How to make Swedish pepparkakor

How to make Swedish pepparkakor
Pepparkakor. Photo: John Duxbury/Swedish Food
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.


Makes: 150 medium sized biscuits

Time needed: 60 minutes (plus overnight standing)


½ tbsp cardamom pods

150 g (1 ¼ 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).

Gingersnaps can come in all shapes and sizes. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix/TT

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.

The Christmas treats don't need to be in the oven for long. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

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. 

Swedes will fika on ginger snaps through the Christmas season – preferably with glögg. Photo: Magnus Carlsson/


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. 

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

Article originally published in 2014 and updated in December 2017