Vanillekipferl are traditional German-Austrian cookies with a wonderful vanilla-almond flavor and distinct texture. These sweet and buttery crescent-shaped cookies will quite simply melt in your mouth.
Best of all, these shortbread cookies are easy to make. Their distinctive almond and vanilla flavor combination make them incredibly addicting.
Dusted with vanilla-infused sugar, these delicious cookies will have everyone reaching for more.
Why This Recipe Works
INGREDIENTS - All of the ingredients are staples you can easily find in your local supermarket.
COOKIE EXCHANGE - These cookies are also a great recipe for a cookie exchange. As an added bonus, when baking these German cookies, your house will be filled will the most wonderful Christmas-y aromas.
Please check the recipe card below for a detailed, printable ingredient list.
ALMONDS - Use 1 cup of almonds and grind them in a food processor. I've always ground the almonds myself but technically speaking, you could also use almond meal (not almond flour) like the ones you can find at Trader Joe's.
FLOUR - Use all-purpose flour for this recipe.
BUTTER - Be sure to use unsalted butter. Allow the butter to rise to room temperature.
SUGAR - We’ll need three types of sugar for this recipe:
- Vanilla Sugar - you can find Dr. Oetker Vanilla Sugar in the baking aisle of most major supermarkets. For this recipe, you will need 4 sachets.
- Granulated sugar - Regular, plain sugar.
- Confectioners sugar - also known as powdered sugar. If you don't have any, you can make your own by blending granulated sugar in a food processor until it's superfine, powdery sugar.
NUTS - Although I always use almonds for my Vanillekipferl cookies, you can also try ground hazelnuts or ground walnuts.
How To Make Almond Crescent Cookies
- ALMONDS - Grind almonds in a small food processor until they have the consistency of bread crumbs. Set aside.
- DOUGH - Beat granulated sugar, vanilla sugar, butter, and flour, and gradually add ground almonds. Once the dough becomes sticky and crumbly, shape it into a large dough ball, wrap it in plastic, and chill for 15 minutes in the fridge.
- CRESCENT SHAPE COOKIES - Use a small cookie scoop to make small cookie balls. Shape each ball into a 4-inch crescent.
- BAKE - the cookies for 20 minutes at 350° Fahrenheit on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
- SUGAR COAT - Remove the cookies from the oven. Set aside for 2-3 minutes. The cookies should still be warm. Combine the confectioners and powdered sugar. Give the warm cookies a quick sugar dusting.
RECIPE TIP - You will have to work quickly once the cookies are ready to be rolled in the sugar mixture. And I recommend baking off the cookies one baking tray at a time because if you bake multiple trays in one batch, the cookies might cool too much, and the sugar won't stick.
How To Store The Cookies
Traditionally, in Germany, Christmas cookies are stored in tin cans like this one. Vanillekipferl are a modified shortbread cookie recipe. And shortbread cookies last for weeks without spoiling.
So you can easily store these cookies for 4-6 weeks without losing flavor. That said, I've never seen a batch of Vanillekiperfl last this long. At least not in a house full of 'cookie aficionados.'
You can also store the cookies in airtight cookie jars, which will last for several weeks.
SPEKULATIUS - Classic German spice shortbread cookies. Made with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and even a dash of white pepper. These sweet shortbread cookies are simple and incredibly delicious.
Freezing The Cookies
But what happens if you've accidentally made too many batches and want to freeze them? No problem.
Store the cookies in a ziplock bag, and make sure to squeeze out as much air as possible. Due to their low water content, these cookies freeze beautifully and retain their flavor after defrosting.
Vanilla sugar is a standard ingredient in a lot of German baking recipes.
While in the US, we use vanilla extract, in Germany, we use vanilla sugar. You could use vanilla extra to make the dough, it wouldn't work for the sugar coating. So you have a couple of choices. Buy some at your local supermarket or make your own.
Making Vanilla Sugar From Scratch
You can also easily make your own vanilla sugar. My Oma (grandmother in German) always made her own vanilla sugar.
Store granulated sugar in a dedicated airtight container and add a used vanilla bean to the sugar.
The vanilla bean will have tons of flavor, and you can keep it in the jar for weeks and months. Over time the aroma of the vanilla bean infuses the sugar and turns it "vanilla sugar."
Purchasing Vanilla Sugar
But since you'll probably want to make the recipe straight away, I recommend buying or ordering Dr. Oetker's Vanilla Sugar.
Most major supermarkets (except Whole Foods or Trader Joe's) carry this sugar. You'll find it in the baking aisle.
This recipe has roots in several countries, and you'll find different versions in Austria, Hungary, the former Czech Republic, and Slovakia. All of these now-independent countries were once part of the mighty Austrian-Hungarian empire.
Without going too deep into European history, simply said empires came and fell, and people moved a lot in the first half of the 20th century - and they took their recipes to their new homes.
As with many other German recipes, this is a traditional recipe and the recipe I was taught at home. But depending on where your family comes from, recipes might vary.
So, for instance, someone from another region might have a recipe made with eggs or egg yolks. I've even seen recipes using baking powder. This sounds all wrong to me because you don't want a leavening agent in this type of cookie. But of course, it's not wrong for the person who grew up with this recipe variation.
Is there a difference between Vanillekipferl, Almond Crescent Cookies, and Vanilla Crescent Cookies? No. But you can easily see how a recipe that's so popular in many parts of Europe ends up with a variety of names.
Just For Dog Lovers
Now I understand not everybody feeds their dog human food. But I think it's ok to share a special treat with your favorite pup - in moderation, of course.
Before we give anything to our pup, we make sure it's dog-friendly. It turns out dogs love the taste of almonds. That being said, almonds can also be difficult to digest for dogs.
So if you want to spoil your pup and share a cookie, make sure he or she doesn't have a super sensitive stomach.
I've crumbled a bit of almond cookie over Riley's dry food and had a very happy pup who was busy licking his food bowl.
More Easy Cookie Recipes
CINNAMON TWISTS - Inspired by German "Zimtstangen," this recipe has just four simple ingredients.
KEY LIME COOKIES - Light and airy cookies. Try making these with Meyer's Lemons!
PISTACHIO PUDDING COOKIES - Simple, soft, chewy, and delicious!
STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE COOKIES - Tender and moist cookies are always gone in no time and are a great, no-bake cookie recipe.
OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIES - Soft, chewy, and quick to make. This is my go-to recipe when anyone in my family is craving cookies.
Vanillekipferl (Almond Crescent Cookies)
FOR THE DOUGH
- Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
- Grind almonds in a small food processor.
- Beat butter, granulated sugar, vanilla sugar, and flour in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Gradually add in the ground almonds. Continue to beat until the dough becomes crumbly.
- Transfer the dough onto a work surface and shape it into a large dough ball. Wrap the dough ball in plastic and chill for 15 minutes.
- Use a cookie scoop to make tablespoon-sized dough balls. Shape the dough balls into about 4-inch rolls and form them into crescent shapes. Place the cookies onto the baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes at 350º Fahrenheit. Allow the cookies to cool for 2-3 minutes. They should still be warm but not hot.
- Combine powdered sugar and vanilla sugar in a shallow bowl.
- Dust the warm almond crescent cookies with the sugar mixture. Transfer the cookies onto a cooling rack until they have completely cooled.