Vanilla Crescent Cookies (German Christmas Cookies)

German Crescent Cookies
The recipe for these yummy crescent-shaped holiday treats comes straight from my husband’s German mom. They have been a Christmas staple in his family for generations, and are typically referred to as “Vanille Hörnchen” or “Vanille Kipferl.” I absolutely love them—they are simple to prepare and yield a bold vanilla and butter flavor with a perfectly crunchy texture. It’s probably my favorite cookie recipe this time of year, and the crescents bring back memories of holidays spent in Germany. (For more German holiday cookies, take a look at my Gingerbread and Hazelnut cookie recipes.)

If you’re a vanilla lover, like I am, I highly suggest you use actual vanilla beans. They add beautiful black specks to the cookies. If you don’t have access to vanilla powder for the dough, use vanilla extract, and just omit it from the sprinkling at the end. Finally, don’t worry if the crescent shapes don’t all look the same, but make sure the cookies are relatively thin (about 1/4 inch) before baking.

German Crescent Cookies ingredients

Mix ingredients together and chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

Mix ingredients together and chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

Form dough into crescent shapes, then bake for 10 minutes or until golden.

Form dough into crescent shapes, then bake for 10 minutes or until golden.

Sprinkle vanilla sugar allover warm cookies.

Roll the warm cookies around in vanilla sugar mixture. Store in a container with a tight fitting lid.

German Crescent Cookies done

German Crescent Cookies ready

German Vanilla Crescent Cookies

1 stick butter, softened, halved or whole
1 egg yolk
1 cup flour
1/2 cup ground almonds (preferably skinless)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
a pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla powder
1 whole vanilla bean, slit and deseeded
about 1/4 cup sugar
about 1 tablespoon vanilla powder

Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix together butter, egg yolk, powdered sugar and vanilla bean seeds. Add ground almonds, flour, salt and vanilla powder. Place dough in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to cool.

Roll small crescents (they extend a bit) and lightly flatten. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden.

Mix sugar and vanilla powder together on a plate or bowl. Roll the warm cookies around in the vanilla sugar mixture. Store in a container with a tight-fitting lid.

Total Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 30-40 cookies

For more recipes in the 12 Days of Cookies series, follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #BlogHerCookies.

This post is part of the BlogHer 12 Days of Cookies editorial series. Our advertisers do not produce or review editorial content. This post is made possible by Bank of America and BlogHer.


  1. Krista says

    Potentially stupid question, but when you say a STICK OF BUTTER, are you referring to 1/2 cup of butter?
    Thanks! Can’t wait to make these!

    • says

      Hi Krista – Not a stupid question at all! I should’ve specified, but yes it’s a 1/2 cup. Have fun baking and let me know how they turn out!

  2. Krista says

    Fantastic! Thanks for getting back to me so quickly! Hoping this is the long lost recipe my oma took to her grave. Merry Christmas!

    • says

      Hi Andrea – Thanks for catching this, so it’s not a silly question! It should be around 30-40 cookies, depending on the size and shape you make each one. I’ll change it now…

  3. Marites says

    Hi Barb, just wondering if vanilla powder is hard to find? Do you buy it at a specialized baking supply store or do groceries usually have them? Thank you, this sounds very delicious and sounds very easy for a “not much” of a baker like me:) Thank you!

    • says

      Hi Marites – It is more common to find in Germany but you can get vanilla powder at specialty stores or you can even order it online if it’s still hard for you to find. You could even just omit it from the recipe and use vanilla extract and then leave out at the end when rolling in sugar. Hope this helps! We love this cookie recipe and hope you do too 🙂

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