Lebkuchen Recipe: Traditional German Gingerbread Cookies

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 a number of additional spices and often contain nuts. Depending on the exact recipe, German Lebkuchen are sometimes topped with a chocolate or sugar icing.

German Gingerbread Cookies: Easy Lebkuchen 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 up to a couple days, this 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.

This German gingerbread cookie recipe is a non-vegan recipe. We’ll be adding a version without animal products soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

Lebkuchen Cookie Spice Mix

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

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

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

Lebkuchen Recipe: The Ingredients

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 (organic!) ingredients:

For the Lebkuchen:

  • 2 1/2 cups of brown sugar
  • 5 cups of ground hazelnuts
  • 5 cups of 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 a chocolate or sugar icing atop your Lebkuchen cookies once they are out of the oven. They’re just as tasty plain, however.

Do you have more holiday baking on your agenda? After you’re done with this Lebkuchen recipe, why not give this one a try: Easy Gingerbread Recipe: How to Make Homemade Gingerbread from Scratch.

Quick and Easy Lebkuchen Recipe

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 together 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 to not slide off a spoon when turned upside down.
  3. Place the dough on your cold balcony or in the refrigerator for one hour.
  4. After one hour has passed, 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 together 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 sauce pan 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 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: You want to add a personal touch to you gifts? Then try these 10 Sustainable Christmas Gift Wrapping Ideas. They’re sustainable and waste-free.

German Imports: 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 throughout the United States. Imported cookies from Germany can also be found in the holiday sections of your local grocery store. You might also come across a number of preprocessed Lebkuchen cookie instant mixes. These are often notably more expensive and you can’t always tell what ingredients are inside – much less, which of these are organic.

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

Utopia’s tip: Kick off the holiday baking season with a sparkling clean oven! You have all the ingredients for your homemade oven cleaner in your pantry. All-natural homemade oven cleaners will leave your oven squeaky clean and save you money.

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This recipe was translated from German to English by Evan Binford. You can view the original here: Lebkuchen backen: Schnell-Rezept zu Weihnachten.

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