Spekulatius are classic German spiced Christmas cookies.
These buttery shortbread cookies are gently spiced with 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.
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.
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 have 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; use black instead if you don't have white pepper. It will keep the spice balance.
SALT - Adding a touch of salt ties the other spices together, lifts them, and brightens them.
How To Make Spekulatius Cookies
Please check the printable recipe card below for more detailed instructions.
- Combine dry ingredients and spices, then mix in eggs and butter until crumbly.
- Shape dough into round balls and wrap in plastic wrap.
- Chill dough balls in the fridge for at least one hour.
- Roll out chilled dough, use cookie stamps to shape, and bake at 350° Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes.
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 (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.
When I dug up her recipe the other day, I was 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 she liked Baker's Ammonia because the cookies turn crispy and 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 ensure that your dough is always the same thickness.
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?
They will last several weeks or months if you store them in an airtight container.
Can You Freeze Spekulatius Cookies?
To freeze the cookies, place them in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag, separating the layers with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Label the container with the date and contents.
Store the cookies in the freezer for up to 3 months.
When ready to enjoy, thaw the cookies at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
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)
- 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 an 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 round dough balls. Wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
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!