Skip to Content

Pepparkakor (Swedish Ginger Cookies)

Pepparkakor are Swedish ginger cookies traditionally served at Christmas time. They are less sweet and have a slightly more complex flavor.

Pepparkakor are Swedish ginger cookies traditionally served at Christmas time. They are less sweet and have a slightly more complex flavor. #ChristmasCookies #InternationalCookies

If you celebrate Christmas, then you know that now is the time to get your tree (or assemble your fake one), decorate it, string up the lights, hang your stockings, and best of all — bake Christmas cookies! Best of all, our Christmas Cookies Week sponsor, Nielsen-Massey, is giving one lucky winner a set of 8 of their extracts and flavors. See the entry widget just above the recipe to enter to win!

All this week, I and 33 other food bloggers will be posting Christmas cookie recipes, and today in particular, some of us are focusing on international cookies. Last year, I shared a favorite from my own heritage, Scottish shortbread cookies. This year, I'm going Scandinavian with Swedish ginger cookies, called Pepparkakor.

Pepparkakor are Swedish ginger cookies traditionally served at Christmas time. They are less sweet and have a slightly more complex flavor. #ChristmasCookies #InternationalCookies

Peppar means pepper and kakor can mean cookie or cake. Modern versions of this recipe don't actually include any pepper, but the one I'm sharing does. You can also include a dash of cayenne pepper, if you like, but I thought these had great flavor without it.

They are similar to gingersnaps or gingerbread cookies that are common in the United States, and like gingerbread, this cookie dough can be cut into shapes. But as you need to work with the dough when it's very cold, I thought it would be easier to scoop and roll into balls.

Pepparkakor are Swedish ginger cookies traditionally served at Christmas time. They are less sweet and have a slightly more complex flavor. #ChristmasCookies #InternationalCookies

Unlike American gingerbread, pepparkakor isn't usually iced or frosted for serving. They are either eaten plain, or with a sprinkle of turbinado sugar before baking.

In researching pepparkakor, I learned that it is tradition to hold a cookie in the palm of your hand. Make a wish, and with the index finger of your other hand, tap the cookie until it breaks into three pieces. Then, your wish will come true!

Pepparkakor are Swedish ginger cookies traditionally served at Christmas time. They are less sweet and have a slightly more complex flavor. #ChristmasCookies #InternationalCookies

The giveaway

This giveaway has ended.

Pepparkakor are Swedish ginger cookies traditionally served at Christmas time. They are less sweet and have a slightly more complex flavor. #ChristmasCookies #InternationalCookies

Pepparkakor (Swedish Ginger Cookies)

Yield: 24 cookies
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoon white sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon orange extract
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large egg

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine the butter, both sugars, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, orange extract, salt, cloves, and pepper. As the butter melts, whisk until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to simmer. Remove from heat. Cool until just warm to the touch, about 30 minutes.
  3. Whisk the egg into the cooled mixture until smooth. Pour over the dry ingredients and fold with a rubber spatula until no dry flour remains. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
  4. Heat the oven to 350 F with racks in the upper- and lower-middle positions. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Working with a tablespoonful of dough at a time, use dampened hands to roll into balls. Arrange 12 dough balls on each baking sheet, spacing evenly.
  5. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the balls on each sheet and use the bottom of a dry measuring cup to flatten each to about ¼ inch thick. Remove the plastic and bake until richly browned, 14 to 16 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Cool on the sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Did you love this recipe?

Leave a star rating below and share it on social media!

Slightly adapted from Dawn Yanagihara's recipe as seen on Christopher Kimball's Milk Street

See more Christmas Cookies:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Bud

Monday 23rd of August 2021

I searched for decades to find a cookie I enjoyed as a child in Germany. These cookies are as close as I have found. The only change I made was an extra 1/2 tsp of orange extract. NAILED IT! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Doug

Tuesday 16th of March 2021

wow! I've tried a few recipes and had "ok" results. These are the real thing! AND, if you want to try them a little softer in the middle, just eat then the same day you make them! By tomorrow, they'll be as crunchy as the edges! First Rate! Thanks Doug

Jennifer

Saturday 12th of December 2020

Hi, could I use gf flour with this recipe instead?

Coleen

Monday 14th of December 2020

I have no experience substituting gluten-free flours, so I'm not able to advise.

Niko

Wednesday 9th of December 2020

Hi! First of all, fun that you choose Swedish baking. I found this post when trying to find an English recipe for an American friend. Anyway, as you might have realised, I'm Swedish and I just wanted to comment on a couple of things. About wishing, you only tap the pepparkaka once (and usually with a "finger knuckle ") and IF it breaks in three pieces, your wish will come true. Kids usually try and find the best place to tap the cookie to make it break in three parts. I've also never seen a pepparkaka with any kind of sugar on top (I googled turbonado sugar and don't think I've seen it on top of anything). Not that there's anything wrong to put sugar on top of them and someone in Sweden probably do. Well, that was my little comments, which isn't meant as criticism, by the way.

Abigail Vestal

Tuesday 27th of October 2020

Way too long cooking time! Severely burned on bottom and edges.

Coleen

Tuesday 27th of October 2020

Do you have an oven thermometer to ensure your oven temperature is accurate? Your oven could run hot.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to Recipe