Spekulatius are classic German spiced Christmas cookies. These buttery shortbread cookies are gently spiced with a mix of cardamom, cloves, and other warm spices. Perfect with a cup of hot chocolate, coffee, or tea.
These cookies are incredibly popular in Germany and are a staple in most homes. They are a popular treat given around 'St. Nikolaus Tag' (December 6th).
On the night of December 5th, children in Germany put their boots in front of their doors. They hope that Sankt Nikolaus will leave treats, cookies, and candy in their boots during the night.
But Germany isn't the only country that loves these shortbread cookies. Growing up, we lived just an hour away from the Netherlands.
And in the Netherlands, these cookies are just as beloved and referred to as Speculaas (or Speculoos). What's neat about the Dutch cookies is that you'll often find them in the shape of windmills.
If you like this kind of spiced cookie, be sure to check out my Chai Cookie Recipe.
Please check the recipe card below for a detailed, printable ingredient list.
FLOUR - Use all-purpose flour. Scoop the flour with a measuring cup and level it off with a knife.
BAKING POWDER - Helps to give the cookies a gentle rise.
ALMONDS - Use store-bought ground almonds (not almond flour!) or grind whole almonds until they have a mealy consistency.
SUGAR - Use granulated sugar.
BUTTER - Use unsalted butter. The butter should be at room temperature.
EGGS - You'll need three large eggs for this recipe.
CINNAMON - This is the most dominant, but not overpowering, spice in our cookie spice mix. Cinnamon is known for its delicious spicy-sweet kick.
NUTMEG - Another fall and winter favorite that adds woody and sweet notes to the cookie.
GINGER - Ground ginger adds a bit of mild peppery sweetness.
CLOVES - Ground cloves a sweet, pungent, and fruity taste.
CARDAMOM - Ground cardamom has sweet, warm notes but also a touch of spiciness.
WHITE PEPPER - We recommend white pepper for this recipe because it is more gentle and less spicy than black pepper.
But the amounts are small and if you don't have white pepper, use black instead. It won't throw off the spice balance.
SALT - Adding a touch of salt ties the other spices together, lifts, and brightens them.
How To Make Spekulatius Cookies
- DRY INGREDIENTS - Combine dry ingredients and spices in a large mixing bowl. Stir until well combined.
- WET INGREDIENTS - Add eggs and butter. Use an electric mixer with the dough hook attachment. Once the dough becomes crumbly, use your hands to knead the dough.
- SHAPE 4-5 round dough balls. Wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap.
CHILL for at least one hour in the fridge.
- SPRINKLE a handful of flour onto your work surface and roll the dough to about ¼-inch thickness. Use the cookie stamps to mold and cut your dough (see notes). Remove excess dough and transfer cookies onto the prepared baking sheet.
- BAKE the cookies for 10-12 minutes at 350° Fahrenheit. Transfer onto a wire rack and let cool. Enjoy!
VANILLEKIPFERL - Because of their crescent shape, German Vanillekipferl are also known as Almond Crescent Cookies. Deliciously sweet and highly addicting.
Recipe Notes, Tips, and Tricks
TIP: Shaping the dough into several medium-sized dough balls makes it easier to work with the dough after it's been chilled.
Baker's Ammonia - And Why I'm Not Using It
Growing up, Oma (also known for her yummy German Cucumber Salad) and I made Spekulatius cookies every year.
And for this recipe, she used to use a product called baker's ammonia instead of baking powder. Baker's ammonia is a leaving agent similar to baking powder and baking soda.
So when I dug up her recipe the other day, I was a bit concerned because baker's ammonia cannot always be easily found in the United States.
Thankfully, Oma's only a FaceTime call away. After sharing my concern, she assured me I could substitute baking powder for baker's ammonia.
She said that she liked baker's ammonia because the cookies turn out very crispy and more crumbly. It has to do with how baker's ammonia rises compared to baking powder. But she said that she's made it both ways in the past. Problem solved!
So if you're interested in baking with baker's ammonia, I've tracked some down here.
Several months ago, I purchased a Cookie Stamp set from Nordic Ware because I wanted to make and share some of my family's favorite cookie recipes. This stamp set has worked well.
Back to the recipe.
Growing up, we used a wooden mold for this kind of cookie. But these metal cookie stamps work well.
Remember that they don't cut the dough like a regular cookie cutter. So you'll have to remove the excess dough with a knife.
With this kind of dough, I've found that I didn't even need to flour the cookie stamps much. The dough separated easily.
TIP: I've been loving my adjustable Joseph Joseph Rolling Pin. It's perfect when you make sure that your dough has the same thickness at all times.
