Pfeffernusse: German spiced biscuits

A traditional Christmas treat from Germany, Pfeffernusse translates to ‘pepper nuts’ so you can imagine just how flavoursome these little biscuits are.

While I don’t remember my great aunt ever baking them, they do remind me of her generous German hospitality and homemade cakes, so Pfeffernusse holds a special place in my heart.

Warning: highly addictive with or without the icing on top.



  • 1 cup brown sugar or 1/3 cup brown sugar and 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract(optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise extract (optional)
  • 1 1/1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon each ground allspice, nutmeg and ginger
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cup plain flour


  • 100grams icing sugar
  • 1 egg white or water or The Kitchen Lionesssuggests Kirsch (cherry brandy)


In a medium bowl mix the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.

Add 2 eggs and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Add extracts and mix.

Fold through spices and flour until incorporated. Cover and refrigerate until firm.

Preheat oven to 180℃

Take teaspoon size amounts and roll into balls, placing them onto a tray lined with baking paper.

Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. The biscuits will harden when cooled.


Mix ingredients to a smooth thick consistency.

Dip the tops of the cooled Pfefernusse into the icing or use a spoon to dribble the icing on top, then allow to set hard.

I like to dust them with icing sugar but I wouldn’t mind trying The Kitchen Lioness recipe using crushed pink peppercorns to decorate the iced Pfeffernusse with. Not only do they look so festive but I a little bite of pepper would finish off these ‘pepper nuts’ perfectly.


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