Lebkuchen are the perfect Christmas treat. These tasty spiced German cookies are delicious as a snack or even as an edible Christmas present!
When I was a student I lived in Germany for a year, working in a school as an English assistant. One of the things I fell in love with while I was there was lebkuchen. I don't think I'd ever had them before I went to Germany and they were unlike any of the Christmas cookies I'd had in the past.
What are Lebkuchen?
Lebkuchen are spicy gingerbread biscuits which are eaten a lot at Christmas time in Germany and often given as gifts. They are small and bite-sized and usually covered in a thin glaze, often flavoured with lemon. They are quite easy to find in the shops here now at Christmas but 20 years ago they were quite new to me.
Memories of Lebkuchen in Germany
The warming spices in these lebkuchen remind me of my time in Germany. I loved visiting various Christmas markets, drinking warming spicy glühwein and of course eating Christmas cookies like these.
I have to say, I'm getting quite nostalgic thinking back to my time in Germany. There are so many other recipes from my time there that I'd love to recreate. Whenever I visited German friends they invariably had a delicious selection of cakes on offer and would serve them with strong fresh coffee. By the way, I love eating one of these lebkuchen with my afternoon coffee. It's the perfect treat when I get back from the school run!
Ingredients for lebkuchen
To make these lebkuchen you'll need:
- Honey - Clear runny honey is best for these
- Butter - Salted or unsalted is fine.
- Plain flour - I usually use plain white flour but I'm sure you could add in a little wholemeal flour if you wanted.
- Ground almonds
- Spices - ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and black pepper
- Baking powder
- Bicarbonate of soda
- Lemon zest
To make the glaze you'll need:
- Lemon juice - I prefer to use the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon but you could use bottled lemon juice.
- Icing sugar
How do you make lebkuchen?
Lebkuchen are easy to make but they can take some time as it's best to make the dough one day and then leave it overnight and bake the cookies the next day.
Basically you melt the butter and honey in a saucepan. Put all the other ingredients in a bowl. When the butter and honey have melted you pour them onto the other ingredients and stir to form a stiff dough.
Put this dough in the fridge and leave overnight.
When you are ready to make the lebkuchen, divide the dough into about 15 balls and put them on a baking tray, leaving a space between each cookie. Bake.
When they are ready, let them cool on a wire rack. Whisk the icing sugar into the lemon juice and dip the top of each lebkuchen into the glaze.
Can you adapt this Lebkuchen Recipe?
If you want to make any variations to the recipe you could switch in different spices or spice blends.
You could also use orange zest instead of lemon zest.
If you don't have much time or want to avoid refined sugar then you can leave these cookies unglazed. I usually glaze half the batch and leave the rest plain as my daughter doesn't like icing. If you do glaze them it definitely makes them into more traditional German Christmas cookies. They also make a great Christmas gift!
How long can you store lebkuchen?
Lebkuchen are a great Christmas recipe for making in advance as they store very well. If you keep them in an airtight container they should last for at least 2 weeks although in our house they are usually gone in a couple of days!
Can you freeze them?
Yes you can although if you know you won't want to eat them all immediately I would advise you to freeze the uncooked dough rather than the baked lebkuchen. You can freeze the dough in balls ready to take straight from the freezer and bake from frozen.
Lebkuchen: German Christmas Cookies
- 100 ml clear runny honey
- 40 g butter
- 125 g plain flour
- 45 g ground almond
- 2 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- Pinch ground cloves
- Pinch nutmeg
- Pinch black pepper
- 1 lemon zest use the zest of 1 lemon
Ingredients for the glaze
- 1 lemon juice
- 3 tablespoon icing sugar
- Put the honey and butter in a pan over a low heat and leave to melt.
- Put all the other ingredients in a bowl.
- When the butter has melted, pour into the bowl and mix well. It should all form one ball of fairly solid dough and come away from the sides of the bowl.
- Cover and leave to cool. Ideally leave overnight. I waited 24 hours before moving onto making the biscuits.
