german christmas cookies in a bowl

Classic German spice cookies (Pfeffernusse)


We are beginning to think that there are two Christmas cookie camps: there’s the very sweet, sometimes gooey, chocolate-usually-included camp and there is the often spicy, been-around-for-hundreds-of-years, goo-less camp.

A simplified view, we know, but the idea of special Christmas cookies covers the gamut.

For us at Crosby’s, simple is beautiful. We love traditional cookies with complex flavours and pleasing textures, exotic spices and no food colouring.

Pfeffernusse German spice cookies

These German Spice Cookies (Pfeffernusse ) are a humble-seeming biscuit that are filled with flavours.

Pfeffernusse German spice cookies


Classic German spice cookies – the beguiling Pfeffernusse

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 These German Spice Cookies (Pfeffernusse) are slightly chewy and very aromatic with a delicious blend of spices, citrus zest, ground almonds and molasses.

  • Author: Crosby’s Molasses


Units Scale

For the cookies:

  • 3 cups flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour and two cups of white flour)
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. packed finely grated lemon zest (from about 2 medium lemons)
  • 2 tsp. packed finely grated orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg

  • 3/4 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses

For the spiced sugar:

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice


For the cookies:

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together dry ingredients (flour through almonds).
  2. In a large bowl beat together the butter and lemon and orange zest. Add the brown sugar in three batches and mix until well combined.
  3. Beat in the egg then the molasses.
  4. Add the flour mixture in three additions, mixing until just combined.
  5. Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm, at least 1 hour.
  6. Roll the dough into one inch balls and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet (at least an inch apart).
  7. Bake at 350 F for about 12 minutes. (Don’t let the bottoms get too dark).
  8. Let them cool a bit then drop warm cookies into the spiced icing sugar and cool on a rack.

For the spiced sugar mixture:

While the cookies are baking, sift all ingredients together into a large bowl; set aside.


To freeze, don’t roll them in the sugar mixture until they’re thawed and ready to eat.


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  • December 18, 2022

    Martin Brown

    Hi, could you please tell me approx. how many cookies does this recipe for Pfeffernusse cookies yield. Thankyou Martin Brown , Burlington Ontario.

    • December 19, 2022

      Crosby Molasses

      Hi! This recipe makes more or less 2 dozen cookies. -Marie from Crosby’s Kitchen

  • December 18, 2013

    The Spiceman

    It would be interesting to try equivalent amounts of blends like Lebanese Seven-Spice(ginger, pepper,cassia, allspice, clove, nutmeg & fenugreek)or Chai Spices (cardamom, mace, fennel, clove & peppercorns)in this recipe. Liquid Gold on Prince William Street should have them.

  • December 18, 2013


    Hi, Briget – I hope you’re following up on this; a use perhaps for all that non-fancy molasses I haven’t been able to figure out a use for!

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