These Icelandic Pepper Cookies, also known as piparkokur or pepparkokur, are a popular Scandinavian Christmas cookie similar to gingersnaps. They are beautifully chewy and easy to make from scratch with no unusual ingredients!
One of the most popular cookies in Iceland is pepper cookies (aka piparkokur or pepparkokur), especially during the holiday season.
There are many different variations popular in Iceland, Belgium, Scandinavia and other countries, but you can choose to make them however you like using this easy recipe for homemade Icelandic pepper cookies.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
A classic Icelandic cookie recipe.
They are made with simple ingredients that can be found at all grocery stores.
Although they are slightly spicy, they are still kid friendly.
You can cut them out into shapes, dress them in icing or even keep them plain.
Dough can be made ahead to save time in the kitchen.
The dough can also be frozen for later use if you’d like to make a large batch.
They go perfectly with milk or coffee.
Great to make as a holiday gift or for a Christmas cookie exchange.
Ingredients & Tools
Butter: Binds together the dough and makes it dense yet creamy.
Granulated Sugar: Sweetens up the cookie.
Light Corn Syrup or Golden Syrup: This adds sweetness but also contributes to the overall chewiness of the cookie.
Eggs: Helps bind the cookies together.
All Purpose Flour: A staple ingredient for cookies that can be found anywhere.
Baking Powder & Baking Soda: Helps these cookies rise slightly.
Cinnamon, Cloves & Ginger: This will add the popular warming ginger flavor.
Ground Black Pepper: This gives these cookies the traditional kick of spice making it an official Scandanavian pepper cookie.
How to Make Pepper Cookies
This is an easy 1-bowl Christmas cookie recipe. Follow these simple photo steps for perfect results.
Then, scroll down to the recipe card for the full ingredients list and method.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer, or vigorously by hand, then add syrup and eggs.
Beat in the eggs and syrup well, then sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices and mix until combined.
Wrap the dough and refrigerate overnight.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about ¼ inch thickness.
TIP: This is quite a soft dough, but if it’s not manageable to roll and cut, then lightly knead in a little more flour, or else just drop spoonfuls on the cookie sheet.
Cut into rounds with a 2” cookie cutter and place onto the prepared baking sheet, an inch apart.
Bake for 7 minutes.
Make sure the butter is room temperature to get the correct dough consistency.
The cookies will firm up as they cool. Don't overcook them.
If you don't have time to let the pepper cookie dough chill overnight, you can cook them straight away. The dough will be too soft to roll out, but you can cook spoonfuls dropped onto the cookie sheet.
Cookies that have syrup and sugar can tend to stick to a pan. This is why using parchment or baking paper is ideal on your cookie sheets.
Since piparkokur cookies spread, you may need to use two or more baking sheets depending on how many cookies you’re making in one batch.
Leave enough room in between each cookie so they do not spread into each other.
It’s a very soft sticky dough, but if necessary to roll it out, knead in a little more flour, sparingly.
Pepper Cookies are perfect alongside these Red Wine Spiced Poached Pears with Cinnamon Cream.
Dunk your piparkokur into this delicious Vegan Hot Cocoa.
Crumble them up for this Walnut Granola Breakfast Parfait.
Bring them to a cookie exchange with these Icelandic Christmas Cookies for a Scandanavian Christmas dessert theme.
Use them to top these Vanilla Beet Freakshakes.
Replace all spices in your piparkokur pepper cookies, except the black pepper, with Pumpkin Pie Spice.
For a unique taste, try using ground white pepper instead of black pepper.
For a slightly more savory kick, add a pinch of paprika.
Use a straw to poke a hole in these cookies before baking. After decorating, string them up and use them as Christmas tree ornaments.
Cut out and decorate with Vegan Icing.
To Make Them Vegan: Try using a flax egg or egg replacer and substitute butter for vegan butter in your piparkokur recipe.
To Make Them Gluten Free: You can try using a gluten free flour blend that includes Xanthan gum. They may rise a bit more than traditional cookies and be a bit more dense.
To Store: You can store this pre-made pepper cookies dough in the fridge for up to 5 days before baking. Once cookies are cooked they will stay fresh for about 1 week in a sealed airtight container.
Freezing: Both baked cookies and cookie dough can be frozen if sealed for up to 3 months. Make sure the dough is thawed out in the fridge for 24 hours before baking.
What is Golden Syrup? It is a common syrup sweetener in Scandanavain baking. It is similar to what Americans would use molasses for. If you can’t find it in the stores, you can use honey or light corn syrup as a replacement.
Are Gingerbread Cookies and Pepper Cookies The Same Thing? Gingerbread cookies are darker and a bit more pronounced in flavor due to the use of molasses. Pepper cookies are often lighter in texture and flavor.
What Else are Pepper Cookies Called? Pepperkaker in Norway, Piparkakut in Iceland, Brunkager in Denmark, and Piparkokur in Iceland.
You’ll Love These Holiday Desserts
I'm sure you will LOVE these pepper cookies as much as we do. Why not try these other Christmas dessert recipes too!
Get the recipe
Check out the Veggie Desserts + Cakes cookbook on Amazon
Icelandic Pepper Cookies (Piparkokur)
- 1 cup 250g butter at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup 250g light corn syrup (or golden syrup)
- 2 eggs
- 3 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer, or vigorously by hand, then mix in the syrup and eggs and beat well.
- Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices and mix until combined. Wrap the dough and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C and line two baking sheets with baking paper.
- Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about ¼ inch thickness. This is quite a soft dough, but if it’s not manageable to roll and cut, then lightly knead in a little more flour.
- Cut into rounds with a 2” cookie cutter and place onto the prepared baking sheet, an inch apart (they will spread a bit).
- Bake for 7 minutes. Leave on the tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. They will firm up as they cool.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors, so is not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietician for special diet advice.