Tag Archives: German cookie

German Christmas Cookie: Elisenlebkuchen

Update December 2019: Apologies to anyone who tried to follow this recipe before now.  I just discovered a terrible omission.  In the list of ingredients, I left out the  almond flour that I used to supplement the hazelnut meal!  The recipe below has been corrected, updating it to the amount of flour I actually used in the recipe–1 3/4 cups hazelnut finely ground; 1 cup of almond flour. In the recipe notes, I have also added helpful hints on dealing with hazelnuts.

Finallly! The PERFECT Lebkuchen Cookie.  If you’ve been reading my recipe posts, you know that I’ve been experimenting with various versions of the German Christmas Cookie: Lebkuchen.

lebkuchen elisenlebkuchen

Lebkuchen gingerbread men, hearts and stars and chocolate coated elisenlebkuchen on right

Lebkuchen originated in Nuremberg, and that gingerbread-style honey and molasses cookie with lots of spices, is the Nuremberg lebkuchen that I talked about last week. The spice mixture stays the same in all the versions of lebkuchen, and I also showed you how to make the lebkuchengewurz and other uses for it, just in case you get tired of cookies.

But this week I’m moving on to a naturally gluten-free cookie like nothing I have ever baked or eaten before.  This one is called the Elisenlebkuchen, and since it comes from Bavaria, is likely the one that my ancestors and Ken’s would have made. These cookies bear little resemblance to the gingerbready version in taste, texture or wow factor.

First you must become acquainted with Oblaten to make Elisenlebkuchen. These thin baking wafers ensure that your cookie will easily come off of the cookie sheet, will keep them uniform in size, and will keep them soft as they age to perfection. Oblaten are like edible paper, and unfortunately for people who want 100% gluten free cookies, they are made from wheat. Read on for some solutions for the Oblaten challenge.

I’m betting that 98% of my readers have no Oblaten in their pantry. Don’t worry. It IS possible to make the lebkuchen without the Oblaten, I am told, but I didn’t try.

Without Oblaten: Oil the pan very well, and line with parchment paper, also oiled. When the cookies are baked, you want to glaze or cover with chocolate the BACK as well as the front of the cookie, in order to keep it soft and tasty.

With Edible Rice Paper:  This is the option to make the entire cookie gluten free. I made a dozen this way.  I bought squares of edible Rice Paper in the Vietnamese food section of the grocery, and cut them in rounds.  Rice Paper is a bit stiffer than Oblaten, but it does the job.

To Find Oblaten:

If there is a German grocer near you, of course that is the place to go. A German bakery or restaurant might be willing to sell you some. If not, you can order them on line as I did.  Amazon had them .  You can also get the edible rice paper baking squares on line or at an Asian grocery or some general grocery stores.

This Elisenlebkuchen is an authentic German recipe, so quantities are given in grams and ounces.  I bought a kitchen scale a couple years ago and find I use it more and more frequently. I only got in trouble with this recipe with the one ingredient I did not weigh–the eggs. But I’ll explain that in the notes and add some conversions that I hope will help if you do not have a kitchen scale.

Final note–I made my own candied citrus peel, and here they show off in a heritage footed bowl.

Candied citrus for elisenlebkuchen

Candied orange and lemon peel with chocloate in heirloom footed candy bowl.

Mach Spass! (Enjoy!)

German Elisenlebkuchen

Prep time 1 hour
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 45 minutes
Allergy Egg, Tree Nuts
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable
Occasion Christmas
Region European
Website Birgit's Daily Bytes
The authentic German Christmas cookie, Elisenlebkuchen is naturally gluten free.


