide dough in half.

Wrap each portion of dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 4 hours.

PREHEAT OVEN to 350F degrees; lightly grease cookie sheets.

Roll 1 portion at a time on lightly floured surface to ¼ inch thickness.

Cut with 6 inch toy soldier cookie cutter; place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.

NOTE: If you do not have cutter, print a pattern off the internet; Copy it on cardboard to make an outline. Place this on the dough and cut around it with a knife.

Bake for 15 minutes until edges are golden; cool on baking sheets 3 minutes.

Cool completely on wire racks; decorate with Powder Sugar Paints.


LEBKUCHEN BAR COOKIES

Lebkuchen Bar CookiesLebkuchen Bar Cookies
Lebkuchen Bar CookiesLebkuchen Bar Cookies

This is one of my favorites of the German Christmas cookie recipes. Bake these at least a few says ahead. They soften some and the fruit flavors melt together.

  • 2 Cups flour
  • ½ Teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ Teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ Teaspoon cardamom
  • ¼ Teaspoon coriander
  • ¼ Teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ Cup chopped almonds
  • ¼ Cup chopped candied orange peel
  • ¼ Cup chopped candied lemon peel
  • 2/3 Cup honey
  • ½ Cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Glaze

  • 1 Cup powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons warm water

Preheat oven to 350F degrees; grease and line 9X13 inch baking pan.

Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander and nutmeg into bowl.

Stir in almonds and candied peel to combine; set aside.

Combine honey and sugar in saucepan; cook over low heat until sugar is dissolved.

Remove from heat; add butter and stir until butter melts.

Stir in the lemon juice; gradually stir in flour mixture to make a sticky dough.

Press dough in prepared pan; bake 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned.

While hot remove from pan to a cutting board; score bars (2X1 inches).

Spread glaze (See below) while still warm; cut the bars while still warm.

NOTE: Cut again on the “score lines” and break them apart. Store in airtight container; they soften after a couple days. The flavor is delicious.

TO MAKE GLAZE sift sugar into a small deep bowl.

Add water 1 tablespoon at a time to make good spreading consistency.


SAND TARTS

Sand TartsSand Tarts
Sand TartsSand Tarts

This is one of the German Christmas cookie recipes with a great butter vanilla flavor.

  • ½ Pound softened butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 2 Teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 Eggs (Separated)
  • 3 cups flour (Divided)

Topping

  • ¼ Cup sugar
  • ¾ Teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Beaten egg
  • About 4 cups whole almonds (OR pecan halves)

Beat butter in large mixing bowl until creamy; add sugar beating until fluffy.

Beat in salt and vanilla; beat egg YOLKS and add to mixture.

With CLEAN beaters beat egg WHITES until stiff and dry.

Fold beaten whites into butter mixture until blended but whites still showing.

Fold in 1 ½ CUPS of the flour; fold in remaining 1 ½ CUPS of flour until blended.

Wrap and chill overnight.

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350F degrees.

Divide dough into quarters; roll out 1 at a time to ½ inch.

Cut with 2 inch scalloped cookie cutter; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

FOR TOPPING combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Brush beaten egg on each cookie; sprinkle with sugar mixture.

Top each cookie with a whole almond or pecan; bake 9 to 10 minutes to light brown.

Cool on wire racks; makes about 100 cookies.


DIPPED GINGERSNAPS

Dipped GingersnapsDipped Gingersnaps
Dipped GingersnapsDipped Gingersnaps

This was one of Dad’s favorite German Christmas cookie recipes.

  • 2 Cups sugar PLUS
  • 1 ½ Cups vegetable oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • ½ Cup molasses
  • 4 Cups flour
  • 4 Teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon ginger
  • 2 Teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 2 Packages (12 Ounces each) vanilla baking chips
  • ¼ cup shortening

Preheat oven to 350F degrees; line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine and mix in large mixing bowl the sugar and oil.

Add eggs 1 at a time beating well after each addition; add molasses.

Combine dry ingredients in another bowl; add to creamy mixture blending well.

With a teaspoon and knife drop dough into sugar; roll into balls.

NOTE: This dough is sticky and must be coated with sugar before shaping.

Place balls 2 inches apart on baking sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes until cookie springs back when touched.

Cool on wire racks;

Melt baking chips and shortening in small saucepan over low heat.

Dip cookies halfway shake off excess chocolate; place on wax paper to firm.

If using 1 teaspoon dough equals about 7 1/2 dozens.


POWDER SUGAR PAINTS 

This is a good recipe for decorating any of your German Christmas cookie recipes! 

  • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla
  • Assorted food coloring

Stir together sugar and corn syrup; stir in milk and vanilla to desired consistency.

Divide mixture evenly into several bowls; stir drops of coloring into bowls to get desired colors.


CINNAMON STARS RECIPE

A lot of the German Christmas cookies recipes include cinnamon.

  • 4 Cups almonds
  • 2 Cups honey (Divided)
  • 1 Teaspoon rose water
  • 2 Teaspoons cinnamon 
  • 5 Egg whites
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 Teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 to 4 Tablespoons wheat bran for rolling out
  • Butter for greasing.

Scald 2 CUPS of almonds with boiling water; skin and dry thoroughly on cloth.

Grind blanched almonds in food processor as fine as possible.

Add 1 ¼ CUPS of the honey, rosewater and cinnamon; process to smooth marzipan.

Put remaining 2 CUPS almonds through a food mill with the skins on.

