Every year around Christmas, my Grandma used to make peppernuts for the whole family–that’s a gallon bag for each of her eleven kids (to share with their own friends and families, of course). They’re these crunchy little cookies, and their spice is the one tradition that always defined the season for me. I think they’re a Dutch derivative of the traditional German confection, pfeffernusse. The Knopp family recipe is most like kruidnoten, a hard, cookie-candy made with warm, peppery spices.

Now my mom makes them every year and sends them my way.  Someday, when I have a big enough freezer, I’ll probably make them too.

Here’s the recipe.


1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 tsp anise oil
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp ground clove
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp mace
6 cups flour


Mix together sugars, egg, anise oil, and butter in a very large bowl. Mix all dry ingredients, then add to the first bowl and mix well until you have a soft, oily dough. Roll dough into finger-thick rolls, then chill overnight. Preheat oven, then cut slices about 1/8” thick. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake until light brown.

Yields about 1 1/2 gallons.

Bag of Kruidnootjes

photo from Ciell of Wikipedia, released under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license.

About abi nighthill

Abi has a BA in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago.
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