How to Make German Lebkuchen

Not too sweet but full of holiday flavors, you can make these delicious German Lebkuchen very quickly in a baking dish.

Nothing says holidays and Christmas more than German Lebkuchen. They are similar but not the same as the American gingerbread.

I remember my grandmother always making a big batch every year. We would then have them in the afternoon with coffee or tea. This recipe is as close as I can make it to what I remember from my childhood.

We love eating this German Lebkuchen on its own – or in other recipes such as our traditional Christmas dinner with brown gingerbread sauce.

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Why you’ll love this recipe

As with most if not all of my recipes, you will find this German Lebkuchen recipe very easy. Basically, you will throw the ingredients together in a big bowl, transfer the dough to a baking dish, and bake it. That’s all.

Despite the easy recipe, this Lebkuchen is very flavorful due to the distinct spice mixture. But actually, it tastes better the next day, if you can wait that long.

I will even give you some ideas below on how you can make it healthier!

German Lebkuchen squares

What are the ingredients for these German Lebkuchen

Except for the spice mixture, you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen already:

  • flour: for my recipe, I used organic AP flour. However, you can use spelt flour, einkorn flour, and replace some of the white flour with a portion of whole grain flour.
  • milk: here, too, you can use whatever you have: cow’s milk, plant-based milk, or buttermilk. I actually used half cow’s milk and half buttermilk in my most recent baking and found it perfect!
  • cacao powder: this will give these German Lebkuchen their distinct dark color but also depth of flavor.
  • honey: I like using honey as a natural sweetener. Even more so, the honey also gives these Lebkuchen a traditional flavor. As it is, there are many recipes like this in Germany that are called “Honigkuchen” (which translates to ‘honey cake’) for that exact reason. With this amount of honey, this Lebkuchen is not overly sweet. Feel free to add more sugar if you like your Lebkuchen sweeter!
  • butter: you can use both unsalted or salted butter. If you use the latter, you don’t need to add any extra salt.
  • Lebkuchen spice: you can easily buy the premixed spices in Germany. You can find this Lebkuchen spice mixture here as well. If you’re like me you might like to make it yourself (instructions below). In a pinch you could use gingerbread spice or pumpkin pie spice but your Lebkuchen won’t have the traditional taste and flavor.
  • salt: I always love adding a pinch of salt to any sweet recipe as salt really brings out the sweetness.
  • baking powder: not much to say here but this is necessary for leavening.

Useful tools and equipment

Other than just a large mixing bowl and a whisk or electric mixer, you don’t need much. There are always some items that I find very useful:

  • silicone spatulas: even though I own three, I often feel I could use more. They come in so handy when transfering something from one container to the next.
  • glass baking dish: there are many ways you can bake these German Lebkuchen but I prefer glass baking dishes. If you want a higher cake, you can use an 8″ by 8″ baking dish and if your want a flatter cake, you can use a 7″ by 13″ baking dish.
  • pastry brushes: after baking, you will brush this Lebkuchen with milk. That is where a pastry brush comes in handy. I always like natural materials such as wood.

How to make the German Lebkuchen

As you will see, there is not much to making these Lebkuchen:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350˚F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of flour with 2 cups of milk. Add the 2 tablespoons cacao powder, 1 cup honey, 2 tablespoons melted butter, a pinch of salt (if using), 2 tablespoons Lebkuchen spice mixture, and 1 rounded teaspoon baking powder and mix well. If you like your Lebkuchen sweeter, you can add up to ½ cup of sugar to it.
  3. Line a baking dish with parchment paper or grease and lightly flour.
  4. Transfer the dough to the baking dish. Using a silicone spatula, spread evenly.
  5. Bake the Lebkuchen for about 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.
  6. While still warm, brush the top of the Lebkuchen with some milk. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Cut in squares. Optional: dust with powdered sugar or your favorite toppings.
cutting German Lebkuchen squares

How to make Lebkuchen spice mixture

In a small bowl, combine:

  • 1 tsp anise
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

This will be enough spice mixture to make these German Lebkuchen. However, you can easily double or triple the amounts. You can use both ground spices or whole spices. If you’re using whole spices, you can grind them in a coffee grinder or dedicated spice grinder.

Lebkuchen

How to make German Lebkuchen healthier

Many people don’t do well with gluten. If you are gluten-sensitive but do not have celiac disease, you might like to try properly fermenting your German Lebkuchen.

For that, combine flour and milk (ideally about 50% buttermilk) and place in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. This will help pre-digest the gluten in the flour. Often this makes a big difference for anyone with gluten sensitivity. But even if you have no issues with gluten, it can be a good idea to properly ferment your grains. If you’d like to learn more about this, I highly recommend Sally Fallon’s book “Nourishing Traditions”!

How to eat German Lebkuchen

We like dusting the Lebkuchen with powdered sugar. It adds a bit more sweetness. We love eating them as they are on their own.

Because they are so versatile, you could use them for other recipes such as bread puddings, trifle, tiramisu, over a cup of yogurt, or our favorite, in our traditional Christmas dinner, the gingerbread sauce.

German gingerbread squares

Other recipes you might like

Gingerbread Sauce

Artisan no-knead Sourdough Bread

Cinnamon Star Cookies

Cast Iron Skillet Roasted Nuts

Pumpkin Sourdough Bread Pudding

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Silicone spatulas

Glass baking dishes

Wooden pastry brush

German Lebkuchen spice

Pumpkin pie spice

How to Make German Lebkuchen
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

German Lebkuchen | Gingerbread

Not too sweet but full of holiday flavors, you can make these delicious German Lebkuchen very quickly in a baking dish.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: German
Keyword: German Gingerbread, Lebkuchen
Servings: 16 squares
Calories: 70kcal
Author: Our Gabled Home
Cost: $9

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 TBSP cacao powder
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 TBSP melted butter
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 TBSP Lebkuchen spices see notes below
  • 1 tsp, rounded baking powder
  • extra milk for brushing

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350˚F.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and milk. Add the cacao powder, honey, melted butter, a pinch of salt (if using), Lebkuchen spice mixture, and baking powder. Mix well. If you like your Lebkuchen sweeter, you can add up to ½ cup of sugar to it.
  • Line a baking dish with parchment paper or grease and lightly flour.
  • Transfer the dough to the baking dish. Using a silicone spatula, spread evenly.
  • Bake the Lebkuchen for about 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.
  • While still warm, brush the top of the Lebkuchen with some milk. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Cut in squares. Optional: dust with powdered sugar or your favorite toppings.

Notes

You can make your own Lebkuchen spice by combining 1 tsp anise, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp coriander, ½ tsp ginger, ¼ tsp cloves ,¼ tsp nutmeg ,1/8 tsp cardamom, 1/8 tsp pepper

Let me know if you have any questions or comments!

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How to Make German Lebkuchen

9 thoughts on “How to Make German Lebkuchen | Gingerbread”

    1. Hi Susan, the classic cinnamon star cookies actually don’t contain any flour! As for the Lebkuchen, I would say that a gluten-free flour should work but I have not tried it myself. Hope that helps and happy baking ~ Anja

  1. 5 stars
    I made these today, and they are so yummy and delicious. I love this recipe, and have forwarded it to all my friends. Every one of your recipes are fantastic. Thanks for sharing this perfect holiday recipe.

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