Lebkuchen Christmas Trees

(pronounced leb-ku-hen in German) is a kind of spiced gingerbread, but not all lebkuchen recipes contain the same spices. This traditional lebkuchen recipe has been passed down from generation to generation in my husband’s family; I had the honour of learning it from my Oma-in-law in November 2014. This year, I did the entire recipe on my own and was able to bake the lebkuchen successfully! The entire process does take a long time, but if you were to make these cookies ahead of time, lebkuchen actually keeps really well as the baked cookies will soften slowly over time! Start preparing these cookies in late November or early December; you can decorate the lebkuchen at a later time, as long as you store them in air-tight containers and definitely layer parchment paper between each set of cookies. (I got lazy when baking last year and let’s just say the lebkuchen stuck to one another. Oh well, more test cookies, right!)

Weigh Your Ingredients

It is very important to measure by weight as moisture in your ingredients may vary, depending on the climate you live in. Also important to note is that: you may NOT use up all the flour prescribed. I ended up using about less than 3.5 lbs of flour.

The consistency of the dough is soft after adding liquids and eggs.

This recipe will be VERY tough on your KitchenAid (I tried towards the end and the mixer was getting warm just on ‘stir’); you’d get a better feel of the dough with a wooden spoon anyway.

Alternate measurements:

  • The amount of margarine used is roughly 1 cup or 8 oz.
  • 10 g of cinnamon or cloves is roughly 3 tsp


Other recipe notes:

– After washing your lemon and drying it with a towel: When zesting lemon, please do not be aggressive. You do not want to zest until you see the white pith; that would be quite bitter. Oma saves her lemon after zesting by wrapping it in cling wrap and puts it in her freezer to make lemon glaze icing later on.
– You can add 1/2 lb of nuts if you’re a nut lover in cookies. I have left it out because nuts are common allergens.
– 120 cookies yield will vary depending on size of cookie cutter you are using. With less than half the dough batter, I was able to make over 50 gingerbread boys and over 50+ stars. You will use up your dough a lot faster if you used larger sized cookie cutter.
– While eating raw cookie dough is often frowned upon, after the end of the 4 days of rising the dough, you might notice that the dough batter tastes like toffee.
– You *almost* could substitute food grade Ammonium Carbonate and Potassium Carbonate with Sodium Bicarbonate (commonly known as baking soda), but you will NOT get the same texture as the ultimate food chemical reaction’s results are different.
Note: Links will lead you to K & K Foodliner, which is a local import store in Edmonton, Alberta. I am not paid for linking my favourite German import and deli store — other than giving away a gift certificate, which is found on this GIVEAWAY POST (OPEN TO ALBERTAN residents only; pick up in Edmonton) on the blog. K & K Foodliner ships within Canada — so, if you are trying this recipe, you are in luck for finding hard to find ingredients for making lebkuchen!

2 fresh lemons, use a juice reamer to squeeze juice
1 1/4 cup icing sugar (minimum); add more if you desire more sweetness and/or icing thickness

Directions for lemon glaze:
2 lemons roughly makes about less than 1/2 cup of lemon juice; remove any seeds in the juice if there are any. Add icing sugar about 1/4 cup at a time; use the back of a spoon to dissolve the icing sugar.
(OPTIONAL: To make a chocolate version, add 1 TBSP dutch-processed cocoa powder to 3 TBSP of your lemon glaze mixture and add more icing sugar to thicken as necessary.)

Please comment below if you would need more illustrations on the step(s). (I used to draw comics, so I can definitely do illustrations for process pictures)

Comment moderation: All comments are moderated due to high volume of spam received. I highly encourage you to comment — once one of your comments is approved, your consecutive comments will show.

[Last edited on Dec-12-2015 to include lemon glaze icing recipe]

