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Crunchy Gingerbread Bites (Pfeffernusse) for Christmas Giving

Crunchy Gingerbread Bites (Pfeffernusse) are bite-sized cookies with a European heritage. They stay fresh for days and don’t crumble–perfect for gift-giving.

Crunchy Gingerbread Bites in a bowl along with cookies packaged for gift-giving

These cookies won the Star-Telegram Christmas cookie contest awhile back. Or maybe it was second place. I’m not sure. Anyway, I printed the details and stuck it in my someday-I-want-to-try-this file.

When I heard our church needed cookies for the Christmas baskets we give to the older and less mobile members, I dug out this recipe. It was the perfect opportunity to experiment because I would have something to do with them besides stuff my own face.

3 Reasons why Crunchy Gingerbread Bites make excellent gifts:

  1. They don’t crumble.
  2. They stay fresh and delicious for up to 3 weeks or can be frozen.
  3. No decorating required.

Are these cookies the same as “peppernuts?”

Yes. By the way, I made up the name “Crunchy Gingerbread Bites” because who can pronounce their real name unless you speak German?  I won’t even try to explain the translation, peppernuts, but you can read about it on Wikipedia.

These miniature sweets are some trouble, officially qualifying them as Christmas cookies. I’ve figured out if you want to be labeled a Christmas cookie, you must be either red, green, or labor-intensive. 

Now I’m not saying these cookies are difficult to make. They couldn’t be easier. It just takes a chunk of time to cut all those little pieces of dough. Don’t worry, the last tray only took about a third of the time of the first tray.

Rolling out Crunchy Gingerbread Bites:

portioning dough for peppernuts

Originally, I thought I would roll each little ball by hand.  HA! There must be about a thousand per batch. People eat them by the handfuls, so trying to make them look perfect is wasted energy.

tray of Pfeffernusse

To package them, I put about 3/4 cup in each cellophane bag (available at craft stores) and tied each package with red raffia. A cute Christmas label would have been nice. (Sigh) Maybe next year.

Pin the picture below to save for later.

Pinterest image for Pfeffernusse

Did you try this recipe and enjoy it? Consider helping other readers (and me) by returning to this post. Leave a rating on the recipe card itself underneath the picture. Although always appreciated, comments aren’t required.

If you have a question or tip to share, please leave it in the regular comments after the recipe so I can answer back. Or, email me privately: paula at

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Crunchy Gingerbread Bites (Pfeffernusse)

Yield: 100 cookies
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 9 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 9 minutes

These crispy bite-size cookies are reminiscent of gingerbread. Also known as Pfeffernusse.


  • 1 cup butter (8 oz) (2 sticks)
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons dark syrup (I used date syrup but dark corn syrup or molasses is also good)
  • 3-1/2 cup all-purpose flour (420 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons soda
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise flavoring (optional)


  1. Whip room-temperature butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and egg and continue to beat.
  2. Add remaining ingredients in order given.
  3. Pull off small pieces of dough and roll to the thickness of a pencil. Slice into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces. Place on a cookie sheet covered with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
  4. Bake at 350˚F for 7-9 minutes or until bottoms begin to brown.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 33 Serving Size: 3
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 176Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 52mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 0gSugar: 18gProtein: 2g

Did you make this recipe?

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Thursday 19th of December 2019

I had a Lutheran women's group (with Germanic ancestors) make these and I've been searching for a similar recipe ever since. This looks more like what they made than anything else I've seen online.

Quick question. Do you really use anise essential oil (food grade)? I read online that anise extract is 4X less potent, so 1/2 oil tsp= 2 tsp of extract. I'm assuming that 2 tsp would water down the dough. Have you ever made it with extract? Where do you get the anise oil? I've seen it in stores that sell essential oils, but never in the big box stores' baking isles.


Thursday 19th of December 2019

I checked my cabinet to see exactly what I used. It's called "Natural Anise Flavor" from BOYAJIAN. It is not oil. I will correct the recipe.

Thank you for writing to ask. Hope you get to make them and love them.


Saturday 16th of November 2019

I've been looking for a good recipe for these and ran across your blog. My German grandmother, who came over to America on 'the boat', used to make pfeffernusse every year. The online recipes for, supposedly authentic, pfeffernusse are all over the map. Going to give these a try as they are said to be crunchy, as Grandma's cookies were. By the way, her's were quite small cookies, but when helping her, I remember forming ropes of cookie dough that were more like the diameter of maybe a cigar, than a pencil, and then slicing them up, I suppose the size is optional ;)


Tuesday 19th of November 2019

If you make these, I hope they turn out crunchy like your Grandmother's cookies.


Thursday 21st of December 2017

Dumb question but when you say soda you mean baking soda right?


Thursday 21st of December 2017

Yes. Baking soda.


Friday 16th of December 2016

i made these one time last year and loved them so i decided to make them again but this time my dough is very crumbly i cant get it to stay together so i can roll them. what did i do wrong this time and how can i fix it. please help.


Sunday 18th of December 2016

Arlene, Since I didn't watch you make them last year or this year, I'm at a loss as to what you did wrong. Perhaps you measured wrong? or left something out? Sorry I can't be more helpful.

Nicole Ferrero

Wednesday 7th of December 2016

My grandmother gave a similar recipe to my mother many many years ago. My mother has been making them for many years now, as long as I've been live I think(43) On thanksgiving we have a rolling party and they get done very quickly. It's a great family fun time. And I charish it every year. Eating them slow so they will last most of the winter. They are delishious and crunchy. Love them!! By the way, they stay fresh a lot longer then three weeks, and still taste good. ;)?


Tuesday 13th of December 2016

Nicole, I love the idea of a "rolling party". What fun! Thanks for sharing.