How to Bake German Pfeffernüsse

Updated on January 9, 2020
Caro Hemingway profile image

I really enjoy baking tasty treats that my entire family can eat.

German Pfeffernüsse
German Pfeffernüsse | Source

How to Make German Pfeffernüsse

Do you know the entertaining rule that says never to try a new recipe for your guests? I can't help but break this rule because I always spring something new on my unsuspecting guests. The other day, I spotted small spice cookies called German Pfeffernüsse in a supermarket, and it immediately took me back to my childhood.

"Pfeffernüsse" means "pepper nuts" in German, hence the ground black pepper and almonds in the recipe. Make sure not to confuse these cookies with Russian tea cakes, as they look quite similar. My mother makes these every year, and I was determined to try them out for Christmas. I hope you enjoy making these!

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in: 50 min
Yields: 100 cookies


  • 125 grams butter or margarine, soft
  • 1 /2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup treacle/molasses
  • 1/4 tsp oil of anise
  • 4 large eggs, beaten well
  • 1 lemon rind, finely grated
  • 1 cup almonds, ground
  • 6 cups flour
  • 15 ml baking powder
  • 5 ml baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch milled black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 4 drops lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp hot water


  1. Sift the following ingredients into the flour: baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, mixed spice, ground nutmeg, black peppercorns, and ground cloves.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Next, add the following ingredients one at a time until each one is thoroughly incorporated: (slightly heated) molasses, anise oil, beaten eggs, ground almonds, lemon rind, and flour. Mix it well to form a dough.
  3. Form the dough into a ball and refrigerate it for a few hours.
  4. Pinch off pieces of dough and roll them into walnut-sized balls. Place the balls on greased baking trays and cover them. Let them rest overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius (320 degrees Fahrenheit). Bake the biscuits for 12–15 minutes. The bottom should be brown and the top firm and round. Let it cool completely.
  6. To make the icing, mix the icing sugar, lemon juice, and hot water together. You should have a thick, creamy consistency. Don't add all of the water at once. Add a few teaspoons and increase the amount only as necessary—a little goes a long way.
  7. Dip the top of the biscuits into the icing and allow it to set.
  8. The biscuits from this recipe last a while. The longer you wait, the tastier and softer they will become. My mother says they also freeze well, so you can make this ahead for a party or special event!

© 2011 Caroline


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    • Fourwaystoyummy profile image


      5 months ago from Coupeville WA

      The photo of the cookies does not look like icing was used. It looks like the cookies were just dusted with powdered sugar, which appeals to me. Am I right?

      Love these cookies and am happy to make them myself.

    • profile image 

      17 months ago

      I'm anxious to make these cookies for my brother-in-law cause he loves Pfeffernusse cookies and I can't always get them here at Christmas Time. Usually, Trader Joes has them but they sell out quickly and if you miss them you're out of luck, plus I'm sure homemade cookies will taste much better. Thanks for the recipe.

    • profile image

      Joyce Bradford. 

      4 years ago

      I'm so happy to find this recipe' These are my no. 1 favorite cookie. Just a couple of questions. Exactly how much lemon rind. The whole lemon? Also what is treacle, and where would I be likely to find it'? It sounds like it will take me 3 days to make these cookies, but I'm determined to do it. You said to refrigerate the cookies for several hours, should I then do it overnight? Would that be best? I'm going to use the mixed spice recipe above given by hunter 27. After baking them, you said they last a while, how should I store them, in something airtight? At room temp.? Thank you so much' I thrilled to get this. Thank you, Joyce Bradford

    • Caro Hemingway profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Elingamite Australia

      Thanks hunter27 for doing the conversions - I am so used to baking in these measurements being of South African origin. Your mixed spice recipe sounds good and about right.

    • hunter27 profile image


      6 years ago from Florida

      Hi Eileen,

      I did the US conversion. The 125 grams of butter convert to 8.82 tablespoons. The 15 ml of baking powder convert to 1 tablespoon, and the 5 ml of bicarbonate of soda convert to 1 teaspoon.

      Can anyone tell me what a good "mixed spice" recipe would be for this. This is what I found, but I'm not sure it's accurate in making Pfeffernusse. It calls for: 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp allspice, and 1/4 teaspoon cloves. I would really like an authentic mixed spice recipe if I can find one!

    • profile image


      6 years ago


      This recipe looks very interesting, but I have never seen dry ingredients measured in milliliters. Could you translate those measurements into teaspoons or grams, please. ...and thank your Mom!

    • Caro Hemingway profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Elingamite Australia

      Thank you Arlene,

      I hope they turn out well - they are truly yummy even if you can't pronounce them.

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 

      8 years ago

      I have tried these, but I can't even spell it! Voted up and bookmarked for the recipe writing. Thanks for the very interesting recipe. Looking forward to adding these to my annual Christmas baking. Always on the prowl for something unique.


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