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This Is the Best Traditional German Lebkuchen Recipe

Lebkuchen recipe german gingerbread cookies
Photo: Utopia

Try this Lebkuchen recipe and taste one of Germany’s most famous holiday treats. These traditional German Lebkuchen gingerbread cookies are easy to make and will impress your guests.

German Lebkuchen gingerbread cookies are a bit like soft gingerbread biscuits. The gingerbread cookies we know use ginger as the primary flavoring element and are usually cut out into human-shaped gingerbread men. Lebkuchen recipes, on the other hand, call for several additional spices and often contain nuts. Depending on the recipe, German Lebkuchen are sometimes topped with chocolate or sugar icing.

Easy Lebkuchen Cookies Recipe

Baking Lebkuchen is considered somewhat of an art form by serious bakers. This is why you’ll find some traditional German Lebkuchen recipes can have total prep times of up to a couple of days, including the time the batter has to rest. This Lebkuchen recipe, however, is ready in a couple of hours. The batter for these tasty gingerbread cookies only needs about an hour out on the balcony.

Get the Lebkuchen Cookie Spice Mix Ready

Without this essential Lebkuchen spice mix, your German gingerbread cookies might taste like fruit cake. For this Lebkuchen recipe, you’ll need the following spices:

  • 7 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground sweet cumin
  • a pinch ground nutmeg
  • two pinches ground cardamom
  • a pinch ground coriander

Tip: When possible, use regional, organic and Fairtrade ingredients. You may find ready-made German gingerbread cookie instant mixes at your local grocer or online, but these are most likely imported. This spice mix is easy to make from scratch.

Prepare the Rest of the Ingredients for Your Lebkuchen Cookies

Lebkuchen recipe ingredients german gingerbread cookies
Baking your own tasty Lebkuchen cookies is easy. (Photo: Utopia)

For this tasty Lebkuchen recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 5 cups ground hazelnuts
  • 5 cups ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup candied orange peels
  • 1/2 candied lemon peels
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 0,5 tsp baking soda (or a bit more)
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/5 cup of milk
  • 50 wafers (Oblaten), 70mm or 50mm

Note:  You can find thin wafers online. Or: Save yourself the hassle. The Lebkuchen recipe works without wafers, too. Just line your baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper and place the Lebkuchen cookies on top.

For the icing:

  • Chocolate icing: 2 1/2 cups of chocolate chips or 3 1/2 cups of graded chocolate, along with some oil
  • Sugar icing: 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 of water and 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar

Note: You can drizzle chocolate or sugar icing atop your Lebkuchen cookies once they are out of the oven. But they’re also just as tasty plain.

Step-by-Step Instructions for the Lebkuchen Cookies

Lebkuchen german gingerbread recipe cookies
Sprinkles, chocolate flakes or almonds go great as toppings for this Lebkuchen recipe. (Photo: Utopia)
  1. Using either a hand or stand mixer, thoroughly mix the brown sugar, eggs, nuts, almonds, spice mix, salt, honey, baking soda and candied lemon and orange peels.
  2. The batter will be a bit thick. Gradually add around half of the milk to the mixture while mixing. The batter should be creamy yet thick: It should be firm enough not to slide off a spoon when turned upside down.
  3. Place the dough on your cold balcony or into the fridge for one hour.
  4. After one hour, you may add the rest of the milk if needed. Mix together well.
  5. Scoop a tablespoon’s worth of batter from the bowl and place it on the Oblaten wafer. If you’re not using Oblaten, place your spoonful of batter on the parchment paper. The cookie should be approximately two to three inches in diameter.
  6. Place the Lebkuchen cookies in the oven: They’ll need around 30 minutes baking time at 355°F. After around half an hour, you can do the toothpick test to see if they’re finished.

While the cookies are cooling, you can begin with the chocolate or sugar icing.

  1. Chocolate icing: Place the chocolate chips or shredded chocolate into a small bowl with a bit of oil. Microwave until melted. Drizzle over the cookies immediately, as the chocolate will harden rather quickly.
  2. Sugar icing: Combine one cup of sugar and half a cup of water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in one-fourth of a cup of confectioners’ sugar.

Great toppings for Lebkuchen cookies are graded chocolate flakes, sprinkles or roughly ground almonds.

Tips for Your Homemade German Gingerbread Cookies

German gingerbread cookies recipe lebkuchen
Homemade German gingerbread cookies: The finished product. (Photo: Utopia)

Your finished German gingerbread cookies will keep fresh for around six weeks. Lebkuchen cookies taste the best if you let them “ripe” for two to three days in a small metal tin. This gives them time to harden on the outside and soften on the inside while the Lebkuchen flavor unfolds.

Given German gingerbread cookies won’t go bad anytime soon, why don’t you pack them up nicely with a bow and put them under the tree? Lebkuchen cookies make great eco-friendly gifts. Be sure to add the Lebkuchen recipe, too. Your friends and family may want to try baking them as well.

Tip: Do you want to add a personal touch to your gifts? Then try these 10 Sustainable Christmas Gift Wrapping Ideas. They’re sustainable and waste-free.

Homemade vs. Store-bought Gingerbread Cookies

Lebkuchen store package tradition
Store-bought German gingerbread cookies aren’t as fresh as homemade Lebkuchen cookies. (Photo: Utopia)

Nowadays, you’ll find Lebkuchen cookies not only at German Christmas Markets but throughout the US. Imported cookies from Germany can also be found in the holiday sections of your local grocery store, and you might also come across several preprocessed Lebkuchen cookie instant mixes. These are often notably more expensive, and you can’t always tell what ingredients are inside — much less which are organic.

Buying these store-bought versions isn’t sustainable considering the long journey they’ve had to ge to US store shelves. Plus, your homemade Lebkuchen cookies will be a lot softer and moister than store-bought versions intended for long shelf life. So who needs imports when you have an original recipe for German Lebkuchen gingerbread cookies right here?

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This article was originally published by Sven Christian Schulz.

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