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.


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.