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German Christmas Cookies: Lebkuchen

German Christmas Cookies, also called Lebkuchen or German gingerbread cookies, are an authentic German cookie that is spicy, soft and incredibly flavorful. You can give them as gifts to your family and friends! Easy to make with aromatic lebkuchen spice mix.

German Lebkuchen Cookies in a Christmas Setting.

This post was originally published on December 14, 2015 and updated on December 9, 2022 by Elena Szeliga

In Germany, one of the most popular Christmas cookies is Lebkuchen, which is the German equivalent to British gingerbread cookies

If you happen to be in Germany around Christmas time, you will most definitely try them. It’s a true favorite! 

You can buy them on every Christmas market or grocery store, but to me it’s only half fun. Making them at home from scratch is the other half. You’ll be shocked at how much you enjoy the process of baking them.

These cookies have been enjoyed in Germany as early as the 1300s, presumably first made in monasteries and then popularized throughout the nation.

German Christmas Cookies on a Tray.

German Christmas Cookie Baking

Lebkuchen are soft from the inside and crunchy from the outside. To achieve this, they are left quite thick and baked for a short time

If you plan to make a gingerbread house, Lebkuchen would fit well, too! In this case the dough is rolled thinner and is harder when baked.

I baked a bunch of Lebkuchen with my husband and they tasted so good: nutty, spicy and soft! The smell was fantastic too: cinnamon, anise, cloves, ginger, orange zest… It’s a truly fabulous mix! 

Baking is so much fun if you do it with your loved ones. 

Kids will have so much fun helping (and eating!) their homemade Lebkuchen German Christmas cookies. They’re so yummy you’ll probably think it’s a bit unfair they only get one month of glory a year, just like these 50 gorgeous vegan Christmas recipes.

I would bake them all year round, not just for Christmas, although they are especially good during this time.

Moreover, if you are looking for a nice homemade personalized homemade Christmas food gift idea for your loved ones, here you go: bake Lebkuchen, pack them nicely and give them as gifts to your family and friends.

Other ideas are these delicious salted caramel candied walnuts or homemade chocolate fudge.

German Star-Shaped Christmas Cookies in a Jar.

Lebkuchen spice mix

What makes these German Christmas cookies so special is the Lebkuchen spice mix.

  • cinnamon
  • coriander
  • lemon zest
  • orange zest
  • anise
  • nutmeg
  • fennel seeds
  • cardamom
  • ginger
  • pepper
  • allspice
  • cloves 

Lebkuchen Cookies Surrounded by Christmas Spices.

How To Make Lebkuchen

As you may have guessed, the exact recipe varies throughout German regions but I’m sharing the one we use in our kitchen with you.

This recipe doesn’t require long waiting times, but still results in the most amazing spiced cookies that are crunchy from the outside and pillowy from the inside.

For a quick step-by-step outlook of the process, please check this Lebkuchen web story.

1. First, you need to combine all ingredients for the spice mix or if you are using a store-bought lebkuchen spice, you can skip this step.

In a saucepan, combine honey, sugar and butter and cook on medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved, stirring constantly. Let cool to room temperature. Add 1 egg, lemon zest and Lebkuchen spice mix. Add baking soda, baking powder and flour and knead into a firm dough.

Wrap the dough in plastic foil and let it rest for at least 1 hour 30 minutes in the fridge.

Lebkuchen Dough in a Glass Bowl.

3. Preheat the oven to 180 °C or 355 ºF. 

Knead the dough again. Roll thick on floured surface (4-5 mm or 1.5-2 inches).

Cut the dough with cookie cutters of your choice.

Cutting Stars from Rolled Cookie Dough.

4. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Increase the baking time if you like harder cookies. Immediately remove from the baking tray. Let cool and decorate with glaze or leave plain.

Unbaked and Baked Star-Shaped German Christmas Cookies.

Feel free to decorate your Lebkuchen as you wish. I left them plain and they are still beautiful in their simplicity. 

Feel free to experiment with shapes. I made stars, hearts, reindeers and donkeys.

Serve German Christmas cookies with a cup of tea or coffee, a steaming glass of Glühwein (mulled wine), fruit punch, hot chocolate, or a Cranberry Moscow Mule. They can be a great decoration to my 15-minute pomegranate parfaits.

Unbaked and Baked Heart- and Reindeer-Shaped German Cookies.

Cook’s Tips

  • These German Christmas Cookies or Lebkuchen are spicy, soft and incredibly flavorful. This recipe doesn’t require long waiting times, but still results in the most amazing spiced cookies that are crunchy from the outside and soft from the inside.
  • They make a perfect holiday snack and a nice homemade Christmas gift.
  • If you plan to make a gingerbread house, Lebkuchen would fit well. You need to roll the dough thinner, so that it is harder when baked.
  • Feel free to decorate your Lebkuchen as you wish. I left them plain and they are still beautiful in their simplicity. You can use this simple lemon cookie glaze if you wish.
  • Feel free to experiment with shapes. I made stars, hearts, reindeers and donkeys.
  • This recipe makes about 20-25 medium-sized cookies. The exact amount depends on the size of your cookie cutter.
  • Serve German Christmas cookies with a cup of tea or coffee, a steaming glass of Glühwein (mulled wine), fruit punch, hot chocolate, or a Cranberry Moscow Mule. They can be a great decoration to these 15-minute pomegranate parfaits.
  • Store the cookies in an airtight container with a slice of apple inside, to keep them from drying. When the apple gets brown, replace it. You can store the Lebkuchen for up to two weeks on the counter.
  • You can freeze them in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Recipe Variations

