Learn how to make my Tante (Aunt) Betty’s Pfeffernusse – a spicy, German cookie smothered in icing. They’re the perfect treat for the holidays!

I have a recipe book featuring our extended family’s favourite recipes that I made about 12 years ago. In it are some delicious & treasured creations by many of my German aunts and great aunts. I’ve actually featured a lot of these recipes on my blog before in my German baking series!

Today’s recipe is a delicious German Christmas cookie called Pfeffernusse (or Peppernuts, in English). If you like the taste of gingerbread, you’ll love these! They’re spicy, soft and pillowy, and they’re encased in an icing glaze to keep them moist and give them even more sweetness and texture.

This recipe is part of a Christmas recipe hop hosted by Jo-Anna from A Pretty Life, so after you’ve had a look at my recipe make sure to hop down to the bottom of this post to get even more holiday baking and cooking ideas!

Besides the fact that they’re iced all the way around, I think one of the most interesting things about baking these cookies is that you boil all of the wet ingredients on the stove before putting in the dry ingredients. It seems to give these cookies a unique texture and chewiness. Plus, it just feels good to work with warm dough on a cold winter’s day!

Here’s the recipe for my Tante Betty’s Pfeffernusse

I’ve copied it exactly as she had written it for my family recipe book, with some of my own notes in parenthesis.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Tante Betty's Pfeffernusse | German Iced Spice Christmas Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
These spicy round cookies are enveloped in icing and a delicious treat at Christmas time!
Recipe type: Cookies
Cuisine: German
Serves: 6 dozen
First Mixture
  • 1½ c brown sugar
  • ½ c molasses
  • ½ c water
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp cloves
  • 3 tsp star anise
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • ½ ts anise extract
Second Mixture
  • ½ c butter
  • 1 tsp baking soda (dissolved in water)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 4-5 cups flour to make a soft dough (if batter is too thick, it won't hold together)
  • 1 c icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  1. Bring first mixture to a boil. Cool slightly and add second mixture.
  2. Roll in long narrow strips. Cut to desired thickness, and shape into balls. (My pieces are about 1 x 1 inch)
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F until slightly brown (10-15 minutes). Be careful, they burn easily at the bottom, unless you use airbake pans.
  4. Ice with a mixture of icing sugar, milk and almond extract (I use 1 cup of icing sugar, 2 tbsp of milk and 1 tsp of almond extract). If you ice both top and bottom, they don't dry out as quickly.

We’ve loved baking this recipe this Christmas season so far, and Little B likes to give her Pfeffernusse her own spin with sprinkles:


These also freeze well, so make this huge batch and put a couple dozen in the freezer for Christmas Eve!

More Delicious Christmas Cookie Recipes:

12 Christmas Cookie Recipes

For more Christmas cookie recipes, make sure you check out the delicious recipes below!

Swiss Mountain Shortbread by Kim of Kim Power Style

German Iced Spice Christmas Cookies by Christina of The DIY Mommy

Slice and Bake Shortbread Cookies by Jo-Anna of A Pretty Life in the Suburbs

Cathedral Window Cookies by Rita of Harbour Breeze Home

Chocolate Peppermint Biscotti by Kendra of Joy In Our Home

Cranberry Orange Shortbread by Jen of Kitchen Counter Chronicles

Holiday Crinkle Cookies by Lisa of Fabulous Habits

Maple Shortbread Snowflakes by Laura of one house 2 barns

Ritz Cracker Bark (aka Crookies) by Courtenay of Creek Line House

Peppermint Hot Cocoa Cookies by Jennifer of Happily Organized Chaos

Earl Grey Snowball Cookies by Tan of Squirrelly Minds

Gingerbread Cookies by Dannyelle of Life is a Party