Pfeffernusse Cookies

Since I didn't grow up with Christmas, I love discovering the ways Bill's family celebrate the holidays; especially what his mom and grandma used to bake. I want to create new customs and ceremonies that are fun and meaningful to both Bill and me. So, when his mom mentioned Pfeffernusse cookies and that her mom used to bake them for the holidays, I knew that I had to bake her recipe and share it with you.

Pfeffernusse cookies are one of the oldest cookies in Germany.  They're spicy, soft and delicious. Coated with confectioners' sugar, these cookies are as sweet as they are spicy. They are very similar to the ginger or spice cookies (or Iranian nane zanjebili).  The main difference is that the pfeffernusse cookies are made with honey, molasses and lots of spices, from black pepper to cardamom and cloves, to cinnamon and nutmeg. I omit the black pepper in this recipe, but the original recipe had 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. They are so good and easy to make and I fell in love with the sensational smell in my kitchen when baking them.

Pfeffernusse Cookies

Serving size: 3 dozen cookies | Time: 20 minutes


  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar (for the final step)


  1. Stir together the molasses, honey, and butter in a saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir until creamy. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in the eggs.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients (flour, white sugar, brown sugar, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt) in a large bowl. Add the molasses mixture and stir until you have a smooth dough. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  3. Roll the dough into acorn-sized balls, and roll them in confectioners' sugar, arrange on baking sheets, spacing at least 1 inch apart.
  4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Move to a rack to cool. Once cooled store them in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to two-three weeks.