Last Updated on November 28, 2017 by Leyla Kazim
Pepparkakor: the irresistible Swedish ginger snaps
If you’ve ever stepped into a supermarket in Sweden (the food section in your local Ikea will provide the next best alternative) you may know about pepparkakor. They’re a much loved Christmas cookie, but I like to enjoy them all year.
If the name doesn’t ring a bell, the description will – very thin and very crisp dark spiced ginger biscuits, also known as ginger thins or ginger snaps. I picked up a couple of boxes when visiting Stockholm over Easter, one for home and one for a gift. Turns out I ate most of both boxes as it’s almost impossible to ignore their unique texture and mildly fiery flavour.
They’re not like any other cookie I’ve encountered – incredibly light and completely void of moisture lending to their unmistakable crispness. And those who did get a chance to dip in a paw before I managed to scoff the contents of both boxes thoroughly enjoyed them for the same reasons.
Short of having to drive to Ikea every time I want to re-stock, I soon realised the only solution would be to find a recipe and make them (regularly) myself.
The elusive pepparkakor ‘snap’
After quite a bit of research, it turns out achieving the signature snap in this Christmas cookie favourite is a challenge. There are online stories of bakers making dozens of batches with varying degrees of ingredients, still unable to claim victory over the elusive and unique texture.
Suggestions involve excluding any fat whatsoever in order to remove all moisture. Others say bake the ginger biscuits for longer at a lower temperature. Further advice speaks of using very strong and unfamiliar raising agents for the tough dough.
Well, I found a recipe and a process that read right to me. I tried it, and I nailed it first time. If you want to achieve the same texture and flavour as those boxed Swedish ginger thins, use this recipe.
Check Out: Recipe For Gluten-Free Hazelnut And Coffee Cookies, With No Butter!
This recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine (November 2011) and is an absolute corker. It is also incredibly quick and easy to make the dough – the majority of your time will be spent rolling and cutting out the individual ginger biscuits.
The recipe suggests this makes about 80 biscuits but I end up with double – I suspect I roll the dough half as thin as the recipe has. So if you do in fact want 80, I would half the below ingredients. Or you’ll end up with 160 biscuits filling up two large Tupperware boxes. Not a bad situation to be in, in my opinion. Keep them airtight and they’ll last you for as long as two people with an average biscuit intake would need to eat them.
A Recipe For Pepparkakor, Or Swedish Ginger Snaps Cookies
Makes 80 (or around 160 very thin ones as in the pictures)
- 2 1/2 cups plain flour
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 170g unsalted butter
- 4 tbsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- Pinch cayenne
- 1 1/4 cups packed dark brown soft sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses or black treacle
- 1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
How to make pepparkakor dough, the perfect Christmas cookie
Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in bowl. In the meantime, heat the butter in a pan over a medium heat until melted.
Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, swirling the pan frequently, until the foaming subsides and the butter is just beginning to brown. Turn off the heat.
Whisk in all the spices and then add the brown sugar and molasses to the butter mixture. Whisk to combine until the sugar has melted and you have a smooth mixture. Add the egg and yolk and mix again with the whisk to combine. You should have a dark, sticky, smooth and glossy mixture.
Pour this mixture into your bowl of flour and combine with a spatula until you have a dough – don’t over work it. Cover the bowl with cling film and keep in the fridge for the butter to firm, at least an hour.
Rolling out pepparkakor ginger snaps – why not make gingerbread men!
Adjust your oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 130C (fan). Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper or silicone paper.
Break off a portion of the dough and with your hands mound into a round and squash down. Take a rolling pin and slowly roll it out – if the edges are dry and crack, smooth them out with your fingers and continue rolling slowly.
If any of the dough sticks to your rolling pin, just reverse the roll to remove it and join it back to the main mass.
Roll them about as thin as 1mm – don’t worry, they do rise a little in the oven. Use a small cookie cutter to cut out your shapes. You can choose whatever you want – simple circles, stars, or even gingerbread men.
Carefully lift each biscuit and place on your baking trays – leave a slight gap between each as they do expand slightly. You will fit about twenty per baking tray. Gather up the remaining dough and join with the rest of the mass. Break off another portion and repeat the process until all your dough is used up.
