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Vegan Pfeffernüsse (peppernut) Cookies

Looking for a delicious vegan cookie recipe? Then try my vegan Pfeffernüsse recipe! These traditional German cookies are bursting with warm, fragrant flavors of spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. With a perfect balance of sweetness and a delightful chewy texture, these cookies are sure to please everyone. And the best part? They are incredibly easy to make! So roll up your sleeves, gather your ingredients, and get ready to enjoy a batch of these mouthwatering vegan Pfeffernüsse cookies. Happy baking!

A dish of pepepr nut cookies.

My favourite time to bake cookies is Christmastime. OK, it’s actually all year round, but during December is when you can bring out all the spices, the colourful decorations and the festive cookie cutters.

I am also inherently a bit lazy when it comes to baking though, and you probably won’t see my work surface laden with iced cookies, or ones that take longer than half an hour to prep. I like to make my life easy, and, more importantly, I enjoy eating cookies without too much waiting around.

Why You’ll Love my Easy Vegan Pfeffernüsse Cookies

  • Make ahead mixture, mix up the night before
  • Store cupboard ingredients
  • Quick to prep
  • Eggless and Dairy free recipe
  • Great edible gift!

My vegan Pfeffernüsse cookies fall somewhere in between. The dough and baking prep is ridiculously quick and simple, however, you need to leave the dough at least overnight in the refrigerator to allow the flavours to mature, giving you a rich, heavily spiced cookie. If you really wanted to prep them quickly though, I think you could pop them in the freezer for an hour to chill.

What are Pfeffernüsse cookies?

Pfeffernüsse cookies are a spiced German cookie, the word literally translating to pepper nuts, on account of them containing pepper and being shaped like walnuts.

They are a great cookie to keep in the tin as they last ages, and also make a great festive gift.

Originating in Hesse, Germany, baker Johann Fleischmann invented the recipe in 1750, and it has been a baked festive tradition ever since. Some variants are dipped in a water and icing sugar coating, others (like mine) are tossed in a generous amount of icing sugar. The sugar balances out the intense spiced flavour of the cookies.

A cooling rack with pfeffernusse.

In many respects they are similar to Russian Teacakes or Mexican Wedding cakes, all of which are a round cookie, coated in icing sugar, beloved at Christmas…but that’s where the similarities end. Instead of having a buttery shortbread texture, Pfeffernüsse are crisp on the outside and have a chewy, almost cake-like consistency inside. The bold texture matches the flavour.

I can imagine that as child, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed these as they are heavily spiced. Traditional spices in Pfeffernüsse are ground pepper (I used white as it’s a much finer grind), powdered cardamom, allspice and cinnamon. Some add ginger and nutmeg too and that’s what’s so good about this recipe is that you can add or subtract as you prefer.


Ingredients for pepper nut cookies.
  • spices: cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, ground pepper
  • plain flour, ground almonds and baking powder
  • sugars: brown, white and molasses
  • vegan yogurt, to replace the egg element.

This is ONLY a list of ingredients for the recipe; please see recipe card below for complete printable recipe.

Close up on a pfeffernusse cookie.


Sifting ingredients into a bowl.

Sift the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and spices into a large mixing bowl.

Melting sugars in a pan.

Gently melt the sugars and molasses in a saucepan.

Melting sugar in a pan.

Beat in the vegan yogurt.

Stirring the sugar mixture into the flour.

Pour this mixture over the flour.

Beating the mixture into a dough.

Beat well until you have a cohesive dough.

Rolling the dough into logs for chilling.

Divide the dough into two and roll into 1″ dia logs. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate overnight.

Rolling out dough for pfeffernusse.
  • Once chilled, unwrap and cut into equal pieces.
  • Preheat oven to 190c.
Cookie dough rolled out on a baking sheet.

Roll into balls and place on a baking sheet.

Cooling the baked cookies on a baking rack.

Bake for 20 minutes or until they feel dry to the touch.

Tossing the baked pfeffernusse in icing sugar.

Leave to cool for a couple of minutes before tossing in icing sugar.

Top tip

Some people prefer to dip these in a simple water icing, although I prefer the icing sugar.


  • Spices – spices are a very personal taste, so please feel free to amend/adjust as you see fit. I think that the pepper is somewhat essential to the slight heat of the cookie, but omit if you really dislike that flavour.
  • Gluten-Free – go ahead and use gluten-free self-raising flour to make these gluten-free cookies.
  • Molasses – the molasses adds a rich, caramel flavour to the cookie but if you can’t find it, you can use maple syrup, treacle or golden syrup instead.


  • You can store the cooled vegan pfeffernusse in your biscuit tin for several weeks over the holidays, making these perfect to bake ahead!
  • You can freeze the cookie dough in the log shape, wrapped tightly in several layers of clingfilm. Thaw in the fridge before proceeding to bake cookies as usual.

You might also love my other vegan Christmas cookies:

Pfeffernüsse (Pepper Nuts)

A plate of pfeffernusse for christmas.
Festive spiced German Cookies
5 from 2 votes
Prep 5 minutes
Cook Time 29 minutes
1 day resting the dough 1 day
Total Time 1 day 34 minutes


  • cup Brown sugar
  • ¼ cup White sugar
  • 1 tbsp Molasses
  • ¼ cup Yogurt - plant-based
  • ¼ cup Ground almonds
  • cups Plain flour
  • ½ tsp Baking powder
  • ½ tsp Ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp Ground allspice
  • tsp Ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp Black pepper
  • ¼ cup Icing sugar - sifted, for coating


  • Whisk the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and spices into a large mixing bowl.
  • In a small saucepan, melt the sugars and molasses over low heat.
  • Remove from heat and beat in the yogurt.
  • Pour this mixture into your flour mix and beat well with a wooden spoon until you get a cohesive, but slightly sticky to the touch dough.
  • Divide the dough into two and roll into logs 1" diameter.
  • Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least at day.
  • Preheat oven to 190c when ready to bake.
  • Unwrap the cookie logs and cut into equal size pieces.
  • Roll into balls and place on a baking sheet.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until dry to the touch.
  • Once baked, remove to a cooling rack for a couple of minutes.
  • Now toss the cookies in icing sugar until coated all over and return to the cooling rack.

Please note that where the recipe asks for milk, butter or yogurt, this refers to any plant-based version that you prefer.

Nutrition Facts
Pfeffernüsse (Pepper Nuts)
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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