December 23rd is reserved for National Pfeffernuse Day, a German spice cookie. Very popular around the holidays, pfeffernüsse are fluffy cookies made with ground nuts and spices and covered in powdered sugar.

The exact origin of the cookie is unknown. However, the Dutch believe that pfeffernüsse (or pepernoten in Dutch) are linked to the feast of Sinterklaas, which is celebrated on December 5 in the Netherlands and December 6 in Germany and Belgium. This holiday is when children receive gifts from St. Nicholas, who is partially the inspiration for the Santa Claus tradition. 

Over time, many bakers have created their own pfeffernüsse recipes. Traditional methods included various nuts such as almonds and walnuts. Some modern recipes exclude nuts altogether along with the black pepper, retaining only cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and cardamom as flavorings. Bakers also use molasses and honey to sweeten the cookie

HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalPfeffernusseDay

Break out your favorite pfeffernüsse recipe and start baking. This is one holiday tradition that will bring back memories for many of you. Not only will you be able to savor the delicious spicy-sweet cookies, but you can also pass down the tradition to another generation. Once you have a good stack of them baked and cooled, package them up as sweet gifts for loved ones. They will appreciate the cookies and your thoughtfulness.

We even have a couple of recipes for you to try.

Pfeffernusse cookies from Allrecipes
German Pfeffernusse Pepper Nut Cookies 

Do you have recipes to share? Be sure to use #NationalPfeffernusseDay to post on social media.


National Day Calendar continues researching the origins of this spicy cookie. While we do, we also encourage you to keep sampling and snacking on the recipes as you explore the fascinating holidays throughout the year. 

Pfeffernüsse FAQ

Q. What does ‘pfeffernüsse’ mean?
A. The word pfeffernüsse comes from German and means ‘peppernut’.

Q. Are gingerbread and pfeffernüsse the same?
A. Gingerbread and pfeffernusse are both spicy cookies but they are made differently. Where gingerbread is a sturdier cookie, pfeffernüsse are softer. Additionally, pfeffernüsse, true to its name, includes pepper in the ingredients.