Lebkuchen

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Try a traditional German Christmas cookie this holiday season (or any time of year!). Lebkuchen spice cookies are cozy and comforting, and pair perfectly with a cup of cold milk or hot coffee.

Glazed Lebkuchen in a vintage German metal tin box.

Like Gingerbread people or festively-shaped Sugar Cookies, Lebkuchen are a German Christmas cookie tradition. The honey-sweetened cookies are spiked with almonds and raisins and coated in a delightful powdered sugar glaze.

While this Lebkuchen recipe does require some chilling time for best results, it only takes about 30 minutes of hands-on time. Let’s get baking!

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for Lebkuchen.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Dark molasses: Commonly used in gingerbread or ginger cookie recipes, dark molasses is less sweet, slightly more bitter, and thicker in consistency than its lighter cousin.
  • Allspice: This clove relative is a spice that tastes similar to a mash-up of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. If you don’t have any on-hand, make your own mix of 1 ¾ teaspoons ground cinnamon, ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg and a small pinch of ground cloves; use ¼ teaspoon of this blend in the Lebkuchen.
  • Almonds: Regular slivered almonds work fine, but I love the way roasting amplifies the nuttiness. To roast slivered almonds, evenly spread the slivered almonds on a sheet pan and roast in a 325-degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Raisins: If your raisins feel more dried out than you’d like, plump them up by soaking them in some warm water before adding them to the Lebkuchen cookie dough. Pat dry with a paper towel after soaking. If you’re not a fan of raisins, choose your own adventure with dried cranberries, currants, nuts, or chocolate chips instead.
  • Egg white: Or pasteurized egg whites or meringue powder, if you prefer.

Step by step instructions

  1. Make the cookies: In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed, or by hand using an electric mixer, beat egg until frothy. Add brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Reduce speed to low and stir in honey and molasses.
Lebkuchen batter in a bowl.
  1. Sift together flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking soda, ground cloves, and allspice. With standing mixer speed on medium-low, slowly add flour mixture and mix well. Stir in almonds and raisins. Cover bowl and chill for 2 hours or overnight.
Lebkuchen dough in a bowl.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two rimmed baking sheets well. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick.
Lebkuchen dough rolled out flat.
  1. Cut dough into 3 1/2-inch by 2-inch rectangles and space 12 evenly apart on each baking sheet.
Lebkuchen cookies on a baking sheet before baking.
  1. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on rack.
Baked Lebkuchen cooling on a baking rack.
  1. Make the glaze: In a small bowl, combine 1 beaten egg white with lemon juice, lemon zest, a pinch of salt, and powdered sugar. While cookies are still warm, brush with lemon glaze.
Baked Lebkuchen cooling on a baking rack.
  1. Cool completely before serving.
Glazed Lebkuchen on a cutting board.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This cookie recipe makes 24 Lebkuchen cookies. Double if desired to share as a food gift or freeze some for later.
  • Storage: Store these cookies in an air-tight container at room temperature for 2 weeks or in the refrigerator for 2 months. 
  • Make ahead: This is one cookie recipe that should be made ahead (so the cookies don’t spread too much while baking), so get a head start on the cookie batter. Mix and chill the dough at least 2 hours or up to 4 days in advance.
  • Freezer: Once you have mixed the dough, form into a disc (instead of rolling it out) and wrap in plastic wrap. You can place the dough in a freezer bag for extra protection, if you like. Label with the kind of cookie dough, baking temperature and cooking time in the recipe, and the date you made the dough. Before baking, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then roll out, cut, bake, and glaze following the recipe’s instructions.
  • Get artistic: Garnish the glaze with sprinkles, additional finely chopped slivered almonds, or mini chocolate chips.
  • Oktoberfest: Why stop at Lebkuchen? See my full Oktoberfest Menu to plan your own German fall festival. Start with Pork Schnitzel or Chicken Schnitzel, a cripsy, crumb-coated, pan-fried cutlet. Spaetzle, homemade egg noodles, make a delicious side dish along with German Potato Salad. Serve with Soft Pretzels and homemade Mustard. Consider a Black Forest Cake too, and serve everything with plenty of beer and some Lemon Spezis (Coca-Cola with Lemonade) for the kids.
Glazed Lebkuchen in a vintage German metal tin box.

Recipe FAQs

What are Lebkuchen?

These honey-sweetened molded cookies are a traditional German cookie most often served at Christmas. They date back to the 1300’s when Catholic Monks used to bake them. Lebkuchen are similar to gingerbread but lighter in color and always soft, never crunchy. They may also be known by the name Honigkuchen or Pfefferkuchen.

How do you eat Lebkuchen?

Like other European cookies, sweet and spicy Lebkuchen are perfect with coffee or tea. They are also delicious plain or as part of a cookie platter at the holidays.

More German recipes

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Glazed Lebkuchen on a cutting board.

Lebkuchen

Try a traditional German Christmas cookie this holiday season (or any time of year!). Lebkuchen spice cookies are cozy and comforting, and pair perfectly with a cup of cold milk or hot coffee.
Author: Meggan Hill
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Chilling time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 27 mins
Servings 24 cookies
Course Dessert
Cuisine German
Calories 186

Ingredients 

For the cookies:

For the glaze:

Instructions 

To make the cookies:

  • In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed, or by hand using an electric mixer, beat egg until frothy. Add brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Reduce speed to low and stir in honey and molasses.
  • Sift together flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking soda, ground cloves, and allspice. With standing mixer speed on medium-low, slowly add flour mixture and mix well. Stir in almonds and raisins. Cover bowl and chill for 2 hours or overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two rimmed baking sheets well. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Cut dough into 3 1/2-inch by 2-inch rectangles and space 12 evenly apart on each baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on rack.

To make the glaze:

  • In a small bowl, combine 1 beaten egg white with lemon juice, lemon zest, a pinch of salt, and powdered sugar. While cookies are still warm, brush with lemon glaze.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Dark molasses: Commonly used in gingerbread or ginger cookie recipes, dark molasses is less sweet, slightly more bitter, and thicker in consistency than its lighter cousin.
  2. Allspice: This clove relative is a spice that tastes similar to a mash-up of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. If you don’t have any on-hand, make your own mix of 1 ¾ teaspoons ground cinnamon, ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg and a small pinch of ground cloves; use ¼ teaspoon of this blend in the Lebkuchen.
  3. Almonds: Regular slivered almonds work fine, but I love the way roasting amplifies the nuttiness. To roast slivered almonds, evenly spread the slivered almonds on a sheet pan and roast in a 325-degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Raisins: If your raisins feel more dried out than you’d like, plump them up by soaking them in some warm water before adding them to the Lebkuchen cookie dough. Pat dry with a paper towel after soaking. If you’re not a fan of raisins, choose your own adventure with dried cranberries, currants, nuts, or chocolate chips instead.
  5. Egg white: Or pasteurized egg whites or meringue powder, if you prefer.
  6. Yield: This cookie recipe makes 24 Lebkuchen cookies. Double if desired to share as a food gift or freeze some for later.
  7. Storage: Store these cookies in an air-tight container at room temperature for 2 weeks or in the refrigerator for 2 months. 
  8. Make ahead: This is one cookie recipe that should be made ahead (so the cookies don’t spread too much while baking), so get a head start on the cookie batter. Mix and chill the dough at least 2 hours or up to 4 days in advance.

Nutrition

Calories: 186kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 3gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 36mgPotassium: 156mgFiber: 1gSugar: 28gVitamin A: 15IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 40mgIron: 1mg
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Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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