Spiced and nutty in flavor, these traditional German Christmas cookies taste like soft gingerbread. The best-known are Nürnberger Lebkuchen, which are often presented in ornately decorated tins or boxes. Sometimes, Lebkuchen are baked and decorated as ornaments.



  • ½ C (118 ml) honey
  • ½ C (118 ml) molasses
  • ¾ C (151 g) brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 lg egg
  • 1 T (15 g) lemon juice
  • 1 tsp (3 g) lemon zest
  • 2¾ C (340 g) all purpose flour, plus flour for dusting
  • ½ tsp (2 g) baking soda
  • 1 tsp (2½ g) ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp (2½ g) ground cloves
  • 1 tsp (2½ g) ground allspice
  • 1 tsp (2½ g) ground nutmeg
  • ⅓ C (80 g) candied citron, diced
  • ⅓ C (40 g) hazelnuts, chopped


  • 1 C (192 g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ C (59 ml) water or milk
  • ½ tsp (2.5 ml) vanilla extract
  • ½ C (65 g) confectioners' sugar


  • Sliced almonds
  • Candied citron or ginger diced
  • Melted chocolate


To make the cookies, combine honey and molasses in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in brown sugar, egg, lemon juice and zest. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and all spices. Stir in molasses mixture. Stir in citron and hazelnuts. Cover; chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F (167°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Dust flour on a hard surface, roll out a small amount of chilled dough to ¼-inch (6 mm) thick. If dough is sticky, use more flour. Using a 2-inch (5 cm) cookie cutter or a glass dipped in flour, cut dough. Transfer to prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Meanwhile, make icing (below). Transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Brush with icing while still hot. Decorate with almonds, candied citron or ginger. Or if you prefer, you can drizzle with melted chocolate when cookies are completely cool. Store in a sealed container.

To make the icing, heat sugar and water or milk with vanilla in a small saucepan, but do not boil. Remove from heat. Stir in confectioners’ sugar. If icing becomes crystallized, reheat and stir in water or milk as needed.

Serving Suggestion:

Garnish and serve with coffee or tea.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes.
  • Cook time: 10-12 minutes.
  • Makes 12-16 servings.
  • Nutritional info per serving:
    • Calories 241
    • Fat 2 g
    • Cholesterol 14 mg
    • Sodium 14 mg
    • Carbs 54 g
    • Protein 3 g