German Gingerbread (Nürnberger Lebkuchen) Recipe

Nuernberger Lebkuchen
Felbert+Eickenberg / STOCK4B / Getty Images
  • 45 mins
  • Prep: 25 mins,
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: 32 Cookies (16 servings)
Ratings (39)

Nürnberger lebkuchen or gingerbread has been around since the 14th century when Nürnberg was a rich city with good trade associations. You can make Nürnberger lebkuchen in your home without any special German ingredients. You will need thin oblaten that look like Catholic communion wafers and can be purchased at a German deli. If you can't find ​oblaten, no problem, adjustments are made in the recipe. These soft, spicy cookies keep for several weeks.

What You'll Need

  • 1/2 cup/113 grams butter (softened)
  • 1 cup/200 grams sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups/360 grams flour (all-purpose)
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves, ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice, ground
  • 1/16 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon coriander, ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom, ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger, ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon anise seed, ground
  • 2 tablespoons/12 grams cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (double-acting)
  • 1 cup/225 milliliters milk
  • 1 3/4 cups/150 grams almonds (ground)
  • 1/2 cup candied lemon peel (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon rum (or orange liqueur)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (soaked in rum and chopped)
  • 1/4 cup coconut (shredded)
  • 32 oblaten (baking wafers, 3-inch size)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (granulated)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons rum (or liqueur)
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar

How to Make It

  1. Heat oven to 375 F.
  2. Cream butter, 1 cup sugar, and eggs until light and fluffy.
  3. Mix in flour, spices, cocoa powder, and baking powder, alternating with milk. Note that you can use prepared lebkuchen spices (1 tablespoon) if available rather than the listed spices.
  4. Fold in nuts and lemon peel. Stir in rum. Stir in raisins and coconut.
  5. Place the oblaten on parchment-lined baking sheets. Drop about 3 tablespoons cookie dough onto the wafer and smooth to the edges.
  1. If you are not using the oblaten, draw 3-inch diameter circles on parchment paper using a cup or biscuit cutter as a template. Drop about 3 tablespoons cookie dough into the center of each circle.
  2. In both cases, use the back of a spoon to fill out each circle, slightly mounding the dough toward the center.
  3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn down oven to 350 F if cookies are browning too much.
  4. Let cool for a few minutes, then remove to a cookie or cake rack.

Make the Glaze

  1. While the cookies are baking, make the glaze. The glaze is to be applied while the cookies are still warm.
  2. Place 1/2 cup sugar and water in a small saucepan on the stove. Bring to a boil and boil for a few minutes. Add vanilla and 1 to 2 tablespoons rum or liqueur. Sift confectioners' sugar over hot sugar syrup and stir.
  3. Using a pastry brush, brush warm glaze over warm cookies. Let dry completely.
  4. Dry glazed cookies for a day (so the cookie stays a bit crunchy) then store in an airtight container or freeze.

See a photo step by step showing how to make these cookies.