  • To make this recipe vegan, replace egg with 1 tablespoon  flax meal whisked together with 3 tablespoons of water. Let it sit for about 10 minutes until thickened.
  • Replace regular butter with vegan butter.
  • Replace honey with maple syrup for extra flavor. That will also help you to turn this recipe into vegan.
  • You can use a gluten-free flour blend instead of regular flour for this recipe.
  • Use any kind of sugar you like: brown sugar, Demerara sugar, coconut sugar, or regular white sugar.

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4.60 from 5 votes

German Christmas Cookies: Lebkuchen

German Christmas Cookies, also called Lebkuchen or German gingerbread cookies, are an authentic German cookie that is spicy, soft and incredibly flavorful. You can give them as gifts to your family and friends! Easy to make with aromatic lebkuchen spice mix.
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine German
Keyword german christmas biscuits, german christmas cookies, german cookies, german gingerbread biscuits, german gingerbread cookies, lebkuchen, lebkuchen spice
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Resting time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 352kcal
$3

Ingredients

For the Lebkuchen spice mix:

  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground anise
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 10 cloves ground

For the Lebkuchen:

  • 5 oz or 159 g (7 tablespoons) honey
  • 1/4 cup or 150 grams sugar
  • 1/4 cup or 50 grams butter
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Lebkuchen spice mix
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cup or 250 grams all-purpose flour you might need more or less than that to form the dough

Instructions

  • First, you need to combine all ingredients for the spice mix or if you are using a store-bought lebkuchen spice, you can skip this step.
    In a saucepan, combine honey, sugar and butter and cook on medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved, stirring constantly. Let cool to room temperature. Add 1 egg, lemon zest and Lebkuchen spice mix. Add baking soda, baking powder and flour and knead into a firm dough.
    Wrap the dough in plastic foil and let it rest for at least 1 hour 30 minutes in the fridge.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 °C or 355 ºF.
    Knead the dough again.
    Roll thick on floured surface (4-5 mm or 1.5-2 inches).
    Cut the dough with cookie cutters of your choice.
  • Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Increase the baking time if you like harder cookies.
    Immediately remove from the baking tray. Let cool and decorate with glaze or leave plain. Enjoy!

Notes

Cook’s Tips

  • These German Christmas Cookies or Lebkuchen are spicy, soft and incredibly flavorful. This recipe doesn't require long waiting times, but still results in the most amazing spiced cookies that are crunchy from the outside and soft from the inside.
  • They make a perfect holiday snack and a nice homemade Christmas gift.
  • If you plan to make a gingerbread house, Lebkuchen would fit well. You need to roll the dough thinner, so that it is harder when baked.
  • Feel free to decorate your Lebkuchen as you wish. I left them plain and they are still beautiful in their simplicity. You can use this simple lemon cookie glaze if you wish.
  • Feel free to experiment with shapes. I made stars, hearts, reindeers and donkeys.
  • This recipe makes about 20-25 medium-sized cookies. The exact amount depends on the size of your cookie cutter.
  • Serve German Christmas cookies with a cup of tea or coffee, a steaming glass of Glühwein (mulled wine), fruit punch, hot chocolate, or a Cranberry Moscow Mule. They can be a great decoration to these 15-minute pomegranate parfaits.
  • Store the cookies in an airtight container with a slice of apple inside, to keep them from drying. When the apple gets brown, replace it. You can store the Lebkuchen for up to two weeks on the counter.
  • You can freeze them in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Recipe Variations

  • To make this recipe vegan, replace egg with 1 tablespoon  flax meal whisked together with 3 tablespoons of water. Let it sit for about 10 minutes until thickened.
  • Replace regular butter with vegan butter.
  • Replace honey with maple syrup for extra flavor. That will also help you to turn this recipe into vegan.
  • You can use a gluten-free flour blend instead of regular flour for this recipe.
  • Use any kind of sugar you like: brown sugar, Demerara sugar, coconut sugar, or regular white sugar.

Equipment

rubber spatula
whisk
glass jar
saucepan

Nutrition

Calories: 352kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 195mg | Potassium: 142mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 221IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 3mg
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German Christmas Cookies Pinterest Pin.
Recipe Rating




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About Elena Szeliga

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Elena Szeliga is the founder of Happy Kitchen.Rocks, where she shares delicious and healthy vegetarian and vegan food, from weeknight dinners to veganized classics and gourmet appetizers. Her recipes have been featured at Better Homes & Gardens, BuzzFeed, Country Living, The Kitchn and Reader’s Digest. Her mission is to help cook easy vegetarian and vegan meals with simple and fresh ingredients. Read more about Elena.

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