Plätzchen recipes

by Leonie Milde
contributing writer
Photo by Yuganov Konstantin /

Germans love Christmas cookies so much that they designated an entire word to it: “Plätzchen.“ This means if you’re looking for cookies anytime between January and October, they’re “Kekse” but as soon as the first lights are put up, they will all be replaced by the seasonal “Plätzchen”. Yes, even if the dough is technically the same all year round. No matter what you call them, I love myself some Santa-shaped, sugar-coated carbs. So let’s put on some Michael Bublé and enjoy these four classic German cookie recipes.


This is my great grandmother’s recipe and the embodiment of my childhood as we spent countless afternoons making and eating these. The original recipe could feed (and did feed) an entire extended family so I cut it in half but you might still want to store some of the dough in a dark cool place until you’ve run out of the previous batch.


  • 250 grams honey
  • 250 grams sugar
  • 125 millilitres water
  • 7 grams potash
  • 7 grams hartshorn
  • 100 grams raisins
  • 100 grams almonds
    or hazelnuts
  • 50 grams candied orange peel
  • 50 grams candied lemon peel
  • 750 g flour
  • 7 grams cinnamon
  • 2 grams ground cloves
  • 25 grams cacao
  • 2 eggs

Bring honey, sugar and butter to a simmer. Dissolve potash and hartshorn salt in water by shaking it in the empty honey glass. Grind raisins, nuts, candied lemon- and orange peel in a food processor. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl before adding the remaining ingredients along with the eggs and knead well. Let sit for at least one night. Bake at 360°F / 180°C for 5-6 minutes. Glaze with lemon juice and powdered sugar. — Photo by haveseen /





It doesn’t get more simple or classic than this one. Prepare the dough in advance and take it out of the fridge whenever you’re ready to make sure it’s firm and doesn’t crumble when you roll it out.


  • 250 grams butter
  • 250 grams sugar
  • 1 packet vanilla sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 500 grams sifted flour

Mix and knead all ingredients. Roll out thinly. Cut into any shape your cookie cutter allows. Bake at 320°F / 160°C for 15 minutes. Get creative with icing, toppings and other sorts of decoration. — Photo by Olha Afanasieva /


Vanilla crescents were my favourite growing up. Their crumbly texture makes them a perfect fit for coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Ingredients:

  • 250 grams flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 125 grams sugar
  • 1 packet vanilla sugar
  • Salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 200 grams cold butter or margarine
  • 125 grams ground almonds or hazelnuts

Mix and knead all ingredients. Store in fridge for at least 45 minutes. Roll into an even snake. Cut little pieces. Roll each into a ball and form crescents. Bake at 347°F / 175°C for 15 minutes. Coat hot cookies with a mixture of powdered- and vanilla sugar.Tip:
Instead of forming crescents, use the back of a wooden spoon to make a dent in the balls and fill them with jam. Bake with the others. — Photo by achristopher73 /



These fluffy, soft and exotic party favourites are quick to make, moist and offer just a hint of Caribbean flair during gloomy December afternoons.

  • 200 grams shredded coconut
  • 250 grams powdered sugar
  • 200 grams marzipan
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • 5 egg whites
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • optional: oblaten (a type of paper-thin wafer)

Beat egg whites until stiff. Mix all ingredients and fold in egg whites. Use a piping bag or spoon to form walnut-sized drops (either on baking sheet or oblaten). Bake at 360°F / 180°C for 20 minutes. If you like, you can partly coat them with melted chocolate. — Photo by Ildi Papp /