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Pepparkakor (Swedish Ginger Cookies)

4.50 from 4 votes
Snappy and deliciously spiced, Pepparkakor (Swedish Ginger Cookies) are the perfect complex-tasting cookies to add to your holiday tray.
Homemade Pepparkakor, or Swedish Ginger Snaps, are presented on a black wire tray, decorated with festive Christmas icing, including snowflakes and ornaments.

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Hi Bold Bakers!

WHO WILL LOVE THIS RECIPE: Anyone who loves a snappy cookie, warm spices, and complex flavor will adore my homemade Pepparkakor (Swedish Ginger Cookies)! These spiced Swedish ginger snaps are a classic holiday cookie and the perfect balance to the more sweet cookies on your holiday tray. 

If you’re looking for a cookie to help balance out your favorite sweet treats during the holidays, my homemade Pepparkakor, or Swedish Ginger Cookies, is definitely one you want to add to your list! They’re perfectly snappy, crispy, and spiced. In fact, with their healthy servings of cinnamon, ground ginger, cardamom, ground cloves, and black pepper, they’re a bit more spiced than your typical Gingersnap Cookie recipe.

Traditionally, these cookies are eaten plain, but I love to decorate my Pepparkakor cookies by cutting simple circles and using my Simple Snowflake Cookie Decorating technique, but you can also use your cookie cutters and cut out fun shapes with this dough! Whatever cookie cutter you choose, I highly recommend using my Royal Icing recipe to decorate your cookies! 

Table of Contents:

Snappy, crispy Pepparkakors are decorated with homemade royal icing for the holidays.

What Are Pepparkakor Cookies? The History Of Swedish Ginger Snaps

As I said above, these are very different cookies to add to your holiday cookie tray because my Pepparkakor recipe is so wonderfully spiced! 

Pepparkakor translates to “pepper cookie” or “pepper cake,” but many modern takes on this cookie recipe no longer include actual black pepper. I do! I love how complex this cookie tastes compared to other recipes, and all that flavor is thanks to the black pepper and other warm spices.

Pepparkakor’s closest cousins are gingersnaps — except these cookies are thinner, crispier, and a tad spicier, and the cookie dough can be cut into shapes.

While these beloved cookies can be made year-round, they’re especially common around December because they’re part of a Scandanavian Christmas tradition! Around December 13, St. Lucia’s Day, or St. Lucy’s Day, Pepparkakor is eaten to celebrate St. Lucia, who brought food and lit the way using her wreath of candles for Christians hiding in the catacombs. St. Lucia’s Day marks the beginning of the Christmas celebrations in Sweden. 

What Is The Pepparkakor Tradition?

In Sweden, you might see Pepparkakor cookies as decorations on a family’s Christmas tree. But these delicious cookies can also grant you a wish!

I’ve read that it’s tradition to put a Pepparkakor in the palm of your hand, make a wish, and then, using your index finger or thumb of your other hand, tap the cookie in the middle. If it breaks into three pieces, your wish is granted!

I love this kind of tradition. I can’t find anywhere where it specifies you can only try this once per year. So keep cracking those cookies until your wish comes true! 

Tools You Need To Make Swedish Pepper Cookies

Ingredients You Need To Make Swedish Pepper Cookies

  • Dark brown sugar. Dark brown sugar lends a sweet, deep, molasses flavor to these cookies while also helping to give them a pleasant texture.
  • Golden syrup. Not to be confused with corn syrup, golden syrup is a thick, inverted sugar syrup made in the process of refining sugar cane or sugar beet juice into sugar. Corn syrup is made from cornstarch. If you can’t find golden syrup in your grocery store, give my Perfect Golden Syrup Substitute a go! 
  • Heavy whipping cream. For this recipe, you start by heating the brown sugar, golden syrup, and heavy whipping cream in a small saucepan. This sugary, creamy liquid is then added to the spices and butter.
  • Butter. Butter not only adds flavor but also plays a major role in texture! Be sure to let it come to room temperature before using. 
  • Cinnamon, ground ginger, cardamom, ground cloves, black pepper. These warm spices are the main players in Pepparkakor. While you’re probably familiar with how the other spices taste in desserts, black pepper adds a real layer of depth to these cookies.
  • Salt. Salt, even in small amounts, is a major ingredient! It helps bring out every flavor in this Pepparkakor recipe. 
  • All-purpose flour. Flour provides our base in this recipe — not only is it something we build up from, but the protein in the flour, and the amount we use, are what defines the texture of our cookies. 
  • Baking soda. Baking soda serves as the leavening for my Pepparkakor recipe. While they are fairly thin cookies, you don’t want them to be too thin that they’d burn! 

