Learn how to make Lebkuchen cookies with this easy recipe! Chewy, sweet and flavored with cozy winter spices, these classic German treats are the perfect addition to a holiday cookie tray.
What Are Lebkuchen Cookies
Lebkuchen are traditional German cookies that are especially popular around the holiday season. Like gingerbread, Lebkuchen get much of their flavor from a combination of brown sugar and spices. But while most gingerbread cut out cookies are hard and crisp, Lebkuchen are soft, dense and almost cake-like.
- When you bake Lebkuchen, zesty spices like cloves and ginger fill your kitchen with a festive fragrance that’s all but guaranteed to get you in the holiday spirit.
- The honey-sweetened treats are the kind of cookies you’ll want to enjoy around a roaring fire while snow softly falls outside.
You don’t have to be German to understand why Lebkuchen cookies are such an enduring Christmas tradition for so many families. Whether you grew up eating Lebkuchen or you’re trying them for the first time, I know you’ll love these delicious and unique cut out cookies!
- Honey and brown sugar – You will combine the two on the stove top to create a thick syrup that sweetens the Lebkuhen.
- Egg – We use half of a large egg for this recipe. See FAQs below for how to measure your egg!
- Lemon – You will need both the zest and juice of a lemon. Follow our guide for how to zest a lemon for best results.
- Salted butter – The added salt enhances the flavor of the honey and spices in Lebkuchen, making it a better choice than unsalted butter for this recipe.
- Spices – This recipe uses a combination of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and all spice for a perfect spicy flavor.
Before you set out to make Lebkuchen, keep in mind that they take some planning ahead. The dough needs to be made a day ahead of time. That means these are not the kind of cookies you can make on a whim at the last minute!
Once you’ve made the dough, cover it in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours. This step is crucial!
Letting the Lebkuchen dough rest helps give it that perfect chewy, dense texture when it bakes. Plus, it allows all those delicious brown sugar and spice flavors to mingle and develop.
Seriously, do NOT try to cut corners by skipping or reducing the rest time. It’s worth it; I promise!
Once the dough has chilled, it’s time to roll out the dough. Roll it out into a rectangle or oval about a quarter inch thick. Cut the cookies into your desired shapes and bake.
Whisk together powdered sugar and water to form a glaze. Brush the glaze on baked cookies. Let the glaze set for a few minutes before eating your delicious homemade Lebkuchen!
Tips and Tricks
- I recommend basic shaped cookie cutters for Lebkuchen. The dough puffs as it bakes so simple shapes like hearts and circles are best. Save your intricate cookie cutters for our perfect sugar cookies instead!
- Keep an eye on these cookies as they bake. Honey burns quickly, so you need to take the Lebkuchen out of the oven as soon as they look lightly browned.
- Give your glaze more flavor. Swap out the water with lemon juice, orange juice or apple juice. Brandy is another flavorful alternative we love.
To measure the egg, whisk a whole egg in a small bowl. Then use either a measuring cup or kitchen scale to divide the contents in half.
YES, Lebkuchen dough is very sticky when it’s first made. This is totally normal and expected. As it rests it will firm up to a more workable consistency for rolling and cutting out. Another reason why it’s so important to let the dough rest!
Store these cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. The German method for storing Lebkuchen is to put an apple wedge in the container with the cookies. The apple’s moisture keeps the cookies soft.
Stored tightly covered with an apple wedge (see above), your homemade Lebkuchen will stay fresh and soft for as long as 3 weeks!
Sweet, spicy and brushed with glaze, Lebkuchen Cookies are German Christmas tradition everyone can enjoy!