Lebkuchen (Traditional german spiced cookies)
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
120 cookies 0.5 day
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 4.5 days
Servings Prep Time
120 cookies 0.5 day
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 4.5 days
Lebkuchen (Traditional german spiced cookies)
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
120 cookies 0.5 day
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 4.5 days
Servings Prep Time
120 cookies 0.5 day
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 4.5 days
  • 4 lbs flour sifted; not all flour needed
  • 4 eggs beaten
Servings: cookies
Recipe Notes
  1. Melt margarine, add honey, cinnamon and cloves, lemon zest (all ingredients from Group A) in a huge pot. Let this mixture cool; mix well. Chill, but do not put in the fridge overnight as the mixture would harden. If this is the case, warm it on the stove and let the mixture cool again.
    Your mixture will be a dark golden brown colour.
    You definitely want your mixture cool to prevent scrambling your eggs!
  2. Add the beaten eggs to the pot.
  3. Dissolve the Hirschhornsaltz (Ammonium Carbonate) and Pottasche (Potassium Carbonate) in 3 to 4 tsps of water. (Do not breathe directly. The mixture will be stinky from the reaction of the ammonium carbonate.)
    Add directly to your pot.
  4. Add flour, one cup at a time, in your pot. Knead to stiff dough consistency. It must be well mixed to avoid lumps. When it becomes almost impossible to stir with a wooden spoon, go to step 5.
  5. Dust a little flour to the bottom of a large mixing bowl (a 5 to 6 quart bowl would work). Transfer your dough batter over.
  6. Fold half of your lebkuchen dough over to one side, lightly dust some flour (but not too much at once -- do not dump your flour) and continue kneading it. Alternate folding the other half of the dough batter and continue dusting and kneading. Keep dusting flour and kneading the dough on alternate half-sides until the dough batter stops being too sticky to the touch.
  7. Cover your lebkuchen dough with cling wrap. Let the lebkuchen dough rest for 2 to 4 days. Once the dough (flat on top) has domed between 3 to 4 days, the dough is ready.
  8. When your lebkuchen dough is ready to be rolled out to 1/8" to 1/4" thickness, use your favourite cookie cutters to cut them out. Make sure to place the same sized cookies on the same baking or cookie sheets as baking times would vary by the size of each cookie dough cut-out.
    Preheat 350°F oven (my oven was set to 340°F since mine is an electric fan convection oven)
    Note: You do not want to over-cook your cookies; the bottom of the cookie should be slightly golden brown, but the top of your cookie would not be golden brown.
    - mini cookies take about 6 to 7 minutes to finish baking.
    - 1.5 inch gingerbread men and stars took 8 minutes to cook.
    - 3 inch cookies took about 9 to 10 minutes to cook. After baking them, be sure to leave them on the cookie sheet for 1 to 2 minutes before transferring them to cool on cookie racks -- your cookie will continue 'baking' slightly on the sheet.
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14 Responses

  1. Nicoletta @ sugarlovespices
    Nicoletta @ sugarlovespices / 12-11-2015 / ·

    Wow…such beautiful cookies! Had never heard of them, before. It might take longer to make them, but the result is well worth it! I love them.

  2. Julia
    Julia / 12-11-2015 / ·

    I really enjoy learning about traditional recipes like these. I’ll have to see if I can track down those specialty ingredients here in the States. I love a good Christmas cookie!

  3. Sissy in law
    Sissy in law / 12-11-2015 / ·

    Great job Cyn! You do Oma proud. Can’t wait to see and eat them in person.

  4. Ginni
    Ginni / 12-11-2015 / ·

    These look absolutely amazing and I have tried these before in England but never attempted to make them. I would love to try this recipe, thank you so much for sharing this.

  5. Sarah | (Cooking for) Kiwi & Bean
    Sarah | (Cooking for) Kiwi & Bean / 12-11-2015 / ·

    These look amazing. I tend to stick to the simple stuff, but love the idea of going out of my comfort zone and trying a traditional recipe like this one.

    Oh, and that decorating! Beautiful!

  6. Isabelle @ Crumb
    Isabelle @ Crumb / 12-11-2015 / ·

    I love, love, love, love, love lebkuchen. They’re one of my favourite seasonal treats! I used to be able to find boxes of them at my local grocery store, but they mysteriously decided to stop selling them last year (and that despite me literally buying dozens of boxes, which should’ve been enough to justify keeping them in stock… right?).
    Anyway, I’m all over the idea of making them at home, especially with an authentic recipe like this one. Now I just need to get my hands on Ammonium Carbonate and Potassium Carbonate!

  7. Teresa
    Teresa / 12-12-2015 / ·

    Those cookies turned out beautifully and I love the cutter shapes you have! There’s nothing like a family recipe that’s been handed down over generations. These cookies sound delicious!

  8. Amanda | The Cinnamon Scrolls
    Amanda | The Cinnamon Scrolls / 12-12-2015 / ·

    Love hearing about new traditional treats and holiday goodies! These look amazing, Cynthia! I love how beautiful the decorated ones turned out! Very pretty 🙂

  9. Alberta Blogger Roundup 2 – Memories and Traditions | Dish 'n' the kitchen
    Alberta Blogger Roundup 2 – Memories and Traditions | Dish 'n' the kitchen / 1-22-2016 / ·

    […] Learn to make Lebkuchen here. […]

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