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German pfeffernüsse {101 Days of Christmas}

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German Pfeffernüsse

Pfeffernüsse, aka pepper nuts, are a traditional German cookie featuring aromatic spices and a sweet icing. Like any good cookie recipe, there are dozens and dozens of variations of the spices and ingredients used, but all bakers agree that the result is a spicy, dry cookie that is small enough to grab by the handful!

As I was looking through various pfeffernüsse recipes, I was especially drawn to those that feature cardamom. Ever since Shaina made pear italian soda with cardamom cream at our house, cardamom has been among my favorite spices, and since I don’t have anise on hand (another popular pfeffernüsse spice), cardamom was the perfect alternative.

These cookies are easy to make, and I really do love that the cookies themselves are spicy but not overly sweet, especially with the sweet citrus icing on top!

German Pfeffernüsse

Adapted from Rosa’s Yummy Yums



  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons castor sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1-1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper


  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water

King Arthur Flour Baker's Hotline


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, combine butter, honey and sugar and heat on low until all three ingredients are melted and incorporated. Remove from heat to cool.

In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Form a well in the flour for the warm butter mixture. Mix to form a smooth dough.

Shape 3/4″ dough balls and place them on a cookie sheet or stone. Bake for 20-23 minutes until the cookies look dry.

Brush or drizzle icing over each cookie.

Transfer to a rack to cool.


For even smaller cookies, roll the dough into a small log (1/2″ in diameter) and cut 1/4″ slices from the log.

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Recipes from the archives:

Dulce de leche-filled alfajoresWalnut LogsPecan Sandies

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