Baking pepparkakor Swedish ginger biscuits
Place one tray on the upper rack and while it’s baking, roll out and fill up your next tray. After 15 minutes or so, transfer the partially baked top tray to the lower rack and rotate 180 degrees.
Place your second tray of biscuits on the upper rack. When your first tray is done, remove from the oven and transfer each biscuit to a cooling rack. Bring the top tray down to the bottom shelf, and continue this rotation until you’ve cooked all your biscuits. The ginger snaps are done when they are hard to touch and just darkening around the edges – around 15-20 minutes.
Tip The dough can be refrigerated for up to two days or frozen for up to one month if you want to get ahead. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping. Let frozen dough thaw overnight before proceeding with the recipe.
Settle down on a comfy arm chair in the evening with half a dozen pepparkakor, a glass of cold milk and a good read. I’m sold.
Have you ever made pepparkakor and if so, how did it go? What’s your favourite type of Christmas cookie? Would you use gingerbread men cutters for this, or another shape? If you’ve tried making these ginger things, let me know in the comments below!
As a Norwegian Living temporarily in the UK, i have made these ever since we moved here 5 years ago. UK style gingerbread has the “wrong” ratio of spices in my view and are too mild OR to ginger’ y. Then enter keto lifestyle. I now live at 20g carbs a day max, but these cookies has always been a year round favorite of mine with a cup of coffee. I though..well, ill try adapt, at least ill get the same flavour profile, even tho texture might be different. I used same amount of molasses though, cause overall that alone didnt add more than 1 carb per cookie, when making approx 80. I replaced flour with a mix of almond flour, coconut flour and wheat vital gluten.used brown sugar version of erythritol Added 1 extra egg. Left it 2 days in the fridge cause nut flours take a long time to absorb and soften, if at all lol. Not as elastic obviously, and i rolled out between two sheets and cut out, making sure dough was cold while doing so. A bit more time consuming and fragile cookies, but oh my word..the smell, flavour and yummyness i have missed so muxh made it all worth it. So so grateful i found this recipe after i moved away from Norway. Back home we can purchase premade dough that taste almost exactly like this, but this recipe is first to come that close. Thank youuuuu
This is totally amazing to hear Heidi – hooray! Thanks for taking the time to write it 🙂
This is the best ginger biscuit recipe I have ever come across. On my second batch, upped the cayenne to 1/4 tsp and added 1/4 tsp nutmeg. Baked at 175 degrees Celsius without rotation for about 8 to 10 min. Spicy and perfect. The new staple recipe!
This is so lovely to hear Nicole, thank you for letting me know 🙂
I had never heard of a temperature of 130 fan before. I looked at the conversion chart and that is only 300 F, which seems quite low. Has anyone tried baking the cookies at this temperature?
Hi Michele, according to the original recipe it’s 130C fan and that’s what I baked them at, and I think most people in the comments. But you can probably bake them at varying temperatures if you prefer, it will just mean the duration changes. Whatever temp you bake them on, take them out once they’re hard to touch and just darkening around the edges – then they’re ready!
Hi Leyla, I really want to make this recipe but am tearing my hair out with frustration. When I scrolled back up to the top of the page to discover you are a Londoner, I wanted to cry. Why oh why are you giving ingredients in cups, rather than grams? I assume that the quantities need to be fairly precise, particularly for someone who has never made this recipe before so doesn’t know what the consistency of the dough should be. I think maybe I’m a bit pedantic about following recipes but 2.5 cups of flour is just not precise enough for me. Do you tap the cup settle the contents or not ? When I google to find out what a cup of flour weights, every site that comes up gives a different answer. I guess that’s because the amount you put in the cup can vary quite a lot. (I’ve seen how many more sweets my granddaughter can get in pick’n’mix cup when I think its full!) I hate it when I can only find an American recipe for something but to find a Brit using this system horrifies me! Surely in this day and age we all have access to scales? I was hoping the US would come round to our way of thinking on this, but it appears we are going the other way!
Hi Sarah! It’s in cups as per the original recipe from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine (November 2011). Don’t worry about being overly precise, and you don’t need to tap the contents. Give it a go and I’m sure you’ll love the results!
I did give it a go and you were right, I did love the results. This recipe is a keeper! Many thanks.
