Cookie Extravaganza: Pepperkaker


Photo: Madison Leiren
Pepperkaker are spiced with ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and fresh ground pepper. This recipe has a rest overnight at room temperature on the countertop, then they are rolled out for cookie cutters.


As the editor of The Norwegian American newspaper and having baked dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies over the years, there was one woeful omission in my repertory of recipes: pepperkaker.

I learned from my research that the beloved cookie came by ship to Norway from Germany through the city of Bergen over 400 years ago. With time, it became one of the most popular Christmas cookies in Norway and throughout Scandinavia.

Pepperkaker are full of what were considered very exotic spices back in the day—ginger, cloves, cinnamon—and, of course, pepper! Being close to Ballard, Seattle’s historic Norwegian neighborhood, it was easy to ask around to get recipe recommendations. After trying several of them, I came up with my own version. The end result was just what I had hoped for: lovely brown delicious Norwegian Christmas pepperkaker made with love!


2/3 cup dark corn syrup
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 large egg
2 tsps. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground bitter orange peel
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cold water
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

Special equipment:
Rolling pin, cookie cutter(s) of your choice (for me, a heart-shaped cookie cutter is a must)

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the syrup to boiling and pour over the sugar and butter. Stir until cool.
  2. Add the egg and spices.
  3. Mix the baking soda and cold water and add to mixture.
  4. Stir in most of the flour. Knead the dough well, cover and let rest at room temperature overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  6. Roll out thin cookies on a floured pastry board. If dough is too thin, add more of the remaining flour.
  7. Cut out cookies and place on a non-stick baking sheet or lined with parchment paper. Bake 6-8 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Let the cookies cool on a wire rack, then store in an airtight container.


But you mustn’t stop with just one kind of Christmas cookie! Browse our recipes to fill your holiday table with at least syv slags!

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Next recipe: Romkugler >


The Great Norwegian Christmas Cookie Extravaganza


This article originally appeared in the Nov. 27, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.