Pfeffernüsse Cookies feature a rich, spiced flavor in each confectioners’ sugar-coated, chewy bite, inspired by a traditional German holiday treat. They are a must-add to your Christmas Dessert Charcuterie Board this holiday season! You might also want to try my recipe for Italian Christmas Cookies, too!
What Are Pfeffernüsse Cookies?
Pfeffernüsse translates to ‘pepper nuts’ in German, but they do not contain nuts. (However, some recipes do add nuts.) It refers to the black pepper added to the dough along with a variety of warm spices as well as the small, round shape of each. They are similar in flavor to gingerbread cookies but with their own blend of spices. Plus, they are usually smaller in size with a dense, chewy texture. Get a batch made to celebrate National Pfeffernüsse Day on December 23rd! Perfect timing for the holidays!
Ingredients & Substitutions
Butter: Using unsalted butter lets you have control over the amount of salt added to the recipe. If using salted butter, you may want to lessen the amount of salt added.
Brown Sugar: Light brown sugar adds sweetness and moisture to the cookies. In addition, the molasses content in brown sugar adds a subtle caramel note.
Molasses: Adding molasses to the cookie dough enhances the sweetness with a distinct molasses flavor. Make sure you are using unsulphured molasses.
Spices: It’s all about the spices in these Pfeffernüsse cookies for their distinctive taste. I used cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and black pepper (what sets these cookies apart from other spiced cookies).
Confectioners’ Sugar: After the cookies have cooled a bit, they are rolled in confectioners’ sugar. It adds sweetness and looks like the cookies have been dusted by a blanket of snow! Lovely and festive at the same time!
Do I Have To Chill The Dough?
No, the dough for these Pfeffernüsse cookies does not need to be chilled before baking. We tested the cookies after chilling for an hour, then after 2 hours, and finally, with no chilling time. The cookies turned out great with no chill time required! But, if you want to get the dough made in advance, you could wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. When ready to bake, let the dough come to room temperature.
Freezing Pfeffernüsse Cookie Dough
If you want to get a head start on these cookies, prepare the dough and freeze it. To freeze the dough:
- Scoop dough into balls and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer for an hour or two, or until the dough balls are solid.
- Once the dough balls are frozen, store them in a freezer-safe container or sealable bag. They can be stored for up to 2-3 months.
- When ready to bake the Pfeffernüsse cookies, let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight. (If baking directly from frozen, add a couple of minutes to the baking time.)
How To Store Pfeffernüsse Cookies
To store Pfeffernüsse cookies, first, let them cool completely. Then, store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3-4 days. You can also freeze the baked, cooled cookies for up to 2-3 months.
- ½ cup (1 stick / 113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup (150 g) light brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup (84 g) molasses
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ¼ cups (281 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup (62.5 g) confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar together. Add molasses, egg, and vanilla, mixing until thoroughly combined, stopping to scrape the bowl as needed.
- To a large bowl, add flour, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, black pepper, cloves, ginger, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine.
- With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing until thoroughly combined.
- Using a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop, drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets about 1 inch apart.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, checking at 10 minutes, or until cookies are cracking slightly and firm to the touch.
- Let cool for 5 minutes.
- To a medium bowl, add confectioners' sugar. Toss each cooled cookie in the confectioners' sugar until completely coated. Set on a serving platter. Enjoy!
Did you make this recipe?
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This recipe is adapted from If You Give A Blonde A Kitchen’s Pfeffernusse Cookies.
What the Test Kitchen had to say about this recipe:
I wasn't sure what to expect with these cookies. They were delightful! They remind me of a gingerbread cookie.
I loved all the spiced flavor in these cookies, as well as the dense chewiness! I had never tried a pfeffernüsse cookie before, but I loved it!
This is a small cookie with a bold flavor! It definitely reminds me of gingerbread with all of the spices!
Spiced holiday cookies! These are perfect to bring to your holiday gatherings this season.
These cookies will get you in the holiday spirit! They have a lovely spiced flavor and are so soft and chewy!
This is a really nicely spiced dense cookie. Would be great with coffee in the morning, too!