You need to taste German Christmas cookies at least once in your life. There are Bethmannchen, Kipferl, Speck Plätzchen, and Zimtsterne, for example. They're not just sweet and scrumptious, but they'll give you a taste—literally!—of what Christmas in Germany is all about. Despite what you may think about this country, the way they celebrate the holidays are unlike any other. From their Christmas markets to their traditional treats, they have the ideal holiday traditions that you often see in movies, on TV, and likely read about in storybooks. And what better way to have a slice of all that magic than to indulge in some German Christmas cookies?
Although shortbread cookies are originally a British holiday treat
, it's just as popular in Germany. And here, they're called 'Heidesand
.' They're also just as traditional. Germans have been enjoying Heidesand during Christmas for years now. So much so that it's become one of the quintessential German Christmas cookies out there. Just like the many treats on this list, countless people indulge in this brown butter biscuit every holiday season. They've even made baking Heidesand as part of their Christmas traditions. When they're all done, they'd either serve the cookies for dessert or give them out as presents to loved ones.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
If you know German, you'd probably giggle at the name of this next cookie. Translated to English, 'Bethmannchen
' means 'little praying men.' The name refers to the prominent Bethmann family, a merchant family from Frankfurt
. Though their origins go all the way back to Medieval times, even the current members of the family remain highly regarded in society. As for the cookie, it's made out of marzipan and topped with three almonds, symbolizing the three sons of Simon Moritz Bethmann, the most famous member of the family. And while most modern Germans are probably aware of why this holiday has such a name, they're definitely familiar with its sweet taste.
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Alexander Klink
Just seeing a Springerle
cookie will give many Germans a hit of nostalgia. This anise-flavored German Christmas cookie is among the most famous on the list, mainly because of how it looks. When baking Springerle, a special mold is used to leave a nice image on the cookie. It can be anything from Santa Clause riding his reindeer-led sleigh across the sky to little kids making snowmen outside. It's this type of heartwarming imagery that has made the Springerle a holiday staple. As well as a favorite among the little ones in the country.
Source: Flickr.com/ Emily
In terms of looks, Vanillekipferl
is just as famous as Springerle. but don't expect any adorable imagery on the cookie. Instead, what makes Vanillekipferl famous is its shape. It's a crescent-shaped treat that many Germans—as well as Austrians
—serve during the holidays. They're made with almonds and sprinkled or even rolled in caster sugar. Oftentimes, parents and grandparents bake Vanillekipferl cookies and pack them inside a silver tin and give them out as gifts to ther loved ones. Or as sweet snacks for the little ones to enjoy during the season.
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Hu Totya
translates to pepper-nut, which implies that these German cookies have quite a spicy kick to them. But in truth, Pfeffernusse are as sweet as can be. Soft and chewy, they're even topped with a thin layer of icing. There's no way you can't enjoy the saccharine taste of one. So why does have such a name? Well, for one thing, the 'nut' part of its name simply alludes to its nut-like look. As for the 'pepper' part, it's simply because the word was used as a general term for all sorts of spices.
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ User-Matthias Süßen
Out of all the German Christmas cookies on this list, Speck Plätzchen
is undoubtedly the most unique-tasting. For one thing, instead of a sweet treat, this cookie is more savory. It's thanks in large part to the bacon enthused here. Instead of the usual chocolate chips, dried fruits, and nuts, Germans decided bacon would be a good idea to include in their holiday treats. And you know what? They were right! Speck Plätzchen is a good contrast to the more sugary and saccharine cookies. It's also why adults prefer them more than the little ones do.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Having been around for more than 150 years now, Lebkuchen
is a definite must-have during Christmas in Germany. Or if you're planning on having a German-style holiday celebration no matter where you are. You'd be hard-pressed to find any household in this country that doesn't serve or doesn't know about this traditional treat. Year after year, they're prepared and trotted out as the perfect desserts to end a hearty Christmas dinner. And perhaps what makes them popular is that they're gluten-free. No matter your health problems, you can still indulge in some Lebkuchen as much as you want!
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Leon Brocard
Finally, there's Zimtsterne
, also known as German cinnamon star cookies. By its name alone, you can already tell why this cookie is pretty famous. Apart from the Christmas tree and the big, white-beared guy in red, there's no other symbol that's as quintessentially Christmas as the five-pointed star. And every year, Germans bake these cinnamon-spiced-up biscuits in the shape of a star for their loved ones. They even put some icing on them to make them sweeter. The taste is slightly similar to that of the gingerbread cookies from England and the US.
Want a sweet holiday season this year? Then prepare some German Christmas cookies that you can share with all your loved ones. Not only will they taste great, but they can even be the perfect gifts to give out this year!