German Gingerbread Cookies (Lebkuchen)

German GingerbreadFor the final recipe of our holiday cookie kit, I’ve prepared a traditional German Christmas gingerbread cookie, or Lebkuchen. Created by medieval monks, lebkuchen dates back to the 13th century in Germany and Switzerland. My version is made of ginger, molasses, almond extract and a good amount of spices like cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. These cookies are soft on the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside, the perfect compliment to include in our holiday cookie kit.

Depending on your preference, you can add more or less spice. For embellishment, I topped the cookies with some slivered almonds. The three other recipes in the holiday cookie kit are Appetite for China’s Green Tea Shortbread and my Cranberry Pistachio Biscottis and Mexican Hot Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Mix together spices, chopped ginger, brown sugar and flour in a bowl, then melt butter together with molasses.

Pour butter and molasses mixture into the dry ingredients, then mix in an egg and almond extract. Combine well.

Form dough into balls and roll in sugar. Top with slivered almonds and bake for about 18 minutes.

German Gingerbread Cookies (Lebkuchen)

  • 1/4 cup crystalized ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 stick of butter (2 ounces) butter
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar, for rolling
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, for topping

    Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

    Place chopped crystalized ginger in a large bowl, then mix together with flour, brown sugar and spices. In a small saucepan on low heat, melt the butter and molasses together. Take off heat, then stir into the dry ingredients with an egg. Mix till it forms a stiff dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and cool to harden a bit in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes.

    With your hands, roll the cookie dough into balls and roll balls around in sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheets with about 2 inches apart. Slightly flatten the balls with your fingers and top with a couple of slivered almonds on top. Bake for about 16-18 minutes until crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. Cool cookies on wire racks and store in an airtight container.

    Total Time: 45 minutes
    Yield: makes about 2 dozen cookies
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    13 Responses to “German Gingerbread Cookies (Lebkuchen)”

    1. Julia October 12, 2012 at 10:33 am #

      I am from Germany and I love Lebkuchen! I bet yours taste just as good, they look so delicious!

      • Barb October 12, 2012 at 11:33 am #

        Danke, Julia 🙂 Can’t stop eating them…I love all German desserts! Tschüss!

    2. Sadie @allnaturalme October 17, 2012 at 9:06 am #

      Dang!! Those sounds awesome!!!

      What a great way to get spices into your diet 🙂

      • Barb October 17, 2012 at 9:48 am #

        I agree 🙂 Thanks so much, Sadie!

    3. maomaokitty October 19, 2012 at 11:42 am #

      Ich liebe lebkuchen! And I just bought a big bottle of molasses for our hard cider so now I know what to do with the rest 🙂

      • Barb October 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

        Wunderbar!! Let me know how they turn out 😉

    4. Tammie Tornow October 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

      This is what I want!! lol Do you have a recipe for pfferenuse??

      • Barb October 22, 2012 at 10:09 am #

        Hi Tammie – I never made pfeffernüsse before but I’m sure my mother-in-law can teach me! Hopefully I can post a recipe soon 🙂

    5. Jenny October 21, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

      I lived in Germany for a year and I absolutely loved these! I still always treat myself to some at Christmas, it would be nice to be able to rustle some up whenever I liked!

      • Barb October 22, 2012 at 10:12 am #

        It’s the perfect cookie to have during the holidays! Love the smell of all the different spices 🙂

    6. barb1 November 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

      German Gingerbead does not use molasses or regular white flour. Original recipe uses Bread flour, Rye flour, Honey, Eggs, Magarin, Powdered Sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. To keep it soft they use Baker’s Ammonia.

    7. Emily December 14, 2013 at 5:12 pm #


      This recipe looks delicious! I am looking to make this for Christmas with my boyfriends family this year as they are giving Christmas dinner a German theme. There are two young boys in the family that are allergic to nuts and I am having a hard time finding something to make that is nut free. I noticed this recipe has almond extract in it. Is it possible to leave that out or would it affect the taste? Thanks.

      • Barb December 15, 2013 at 10:32 am #

        Hi Emily – Thank you! Yes, feel free to leave out the almond extract and substitute with vanilla extract. Good luck and can’t wait to hear how the cookies turn out for you 🙂

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