- Preheat the oven to 180°c. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
- Roll the dough into about 15 balls about 3cm wide. Squash so they are a little flatter. Put them on the baking tray.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 180°c. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
- Make the glaze by whisking the icing sugar into the lemon juice. Dip the biscuits into the glaze then return them to the wire rack.
Pin for Later
More Christmas Recipes
Why not try one of these Christmas recipes?
If you are having Christmas pudding then do take a look at my rum sauce recipe too!
Keep in touch
Do let me know if you make these lebkuchen or any of my other recipes. I love to get feedback from readers.
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I’ve just made these and they taste amazing! The flavour combination is so great and not overly sweet which I love.
The only thing I have found is they turned out a little dry, so would be grateful of some advice. What sort of consistency is the dough? Is it quite sticky?
Or potentially I cooked them a little too long? What sort of colour should they be when they are ready? Difficult to tell with an already brown dough!
Thanks in advance.
Hi Lotte, I'm really glad you liked the flavours in these lebkuchen. The dough is quite solid and a little sticky but easy to mould in your hands. It's a bit like playdough so you can roll it into balls between your hands and then just squash them down slightly onto the baking tray. I would advise baking them for a shorter time, maybe 12 minutes to stop them going dry. It could be that your oven is naturally slightly hotter than mine. I made these a few times last year and my kids loved them. I will be making them again soon this year and I will double check all the instructions as I make them and let you know if there are any changes.
Anna | Once Upon A Food Blog
These look and sound delicious. I sometimes buy Lebkuchen at Christmas but it had never crossed my mind to make them although I'm not sure why!
These ones are very easy to make. I have to admit I often buy them as well as there's just not enough time to make everything we like!
Gosh what a fabulous festive bake. They sound delicious. I have never had them before but love gingerbread so I just know I would love them. The Lemon Glaze sounds lush too. Can’t wait to try them! Pinned! Thanks so much for sharing with #Baking Crumbs
Thanks Jenny! If you imagine a lemony gingerbread then it's similar.
I want to make Lebkuchen this year too, it's a dessert I always loved. Yours look amazing, well done. Do you have any idea if they freeze well? I was thinking of making them and freeze a few for Christmas day.
I haven't tried freezing them after they've been baked but I think you could freeze the dough so you'd just need to bake them on or just before Christmas day. Do let me know if you try them.
Kat (The Baking Explorer)
Ooo I LOVE lebkuchen! I really must try to make them al home instead of buying them every year
They are delicious, aren't they! I need to make another batch soon.
Jo Allison / Jo's Kitchen Larder
I love lebkuchen and yours look beautiful and so tasty! We have very similar type of biscuit/gingerbread in Poland. My mum still has it on stand by whenever we go to visit around Christmas time. I like the fact you made lemon glaze for them, lemon icing goes beautifully with spiced biccies! Thank you for sharing your Christmassy biccies with #BakingCrumbs 🙂 x
Thank you for hosting Jo! I do agree that lemon goes so well with spicy biscuits. Master Spice doesn't usually like ginger biscuits but he loved these because of the lemon! x
Cat | Curly's Cooking
These sound fantastic! I love all of the spices you have used. I've pinned so I can hopefully make these for family over Christmas.
Thanks Cat! I hope you all like them.
These sound so special! Love all the spices you used.
Thanks Balvinder! They were really popular with the children too which was great.
Yummy delicious ginger flavored cookies with lemon icing... tempting.Haven't made a batch in a long time.
They are so good! I had to make a second batch of these the next day because my children ate all of them so quickly.
Corina! So sorry to have forgotten this...I have a feeling it got lost somewhere in my email inbox. I have added this fabulous biscuit to the round-up. I think it would be the perfect holiday treat!
I want to make some German sweets also for regional recipes only I haven't found the time yet to do so. Your sweets look very beautiful.
I hope you find time. There are so many lovely sweets and cakes from Germany. These were delicious and because of the honey, not too sweet. They almost feel healthy!