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. If you don’t want to use cookie cutters, I recommend making these 100% whole grain ginger cookies or these grain-free chewy ginger cookies. They’re all equally delicious so you really can’t go wrong. :)
Want more Swedish cookies? Try these Crispy Swedish Cardamom Cookies from The Food Charalatan! These Swedish Heirloom Cookies from Shugary Sweets also look awesome.
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.
63 comments on “Pepparkakor Recipe (Swedish Ginger Cookies)” — Add one!
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Ok, I made a gluten free version of your recipe and not only were the cookies delicious, they stayed crispy forever!!! I have been making pepparkakor for more than a decade and I have never been able to make pepparkakor that stayed fresh for longer than a day. I have been so annoyed by that! What’s the point of baking a large batch of cookies when they go soft after 24 hours. I’ve tried many recipes and none worked, till yours!!!
I replaced 375 grams of wheat flour by:
100 grams of buckwheat flour
100 grams of teff flour
100 grams of almond flour
75 grams of tapioca flour
I also did not have vanilla on hand, so ommitted that.
The cookies were a little bit runny in the oven, but the shape was still recognisable after baking. The one thing I did not like is that the molasses flavor was too overpowering. Next time I’ll use less molasses, hoping the cookies will be less runny too.
I am hoping to make these cookies every Christmas from now on :). All the best from Belgium!!
I’m so sorry for just now seeing your comment! A bunch of comments landed up in spam over the holidays for some reason. I’m so glad that the cookies came out well! Especially with your changes. Is that a mix that you often use in place of wheat flour? I’m intrigued! Thanks for sharing it. I’d like to try it out! Sorry again for my slow reply.
Well… I made a gingerbread cake today (recipe from Magnus Nilsson in the Nordic Cookbook) and I used the same combination of flours and it worked out really well! I doubled the recipe and made a large round cake and it got a big thumbs up from my husband and kids. I can send you the recipe if you like :).
What I mean is, Magnus uses ordinary wheat flour and I made it into a gluten free version
As you can see, I’m super slow with the comments. Sorry. :/ I would absolutely love the recipe if you don’t mind! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks so much! :)
Thank you so much for this recipe! I wish i could post a picture of how beautiful these came out! I used an antique star cookie cutter. We made these for a homeschool geography day. We are doing Sweden. They taste great. But I accidentally used lemon extract in my second batch. I did add the vanilla. So it had an extra 1 1/4 t of lemon extract and it actually tasted great too!
Lemon extract! Who would have thought that that would taste good? :D I’m so glad that they worked out well for you! And what a fun school day. :) Thanks for your feedback!
Dear Erin, Thanks for sharing this recipe. I love this cookie. However I prefer not to use the quantity of sugars in it, since I avoid sugars.My question is, can I just use 2/3 cup Splenda/Stevia instead of using all those sugars and molasses? Or simply use coconut sugar and Splenda/Stevia? Thanks in advance for your reply.
Hi! Sorry for just now seeing your question. I don’t really have any experience with sugar-free sweeteners (they give me issues) so I really can’t say. I’m sorry that I can’t be more helpful! I’m not really hopeful about sugar subs in this recipe because it’s a crunchy cookie and the sweeteners are very important to get the right texture.
Dear Erin,first of all thank you for sharing this recipe.I did it with butter,( same quantity as coconut oil)and it did come out quite ok.. Because of lack of time I left the dough in the fridge for the night and it was a lot easier to work with the dough afterwords.A friend of mine worked in Sweden and for one Christmas she prepared a spicy biscuit like this, but somehow I remember it being spicier, hotter to be more exact. Maybe she used more pepper, but I think it is subjective how spicy you like your cookie :)
Oooh! Sounds interesting. I’ve never had any hot pepparkakor in Sweden, though I’d sure love to try. :) I’m happy to hear that they came out well! Thanks for your comment. :)
Can I replace another flour for the whole wheat? Like all purpose or a coconut or rice flour?
AP flour would probably work (though I haven’t tried it). Coconut flour or rice flour definitely wouldn’t.
Wow, these cookies are soo good. I didn’t have cardamon, so I added a little more cinnamon. Sooo good. I rolled some thin – loved how crispy they turned out, and some thicker – for a nice chew. Very very good. Thank you for all your healthier recipes.
You’re welcome! And thank you for your nice comment. :) I’m so happy that they came out well for you! You’ve got to try them next time with cardamom. It adds such a nice taste!
I have never made pepparkakor, which is such a crime! I need to try this out stat!!
I think you do, too! :D
Love your recipes that have Gluten Free options, as I must eat GF for life. Do you think these would work with a GF flour mix? Would there be any other adjustments in ingredients to make them GF? Thank you for your wonderful GF included recipes!
I think they could work with Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 baking flour but since I haven’t tried it, I can’t say for sure. You’d just use it as a direct sub and make no other adjustments other than maybe baking a minute or two longer. I’m happy you like the GF recipes! Sorry there aren’t GF options on every recipe. I’m not GF but try to offer as many GF options as I can. :)
It is very appreciated. I share a lot of your GF recipes with my gluten free community on our Facebook page!
And I very much appreciate you sharing my recipes. :) Thanks so much!
