Make my Lebkuchen recipe and fall in love with these traditional German cookies. Soft, chewy, full of festive spices and perfect for gifting!
You will also love my festive Austrian Linzer Cookies!
Post may contain affiliate links. For more information, check my disclosure
What are Lebkuchen?
Lebkuchen are traditional German cookies dating back all the way to the 14th century and the town of Nuremberg.
These heavily spiced chewy cookies are a cross between a biscuit and a cake and, BONUS!, they get better as they age.
For me Lebkuchen truly embody the essence of Christmas and once you take a bite I am sure you will agree!
In Germany these cookies use Lebkuchengewürz, a delicious mix of festive spices.
Unfortunately it is pretty difficult to find this outside of Germany and quite expensive if you do so I have used a mix common of ground spices.
Apart from the spices you will need honey, brown sugar, butter, an egg, flour and ground almonds. The dough is actually really easy to make and a dream to roll out.
Just make sure to use simple cutter shapes such as hearts, circles or stars as the lebkuchen are quite cakey cookies.
Glazing and decorating Lebkuchen
Lebkuchen are traditionally simply brushed with a simple thin glaze made with icing sugar and lemon. They are usually just left plain or decorated with almond slivers.
I added a little sanding sugar to some of my cookies and sprayed them with silver lustre powder to give them a little sparkle!
You can also cover lebkuchen with melted chocolate if you prefer – or combine the two and drizzle the glazed cookies with chocolate!
How to Make Lebkuchen
Full measurements and instructions can be found on the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page. Please take a look at the steps and video before attempting this recipe!
Measure the honey and sugar in a mixing bowl and heat in the microwave for 30 second bursts. Stir together vigorously with a wooden spoon until sugar dissolves.
Add the cubed butter and citrus zest and stir until the butter melts.
Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices and the beaten egg.
Add the flour and ground almonds. Mix until you have a soft and slightly sticky dough. Mist a spatula or your hands with oil and gather the dough into a ball. Cover the mixing bowl with a towel and leave to rest for at least an hour or even overnight at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and prepare the glaze. Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl until you have a thin and runny glaze.
Divide the dough into thirds. Roll the dough on a silicone baking mat to a thickness of 2cm (just under an inch). Cut shapes using round, star or heart cookie cutters. Space the cookies out on the silicone mat and bake for 12 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough and bake in batches.
Transfer the cookies carefully to a wire rack and brush with the glaze while they are still a little warm. Leave the glaze to dry and add a second layer if you like. Check the notes if you want to cover the lebkuchen in chocolate.
Put the cookies in a cake tin, separated by parchment paper so that they don’t stick. Place a few strips of orange peel in the tin. The lebkuchen will become more delicious the longer you keep them making them the ideal festive gift!
Lebkuchen really benefit from aging so they are perfect for baking a couple of weeks before Christmas and storing them for a week or longer.
The wonderful aroma of the spices intensifies as the cookies mature and they also become softer and even more delicious as they age!
Serve with a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate or with mulled wine!
HAVE YOU MADE MY LEBKUCHEN RECIPE? Post a photo on my Facebook page, share it on Instagram, or save it to Pinterest with the tag #supergoldenbakes. I can’t wait to see your take on it!
You will also like…
For the Lebkuchen
- 1/2 cup (170 g) honey
- 1 cup (200 g) dark soft brown sugar (Muscovado sugar)
- ¼ cup (60 g) unsalted butter
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 tbsp lemon juice use only if dough is a bit dry
- 1 ¾ cups (300 g) flour plain / all purpose
- 1 cup (100g) ground almonds
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp white pepper (optional)
- 1 tsp vegetable oil , for the bowl
For the glaze
- 1 cup (120 g) icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
- 1 tsp rum optional
To decorate (optional)
- sprinkles or sanding sugar
- flaked almonds
- Orange peel strips
- Measure the honey and sugar in a mixing bowl and heat in the microwave for 30 second bursts. Stir together vigorously with a wooden spoon until sugar dissolves.
- Add the cubed butter and zest and stir until the butter melts.
- Stir in the baking powder, soda, salt and spices and egg.
- Add the flour and ground almonds. Mix until you have a soft and slightly sticky dough, adding a little lemon juice as needed.