So wonderful to hear Sarah, thanks for letting me know! I’m so pleased 🙂
If you look on handle of the measuring cup it state how many mls it’s equals to and mls is the same weight in grams. Hope this helps as I do like to use scales. Just something us Brits have been using since the beginning of time. Lol
I just put the dough in the fridge to chill. I am in the US and I’ve had the store bought pepparkakors. Of course I took a sample of the dough. I was not expecting that much heat so came to read the comments to see if 4 TABLEspoons of ginger wasn’t an error, as most I’ve used in a recipe is maybe two. Just confirming, it is Tablespoons, correct? Thank you 🙂
Hi Valeria! Yes that’s correct according to the original recipe. But if you prefer less heat feel free to use less ginger next time – you can alter the spices to your taste 🙂
I had no idea what a 190 C fan oven is. The closest guess to a conventional (US) oven is 375. This is also from comparing to other, similar recipes. I don’t mind doing the grams conversion but the oven thing was a stumper. If not using a convection type oven do we still rotate pans?
Hi Candace! If you Google something like ‘convert overn temperatures’ you should find a few helpful guides, here’s one I found: https://www.dovesfarm.co.uk/hints-tips/cheat-sheets/oven-temperature-conversion-table Hope that helps!
THe recipe is for 130C fan, though, correct? According to the chart that is 300F. The previous reviewer said 190 fan so I’m confirming.
Hi Gail, according to the original recipe it’s 130C fan. But you can probably bake them at varying temperatures if you prefer, it will just mean the duration changes. Whatever temp you bake them on, take them out once they’re hard to touch and just darkening around the edges – then they’re ready!
I rarely leave comments, but I must say these are great! Have been making this recipes for the last 3 years and they disappear as fast as I make them. Starting another batch this morning 🙂
This is absolutely wonderful to hear Inès – thank you so very much! Long may these bakes continue 🙂
I want to thank you. I found these 2 years ago, and it looked very close to my grandmothers recipe. I was disappointed when my mother could not find that recipe a few years ago. It was lost somewhere in a move. I moved to UK from Norway 6 years ago, and was not impressed with the ginger-thins or gingerbread they make and sell here. They do not have the right spice combo. Too heavy on the ginger, and lacking the others. I had looked for many recipes online, but very few had the same method as you do, with heating it up when making the dough. That was what my grandmother did. First couple of years I lived here in the UK, we went to IKEA and purchased the cookies there LOL. But this recipe is awesome and i made sure my mom and sister got it as well. They are not internet savvy, so they have it written down. So know that we love your recipe and has already become the best substitution for grandmother’s old recipe. I thought it was time to thank you, it is the third year I am making these now. THANK YOU!
This is absolutely amazing to hear Heidi, WOW! I too used to buy these from IKEA before I discovered this recipe 😅 I am absolutely thrilled you are enjoying them and how wonderful to hear you’ve been baking these for a few years now. Thank you so much for taking the time to write your lovely comment!
Hi! I have to say, this recipe is pure gold. I have never in my life baked cookies and since we’re in the middle of a lockdown, I can’t go buy my favorites Wintersaga cookies in Ikea. So i found this and thought i’d give it a go – the first try was a fail – turns out I didn’t cool enough the dough; so after I put it in the fridge for another hour, it went perfect! I baked them and I can honestly say these are the best home made cookies ever! I even used the Christmas holiday cookie models so they look extra festive.
This is absolute JOY to read Patricia, thank you so much! It seems a lot of those who used to buy these cookies from IKEA have found salvation in this recipe 🤣 I love the idea of the festive cookie cutters too. I wonder if they could even work as edible tree decorations!
Hi i want to make half the recipe what happens with the egg as there is only 1 and 1 yolk? Can you advise please thank you
Hi Kimy, I guess you will need half the egg if you are making half. Just try to pour out only half of the whites. And break the yolk and pour out just half of that too. Or just use 1 whole small egg rather than a large egg, I’m sure it will be fine.
The most amazing ginger snaps! This recipe is my new favourite! I love the way they zing your throat. Can’t wait for that blizzard day with hot chocolate and a good movie. Thank you!
Ah Jane, this is so wonderful to hear! Yes I absolutely agree – the best snaps to hunker down and hibernate with 🤗