My other half is swedish and we live in Berlin, German:-). Last summer we visited a friend in Sweden and when we had fika (familiar term?) she found 3 left over peperkakor from christmas time in her cookie tin. And they were still good! As if they had been baked the day before.
Neat! My other half is German and we live in Berlin but wished we were living in Sweden. ;) Pepparkakor are magical. I really intended on leaving most of the ones I made for Christmas (since they stay fresh for so long) but then I ate them all within a few days so that plan failed. And after four Swedish recipe posts, I still haven’t even brought up fika! There’s so much I have to say about Sweden. :)
I love cookies that stay fresh for a long time. Nothing worse than biting into a cookie and realizing it’s stale…gross! I love the peppery goodness to these as well. Spicy cookies are my favorite type of holiday treats :)
Haha. Yeah. Those get spit out!
These are great! Are those little bear shaped cookies? I love them!
Oh my gosh Erin, I love the Anna’s cookies from IKEA! I’m heading there later today, I’ll need to pick some up (and then make yours for a cookie swap next week!)
I hope you’ll enjoy them if you try them! :)
These look perfect for our holiday cookie exchange. Love cutouts and these sound delicious.
A holiday cookie exchange sounds fun! I wanna come. ;)
Oh, yummy! I can’t wait for some ginger cookies and gingerbread this holiday season!
It’s time to get started! The season will be gone before you know it. ;)
my mom loves swedish cookies! these are a great idea and look so delicious! perfect for tea
Thanks! And they would be perfect for tea time. :)
These look great. I wonder why they last so long. They’d be perfect to take on a hiking trip or ship in the mail overseas.
Oooh! Those are both great ideas. :)
Simple cookies like these are my FAVORITE kind of cookies. These cookies get me in the baking spirit for the holidays. I can just smell their spicy goodness through the screen!
Exactly! I like cute decorated cookies, too, but eh… too much effort. ;)
I love everything about these cookies!
These look fantastic…love the comparison you did with butter. I need to use more coconut oil!
Except that I didn’t actually finish with the butter experiment. Haha. Oh well. ;)
I love these type of cookies, they look great!
Did you use an equal amount of the sugar beet syrup? I bought some last year before I found molasses at the American/Brit store and have been wondering what to do with it. And seeing how it is cheaper, I would love to use it up for this recipe. I’m going to try it with a vegan ‘egg’ replacement so I’ll let you know how they turn out.
Hi, Carla! You can use it interchangeably with molasses here and in most recipes. The texture and sweetness seems to be exactly the same but the taste is different. The thing is, when there’s so much spice like there is in gingerbread goodies, you can’t really tell a difference. :) How much was your glass of molasses? Alnatura has 300 grams of blackstrap molasses for 2.99. Much cheaper than a few years ago but still much too expensive! I hope you’ll enjoy the cookies. :)
I agree with King Hans’ physician–pepparkakor certainly cures a foul temper. They’re definitely in my top 5 favorite cookies. I swear that pepparkakor stays fresh for months on end!
Aren’t they great? They look so boring but they’re so addictive!
These are so wicked cool Erin. I love ginger cookies and the idea that they stay fresh so long is appealing. Particularly if one wanted to trim the tree with them. Love this recipe so much.
Oh, yes! People do that with pepparkakor but I forgot to write about that in the post.
I miss Ikea!! I *just* ordered this cookie cutter set on Amazon the other day (for, like, three times as much as it would cost in store!) I want the Moose, BAD!! I’ll be making Moose cookies this year ;) Your ginger cookies look fantastic – your recipe sounds easy breezy, I’d love to try these!!
Haha. The moose is really big. I have a feeling you’ll get sick of dealing with that one and move on to something smaller. ;)
Cardamom is such an under-utilized spice…maybe because it’s so expensive? In the states, anyway. Regardless, I love it. And I love these cookies!
Really? I didn’t know that. What a bummer. I actually bought my cardamom in Sweden 7 years ago (still tastes great!) and everything’s so expensive there that I guess I didn’t notice the high price. ;)
These look good. I am more for a thick and chewy cookie myself. I made whole wheat gingerbread cookies last week with the help of a almost 3 year old. HA!!! She had fun!!
That sounds like fun! And I’m with you. I’m all about thick and chewy cookies but these are an exception. :)
Is it just me, or is the oven degree missing from this recipe? I’ve scanned it twice, but still don’t see it.
Sorry about that! It’s 350F. Will fix the post when I get home. Thanks for pointing it out!
So, magical ginger health cookies? I’m on board. I’m so intrigued by sugar beet syrup — hope I can find and try that! I suffer through the disgusting smell of freshly harvested sugar beets (seriously, they’re rank) so I deserve to try all of their sugary goodness, I think!
I don’t think sugar beet syrup exists in the US and I don’t think it matters – molasses is better. :D And why do you smell freshly harvested sugar beets? Do you live nearby or something? What an odd thing to have experienced. ;)
Even though I really don’t bake any more, I’m saving this recipe. It reminds me of some German cookies my mother used to put in our Christmas stockings when I was a child. The flavor will probably be somewhat different because of the coconut oil, but they sound delicious, and I can almost taste them now… These are a real temptation, even more than chocolate!
Are you thinking of spekulatius? These are kind of similar. :) And the taste is exactly the same when you use refined coconut oil (which I know a lot of people won’t want to do, but it’s what I use).