German Pfeffernüsse Cookies + Cookie Swap


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I’m so excited to partner with Bed Bath and Beyond for today’s post! You guys, the sugar jar in my apartment is almost empty. I’ve been baking up a storm for the last 3 weeks and my freezer has been jammed packed with goodness. Normally I’d tell you that there’s no such thing as too many cookies, but I was at the point where I literally couldn’t open my freezer without a few gingerbread men falling out…. And something had to be done!

Cookie Swap!

Cookie swap! I invited a few of my favorite girlfriends over for a little cookie/pajama fest. There was an obscene amount of Christmas music involved (Thomas had to leave because we were singing so loud), 8 different kinds of cookies, pumpkin spice cappuccinos with chocolate dipped spoons and glittered poinsettias! Because, honestly, what’s a party with glittered plants!?

Host your own Cookie Swap!

Host your own Cookie Swap!

If you’re anything like me, and have been stockpiling cookies since the day after Thanksgiving, I think you should host a little last minute cookie exchange this weekend….pajama themed and all! Or, if you need help making cookies, gather up your friends and bring them over to help decorate all your cookies!

Christmas Cookie Prep

Christmas Cookie Decorating

All the girls left with a few boxes full of different cookies and I stashed a few in my freezer in hopes that my husband won’t find them ☺

Hop on over to Bed Bath and Beyond to check out all the gorgeous inspiration I used to create this party! And here’s the recipe for one of the cookies that I contributed to the mix!

Cookie Swap

German Pfeffernüsse Cookies are essential in our house over the holidays! My Omi (that’s German for grandma) makes the best Pfeffernüsse out there and these cookies are equal parts addictive and pretty!

Cookie Swap

German Pfeffernüsse Cookies



  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons anise extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground freshly cracked black pepper cracked as finely as possible
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar for dusting


  • In a large heavy bottom pot over low heat, combine the molasses, honey, and butter. Stir everything together until the butter is just melted and the ingredients all come together, making sure not to let the mixture come to a boil.
  • Once the butter is melted, remove the pot from the heat. Pour the mixture into a large KitchenAid bowl attachment and set it aside to cool.
  • Once mostly cooled, stir in the eggs and the anise extract.
  • Sift together the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, black pepper, and salt in a separate bowl.
  • Add the dry ingredients into the molasses mixture in the KitchenAid and mix on low until everything is thoroughly combined, At this point the dough will be quite thick and stiff, cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.
  • Using a small 1-inch cookie scoop, roll the dough into small balls and place them on a baking sheet – about 15 per sheet.
  • Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes until done. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the cookies cool slightly before transferring them to a cooling rack. Once the cookies are cooling, repeat the baking process for the remaining dough.
  • Once all of the cookies have been baked and cooled, roll each cookie in the powdered sugar before serving.

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  1. Heather Christo

    this is the cutest post ever!! I want you to come bake with meeeee! In the mean time, these cookies look lovely!

  2. Erin | The Law Student’s Wife

    Half of the reason I’m throwing a Christmas party is so that I can unload some of my cookies on my friends! I love all the spices in these cookies, and if they are your Omi’s recipe, I know that they HAVE to be good. Grandmas know best 🙂 Happy Holidays Gaby!

  3. Monika

    This looks like it was so much fun. I love all the ways of extending the holiday season. Cookie exchange for me tomorrow and will just have to try this one!

  4. Lauren

    OMG I love pfeffernusse! I forgot all about them – haven’t had them in ages!

  5. Laura @ Laura’s Culinary Adventures

    I want to open my freezer and have cookies fall out!

  6. Liz @ Virtually Homemade

    What a fun party! I am so doing this next year. Beautiful cookies 🙂

  7. Mar

    that is a lovely post, I surely will do that with the girls and am sure they will have fin as well;)

  8. Giuliana Castellano

    Hi Gaby! this looks so yummy! you and your work are so inspiring,i love the recipes and the pictures, makes me want to cook all the time! keep on the amazing work! greetings from Venezuela and happy holidays! 🙂

  9. Katie @ Mom’s Kitchen Handbook

    Thanks for showing us how to make pfeffernusse, now I just need a lesson on how to pronounce it. Love the cookie party.

  10. Marian (Sweetopia)

    Oh I love these!! Grew up with these around and am itching to make them now!
    Merry Christmas Gaby!

  11. Jenny Flake

    This looks like one fun cookie party!! Love the pics 🙂 Merry Christmas girl! xoxo

  12. Julie @ Table for Two

    How fun!!! I need to get on top of things and host a cookie swap next year!! Merry Christmas Gaby!!!<3

  13. Jean |

    Not being German, I did not grow up with a Pfeffernüsse tradition, but I just might start that tradition now!

  14. Lisa [With Style & Grace]

    how fun!! I want to throw a party like this next year.

  15. Kate @ ¡Hola! Jalapeño

    I’m thinking cookie swap for Valentine’s Day? Whaddya think? Wanna come? Only if you bring these sweet and spicy treats!

  16. Tara Burgess

    I would like to start now! Can I put these in the freezer like you would with chocolate chip cookies? Longer backing time? Are there any cookies you wouldn’t recommend freezing?

    • Gaby

      You could totally freeze the dough! And then just let it thaw before baking and keep the baking time the same 🙂

  17. Jamie Whitmarsh

    Pfeffernuse are my husband’s favorite holiday cookie and I bake one or two batches every year. I would tinker with my old recipe by increasing the amount of spices and pepper, but they always seemed a little lacking. I just finished baking your grandma’s recipe and we both love them. The texture and flavor are terrific. Thank you for sharing this family heirloom.

  18. Brenna

    HI I was wondering how many cookies a batch makes so I know how many to make to share with my friends. Very excited!

  19. Alane


    I have looked all over the internet for a recipe like this, and here it is! Thank you for posting this!

    I made these, and the flavor is amazing!! The only thing is that yours look domed & cake like, but mine flattened out like ginger snaps (they’re chewy, not cakey). I’m thinking I took them out too soon — I left them in for 14 minutes, but maybe they needed a little more time? (Ovens can vary so much!)

    What are yours like when you take them out of the oven? Do they spring back when you touch them? Mine were domed when I took them out, but still pretty soft, and by the time they cooled, they were flat. They’re still delicious, though, so they will not go to waste!

    • Alane

      Thanks! That is definitely one thing to check. I don’t think that is the problem, since they were nicely domed when I took them out of the oven — they just collapsed as they cooled.

    • Alane

      I fixed that this year by adding 1/2 cup more flour. (I weigh my ingredients instead of measuring by volume. Figuring 4.25 oz per cup of flour, I went from 17 oz to 19 and 1/8 oz.)

      The blend of spices in this recipe is just perfect, and with the extra flour, I finally got the nice domed shape I was going for. (I also had to add about 2 minutes baking time for my oven.)