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Close up photo of three pfeffernusse cookies stacked on op of each other with holiday decorations in the background.
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5 from 2 votes

Pfeffernusse German Spice Cookies

Pfeffernusse are deliciously glazed German spice cookies that are popular during the holidays! Also called pepper nut cookies, these cookies are loaded with spices, brown sugar, and honey!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: German
Servings: 24 cookies
Calories: 129kcal




  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons water


  • In a small pot, cook the honey and the sugar over medium-low heat until the sugar has dissolved (do not bring to a boil). Remove from heat and stir occasionally to let the mixture cool down to less than 140°F
  • Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  • In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and lemon zest; set aside.
  • Once the honey-sugar mixture has cooled down enough mix in the egg and all of the spices and stir quickly to combine.
  • Pour the honey mixture into the flour mixture and mix using a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula until a ball of dough forms.
  • Use a medium cookie scoop to form small balls of about 1½-inches each and set on the baking sheet.
  • Bake for 13 to 15 minutes until the cookies lightly brown. Then let them cool completely on the pan.
  • Make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of water in a medium bowl, add more water if needed until you have a thick paste.
  • Then either dip the pfeffernüsse cookies into the sugar glaze or spread the glaze with a brush onto them and let them dry completely on a cooling rack.


  1. You can use either white or black pepper, take what you have at hand. But white pepper is the more traditional ingredient.
  2. Mixing in the eggs too early might cause them to curdle, so it's essential that you let the mixture cool down enough.
  3. The cookies can stick a bit to the parchment paper when still warm, they will move easily when cooled down.
  4. Ground anise and mace can be hard spices to come by. Look for them at your local holistic grocery stores or online. If you cannot find them, they can be omitted and the cookies will still be delicious. They will just miss the signature anise flavor, which some may prefer them without anyway. You could also use a drop or two of anise extract which should be near the vanilla extract in the baking aisle at most grocers.
  5. Powdered sugar may also be used as a coating instead of the glaze if desired.


Calories: 129kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 60mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 10IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg