These pepparkakor (thin Swedish ginger cookies) are whole wheat and dairy-free and just as crisp and delicious as the more traditional kind!
Have you ever tried Anna’s Ginger Thins or the heart-shaped ginger cookies at IKEA? These pepparkakor cookies are just like those, but better! They’re thin, crisp and have lots of gingerbread spice. And cardamom! I don’t think I had ever had cardamom in anything before I did my first exchange year in Sweden, where cardamom is really popular.
Now that I’ve tried it, I enjoy it in most of my gingerbread-like treats. And my other Swedish treats, like this Swedish apple pie, which is actually more like a crisp and super delicious. I also added a tiny bit to my Swedish blueberry soup!
Pepparkakor (Swedish for “pepper cookies”) are enormously popular in Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia during the holidays. They’re relatively simple to make and don’t require any frosting or other decoration. And they come with an interesting history!
There’s one story about King Hans, the Swedish-Danish-Norwegian king around 1500, whose doctor prescribed him pepparkakor, which were sold not only in bakeries, but also in pharmacies. King Hans had a bad temper and obviously pepparkakor were the answer – it’s said that eating pepparkakor makes you a nicer person! Pepparkakor were also sold in monasteries, where nuns ate them to help with their digestion. So, these pepparkakor are miracle cookies and you need to make them. :)
The cookies pictured above are the dairy-free version made with coconut oil. I thought I’d try them with butter, just in case someone asked about using it, and you can see the difference below. But the thing is, I used 1.4 more tablespoons of butter, as I often need a little less coconut oil than butter when baking certain treats.
So instead of 2/3 cup, I used 3/4 cup. That was definitely too much. If you want to use butter, I recommend 11 tablespoons. Or even 2/3 cup! They came out delicious and perfectly crisp with 3/4 cup butter, but they spread quite a bit.
I made my first few batches with sugar beet syrup, which is similar to regular molasses. Then I made it with blackstrap molasses and for the first time ever, I have to recommend not using blackstrap. It totally overpowered the spices. Stick with regular molasses here!Something I really love about this pepparkakor recipe is that the cookies stay fresh for a long time. I wrote one month in the the recipe, just to be safe, but in reality I’m pretty sure they last much longer (based off of past experience with pepparkakor). And the dough is pretty easy to work with and bake!
I made some intricate snowflakes and was worried about the edges burning before the center had browned, but they came out perfectly. I made the moose in this cookie cutter set and that was the only one I had issues with, probably because it’s so big. Instead of using a spatula to remove the moose to another baking sheet, I just peeled away the dough around the cookie cutter and baked the moose on the parchment paper I had rolled it out on.
For grain-free cutout ginger cookies, I recommend my soft and chewy gingerbread men. Note that they won’t get crisp like these Swedish cookies, no matter how long you bake them.
And if you don’t want to use cookie cutters and prefer traditional ginger cookies, these ginger cookies look great! I bet they’d work out great with white whole wheat flour.
I hope you’ll enjoy these pepparkakor! If you try them out, please let me know below in the comments. Thank you!
Whole Wheat Pepparkakor (dairy-free)
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 40-50 cutout cookies
- 3 cups (375 grams) whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup (149 grams) coconut oil, room temperature (it should be as soft as room temperature butter)
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated or raw sugar
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) brown or coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup (176 grams) molasses (blackstrap is not recommended!)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients (flour through salt).
- Using a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer, beat together coconut oil, granulated sugar and brown sugar until thoroughly combined.
- Add the molasses and vanilla and beat until combined. Beat in the egg.
- Add the dry mixture all at once and beat until well combined. It'll be very crumbly and dry. Use your hands to combine it and bring it together into a dough. Form into a disc and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until very firm.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Place 1/4 of the dough onto the center of a piece of parchment paper. Cover with another piece of parchment paper and roll to 1/8" thickness. Try to keep it as even as possible so that the cookies bake evenly. The dough shouldn't stick at all to the parchment paper. If you see that it is, gather the dough back together and lightly flour the surface before rolling out again. The dough will be very firm and will take quite a bit of effort to roll out – if it's too firm, let it sit for 10 minutes or until softened just a little.
- Cut out shapes using whatever cookie cutters you like and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 7-10 minutes or until evenly and lightly browned. It's difficult to give an exact time as it depends on the size and shape of your cookie cutters. The cookies may be soft when you remove them from the oven, but after cooling for a few minutes, they should be totally crisp. If they're soft after they've cooled, you can put them back in the oven for a few more minutes. You may want to make just a few the first time as a trial.
- Let the cookies cool for 3 minutes on the baking sheet and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
- I used refined coconut oil and these cookies had absolutely no coconut taste. If you use unrefined coconut oil, these will likely have a coconut flavor.