  • 16.6oz sugar ((2 1/8 cup))
  • 6 eggs (1.9 oz each. (I found that 5 large eggs worked better))
  • 3 teaspoons lebkuchengewurz spice mix (or 1/2 tsp each cinnamon, cloves, coriander, allspice, nutmeg and cardamon.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8.5oz Hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (1 and 3/4 cup SEE NOTE ON HAZELNUTS)
  • 8.5oz Hazelnuts, finely ground (1 3/4 C. SEE NOTE ON HAZELNUTS)
  • 1.8oz walnuts, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3.5oz candied orange peel (finely chopped)
  • 3.5oz candied lemon peel (finely chopped)
  • peel of one lemon (grated)
  • peel of one orange (grated)
  • Oblaten baking wafers (50 MM size)
  • 1 cup almond flour (also called almond meal (if needed))


1. Grind hazelnuts as fine as possible in food processor unless you can get them already ground and chopped. (See Note)
2. Chop the nuts that are to be coarsely chopped by pulsing a few times, then add the candied peel and pulse a few more times.
3. Mix all ingredients. Cover bowl and put in refrigerator for 24 hours.
4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
5. Put baking wafers on cookie sheet about 1/2" apart.
6. Working with hands dipped in water, scoop up a ball of dough and place in center of a baking sheet. Press with fingers to smooth, leaving a slight edge on the disk showing.
7. Bake sheet of cookies for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden brown, but still not done in middle.
8. Place on cooling rack
9. To coat with sugar glaze, mix a cup of confectioner's sugar with 1 T water. Brush the coating on while cookie is still barely warm.
10. To coat with chocolate. Let cookies cool completely, melt a cup or 2 of good chocolate (the kind you like best). Stir in a teaspoon of vegetable or coconut oil per cup of chocolate to keep glaze shiny. Brush the coating on thinly. If you did not use oblaten, let one side cool, then completely cover other side with chocolate (or glaze).
11. Store in tightly closed cookie tin to age for at least a week or two.


REVISED 12/2019

Bake a test batch of half a dozen cookies to see if they spread too much. If so, add the almond flour. 5 large eggs are generally enough.


Hazelnuts are harder than most nuts, so chopping and grinding is a challenge.  Some research has shown me that they will grind to a fine meal in the food processor if they are chilled before grinding.  It is also important to remove the dark brown papery skins, as they are bitter.  Here are the steps I followed.

Heat the oven to 350. Spread the nuts on a baking pan and put them in the oven for ten minutes. When you remove them from the oven, let them cool a few minutes, then pour them onto a clean dish towel. (It may be stained by the skins, so use one you don't care about.) Wrap the towel around the nuts and squeeze and roll vigorously for a few minutes.  Most of the skins will come off. Don't worry if a few nuts stubbornly hold on to their skin.

Then put the nuts in a plastic bag or into a dish and put in the refrigerator or freezer until they are chilled.  Next pour them into the food processor with the blade, and pulse until they are as fine as you like.

The oil in the nuts will make a paste before all the nuts are chopped if the nuts are room temperature or warmer. But this chilling technique works like a charm.


Stores don't seem to be carrying candied lemon and orange peel as much as in the past, it is becoming very expensive, and has questionable additives-- so I all good reasons to make your own. You

Perhaps I'll share that recipe one of these days, but basically I used Joy of Cooking, or you can find numerous sources on the Internet. Some suggest dipping the finished candied strips in confectioners sugar. I prefer granulated sugar for the sparkly look.

You will need at least two free hours, 2 or 3 oranges, 5-7 lemons, a few cups of sugar, water, a pan, a timer,a sharp paring knife and a drying rack (cookie cooling rack--I set mine on top of waxed paper in a cookie sheet). And the bonus is that you get some decorative candy that is even better partly dipped in chocolate. from the left overs.


Traditionally the cookies are quite simple with a half almond placed in the center before glazing with sugar-glaze or chocolate.   I did all chocolate, because, well....chocolate!



Lebkuchen cookies

Use Lebkuchengewuerz

Perhaps third time will be a charm. I have made this recipe twice, and although the results are passable–particularly with icing–I don’t think I’ve totally conquered the Lebkuchen yet. I hope you made some of the Lebkuchengewuerz so you can use it in this cookie.

Lebkuchen Gingerbread Men

Cutting out Lebkuchen Gingerbread men with vintage cookie cutter.

What I Did Wrong

As I explain in the notes with the recipe below, the first time I made the German ginger cookies, Lebkuchen, I added too much flour. It looked okay when I put it in the refrigerator, but 24 hours later, it was almost impossible to roll out because it was so stiff.  I also made a stupid mistake–forgetting to add the honey with the molasses, and so added it later–which changed the consistency of the dough and just in general was a rotten idea.