Crispy gingersnaps decorated with white royal icing are shown on a holiday table next to pine cones.

How To Make Pepparkakor

Making Pepparkakor is part of the fun of eating Pepparkakor! Here’s how you do it: 

  1. First, cook the brown sugar, golden syrup, and whipping cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once it has dissolved, set this mixture aside and let it cool completely. 
  2. Either in the bowl of a stand mixer (with a paddle attachment) or a large bowl using an electric hand mixer, beat the butter, spices, and salt until fluffy. Then, pour in your cooled brown sugar mixture and beat until combined.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the baking soda and flour together. Then, fold this mixture into your batter.
  4. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and let it cool in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. 
  5. When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven and line your baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  6. Roll 1/4 of the dough out on a floured surface and use a cookie cutter of your choice to cut as many cookies as you can. Place them on the baking sheet about 1 inch (25 mm) apart. Gather and reroll any leftover dough. 
  7. Bake for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Decorate as you wish! 

Can You Make Pepparkakor Ahead Of Time? Can You Freeze Pepparkakor?

Yes! Pepparkakor dough can be made up to 3 days before you plan to bake. If you wish to store the dough longer, you can freeze Pepparkakor dough for up to three months by wrapping the dough, in a ball shape, in storage wrap and aluminum foil. When you’re ready to bake, let the dough thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake as usual.

How To Store Pepparkakor

To store leftover Pepparkakor cookies, place them in an airtight container at room temperature. They will last for up to 1 week. 

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips For Making Homemade Pepparkakor Cookies

  • Authentic Swedish recipes for this cookie will call for “light sirap,” which isn’t always easy to find outside of Sweden. Since it tastes a bit like butterscotch, we tested this recipe with similarly flavored brown sugar. It works just as well and is an easily found substitute! 
  • A lot of recipes call for packed brown sugar, but I don’t pack mine when measuring. To get the most accurate amount, use a kitchen scale and go by weight.
  • This dough can get very soft and difficult to work with. If this happens to you, roll out portions of dough onto sheets of parchment paper, then transfer to the refrigerator or freezer for 10 minutes, until firm. Quickly cut out shapes while the dough is chilled.

Be Sure To Try More Holiday Cookie Recipes!

And don’t miss more everyday baking recipes in my NEW Bigger Bolder Baking Every Day Cookbook!

Pepparkakor (Swedish Ginger Cookies)

4.50 from 4 votes
Snappy and deliciously spiced, Pepparkakor (Swedish Ginger Cookies) are the perfect complex-tasting cookies to add to your holiday tray.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 50 cookies
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Snappy and deliciously spiced, Pepparkakor (Swedish Ginger Cookies) are the perfect complex-tasting cookies to add to your holiday tray.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 50 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (6 oz/170 g) dark brown sugar
  • cup (4 oz/115 g) golden syrup
  • cup (2½ fl oz/71 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 oz/255 g) butter, softened
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • cups (17½ oz/497 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 recipe Royal Icing, for decorating

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the brown sugar, golden syrup, and whipping cream until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool completely.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer), beat the butter, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, and salt until the butter is fluffy.
  • Pour in the sugar mixture and beat until combined.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the flour and baking soda together, then fold into the butter mixture until a dough is formed.
  • Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 3 days.
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Roll about a quarter of the dough on a floured surface to 1/8-inch (3 mm) thick. Using a 2¾-inch (7 cm) round cutter or shape of your choice, cut out as many cookies as you can and place on the prepared baking sheets. They won’t spread, so you can place them about 1 inch (25 mm) apart.
  • Gather and reroll any scraps until the dough becomes too soft to handle. Return the dough to the refrigerator and continue rolling with some cold dough.
  • Once one sheet is filled, bake for about 10 minutes, until the cookies are dry and a bit darker brown around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • To decorate, place the royal icing in a piping bag fitted with a very small round tip. Let your designs set completely before storing in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
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John Long
John Long
1 month ago

I made these cookies, in shape of a star. I got 48 cookies, from the recipe. Recipe said 50, but they were very good! A hit with family, too!

Shabana
Shabana
1 month ago

Instead of golden syrup can we use honey??

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, a cookbook author, and the creator of Bigger Bolder Baking. I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere with my trusted and tested recipes and baking tips. You may have seen one of my 500+ videos on YouTube & TikTok or as a guest judge on Nailed It! on Netflix or the Best Baker in America on Food Network. No matter your skills, my Bold Baking Team & I want to be your #1 go-to baking authority.

 

Weeknight Family Favorites Chapter from the Bigger Bolder Baking Every Day Cookbook