These German-style gingerbread biscuits are spicy and crunchy and can be enjoyed throughout the festive period! Follow this easy recipe to create this traditional Christmas snack and enjoy them with or without icing. These gingerbread cookies also last long and make a wonderful edible gift!
Why To Love These German Gingerbread Cookies
This is my mum’s trusted recipe. These cookies have always been a part of our table spread during Christmas and any major holidays throughout the year (ie. Easter).
The recipe for these cookies is very easy and contains just basic cupboard ingredients!
The dough can be made a few days in advance. It is good to let it rest for a while (in the fridge or freezer), to allow the flavours to intensify.
Enjoy cutting and bakingthemwhenever is convenient for you and your family – kids love this fun activity!
You can be creative and cut the dough out in various shapes and sizes – use cookie cutters to cut out small or big figures (gingerbread man, stars, hearts, trees, Santa’s boots, reindeers, snowman etc) – or make a gingerbread house!
You can leave the cookies plain or decorate them with a simple lemon and sugar icing, with chocolate, or with colourful icing, jam and sprinkles.
Finally, these homemade gingerbread cookies will last for about 2 months after baking if you keep them in a dry place.
If you are looking for more Christmas cookie recipes, try these Linzer cookies.
As mentioned before, this ginger cookie dough contains just a few basic cupboard ingredients:
- Plain (all-purpose) flour makes the base for the dough. Sift it through a sieve to ensure it rises well when baked.
- Cocoa adds darker color to the dough. Add a generous amount so that the dough turns beautifully brown.
- Baking soda works in this recipe as a raising agent. Add just enough for the dough to become fluffy.
- Icing sugar brings sweetness to the cookie dough and mixes well with flour and the rest of the ingredients, without leaving any trace of texture (unlike granulated or caster sugar).
- Free range egg helps combine the dry ingredients together and is used as a shiny glaze after baking.
- Honey provides with a delicate sweet taste andsmell. However tempting it might be, go easy on it, as the honey makes the dough hard. Meaning your cookies won’t be as soft if you add too much honey!
- Gingerbread spice mix – use one from a shop (Eastern European or German shops have them)or makeone at home, with a blend of spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, aniseed, coriander seed, and allspice. All combined together create the typical aroma that is associated with Christmas.
For detailed instructions and measurements, please see the recipe card at the bottom of this article.
Substitutes & Variations
If you're missing any of the spices or if you're not a fan of some of those, feel free to substitute them with nutmeg, vanilla or orange peel.
The spice blend is never the same in any gingerbread recipe – so feel free to be creative here!
Here are some ideas on how to decorate these gingerbread cookies for various occasions (Valentine's Day, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Kids' birthday party etc):
- Chocolate-coated – melt dark, milk and/or white chocolate and brush the cookies slightly, or drizzle the chocolate over them. Leave to set and store in a cool dry place before serving to prevent the chocolate from letting again.
- Gingerbread sandwich biscuits – add a small amount of jam between two biscuits and press them together. Leave to set for a few hours.
- Go colourful (unicorn style) – use multi-coloured icings (ready-made or tinted with food colouring), sprinkles and other baking toppings and accessories.
How To Make German Gingerbread Cookies
These gingerbread biscuits are ready in 5 simple steps:
- Make the dough by mixing all ingredients together. Leave the dough to rest.
- Get your oven ready. Roll the dough out and cut it into various shapes using cookie cutters and place the cut-out biscuits onto a baking tray.
- Bake until golden and glaze them with egg wash when they are still hot.
- Leave to cool down completely, decorate them with icing (optional) and store them.
Detailed step-by-step recipe can be found at the end of this blog post.
Remember to allow some resting time for the dough and some time for cooling and drying after decorating. Give it at least half an hour in the fridge, but you can also let it rest for up to 48 hours. Alternatively, freeze the dough in a plastic bag and defrost it when ready to bake.
For the biscuits to bake evenly, keep the same thickness of the dough all-round. When cutting the cookies, use similar-sized cutters for shapes on one baking tray.
Get your timings right. Thicker cookies need more baking time, and thinner need less otherwise they will burn. Check if they're fully baked before taking them out of the oven.
Making biscuits like these can be a big task, especially if you are baking a big batch alone – but take the time, remember to keep an eye on the oven and make it fun – listening to Christmas songs or carols will totally get you in the festive spirit!
These German gingerbread biscuits should be stored in a dry but airy place away from direct sunlight and heat (a spare paper box or a shoe box with a lid is ideal). This will allow the air to moisturise the cookies over time and they will soften within a few weeks. They will last for up to 60 days from baking.
You can also freeze these gingerbread cookies. Place them into an airtight food container and keep frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost them on a kitchen counter 30-60 minutes before serving.
More Christmas Recipes
- Linzer cookies
- Irish cappuccino
- Non-alcoholic mulled wine
- Czech potato salad
- Czech yellow pea soup with bacon
📖 The Recipe
Spiced German Gingerbread Cookies
For the dough
- 250 g plain flour, plus some for dusting
- 50 g icing sugar
- 75 g butter, softened
- 2 free-range eggs
- 1 ½ tablespoon honey
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground anise seed
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander seed
- ½ teaspoon ground all spice
Lemon and sugar icing (optional)
- 120 g icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon boiling water
Preparing the dough
- Take the butter out of the fridge at least 30mins prior making the dough, cut into dices and leave to soften at room temperature.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour and baking soda.
- Add sugar, cocoa, spices, honey and stir in 2 eggs.
- Gradually start adding the butter, one dice at a time. Knead it into the dough. When absorbed, add more.
- Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes or until you don't see any bits of butter in it.
- Create a loaf, put on a plate, wrap in a cling film and leave to rest for 1-12hrs in the fridge.
Making cookies and baking
- After the resting time, take the dough out of the fridge and set aside for 15 mins. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan.
- Once the dough is a little less cold, cut it in half. Using a rolling pin, roll out one half on a lightly dusted surface until it's about 0.5cm thick. Prepare your baking trays (no need to use butter or greaseproof paper).
- Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes and place them on the prepared baking trays.
- Knead together any leftover dough and add more of the other half of it, roll it out and repeat the two previous steps until you used all of the dough.
- Place in the oven and bake for 8-10mins or until brown on top.In the meantime, prepare the glazing: Break 1 egg into a mug and beat it with a fork until smooth.
- Once the cookies are baked, take them out of the oven, set on a cooling rack and immediately brush over with the beaten egg. Leave to dry and cool down for 15-20 mins.
Decorating with icing (optional)
- Boil 250ml of water in a kettle.
- Sift the icing sugar through a sieve into a large mixing bowl, making sure there are no lumps.
- Add lemon juice and boiling water and stir together until smooth and thick.
- Test the thickness of the icing: Use a spoon and drizzle a little bit of the icing over a serving plate.
- When the icing is thick enough (not runny) but also liquid enough (not completely solid) so that it can be used for decorating, place it in a small plastic bag. Push all of the contents into one bottom corner and cut a small part of the plastic bag's corner with scissors (the smaller the hole, the thinner (narrower) the lines will be and vice versa).
- Test the icing on the previously used serving plate: Gently squeeze out the icing, so that it comes out of the cut corner of the plastic bag. Keep an eye on the top of the bag - if not closed, the icing may run out on the other side. Squeeze it back down if needed. Once you're happy with the style of the icing, decorate your cookies with ornaments and pictures.
- Leave to set for 1-2hrs.
- Store in an airtight container for up to a month.
- These cookies are suitable for home freezing. Store in an airtight container and consume within 2 months. Always defrost before serving.