Pfeffernüsse {grain free Christmas cookies}

When I was a little girl (and even now, as a “grown up” girl), my dad and I shared a love for Peffernusse cookies.  I loved the splurge of that Archway package, and I was always torn between Pfeffernusse and the Cherry Nougats.  Now I’m not just grown up, but always looking for ways to enjoy good food and nourish my body as well.  (Did you know molasses has iron?  Cinnamon has all kinds of beneficial properties?)




This week, I was longing for spice (truth be told, also longing for the company of my parents), and I decided to dig deep and create my own grain free Christmas cookies that are a gluten-free, naturally sweetened version of that spicy cookie.




I have to say as an honest disclosure – sometimes my kiddos describe “healthier” desserts as “tasting that way.”  But this one was a hit with them (two batches devoured in a week) and with the staff at the conference where my husband works.  So I can say with confidence, make this.  And Merry Christmas memories to you, too.




You may notice, there are two different “looks” to the cookies in this post.  I first wanted to really replicate the look of the Pfeffernusse cookies of my past memories.  I rolled the dough into little balls and then rolled those balls in the natural “powdered sugar.”  Well, can I tell you, this dough is STICKEEEEEEEEEy?  I’m a hater of baking-waste (oh how I despise on the cooking shows when they barely scrape the bowl and plop it in the sink), and I was losing far too much of the precious dough on my hands.  So I got lazy efficient and just went with a “drop cookie,” which I sprinkled at the end with the sugar.  It tasted just as delicious, and was a heap easier.




Beautiful round balls?  Or pretty, rustic little cookie nuggets?  It’s your call which matters most when you bake yours!




Yes, i knooooow there are a lot of sugar-shower photos in this post.  But I love them, and I couldn’t weed them out.  Forgive.


Paleo Pfeffernüsse Angela Sackett b


(For a natural, paleo-friendly version of powdered sugar, try processing one cup coconut sugar with one tablespoon arrowroot in your blender.  It has an earthy tan color, but that texture that looks great adorning baked goods.)


Pfeffernüsse {grain-free Christmas cookies}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A grain-free Christmas cookie sweetened with natural sweeteners, that is Paleo-friendly and Celiac-friendly. Although it looks like a hefty ingredient list, it's actually easy to make in one bowl - your food processor.
Recipe type: Paleo Dessert
Serves: 24 cookies
  • 3 cups pecans or pecan pieces
  • 1 teaspoon dried orange rind
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ¾ teaspoon cardamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon anise extract
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • ¾ cup coconut sugar
  • ⅓ cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • generous pinch sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Process pecans in food processor until they form a "butter" (a grainy texture like almond butter), stopping several times to scrape sides of bowl.
  4. Add molasses, egg, and coconut sugar and process again until well blended (about 45 seconds), scraping bowl again.
  5. Add spices and flour, soda, and salt.
  6. Process for an additional 30-45 seconds, or until well blended.
  7. Use two spoons to round dough and drop by medium sized tablespoons onto cookie sheet (mixture will be very sticky).
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes, or until top has just set.
  9. Sprinkle, if desired, with all-natural powdered sugar.



What is your favorite-est Christmas cookie?  What memories is it tied to for you?

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4 Comment

  1. Reply
    December 22, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    As wonderful as the cookies LOOK (and I’m certain they are equally tasty), they would be TWICE as good if I could share one with you (and my grandkidlets), daughter-of-mine!

    1. Reply
      December 27, 2015 at 9:01 pm


  2. Reply
    December 24, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    Hi, just stumped across your blog, via… I may have to wait ’til after next Friday, or Sunday, don’t think we have 3 cups of pecans, though I do have almond butter, but don’t think that rounds out to three cups either… but nonetheless: I can’t wait to try these! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    1. Reply
      December 27, 2015 at 8:59 pm

      Heather, let me know if you make them, and what you think! You can totally combine different types of nuts to get to the total amount recommended. And thank you for stopping by!

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