These classic German cinnamon star cookies only need four ingredients and are a must-try for any cookie plate.
I absolutely love baking for the holiday season! One of the recipes I never miss is these German cinnamon star cookies.
I love this time of year! It’s full of flavors, scents, beautiful sounds, and candlelight. Even though we are moving toward the shortest day of the year.
Also, it is the time when I like to spend afternoons in the kitchen. There are so many classic Christmas recipes that I like to make and bake.
Every year, I bake enough cookies that I can give little bags to friends and family. Usually, I add a little tag that reads “from the hearts and kitchen of …”.
Most often, I end up baking about 6 or so different cookie types. Mostly, they are family favorites.
If I happen to be in Germany for the holidays, I always visit different Christmas markets. There I like to sample their Zimtsterne cookies.
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Why You’ll Love these German cinnamon stars
Cinnamon star cookies are a family favorite because they
- only contain 4 ingredients
- are naturally gluten-free
- are very easy to make (check out my step-by-step instructions and tips below)
- and they are one of Germany’s favorite Christmas cookies where people call them “Zimtsterne”
What you will need | Ingredients
Make sure to have these ingredients on hand:
- Eggs: Even though we will only use the egg whites
- Nuts: My favorite and the traditional are hazelnuts, sometimes called filberts but see my substitutions below if you can’t find them
- Cinnamon: This warming spice really elevates these cookies
- Powdered sugar: I love using organic powdered sugar but any confectioner’s sugar works.
Useful tools and equipment
It really helps to have these tools for making these cinnamon star cookies:
- Food processor: Since it can be challenging to find ground hazelnuts, I grind them in my food processor
- Hand mixer: to whip up your egg whites but you can use any mixer you like
- Tall, narrow bowl: Again, use what you have but I love using a deep bowl since it prevents unnecessary splattering
- Rolling pin: I love my wooden rolling pin
- Star cookie cutter: I have an assortment but I find the 3″ star-shaped cookie cutter best for this dough
- Silicone baking mat: I use those both for rolling out the cookie dough and baking the cinnamon star cookies
How to make these beloved traditional German Christmas cookies
1. Making the cookie dough:
- If you are using whole hazelnuts, grind them into a fine meal in your food processor.
- Separate the egg whites from the yolks.
- In a deep bowl and using your hand mixer beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
- Gradually and while keeping the mixer going add the powdered sugar.
- Transfer about ⅓ of this white mixture and transfer it to another small bowl. Keep it in a cool place or your refrigerator for later.
- Add the cinnamon powder and ground nuts to the egg-white mixture.
- Mix until all the ingredients are well combined.
- Transfer this dough to the refrigerator for about 2 hours or overnight.
2. Rolling and cutting out the cookie dough:
- You might like to separate the dough in half.
- You can roll out the dough on a silicone mat, on parchment paper, or between two sheets of plastic wrap.
- Beginning with the first half, roll out the dough about ¼” – ⅓” thick.
- Cut out star shapes with your cookie cutter.
- Transfer them to the prepared baking sheets (either using a silicone mat or parchment paper)
3. Adding the meringue glaze:
- Remove the remaining egg white mixture from the refrigerator.
- With the back of a small spoon or a pastry brush, spread this mixture on the top of each cookie.
4. Baking the cinnamon star cookies:
- Bake the cookies in a preheated oven at 275˚F for 15 to 20 minutes. The cookies should still be slightly soft.
- With a spatula, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.
Substitutions and variations
Here are some ideas for other ingredients or tools:
- Nuts: While I absolutely prefer using hazelnuts for this recipe (I usually get them at Trader Joe’s), you can also use almonds. These might be easier since you can easily find ground almonds or almond meal in grocery stores (Trader Joe’s has them, too).
- Egg white mixture: Some people like to add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to brighten the flavor and prevent over-beating. You can also add a pinch of salt.
- Food processor: If you don’t have a food processor for grinding the nuts, you could also use a high-speed blender. In that case, I recommend using a medium-low speed and scraping the sides of the container often.
- Other flavors: You can add lemon zest or a small amount of vanilla extract (or vanilla sugar) to the dough.
- Silicone mats: I prefer using them but again you can use parchment both for rolling out the dough and for baking.
- Hand mixer: If you don’t own one, you can also use a food processor, stand mixer, or your high-speed blender to whip up the egg whites.
Frequently asked questions:
Why is my dough sticky when I am rolling it out?
This could have a few reasons: You may need to add more ground nuts to your dough. Or you need to chill it longer. However, this dough will be somewhat sticky. I like to use some powdered sugar on top of the dough and to dust my rolling pin to keep the dough from sticking.
How can I get the glaze to look all pretty on the cinnamon stars?
You can use a small pastry brush or the back of a small teaspoon. If you want the glaze to look really pretty, try using a toothpick to push the glaze all the way to the tips of the star.
Why are my cinnamon star cookies so hard?
While some people like them that way, they are traditionally supposed to be soft. Make sure that the temperature of your oven is accurate. You want to “dry” these cinnamon stars more than “bake” them and the glaze should remain white.
What do I do when after a few cookies the dough sticks to my cookie cutter?
This is a common problem. For that reason, I don’t like to use very small cookie cutters because the dough likes to stick to the tips of the stars. However, even with bigger cookie cutters, you can either dip them in the confectioner’s sugar every so often or wash them with cool water.
How do I keep the cinnamon star cookies? How long do they last?
For best results, I transfer them to an airtight container or pretty cookie tin. There they will last at least 2 weeks at room temperature. However, I find that for me they easily last 4 weeks (but usually we eat them before that).
Other German holiday recipes you might enjoy:
Watch the video:
I would love to hear how you like them! Let me know in the comments what version you ended up doing!
Pin For Later:
Authentic German Cinnamon Star Cookies
- 1 ⅓ cups hazelnuts
- 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon powder
- 3 egg whites
- Grind nuts in a food processor. Set aside.
- Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Keep the yolks for another recipe.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. While mixing, gradually add the powdered sugar.
- Transfer about ⅓ of this mixture to another bowl, cover, and place it in the refrigerator.
- To the remaining egg white mixture, add the cinnamon powder and ground nuts. Mix until all the ingredients are combined. Cover and chill this dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 275˚F.
- On a silicone mat, parchment paper, or between to sheets of plastic wrap, roll out the dough to about ¼" to ⅓".
- Using star-shaped cookie cutters, cut out stars.
- With a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, spread the egg white mixture on the top of each star.
- Bake the cookies for about 15-20.
- if you can’t find hazelnuts, you can also use almonds or almond meal
- if the dough sticks to the cookie cutter, dip the cookie cutter lightly in powdered sugar or rinse with cold water
- these cookies will keep for up to 4 weeks in a cookie tin or airtight container