Pepparkakor are a light, crunchy spiced cookie that are also called Swedish ginger cookies. They are a delightfully spiced, thin, crispy cookie! The perfect addition to a holiday cookie platter.
Day 3 of the annual 12 Days of Christmas Cookies 2022!
Swedish Pepparkakor Cookies are crunchy and spiced with cinnamon, cloves and ginger. In some ways I feel like Europe has a lock on Christmas cookies. Look no further than Hungarian Apricot Kolaches, Speculoos Cookies, Raspberry Linzer Cookies, or Pfeffernüsse Cookies! They know how to make spice cookies that sing!
These Swedish Ginger Cookies are no exception. The spices are reminiscent of old fashioned gingersnaps but Swedish Pepparkakor Cookies have beautiful floral orange notes from the orange zest. Add these crunchy cookies to your holiday cookie platter this season!
Table of Contents
What are pepparkakor?
Pepparkakor or Swedish ginger cookies are a thin, crispy cookie flavored with orange zest, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. They are reminiscent of gingersnaps. Though traditionally a Swedish Christmas cookie, they can be baked all year round.
- Granulated Sugar: Granulated sugar is obviously here for sweetness, but if you add too much in proportion to the butter and flour, the Swedish Pepparkakor Cookies will spread. The sugar also shortens the gluten strands in the flour creating that tender, crunchy texture.
- Orange Zest: Be sure to zest only the dark orange parts of the orange peel for the most concentrated flavor in your orange zest.
- Butter: I use unsalted butter for baking, because you want to control the amount of salt you are adding.
- Whole Egg: The eggs are here to add fat, moisture and leavening. Beating in the eggs just enough will add a little or a lot of leavening depending on the desired texture. Eggs also emulsify the batter and keep everything texturally perfect.
- Dark Corn Syrup: Dark Corn Syrup adds a bit of sweetness and a light molasses note to these Swedish Pepparkakor Cookies.
- All-purpose flour: Be sure to measure your flour by fluffing up the flour in the bag then spooning it into a measuring cup. Level it off with a knife. Be careful not to tap or compress the all-purpose flour. Not measuring correctly, will lead to dry cookies.
- Baking Soda: Do check the freshness of your baking soda! It does lose potency over time. If it's not fresh, send it to the back of the refrigerator to absorb some odors, or clean your marble countertops with it!
- Cinnamon: I prefer Saigon cinnamon but any cinnamon will be a lovely balance.
- Ground Ginger: Ground Ginger has a subtler flavor than freshly grated ginger root. It has less bite and is more warming.
- Cloves: I generally buy pre-ground cloves but the flavor is even more sensational in these Swedish Pepparkakor Cookies when you grind them fresh. Use a spice grinder and then sift to remove any larger pieces. Cloves are intense and no one will enjoy a crunch of whole clove.
Variations on Swedish Ginger Cookies
- Different Shapes: I chose to cut my Swedish Pepparkakor Cookies out with a biscuit cutter, but they are also completely adorable when cut into different animals or shapes.
- Iced Cookies: I pressed a blanched almond in the center of each of an easy, flavorful decoration but you could also ice your cookies with a simple royal icing like these purely stunning Swedish Ginger Thins.
- Homemade Ornaments: When the Swedish Pepparkakor Cookies come out of the oven, poke a hole towards the top of each. As they cool, the hole will remain. Tie a pretty ribbon in each and hang on the tree. I think a stiffer variation on pepparkakor is better suited to this task, such as this recipe on The View from the Great Island. She also has lovely colored piping!
Frequently Asked Questions about Swedish Pepparkakor Cookies
Store these crunchy cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.
They will keep up to 2 weeks at room temperature. They are still edible beyond that but they will begin to taste a bit stale.
It is best to chill the dough overnight before rolling and cutting, then to chill the cookies again before baking. I did not chill mine adequately and they spread.
Chef Lindsey's Recipe Tips
Zest the orange into the sugar several hours before mixing the dough for the most flavorful cookies! After zesting, I massage the zest into the sugar. This helps release the fragrant oils! At the beginning, I zest the orange into the sugar before measuring the rest of the ingredients.
- 1 ½ cups Granulated Sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons Orange (zested)
- 1 cup Butter (softened)
- 1 Whole egg
- 2 tablespoons Dark corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon Water
- 3 ¼ cups All-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons Baking soda
- 2 teaspoons Ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon Ground cloves
- Blanched almonds
- Granulated Sugar (for rolling)
- Mix the granulated sugar with the orange zest and let stand for at least 15 minutes (or up to overnight) for a more intensely orange flavor.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and spices. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well.
- Add the corn syrup and water, mixing well.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture a spoonful at a time. Allow each addition to almost mix in before adding the next.
- Chill the dough at least 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 375°F conventional or 350°F convection.
- Lightly flour the countertop and roll dough to ⅛th inch. Sprinkle the dough with granulated sugar and press lightly with the rolling pin to adhere. Cut in desired shapes with a cookie cutter. I used a 3-inch biscuit cutter. Place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Press an almond into the center of each cookie. Chilling the dough again will prevent excessive spreading. I baked mine immediately and they spread quite a bit.
- Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are a golden brown. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.
Before You Go!
Check out our other delicious, chef-developed recipes for Cookies!