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How to Bake German Pfeffernusse

Updated on September 21, 2013

I have a terrible habit when I am entertaining! I break all the rules that say you should never try a new recipe on guests. I can't help myself - I always try something new on my unsuspecting guests. I guess that is part of who I am - adventurous even when it comes to the taste-buds. I love cooking - usually when I am not feeling harassed and exhausted and the kids aren't in my hair asking when dinner will be ready every two minutes. I like to try new recipes and I like to think I am adventurous in introducing my children to tastes and flavors from all over the world. The other day I spotted some of these little treats in a supermarket and immediately it reminded me of my childhood. My mother makes these every year and they were always a favorite of mine. I haven't had one of these tasty biscuits in years. So of course I am determined to try them out this Christmas - what are they? They are German Pfeffernusse.

German Pfeffernusse Recipe

So here we have this delicious recipe thanks to my wonderful mother.


  1. 125 grams of soft butter or margarine
  2. 1.5 cups of brown sugar
  3. 1/2 cup of treacle
  4. 1/4 teaspoon (tsp) of oil of anise
  5. 4 large eggs well beaten
  6. finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  7. 1 cup ground almonds
  8. 6 cups of flour sifted with the following ingredients:
  • :15ml baking powder
  • 5ml bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch of milled black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp ground cloves


Beat the butter and sugar until smooth - add the slightly heated treacle and beat. Add anise oil, followed by the beaten eggs and mix well. Mix in the ground almonds and lemon rind. Finally add the dry ingredients (flour mix) and mix well to form a dough. Roll into a ball and refrigerate for several hours. Pinch off pieces and roll into walnut size balls. Place on greased baking trays, cover and leave overnight. Bake at 160 degrees Celsius (320 degrees Fahrenheit) for 12 - 15 minutes. The underside should be browned and the top firm and round. Cool.

Ice your biscuits with the following icing:

  • 4 cups Icing sugar
  • couple of drops of lemon juice
  • Hot water

Mix the above ingredients to make a thick, creamy consistency. Be careful not to add too much water - a very little goes a long way. Dip the top of the biscuits into the icing. Allow to set.

This recipe makes approximately 100 biscuits and they last a while - the longer you keep them the tastier they become. They also soften with age. My mother says that they freeze well too.

Some interesting trivia:

"Pfeffernusse" simply means Pepper nuts in German hence the ground black pepper in the recipe and the almonds. They can often be confused with Russian Tea Cakes as they look similar.

All that is left to do, is to enjoy them.


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      Joyce Bradford. 22 months ago

      I'm so happy to find this recipe' These are my no. 1 favorite cookie. Just a couple of questions. Exactly how much lemon rind. The whole lemon? Also what is treacle, and where would I be likely to find it'? It sounds like it will take me 3 days to make these cookies, but I'm determined to do it. You said to refrigerate the cookies for several hours, should I then do it overnight? Would that be best? I'm going to use the mixed spice recipe above given by hunter 27. After baking them, you said they last a while, how should I store them, in something airtight? At room temp.? Thank you so much' I thrilled to get this. Thank you, Joyce Bradford

    • Caro Hemingway profile image

      Caro Hemingway 3 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Thanks hunter27 for doing the conversions - I am so used to baking in these measurements being of South African origin. Your mixed spice recipe sounds good and about right.

    • hunter27 profile image

      Laura 3 years ago from Florida

      Hi Eileen,

      I did the US conversion. The 125 grams of butter convert to 8.82 tablespoons. The 15 ml of baking powder convert to 1 tablespoon, and the 5 ml of bicarbonate of soda convert to 1 teaspoon.

      Can anyone tell me what a good "mixed spice" recipe would be for this. This is what I found, but I'm not sure it's accurate in making Pfeffernusse. It calls for: 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp allspice, and 1/4 teaspoon cloves. I would really like an authentic mixed spice recipe if I can find one!

    • profile image

      Eileen 3 years ago


      This recipe looks very interesting, but I have never seen dry ingredients measured in milliliters. Could you translate those measurements into teaspoons or grams, please. ...and thank your Mom!

    • Caro Hemingway profile image

      Caro Hemingway 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Thank you Arlene,

      I hope they turn out well - they are truly yummy even if you can't pronounce them.

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 5 years ago

      I have tried these, but I can't even spell it! Voted up and bookmarked for the recipe writing. Thanks for the very interesting recipe. Looking forward to adding these to my annual Christmas baking. Always on the prowl for something unique.