Pfeffernüsse—The Best Gluten-free German Christmas Cookies!

Updated June 24, 2017.

Pfeffernüsse are the best gluten-free German Christmas cookies!  

There’s something about the spicy aroma mixed with the scent of winter greens and Christmas hymns . . .  and the warm, pepper bite wrapped in sweet snowy goodness . . . mm-mm!

It’s like a taste of the mother land and old world German traditions.

On Sundays throughout the month of December, I remember lighting the Advent wreath, which was decked out in fresh greenery and decorated with holly berries.

We’d open a shutter on the Advent Calendar, counting the days until the coming of der Weihnachtsmann (pronounced vie-nakt-smen; meaning “Christmas Man”, a.k.a. Santa Claus).

On Heiliger Abend (pronounced hie-ligger ah-bend, meaning "Christmas Eve"), the extended family gathered at Gramma and Grampa’s house. After a festive dinner we’d decorate the tall tree, which was often 10 feet high!

Then, we’d gather around the old player piano while Gramma struck a lively tune.  We’d start by singing O Tannenbaum (O Christmas Tree) and finished with Stille Nacht (Silent Night).

Moved by the spirit of the season, the children with eyes aglow would each receive one small gift, a German tradition passed down through the generations; one we still practice with our family, though I married into an ancient Irish clan.

Before families retired to their homes for the magical night, we snacked on flavorful holiday treats, including Pfeffernüsse, and a glass of cold milk.

At home, we’d share the rich goodness by setting out a small plate of cookies and glass of milk for Santa Claus, too.

Pfeffernüsse are delicious little German spice cookies covered with powdered sugar and are not be confused with similar powdered sugar dusted spice biscuits such as English Peppernuts or Russian Teacakes.

Make up a batch of Pfeffernüsse ahead of time and then let them “ripen”.  They keep well and just get better with age!

Best of all they're dairy-free, naturally!  To make an egg-free version, simply substitute Ener-G Foods Egg Replacer for the eggs in this recipe; no sacrifice will occur in product quality.

Build a Christmas memory; Pfeffernüsse is a wonderful taste of Christmas you’ll never forget!

Pfeffernüsse—The Best Gluten-free German Christmas Cookies!

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Time:  about 60 minutes

Servings:  about 48 cookies



  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and black pepper.
  2. In a small saucepan add molasses and butter.
  3. Heat over medium low until butter melts; stir mixture until combined.
  4. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  5. In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs until frothy.
  6. Drizzle the cooled molasses and butter mixture into the eggs, beating until well blended.
  7. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, and stir until mixed well.
  8. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  10. Grease cookie sheets.
  11. Roll cookie dough into 1 inch balls.
  12. Place the cookie balls onto the cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.
  13. Bake for 12 minutes.
  14. Let cookies set for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  15. Roll each Pfeffernüsse cookie in powdered sugar until thickly coated.

More Christmas Cookies You Might Enjoy

Candy Cane Cookies

Candy Cane Sugar Cookies

Chocolate Crinkles

Gingerbread Cookies

Holiday Celebration Cookies

Holiday Chip Cookies

Peppermint Candy Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies

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