- Mist a spatula or your hands with oil and gather the dough into a ball. Cover the mixing bowl with a towel and leave to rest for at least an hour or even overnight at room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Prepare the glaze: mix together all the ingredients in a bowl until you have a thin and runny glaze.
- Divide the dough into thirds. Roll the dough on a silicone baking mat to a thickness of 2cm (just under an inch).
- Cut shapes using round, star or heart cookie cutters. Space the cookies out on the silicone mat and bake for 12 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough, gathering up any scraps and rolling out again and bake in batches.
- Transfer the cookies carefully to a wire rack and brush with the glaze while they are still a little warm.
- Leave the glaze to dry and add a second layer if desired. Add sanding sugar, sprinkles or slivered almonds to decorate if you like. Check the recipe notes if you want to cover the lebkuchen in chocolate.
- Put the cookies in a cake tin, separated by parchment paper so that they don’t stick. Place a few strips of orange peel in the tin. Lebkuchen become more delicious the longer you keep them making them the ideal festive gift!
Lee Ann Foulger says
We just got back from a springtime riverboat cruise that included a stop in Nuremberg and loved the fresh lebkuchen. I want to try making some myself this Christmas. Did you use a food processor to grind raw almonds with the skins on? Not roasted almonds nor almond flour? I’m going to order the German spice mixture from Amazon to try to get the most authentic flavor. Much cheaper than going back to Nuremberg, though a Christmas market riverboat cruise would be fun!
Lucy Parissi says
Hi Lee, I used ground almonds. You can grind roasted almonds if you want but be careful as the oil in the almonds will be released and you can end up with almond paste.
Merle Wilhelm says
I made these as written, with rum frosting! Everyone loved them! Only made 18 cookies, I guess I used too big of heart cookie cutters!
Hello,does the butter have to be softened, melted or cold
Lucy Parissi says
Room temperature is fine
These cookies are easy to make and so delicious. I didn’t have any allspice, so I added extra ginger (about 1 generous teaspoon). Rolled out dough to the 2 cm thickness as the recipe says, and wondered if that was going to be too thick, but they were perfect. Baked for approx. 14 minutes as our oven tends to be on the cooler side. The lemon glaze takes these cakey delights to another dimension 😍 I put a tiny piece of candied orange peel on the tops as I glazed them. These cookies do indeed improve with age! They are incredibly yummy if you wait at least 24 hours, even better 2-3 days. Perfect for gifting. I will be making these every year, thank you for the recipe!
Lucy Parissi says
So glad you liked them! They are irresistible 😘
I don’t really know why, but both my friend and I made two batches of these each and they’ve come out very different to yours.
The 12 minutes at 180c wasn’t enough, it gave the mix far too long a time to soften/melt and flatten out, so heart shapes mostly became circles!
Also, whilst they do taste nice, they don’t really taste anything like real German lebkuchen (in my opinion) – and the icing sugar / lemon mix is far too strong in lemon (we both checked and double checked we’d used the right measures) but overall they’re a bit of a let down 🙁
I want to say something went wrong but we’ve checked and double checked, both cooked separately and we’ve both got the same result so I’m not really sure what the deal is 🙁
Lucy Parissi says
Sorry they didn’t work out for you. Oven temperatures can vary but overall I have had overwhelmingly great feedback on this recipe.
That’s too bad – not at all my experience. I made this recipe this year (mind you I substituted the spices for Lebkuchen spice mixture of my own). But my entire family are of German descent and they have raved about these cookies. How soft, chewy and the perfect texture as well as the flavor. And, I used a gingerbread cut out and they kept their shape. Just a thought – did you use all the right ingredients – almond meal / ground almonds vs. flour? I also found the baking time differed a great deal from my metal to stone cookie sheets (metal worked better).
Valerie Whorton says
Hi! If you have the German spice mix, would you measure out the equal amount of mix to the total combined amount of the individual ingredients?
Thank you so much!
Lucy Parissi says
Yes that’s right xx
Thank you for the recipe, it worked very well! Chewy and soft, delicious! We couldn’t wait for a week, ate them straight away. The lemon glazing is delicious, a nice zing in the mouth.