Christmas recipe: How to make Swedish gingerbread

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Christmas recipe: How to make Swedish gingerbread
Making gingerbread cookies is an essential part of Swedish Christmas preparations. Photo: Rebecka Rynefelt/Scandinav

Pepparkakor, Sweden's traditional ginger snap biscuits, are a staple of the country's festive season. Food writer John Duxbury shares his favourite recipe with The Local.


Quick overview

Makes: 150 medium sized biscuits

Time needed: 60 minutes (plus overnight standing)


½ tbsp cardamom pods

150 g (1¼ sticks) butter or margarine

250 g (1 cup) sugar (white, brown, or a mixture)

50 g (2 ½ tbsp) golden syrup (light corn syrup)

20 g (1 tbsp) treacle (dark corn syrup)

1 tbsp ground ginger

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

½ tbsp ground cloves

100 ml (6 ½ tbsp) water

450 g (3 ½ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour



Step 1 – Lightly crush the cardamom pods so that the seeds can be emptied out.

Step 2 – Grind the seeds in a pestle and mortar for a couple of minutes.     

Step 3 – Mix the butter, sugar, syrup, and treacle in a saucepan. Heat gently until the butter melts, stirring continuously.    

Step 4 – Add the spices and mix throughout.

Step 5 – Add the baking powder and stir again.


Step 6 – Add the water and stir once more.

Step 7 – Add most of the flour and stir throughout until it’s completely mixed in.

Step 8 – Empty the mixture into a bowl. When cool cover with cling film (food wrap) and then leave the dough to rest in the fridge overnight.  

Step 9 – Preheat the oven to 200C.

Step 10 – Take a small portion of the dough for a test bake. The dough will be very firm and hard to cut initially – knead it to soften it a bit.  

Step 11 – Roll it out thinly on a lightly floured surface. Cut it into shapes using a biscuit (cookie) cutter. Remove unwanted dough first and then, with a spatula, lift the biscuit on to cold, greased baking trays (cookie sheets).

Step 12 – Bake for 5-8 minutes until golden brown. They should be crispy, but keep an eye on them as they burn very easily.

Step 13 – If the test batch spreads out and the biscuits lose their shape, add some more flour and do another test bake.

Step 14 – If the test batch is good, bake the rest in batches until all the dough is cooked. Leave to cool on the baking sheets, as they break easily when hot.

Step 15 – When cold enough to handle easily, move to a wire rack to let them cool completely.

Serving suggestions

Any hot beverage works well together with pepparkakor (such as tea or coffee) but for an added Christmas-feel, serve with glögg. 


The biscuits keep well and can be stored for up to four weeks in an air-tight container. While you’re already baking, make double the quantity shown in the recipe – these nibbles are addictive and will go around.

Swedes often decorate their pepparkakor with icing (frosting). In addition to being delicious, they also make for excellent decorations, ready to be hung up – just make sure you remember to put a hole through them before baking if you want to hang them.

Recipe courtesy of John Duxbury, Editor and Founder of Swedish Food.

Article originally published in 2014 and updated in December 2023


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