I grew up with Swedish Christmas traditions and I cannot remember that there was a Christmas (Jul in Swedish) without pepparkakor. Pepparkakor are eaten all year round in Sweden but you make pepparkakor only once a year and that is during Christmas time. When I was little my brothers and me used to help my mom to cut out the cookies and it was naturally that we made pepparkakor every single Christmas. Making pepparkakor was not my mom’s favorite activity because she always thought and still thinks that this is an endless affair because one rolls out the dough over and over again and cut out cookies over and over again. To my mom it is a never ending dough story.
This year I decided to make the entire process of making pepparkakor myself [in previous years my mom made the dough and I cut out hundreds of pepparkakor cookies]. When my mom gave me the recipe the other day she told me all about this particular pepparkakor recipe that she used every single Christmas.
My grandfather's handwritten recipe
It is a handwritten recipe by my grandfather Trygve and he had writen down this recipe (which you can see in the picture below) about 50 years ago. My grandfather died before I was born and for this reason it feels very special to have this handwritten recipe in my hands. I am also fascinated by his handwriting because it looks so much alike my mom’s handwriting [in fact I cannot see any differences. The pepparkaka recipe is from a friend of my grandparents. Her name was Gunhild and this is why I also call these cookies Gunhild’s pepparkakor. According to my mom Gunhild was an incredible good cook and my mom was raving about all these delicious dishes that she had at Gunhild’s home. And my mom told me so many stories about Gunhild and her own childhood in Southern Sweden and she digged out her photo album and showing me photos of Gunhild.
In the left photo below you can see on the left my grandparents' friend Gunhild. On the right is Gunhild's sister. Next to Gunhild is my grandfather and in the middle that is my grandmother. My grandfather was very tall, maybe that is why I am so tall[or maybe it is because my dad is very tall, who knows ...
In the picture on the right: can you guess who it is on the very left? It is my beautiful mamma.   

Ever since my grandparents got the recipe from Gunhild they always used her pepparkakor recipe because it is not only very delicious and of course the very best but is also the easiest way to prepare the pepparkakor dough. Oftentimes the pepparkakor dough requires that you let the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight and sometimes it is difficult to roll out the dough but with Gunhild’s recipe it is quite easy to roll out the dough.
My mom also gave this pepparkakor recipe several people and everyone told her that this was the best recipe for pepparkakor that they ever tried out. I cannot tell if this is true because this is the only pepparkakor recipe that I ever tried out but I can tell you that it was really easy to prepare the dough and the pepparkakor taste heavenly. They are crispy and the spicies are not too strong and overpowering. 

Making pepparkakor was truly a very special moment this year. Unlike my mom I think it is my favorite Christmas activity and I do not mind at all rolling out the dough over and over again and cutting out countless of hearts, pigs, horses, reindeers which are all traditional Swedish Christmas cookie shapes (my favorite shape is the horse).
Munching on pepparkakor and the smell of pepparkakor, listening to Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratorio and light a candle: this is Christmas for me.
Oh, and maybe singing the pepparkakor song "Vi komma, vi komma från Pepparkakeland" to myself, a song that I learned when I was a little girl. 
I am very happy to share this recipe with you, my dear reader. It is a recipe which became to one of my most precious recipes that I own.

Makes a lot of cookies (I made 224 cookies, small, medium and big sizes) 


  • 200 g light syrup/light molasses *
  • 150 g granulated sugar
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of ground ginger (or 3 gramm)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of ground cloves (or 3 gramm)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of cinnamon (or 3 gramm)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of baking soda (or 3 gramm)
  • 150 g unsalted butter (cut in cubes)
  • 1 egg
  • 500 g all-purpose flour
* In Sweden syrup is often used in baking (it is made out of sugar beets). You can replace it with lights molasses but I must admit that I always use Swedish syrup and do not have any experience with molasses. Read about Scandinavian syrup and how to replace it here


  • Preheat the oven to 175°C. 
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Be prepared: you need a lot of baking sheets. I used three baking sheets at a time. When I took out the pepparkakor from the oven, I let the baking sheets cool for a few minutes and then placed the next batch of cookies. 
  • Place syrup, sugar and spices in a big saucepan and mix the ingredients.
  • Let the mixture boil up, then remove from heat.
  • Add baking soda and stir. Add butter cubes and the egg; mix until the butter is dissolved.
  • Add flour and mix with a wooden spoon until all ingredients are well combinded. If the dough is too sticky add more flour.
  • On a well-floured surface place the dough (the dough is still warm).  
  • Roll out dough very thinly (2 mm thin) on a well-floured surface (or between two parchment papers). Use a quarter of the dough at a time and do not forget to flour your rolling pin occasionally and your surface as well. 
  • Cut out cookies with shaped cookie cutters. Place cookies on baking sheets.
  • Roll out the scraps and repeat until you cut out the entire dough. The second time you roll out the dough it is getting a little bit harder rolling out the dough but then again the dough is firmer and it is easier to cut out the cookies. 
  • Bake the pepparkakor for 4 to 5 minutes. 
  • Let the cookies cool on a wire rack. 
  • Store the pepparkakor in air-tight cookie tins.