Swedish Gingersnap Cookies (Pepparkakor)

December 12, 2017
4 Ratings
Photo by Hana Asbrink
  • Makes About 125 small cookies
Author Notes

Note: Ljus sirap (light Swedish baking syrup) can be found online; you can also substitute with light corn syrup or golden syrup.

Featured in: The Spice-Filled Swedish Cookie You’ll Have Trouble Keeping in Your Tin, adapted and scaled down from Mia Öhrn's Ronneby pepparkakor recipe. —Hana Asbrink

What You'll Need
  • 150 grams (10 1/2 tablespoons or 1 1/3 sticks) butter, cut into smaller cubes
  • 450 grams (3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 135 grams (2/3 cup) sugar
  • 90 grams (3/8 cup or 3 fluid ounces) ljus sirap (see note above under "Author Note")
  • 60 milliliters (1/4 cup or 2 fluid ounces) strong coffee
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Zest of half a lemon, more to taste
  • Zest of half an orange, more to taste
  1. Prepare the dough: In the stand mixer bowl (if you’re using) or a large bowl, add the butter. Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, syrup, coffee, and spices. Heat until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Watch as the bubbles get a bit bigger (about another minute or two). Turn off the heat.
  4. Pour the heated mixture over the butter in the stand mixer bowl. Using a spatula, stir until the butter has melted. Keep stirring occasionally until the batter has cooled a bit.
  5. Add the lemon and orange zests to this mixture.
  6. Position the bowl in the stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Turn it on to position 1 or 2 and slowly add the dry ingredients to the liquid mixture one spoonful at a time. Scrape down occasionally with a spatula. After all the dry ingredients are added, continue working the dough until a ball forms and it comes off the sides of the bowl. If you are not using a stand mixer, knead the dough until smooth on a lightly floured table. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight (if not longer! It really benefits from the rest).
  7. Make the cookies: When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
  8. Remove the cold dough from the refrigerator about 20 to 30 minutes before you'll be rolling it out. (Note: It will be hard, but don't be discouraged!)
  9. Cut off a piece of the room temperature dough and transfer to one sheet of parchment paper of a similar size as your baking sheet (you'll be using this to bake on and will save a step in transferring the individual shapes!). Sprinkle a bit of bench flour over the parchment paper and cover with another sheet of the same size. Roll out the dough between the parchment paper sheets to about 1/8-inch thickness.
  10. Remove the top sheet and use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out desired shapes (lightly dipping the cutters in flour every couple of cookies helps prevent sticking). Try to use cookie cutters of a similar size for each batch to keep baking times uniform. Remove the "scraps," leaving just the final shapes behind.
  11. Transfer this parchment paper sheet with the cut out shapes onto a baking sheet. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 8 to 10 minutes until lightly golden, keeping a close eye so that they don't burn (start checking at 7 minutes).
  12. Remove from oven and let cool on racks completely before storing in an airtight container (they can last a few weeks, but they never make it that far in our house!). Best enjoyed with milk, coffee, or glögg (Swedish mulled wine).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • AntoniaJames
  • Adèle Holmes
    Adèle Holmes
  • Sean Tippens
    Sean Tippens
  • Hana Asbrink
    Hana Asbrink
Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.