Do I have to use Cookie Stamps to make Spekulatius?
Not at all. You can use regular cookie cutters. You won't get the nice detailed motifs, but the cookies will still be delicious.
I even remember that Oma used a simple water glass to cut cookies. In other words, you can get as fancy or casual as you like.
How long do these Cookies last?
If you store them in an airtight container, they will last for several weeks, even months.
More Fun and Easy Cookies
OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIES - Moist and chewy and not overly sweet, these cookies take minutes to make and are a great year-round cookie.
COOL WHIP COOKIES - These cookies couldn't be more different from my Spekulatius cookie recipe. They are soft and chewy and made with just 3 ingredients!
CORNFLAKE COOKIES - Sliced almonds, cornflakes, egg whites, and cinnamon sugar create a surprisingly simple but delicious cookie treat.
BANANA PUDDING COOKIES - Sweet, soft, and moist, these cookies are full of sweet and delicious banana flavors.
THUMBPRINT COOKIES - In Germany, we call them "Engelsaugen" (Angel's Eyes)
- 4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup ground almonds
- 1 cup sugar
- 1½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamon
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or use a silpat).
Making The Dough
- Combine dry ingredients and spices in a large mixing bowl. Stir until well combined. Add eggs and butter.
- Use and electric mixer with the dough hook attachment to combine the ingredients. Once the dough becomes crumbly, use your hands to knead the dough.
- Shape 4-5 five round dough balls. Wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap and chill for 1-2 hours in the fridge.
Making And Baking The Cookies
- Sprinkle flour onto a work surface and roll the dough to about ¼ inch thickness. Use the cookie stamps to mold and cut your dough (see notes). Remove excess dough and transfer cookies onto the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes at 350° Fahrenheit. Transfer onto a wire rack and let cool. Enjoy!
Ahh takes me back to my childhood! It has been way too long since I have had Spekulatius. Yours look amazing and I love those stamps.
Your step by step photos made this so helpful to make! Love these cookies. Thank you!
I love these cookies. So happy I can make them myself now!!
I am ordering a cookie stamp and making these for Thanksgiving and Christmas! They sound so delicious, great recipe!
Now these are the cookies that NEED to be on my table ASAP. They look absolutely amazing!
I am in a German baking mood this year. I don't have any cookie stamps but I do have a shortbread mold. Do you think that would work?
Also, do you think the cookie stamps would work for springerle? I made some using my shortbread mold and it worked sort of.
Yay for being in the mood to do some German baking. 🙂 And these are great questions.
I haven't made Springerle in ages and am not 100% sure. But instinctively I'd say yes. The main ingredients in Springerle are flour, powdered sugar, and eggs which results in an easy to mold dough. So, the more I think about it, my guess is it'll work just fine. You're inspiring me to make a batch. 🙂
As for using a shortbread mold for this recipe. I don't see why not. I can't remember if I said this in the post. But back in the day we also used wooden molds, make the imprint, and use a drinking glass to cut a round cookie shape.
I'm in the process of making these now, but my dough is super dry and crumbly I can press it together to make balls, and after refrigeration this will work?
I'm sorry you've run into that issue. Try to add more butter (unsalted). Add a tablespoon at a time.
Making these today and they smell heavenly! Unfortunately, I've run into the same issue as Tammy -- the dough is incredibly crumbly and doesn't come together or roll out or stamp well. I've tried to add additional butter, as you suggested, but it doesn't seem to be helping much. When you grind the almonds, is the 1 cup measured before or after grinding? Can almond flour be substituted for the ground almonds (this is what I did since I had it on hand and it's worked in other recipes for me)? Thank you for any insight into where I might have gone wrong! Will definitely try again since they are delicious.
Hi Ashely, I'm sorry you've run into the same issue. Because you and Tammy ran into the same issue, I did the best thing I could... ask my grandmother. Oma says to add some water. Just add a little bit at a time and that should take care of the problem.
As for the question about ground vs whole almonds. I just made Vanillekipferl for my husband and 1 cup of whole almonds works out to be one cup of ground almonds. I'll update the post to that effect.
In the past, I've also used the Ground Almond Meal from Trader Joe's. But blitzing whole almonds in a food processor is quick and less expensive.
As for substituting ground almonds with almond flour, it should be ok. I also found a post about almond flour from another food blogger that goes into some detail about the differences.
I hope this will help. Merry Christmas. 🙂
Thank you! I appreciate the time you took to ask your Oma and do a little research on the almond flour. I will try adding a little water next time. Merry Christmas to you too!