pfeffernusse cookies with bite, powdered sugar and anise stars

Pfeffernüsse Cookies

Pfeffernüsse cookies are a traditional Christmas cookie in Germany. Made with molasses, pepper, anise and other seasonal spices, these cookies are chewy and coated in confectioners' sugar.
Course Dessert
Cuisine German
Keyword Peppernut, Pfeffernusse Cookies
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Chill Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 25 minutes
Servings 36 cookies
Author Haley D Williams


  • 2 1/4 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (113 g or 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon anise extract (or vanilla if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup (87 g) confectioners' sugar


  • In a bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, black pepper, ground cloves, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a stand mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and molasses on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and anise extract until combined. With mixer on low speed, slowly add flour mixture and beat until just combined. 
  • Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least three hours.
  • Position a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Scoop about a tablespoon of dough and roll into balls 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place balls on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies are golden and firm to the touch with slight cracking, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
  • While cookies are still slightly warm, roll them in confectioners' sugar and serve.


  1. Storing pfeffernusse: Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
  2. Make ahead tips: Dough may be kept the refrigerator for 2 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before scooping and baking.