Pfeffernusse German Christmas Cookies

4.93 from 26 votes

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If you are looking to add a new holiday cookie to this year’s Christmas cookie exchange, these German Pfeffernusse Cookies are the perfect solution.

Christmas cookies and a cup of coffee

Pfeffernüsse or Pepernoten are kicked-up gingerbread cookies with a sugar coating on the outside.

What are Pfeffernusse Cookies

These Pfeffernüsse Cookies come from Germany and are popular throughout the entire holiday season. In the Netherlands, they make a similar cookie known as Pepernoten.

This classic Christmas cookie fits right in there with our other international Christmas cookie recipes! I’m talking about our Italian Ricotta Cookies and our Swiss Spitzbuben cookies.

A plate of white Christmas cookies

In German, Pfeffernusse means “Pepper Nuts.”

What’s in These German Gingerbread Cookies?

Pfeffernusse cookies feature warm, peppery tones for the cold wintery days of the holiday season.

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These German gingerbread cookies get their flavors from such common spices and flavorings as:

  • Anise Extract
  • Cardamon
  • Allspice
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Ground Pepper
  • Molasses
  • Honey
A bunch of cookie ingredients

What you need to make pfeffernusse cookies.[/caption]

How to Make Pfeffernusse Cookies

We’re going to start by combining some butter, molasses, and honey in a small saucepan.

This combination of ingredients should tell you right away that these are going to be some pretty tasty holiday cookies!

Pouring ingredients into a pan

Start with a warm combination of butter, molasses, and honey.[/caption]

Next, you’re going to add an egg and some anise extract to these Pfeffernusse cookies.

We’ve used anise before in our Swedish Limpa Bread, and if you recall, it has a sweet, aromatic taste similar to black licorice.

Adding ingredients to a mixing bowl

These Pfeffernusse Cookies start to warm up with the addition of anise extract, but this is just the beginning![/caption]

Now, you’re going to add a combination of warm spices, like cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg and cloves, and the like to this pfeffernusse recipe.

At this point, your holiday kitchen is going to take on the aroma of a German bakery.

Don’t be surprised if people and pets of all creeds begin to work their way into your kitchen to find out exactly what you are making.

Whisking ingredients in a bowl

More warm spices are added to this German cookie recipe.

Now, it’s time to take a small break in making these cookies and allow the dough to chill for an hour or so in your refrigerator.

This is a great time to do some online shopping and maybe sit back and have another cup of coffee.

cookies on a baking sheet next to a Christmas gift

Let the pfeffernusse cookie dough chill before rolling out the cookies.[/caption]

Once the cookie dough has chilled a bit, it’s time to bake these pfeffernusse cookies in a hot oven. It only takes about 12 minutes in a 325° oven for these cookies to finish baking.

A bunch of cookies on a rack

By now, it is common to have a small crowd gathering in your kitchen to ask what from what part of heaven did these cookies come.

Traditionally, these pfeffernusse cookies are glazed in a simple powdered sugar and water icing. Instead, we prefer to roll them in some powdered sugar and then get down to business.

A plate of pfeffernusse cookies

Roll the finished pfeffernusse cookies in powdered sugar.

The next and last step of making these pfeffernusse cookies is one of the most challenging. Allow them to cool before you roll them in a coating of white, fluffy, and sweet powdered sugar.

I never seem to have the willpower to wait that long. Plus, I find they taste just a little better if still warm. Isn’t that true of all cookie recipes?!

A bag of Christmas cookies

These pfeffernusse cookies are perfect for any holiday cookie exchange.[/caption]

These pfeffernusse cookies are great for this year’s holiday cookie exchange, and they store well if made ahead of time.

You can keep them in an airtight container, and they stay fresh and delicious tasting for up to two weeks!

A stack of pfeffernusse cookies

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Pfeffernuse Cookies

4.93 from 26 votes
Pfeffernüsse Cookies are a German shortbread cookie that will add warmth and flavor to this years holiday cookie exchange!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Total: 27 minutes
Yield: 16


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup butter, unsalted
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp anise extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cardamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar, for outside coating


  • Use a small saucepan and combine butter, molasses, and honey over medium-low heat. After the mixture has melted together, remove from heat and allow to cool. Add the egg and anise extract, stir it in and set aside.
  • Use a large mixing bowl and mix up the remaining dry ingredients, except for the powdered sugar. Combine the dry and wet ingredients and form into a ball of dough. Wrap it up in plastic kitchen wrap and allow to cool in the refrigerator for an hour.
  • Preheat your oven to 325° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. After the dough is chilled, roll out the cookies into 1 inch balls. Bake for 12 minutes and allow to cool. Roll in powdered sugar and enjoy!


Calories: 152kcal, Carbohydrates: 29g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 18mg, Sodium: 104mg, Potassium: 102mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 17g, Vitamin A: 103IU, Calcium: 20mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Cookies, Dessert
Cuisine: Christmas, German, Holiday
Tried this recipe?Mention @plattertalk or tag #plattertalk!

My Favorite Christmas Cookies

Meet the Platter Talk Guys

Dan & Scott split their time between Wisconsin and Southwest Florida and are dads to six boys. Good food runs through their veins, and they love showing others how to cook easy recipes.

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    1. Hi Donna, the anise is part of the flavor profile for these cookies. I would not say the taste is prominent but more in the background. You may want to try some of these with anise, and some without. Let us know your thoughts on these!

  1. 5 stars
    the ingredient list does not call for egg. The directions say add egg and anise. I hope it is just 1 egg. I have the dough chillin in the fridge right now. My grandfather was German and we grew up with the store bought ones. We could only get them at the holidays. I have my son and grandson addicted as well. lol. They are great with a big glass of milk. We like to pop a cookie in your mouth and take a swig swig of milk. Awesome! I had to add 2 TBSP. of water to the dough it was sooo dry. Can not wait to bake them in an hour and surprise my son with them (thanksgiving). I will let everyone know how they turned out.

    I have not seen any replies where anyone has actually made them and left a note saying how they turned out. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone.

    1. Thanks for pointing out this omission. The recipe should have one egg in it, we will correct this error shortly. Thank you and have a wonderful holiday!

  2. 5 stars
    These cookies certainly do look delicious and would be a welcome addition to cookie trays! I’ll be trying them very soon, thanks for sharing.

  3. 5 stars
    These bring back so many happy memories from when we lived in Germany. I’m going to have to surprise my family with these for St. Nicholas Day on the 6th. Hope I can easily find anise extract. Gorgeous photos! Love the festive decor.

  4. 5 stars
    These sound wonderful! Love the combination of spices. What a special treat for the holidays! Beautiful photos friends!

  5. 5 stars
    I can only imagine how amazing your home smells when baking these cookies, ooh those spices! They look amazing and I can’t wait to give this recipe a try!