Soft and Chewy Lebkuchen

published Nov 8, 2021
christmas
Lebkuchen Recipe

Honey, spices, dried fruit, and nuts make this German Christmas cookie an irresistible classic.

Serves16

Prep20 minutes

Cook30 minutes

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
squares of Lebkuchen (a honey-sweetened German bar cookie with a gingerbread flavor) stacked, with a chocolate iced side showing in one piece
Credit: Shilpa Uskokovic

Lebkuchen is an iconic German Christmas cookie full of honey, spices, dried fruits, and nuts. Originally baked by monks and sweetened only with honey, lebkuchen today spans many kinds with various combinations of spices and in many different shapes. This easy version is baked in a square pan, cut into bars, then glazed with a thin sheet of rich chocolate. Lebkuchen will keep well for a few days, making it an ideal cookie to bake during the busy holiday season. Plus, the recipe can be easily doubled to make more. Simply use a 9×13-inch pan to bake the bigger batch.    

Is Lebkuchen the Same as Gingerbread?

Lebkuchen is different from American-style gingerbread, in that it’s richer and more dense. While gingerbread is usually a crisp cookie, lebkuchen is soft and chewy and includes nuts and dried fruits. 

What Is the Difference Between Pfeffernusse and Lebkuchen?

Pfeffernusse and lebkuchen are both similarly flavored with honey and lots of warm baking spices but pfeffernusse are almost always small, rounded cookies coated with a powdered sugar glaze, while lebkuchen may be shaped like regular cookies or cut in bars and are generally glazed with chocolate. 

Credit: Shilpa Uskokovic

Tips and Tricks to Make the Best Lebkuchen

  1. Runny honey: For the best results, use regular honey that’s liquid at room temperature. A mild honey like clover or wildflower will allow the spices to shine through.
  2. Fresh spices: Check the date on your spices! Most of us use baking spices like ground ginger only a few times a year and ground spices tend to lose their punch fairly quickly. Dusty spices = dusty tasting baked goods. 
  3. Baking time: Keep a careful eye on the lebkuchen as it bakes. If overbaked, your lebkuchen will be dry and tough. Most recipes for cakes or bars will indicate baking until it pulls away from the sides of the pan, but in the case of these lebkuchen, simply look for the top to be set and no longer shiny before removing from the oven. 

Lebkuchen Recipe

Honey, spices, dried fruit, and nuts make this German Christmas cookie an irresistible classic.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Serves 16

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons

    ground cinnamon

  • 2 teaspoons

    ground ginger

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1/2 cup

    almonds

  • 1/2 cup

    hazelnuts

  • 1/4 cup

    crystallized ginger (optional)

  • 1 cup

    packed dark brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup

    honey

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1/2 cup

    golden raisins

For the chocolate glaze:

  • 1/2 cup

    semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • 1 tablespoon

    unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons

    milk chocolate chips (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place 1 stick unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Let sit at room temperature until softened, about 1 hour.

  2. Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with a parchment paper sling that covers the bottom and hangs over two sides.

  3. Place 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

  4. Coarsely chop 1/2 cup almonds and 1/2 cup hazelnuts if needed. Finely chop 1/4 cup crystallized ginger if using.

  5. Add 1 cup packed dark brown sugar to the bowl of butter. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup honey and 1 large egg and beat until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat on the lowest speed just until incorporated. Add the almonds, hazelnuts, ginger, and 1/2 cup raisins, and beat on the lowest speed until fully incorporated. Transfer to the baking pan, pressing the dough into an even layer with damp hands to avoid sticking.

  6. Bake until the top is set, dry to the touch, and golden-brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the lebkuchen cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove the slab to a wire rack and let cool completely, at least 1 hour.

Make the glaze:

  1. Place 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until melted, 1 to 2 minutes total. Stir until smooth.

  2. Spread the melted chocolate over the lebkuchen, smoothing the top with a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.

  3. Place 2 tablespoons milk chocolate chips, if using, in a small heatproof bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals until melted, 30 seconds to 1 minute total. Use a spoon, fork, or a small piping bag to drizzle the milk chocolate over the lebkuchen. Refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes, before cutting into small bars or squares.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Lebkuchen can be stored at room temperature in airtight containers for up to 4 days. If you need to stack the lebkuchen, separate each layer with wax or parchment paper.