Beat the egg whites until stiff; beat in REMAINING ¾ CUP of honey and lemon juice.

Spoon about 5 tablespoons of whipped mixture into small bowl; set aside. 

Stir REMAINING whipped mixture into marzipan mixture with a spoon.

Carefully fold in ground almonds with skins (Mixture should be very firm).

PREHEAT OVEN TO 300F degrees.

Line trays with parchment paper and grease with butter; dust work surface with bran.

Divide dough into small portions; roll each part to ¼ inch thickness.

Cut dough in 2 inch stars and place on trays; spread tops with RESERVED whipped egg white.

Place tray on middle shelf of oven for 30 to 45 minutes without letting them brown too much.

NOTE: Stars should dry out rather than cook.


LEBKUCHEN ROUNDS 

This is another favorite of my German Christmas cookie recipes. 

  • 3 Cups sifted flour
  • ½ Teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon allspice
  • 1 Teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 Teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon cloves
  • 4 Ounces finely chopped citron
  • 4 Ounces finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 Cup honey
  • ¾ Cup brown sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 Teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 2 Cups sifted powdered sugar

Sift flour with baking soda, salt and spices; set aside.

Toss citron with walnuts; set aside.

Warm honey in small saucepan; remove from heat.

In a large bowl beat on medium speed brown sugar and egg until fluffy.

Add lemon juice and honey; beat until well blended.

Beat in lemon peel and 1 CUP of the flour mixture; beat until smooth.

With spoon stir in REMAINING flour mixture; stir in fruit and nut mixture.

Divide dough in half, cover and refrigerate overnight.

PREHEAT OVEN TO 375F degrees; lightly grease cookie sheets.

Roll half of dough at a time on lightly floured surface to ¼ inch thickness.

Cut in 2 inch rounds and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.

Bake 15 minutes; cool on racks slightly.

TO MAKE GLAZE stir powdered sugar with 3 tablespoons water until smooth.

Brush glaze on warm cookies; decorate with bits of candied fruit and angelica.


CHOCOLATE COVERED LEBKUCHEN COOKIES

  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 ½ Cups flour
  • 1 Cup ground almonds
  • 1/3 Cup candied orange peel (Chop fine)
  • 1/3 Cup candied lemon peel (Chop fine)
  • 1 ½ Teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • ½ Teaspoon cardamom
  • ½ Teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ Teaspoon cloves

Chocolate Glaze

  • 3 Squares (1 Ounce each) bittersweet chocolate (Chop)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter

Combine eggs and sugar in large mixing bowl; beat on high speed 10 minutes.

In another bowl combine flour, almonds and candied peels.

Stir in cinnamon, lemon peel, cardamom, nutmeg and cloves.

Add to the egg mixture stirring until evenly mixed.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350F degrees; line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on prepared sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes until just barely brown; remove to wire rack.

TO PREPARE GLAZE place chocolate and butter in small bowl.

Place bowl over hot water stirring until chocolate and butter melts.

Spread chocolate glaze over tops of warm cookies with pastry brush.

Cool cookie until glaze sets up; makes 5 dozen.


PFEFFERNUSSE COOKIES

  • ¾ Cup softened butter
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 Cup dark corn syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons hot water
  • 2 Teaspoons anise seed
  • 1 Teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ Teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ Teaspoon cardamom
  • ¼ Teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ Teaspoon salt4 to 4 ½ Cups flour (Divided)
  • Sifted powdered sugar

Beat butter on medium speed of mixer until creamy.

Gradually beat in sugar; add syrup, hot water and next 7 ingredients.

Beat on low speed until blended; gradually add 4 CUPS of the flour until blended.

Stir in enough of remaining ½ CUP of the flour to make a stiff dough.

Cover and chill dough about 4 hours.

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350F degrees.

Divide dough into 8 parts; roll each into thick rope (1/2 to ¾ inch).

Cut ropes into 1 inch pieces; place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown; cool on wire rack.

Roll in powdered sugar; makes 13 dozen.


SPRINGERLE COOKIES

  • 4 Cups flour
  • 1 Teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ Teaspoon salt
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 2 Tablespoons anise seed
  • Powdered sugar

Sift flour, baking powder and salt 2 times; set aside.

In large mixing bowl beat eggs on high speed of mixer about 5 minutes.

On medium speed gradually beat in sugar 2 tablespoons at a time.

Continue beating until mixture is thick and smooth about 10 minutes.

Add flour mixture and lemon peel to egg mixture until smooth and well mixed.

Cover and refrigerate dough overnight; ALSO refrigerate Springerle rolling pin.

PREHEAT OVEN TO 325F degrees.

Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets; sprinkle 1 tablespoon anise seed on each.

Divide dough in 3 parts; refrigerate until ready to roll out.

Sprinkle pastry cloth or work surface with powdered sugar.

Roll 1 part of dough at a time coating lightly with powdered sugar.

With REGULAR roller roll dough to 8X5 ½ rectangle

Remove SPRINGERLE roller from refrigerator; dust lightly with powdered sugar.

Starting from long side slowly roll pin once, firmly and evenly over surface of dough.

NOTE: If dough sticks to roller scrape off with spatula.

With sharp floured knife cut along lines in dough to make individual cutter.

With wide spatula, transfer to prepared cookie sheets.

Let stand uncovered at room temperature overnight.

PREHEAT OVEN to 325F degrees; bake 15 minutes until light brown.

Remove to wire rack to cool completely; store in tightly covered container.

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