The flour you see on the dough, is not because I floured the pan (only a light film of vegetable oil), but because I dipped the cookie cutter each time I cut another cookie. It’s the best way to ensure a neat cut.

Then I just peeled the dough away from the images, rather than having to try to pick up the cut-out with a spatula and moving it from cutting board to pan. It saves a lot of distortion and disaster.

My second (or third, but who’s counting?) mistake was to leave another two trays of cookies that had been cut in smaller shapes in the oven a bit too long. The over-browned in a hurry and got tossed in the garbage. So keep an eye on these cookies as they bake.

With my second batch, I didn’t make any of the egregious mistakes I made in the first batch, but somehow they just didn’t have the spicy taste they should have.  I must have inadvertently used too little spice.

Don’t be discouraged by my problems, though. Lebkuchen really are not difficult. I suspect, though, that they are better with practice. After all they’ve been making it since 1395 in Nuremburg. This is an authentic German recipe from the website German Pulse

A Family Heirloom

I rolled the Lebkuchen out on a lightly greased cookie sheet, and cut them with a cookie cutter that I inherited from my mother.  Then I just peeled the dough away from the images, rather than having to try to pick up the cut-out with a spatula and moving it from cutting board to pan. It saves a lot of distortion and disaster.

Poor cookie cutter guy has seen better days, with all sorts of little dents here and there, but he’s been making gingerbread men and Christmas Santa Clauses for nigh onto 60 years, I imagine, so I don’t want to retire him. You can see how the handle bends down instead of standing up straight–that’s from decades of being pushed into dough.

I have not done the icing yet. The Lebkuchen are packed away to ripen. I promise to show you when the the Lebkuchen are decorated.

German Lebkuchen

Serves 48
Allergy Egg, Wheat
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
Occasion Christmas
Website German Pulse
An authentic German recipe for a favorite Christmas ginger cookie--Lebkuchen. Eat it or hang it on your tree.


  • 3/4 cups butter (softened but not melted)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lebkuchen spice ((see note for link to ingredients))
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (finely grated)
  • 3/4 cups molasses
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 3-4 cups flour (Or part rye (see notes))
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


1. Sift or whisk together 3 total cups flour, soda and salt and set aside.
2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy.
3. Add spice mixture and beat until incorporated.
4. Heat molasses and honey until boiling and allow to cool for ten minutes.
5. Add molasses/honey mixture to butter/sugar, stirring constantly. Then Beat in eggs.
6. Add flour mixture and stir. Add up to one additional cup of flour if needed to get a soft dough you can shape by hand into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill overnight or up to 3 days.
7. When ready to bake, roll out doubt about 1/3 inch thick.
8. Cut into shapes you want. I roll directly on lightly oiled cookie sheet, and cut there.
9. If you are going to use as dectorations, make holes for ribbons. (I used the end of a chopstick.)
10. Brush with a lightly beaten white of an egg.
11. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Space out on pan as they will spread slightly. Keep a close watch so the edges do not brown.

12. Store in a air-tight container for at least two weeks before serving. Can be served plain, decorated with a half almond, or with frosting or melted chocolate.
Royal Icing
13. Pipe edges and write messages on cookies meant for decoration with royal icing as follows.
14. Slightly beat 3 egg whites with a teaspoon of lemon juice and enough confectioner's sugar to make a stiff icing that will stand in peaks.


The Spices called for in this recipe for Lebkuchen are
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmet
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

But if you made Lebkuchengewuerz (spice mix) from this recipe (Highly recommended) you can use it instead. In my opinion the amount of spices called for in this lebkuchen recipe is a bit anemic. If you want a very mild cookie, go with these amounts, but if you like it spicy, use up to double the amount.

I used 2/3 White Wheat flour and 1/3 rye flour and liked the hearty flavor, but it would be fine with all white flour if you don't have rye.

Warning--do not add too much flour.  This dough is going to look impossibly soft. It WILL get more solid in cooling process. (I had to kind of scoop it up with plastic wrap to make a ball of dough for the refrigerator.)  With my first batch I added too much flour and it was very, very difficult to roll out once it had cooled in the fridge. For me, 3 1/2 cups worked. Although the recipe says "soft not sticky", there is no way that any dough with both molasses and honey is not going to be sticky!