Pfeffernusse (German Spice Cookies)

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Pfeffernusse is a traditional German spice cookie that’s loaded with all the flavors we love for the Holidays. Incredibly soft cookies with molasses, ginger and warm spices, these Pfeffernusse cookies are always the first things to go on a Christmas cookie tray!

A Pfeffernusse cookie with a bite out of it.

German Christmas Cookies

Known for their anise flavor, these Pfeffernusse cookies are full of warm spices and a deep molasses flavor. With a thick dusting of powdered sugar, you get a wonderful sweetness that balances out the strong spices! The texture is also perfectly chewy as well, and the black pepper adds a little kick that is so tasty. 

I remember the first time I ever heard of Pfeffernusse. Gingerbread cookies are one of my favorite cookie flavors, so I knew I had to try these. They have a very similar fragrance but a wonderfully unique flavor that I couldn’t get enough of. Even my kiddos enjoy these German spice cookies. So much so that we often don’t wait for the holidays to come around to make them!

Love these Pfeffernusse cookies? We have more German dessert recommendations, like another spice cookie called Lebkuchen and tasty German Chocolate Brownies!

Ingredients You’ll Need

This may look like a long list of ingredients, but don’t worry! Once you buy these spices, their shelf life is typically several years. You will need more when you make more Pfeffernusse!

Ingredients to make Pfeffernusse.
  • Spices: Ground Cardamom, Ground Cloves, Salt, Ground Allspice, Ground Ginger, Ground Nutmeg, Black Pepper and Cinnamon.
  • Baking Soda
  • Flour
  • Anise Extract: You will find this in the baking aisle at the grocery store. It comes from a spice called star anise. It has a subtle licorice-like flavor.
  • Egg
  • Molasses: Traditional molasses is best for this recipe.
  • Sugar
  • Butter: Leave the unsalted butter out for 30-60 minutes on the counter for it to come to room temperature. To not leave it in a warm place where it can melt.
  • Powdered Sugar

How to Make Pfeffernusse Cookies

If you have ever made cookie dough, you know how simple it is. There are no tricks or fuss with this recipe. It may have a lot of spices, but if you measure them ahead of time, making them will be a quick process. Of course, eating them is the best part!

  • Step 1. Whisk all of the spices and flour in a large bowl. Set it aside.
  • Step 2. In a separate large bowl, add anise extract, egg, molasses, sugar, and butter. Cream together using a stand mixer until smooth.
  • Step 3. Slowly pour in the flour mixture and continue to mix until well combined.
  • Step 4. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. 
  • Step 5. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Step 6. Scoop the dough using a 1 ½ tablespoon cookie scoop or large spoon and roll into balls.
  • Step 7. Place the Pfeffernusse dough balls onto the lined sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. They are ready when the edges are set.
  • Step 8. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes.
  • Step 9. Sift powdered sugar onto both sides of each cookie until completely covered. 
  • Step 10. Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack, and enjoy!
A dozen Pfeffernusse cookies on a silver cooling rack.

How to Store Pfeffernusse

Store these German spice cookies at room temperature in an airtight container. They will stay fresh for up to 5 days.

A Pfeffernusse cookie with a bite out of it.

More Cookie Recipes

Stacke Pfeffernusse cookies.
Pfeffernusse feature
5 from 2 votes


Pfeffernusse is a traditional German spice cookie that's loaded with all the flavors we love for the Holidays. Incredibly soft cookies with molasses, ginger and warm spices, these Pfeffernusse cookies are always the first things to go on a Christmas cookie tray!
Servings: 24 Cookies
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 25 minutes


  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon anise extract
  • 1 large egg
  • cup molasses
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup butter room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar


  • In a large bowl, whisk together all the spices and all-purpose flour.
  • Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, beat together butter, sugar, molasses, egg, and anise extract. Beat until smooth.
  • Slowly add in flour mixture and mix until well incorporated.
  • Cover bowl and place in refrigerator for 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Scoop dough out using cookie scoop and roll into balls. Dough balls should be about 1 ½ tablespoon.
  • Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are set.
  • Let cookies cool for about 5 minutes on a baking sheet.
  • Using a sifter, dust each cookie with powdered sugar on both sides. You may need to dust each cookie a few times to get them completely covered.
  • Let the cookie cool completely before serving.

Last Step:

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  • Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days at room temperature.
  • Don’t skip the step of refrigerating the dough for an hour, this helps the cookies from spreading during cooking.
  • The uncooked dough can be in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • You can freeze the dough wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and placed in an airtight container. Allow the dough to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking.


Calories: 124kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 129mg | Potassium: 86mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 129IU | Vitamin C: 0.03mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1mg


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