20 Reviews

AntoniaJames December 9, 2023
Disappointing. The dough was impossible to work with and the flavors a bit bland. I tossed the dough into the compost bin without hesitation, something I’ve never done in the many decades I’ve been baking holiday cutout cookies. ;o)
Adèle H. November 13, 2018
A bit late to the party but just found this recipe while searching for festive biscuit ideas to give as gifts! Dummy run through today - My dough made three trays full, after the first tray went in at 200°C and were close to burning after 5/6 mins I turned the oven down to 190, second batch done after 6 mins, third I turned it down to 180 and baked for 7/8 mins and they were perfect, so pleased with them! Was expecting more of a punch to the spices, especially after resting for around 20 hrs in the fridge, so will possibly increase the quantities of the spices in my final Christmas gift batch in a few weeks' time. Thanks for posting the recipe it's brilliant!
Sean T. December 26, 2017
Granddaughter picked this out to make today. No corn syrup... but we do have molasses. I realize this might go south. Should I just do it and comment later?
Hana A. December 26, 2017
Hi Sean - what a lovely recipe to bake up with your granddaughter! I have never tried it with molasses, but it might be worth the experiment (bet the flavor would be nice). Ljus sirap is very light in color, so please monitor the baking so that the cookies don't burn. Good luck and keep us posted!
Curry W. December 26, 2017
This receppesounds wonderfull and good looking.
mraerb December 20, 2017
Made these last night with the following adjustments: added cardamom, used light corn syrup and only had the dough refrigerated for 4 hours or so. Had to saw the block in half and let sit for about 20 mins before I could get at it with a rolling pin. The dough was easy to work with and baking time was about 7 minutes. BUT I am a little disappointed with the flavor/texture. They are hard like snaps, but not buttery and the flavor is not at all punchy. Would benefit from a light glaze on top, or maybe a touch more sugar and salt in the dough? They are perfectly fine, but not special enough to make again. Maybe the flavors would have developed with an overnight resting period?
Hana A. December 21, 2017
Hi mraerb - thanks so much for trying the recipe! I would recommend at least an overnight rest (and perhaps a bit spice to suit your taste) for the flavors to really develop. These are definitely not as buttery as the ginger snaps we're used to Stateside (more on the thin, crisp side, as you noted). A glaze sounds delicious, though. Happy holidays and thanks again for sharing your experience!
Whitney December 17, 2017
I’ve never had a Food52 recipe fail me, but this one sure did. My dough turned so hard in the fridge it could be used as a weapon (and yes, I double checked the measurements). I was so looking forward to eating these.
Hana A. December 17, 2017
I’m so very sorry to hear that Whitney! Would love to try to help troubleshoot as I’ve made this recipe multiple times. Please let me know if I can help.
Hana A. December 17, 2017
Hi again - Just wanted to clarify: The dough should definitely harden up in the fridge (not as soft as a "regular" butter-filled cookie or pie dough). But if you give it enough time to rest on the counter, it should be pliable and good enough to roll out. Again, sorry it didn't work out for you, but trying to help find a solution. Thank you for taking the time to try the recipe.
Whitney December 19, 2017
So I kept battling, coated the dough in a bit of water and got them to work, yay!
Hana A. December 21, 2017
Oh Whitney, I'm so glad to hear that! Thanks so much for the follow-up. I'm going to edit the recipe to give fair warning that the dough will harden up (and not to be surprised). Thanks for taking the taking the time to share the update. :)
Deb December 15, 2017
Can't seem to find "the note below" re: ljus sirap. Please explain.
Hana A. December 15, 2017
Hi Deb - If you scroll all the way up, it's under "Author's Notes." I'm also pasting here for your reference, enjoy and happy holidays!

Note: Ljus sirap (light Swedish baking syrup) can be found online; you can also substitute with light corn syrup or golden syrup.
Lej December 14, 2017
This sounds wonderful but my only question is could you substitute the coffee for strong black tea? I don’t drink coffee at all but I have black teas galore!
Hana A. December 14, 2017
Hi Lej - I have never tried it with black tea, but it sounds like a wonderful complement to the citrus zests and ground spices. Please let me know how it turns out!
Lej December 21, 2017
The tea substitution was fine. Coffee would probably add a depth to the flavor but since I don’t drink the stuff it was no big loss. I also experienced the “leathal weapon” phase after taking the dough out of the fridge. I left my dough in overnight & after sawing it in half & waiting 30 minutes it was manageable. I baked these around 7-8 minuets and was very happy with the results. These cookies were very close to my great aunts ( a full Swede)! I do think I’ll up the spice content just a smidge and I used the zest of a whole lemon & most of an orange. I took my batch into the office and they were wiped out in just a few hours. I’ll definitely make these again. Side note - the rolling out phase is a great stress reliever but boy was I getting side eye as I was bashing the dough flat!! 😉
Hana A. December 21, 2017
Hi Lej - thanks so much for the follow-up (and the laugh!). I'm so glad it worked for you and reminded you of your great aunt. I'm going to edit the recipe to let people to know to expect "lethal weapon"-level hardness. ;) Great idea to up the spices a touch. Thanks again and happy holidays!
Lej December 26, 2017
Hana - I just wanted to say that these are a huge hit w/my family, well the non-chocolate lovers. The Swedish contingent are ecstatic over these! I’ve done a second batch & I currently being wheedled into possibly doing a 3rd! I currently holding out for bribes. In the 2nd batch I used the zest of an orange, lemon & clemintine as well as upping the ground ginger/ cinnamon/ clove mix and I added a 1\4 teaspoon of ground white pepper. I’m still using strong tea as my substitute for the coffee and I’m also using golden syrup. My time is between 7-8 minuets and the cookies are a slightly soft texture. On a side note, as I hate waste, I take the scraps & roll them into a ball, roughly the small walnut, gently press them flat & then I press a whiskey soaked sultana into the center &bake. Those don’t last! I soaked about a cup & half of sultanas in 3-4 tablespoons of whiskey & 2 tablespoons of ginger preserves. I use this spice up my pumpkin bread recipe out of boredom. Not to shabby if I do say. Any way, thanks for posting this recipe!
Hana A. December 26, 2017
Lej, so happy to hear that the Swedes approve! Maybe you just have to bake up a double batch next time. ;) Thank you so much for the follow-up and tip - those whiskey-soaked sultanas sound amazing, I need to taste those for myself!