New This Month



The snowy sugar surface of Pfeffernussen contrasts with the peppery flavor of these German cookies.

  • Yield: Makes 3 dozen


  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the confectioners' sugar in a brown paper bag.

  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and baking soda. Set aside.

  3. Place butter, brown sugar, and molasses in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture; beat until just combined. Pinch off dough in tablespoon amounts; roll into 1 1/4-inch balls. Arrange balls 1 1/2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. (Dough can be frozen at this point, covered tightly with plastic wrap, up to 1 month.)

  4. Bake until cookies are golden and firm to the touch with slight cracking, about 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer sheets to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Working in batches, place cookies in paper bag; shake until well coated. Let cool completely on wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Reviews Add a comment

  • MS12171593
    12 NOV, 2013
    Tried this recipe, easy to assemble, taste is good; just not as spicy as I thought they would/should be. I should have read the reviews first and realized anise was the missing ingredient. Other than that, they are good. I had intended to give as a gift, but think I will make a second batch and put in anise. I didn't find mine to be dry, just not spicy enough.
  • Marilyn Todd
    24 DEC, 2012
    This is not a true Pfeffernuet cookie - they need anise seed, anise oil, molasses, honey - and shapped into a roll, refrigerated and then baked. They are meant to be a cookie for dunking.
  • Barbara Bowen
    23 DEC, 2012
    I thought these cookies were a little on the dry side and not very spicey as I'm accustomed to. My husband recognized what was missing right away. The cookies need anise. So I'm putting in a tsp. of anise extract in my second batch.
  • Kornelia Santoro
    17 OCT, 2012
    The proper name for this recipe is Pfeffernuesse and they don't look right. The original Pfeffernuesse, a German Christmas cookie I have grown up with, are not covered in icing sugar. They should get a kind of foot during baking and they should spring open in the middle.
  • MS11874039
    10 DEC, 2011
    I used 1tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, and 1/4 tsp cloves, and they were so yummy I know I'll make them again and again over the holidays!
  • yooperchicks
    5 DEC, 2011
    A bit dry and the spice flavor is too subtle. I would add a bit more of all the spices and a few T less flour. You also won't need 1 1/4 cup 10x sugar. I probably used about 1/2 cup, and as another reader suggested, tossed them in a small plastic bag.
  • ajjavila
    11 NOV, 2011
    Looks like a Sandie! Does it have a similar taste/texture?
  • fefee4
    22 DEC, 2010
    I agree with the comment below that the cookies should be made on the small side--less than a tablespoon each.
  • fefee4
    22 DEC, 2010
    I made this cookies because of all of the positive comments. I thought they were good, but not great.
  • ZamoraDa
    4 DEC, 2010
    These cookies are absolutely delicious. The molasses flavor is only intensified by the confectioners' sugar and it lingers! A definite must try and excellent addition to any well versed cookie collection.