These German Spice cookies known as Lebkuchen are made from scratch and absolutely delicious! Glazed German gingerbread is a Holiday favorite and always the first thing to go on a Christmas cookie tray.
What is Lebkuchen?
Pronounced leyb-koo-kuh n, this traditional German Christmas treat is a soft, spiced cookie with lemon glaze on top. If you have never tried one, the taste is comparable to gingerbread cookies but with a big distinction, which is that these cookies are chewy, not hard.
German Spice Cookies
The word Lebkuchen translates to English as “Christmas cookie” and for good reason, it’s got all the warm, winter tastes like cinnamon, ginger, honey and nutmeg. This cookie was new to me until recently but once I tried it I was hooked. If traditional gingerbread isn’t your thing, I would still give this a try because they are very different!
The ingredients list is quite long, as it utilizes a large assortment of spices. The only ingredient you may not usually keep around is ground almonds, which you can find in your local grocery store or Walmart. Other than that, most of these things are probably in the pantry.
- Sweeteners – Honey and Brown Sugar
- Butter – We always use unsalted butter and then add the salt to make sure it’s the right amount. Store brands have different amounts of salt content in salted butter.
- Dry ingredients – All-Purpose Flour, Baking Powder and Baking Soda
- Egg – You only need 1 large egg.
- Citrus – Lemon Juice and Lemon Zest
- Ground Almonds – you can buy this already ground of grind the almonds yourself.
- Ground Cinnamon
- Ground Ginger
- Ground Allspice
- Ground Cloves
- Ground Nutmeg
- Fine Sea Salt
For The Glaze:
- Powdered Sugar
- Lemon Juice
- Vanilla Extract
- Rum – optional
How To Make Lebkuchen
Before you begin, make note that this dough does need some rest time, so it’s not a last-minute recipe. It needs at least an hour to rest.
Step 1: Start by heating the honey and sugar together in the microwave until the sugar melts. When it is melted, quickly add in the butter and lemon zest and stir until the butter melts.
Step 2: Next, stir in the egg, all of the spices, the baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Step 3: Stir in the flour and ground almonds and stir until you get a sticky dough. Add a bit of lemon juice as needed.
Step 4: When it’s ready. spray your hands with cooking spray and scoop the dough into a ball. Cover it with a towel and leave the dough at room temperature for an hour – overnight.
Step 5: Make the glaze by simply stirring the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Step 6: Divide the dough into thirds and roll out each (one at a time) to about 3/4 of an inch thick. Cut out circular cookies.
Step 7: Bake the cookies on 350 degrees for about 12 minutes and let them rest on a wire rack. Add the glaze on top.
If you want to add some chocolate, melt 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips in the microwave and dip the cookies in and transfer them back to the wire rack to cool.
Other Christmas Cookie Recipes:
- Linzer Cookies
- Christmas Spritz Cookies
- Snowball Cookies
- Gingerbread Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Gingerbread Man Cookies
Lebkuchen (German Spice Cookies)
- ½ cup honey
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup unsalted butter cut into cubes
- 1 large egg beaten
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup ground almonds
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
- In a glass bowl, mix the honey and sugar and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir together well until sugar dissolves (heat another 15-30 seconds if needed).
- Immediately add the butter and lemon zest and stir until the butter melts.
- Stir in the baking powder, soda, salt and spices and egg.
- Add the flour and ground almonds. Mix until you have a soft and slightly sticky dough, adding a little lemon juice as needed. Be careful not to add too much because you will be rolling the dough, just enough to where it’s not dry.
- Spray your hands with cooking spray and gather the dough into a ball.
- Cover the mixing bowl with a towel and leave to rest for at least an hour or even overnight at room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile prepare the glaze.
- Mix together all the glaze ingredients in a small bowl until you have a thin glaze.
- Divide the dough into thirds. Roll the dough on a silicone baking mat to 3/4 of an inch thickness to right under 1 inch.
- Cut out circles using a cookie cutter.
- Space the cookies out on the silicone mat and bake for 12 minutes.
- Repeat with remaining dough, gathering up any scraps and rolling out again and bake in batches.
- Transfer the cookies carefully to a wire rack and brush with the glaze while they are still a little warm using a pastry brush.
- Allow the glaze to dry and add a second layer (if desired). Check the recipe notes if you want to cover or dip the Lebkuchen in chocolate.
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Stir gently until the chocolate chips have melted completely.
Dip the cookies into the melted chocolate and leave to dry on a wire rack before storing.