Mother-in-Law's Swedish Pepparkaka Cookies

These Swedish gingerbread cookies are an annual treat during the holidays in my husband's family. I've had the recipe for decades but never made them until recently. I added my Mother-In-Law's Swedish Pepparkaka Cookies to my baking list this holiday season because sadly we lost her in September and in her honor I wanted to keep the family tradition going.

Mother-In-Law's Swedish Pepparkakor Cookies

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Mother-in-Law's Swedish Pepparkaka Cookies

The cookies are more commonly known as Pepparkakor but Mr. Frugalista's family always refers to them as Pepparkaka. Peppar meaning pepper and kaka meaning cookie. Apparently, at one time the recipe did include pepper but over the generations, it was eliminated.

The custom was to place a cookie in the palm of your hand and make a wish. Using the index finger or thumb of your other hand, you would tap the cookie in the middle. If it broke into three pieces, your wish would come true.

Mouth-Watering Swedish Ginger Cookies

The shape of the cookies was also symbolic and commonly cut in stars, hearts, men, women, pigs, or goats. The animals symbolizing fertility or mid-winter feast. Heart shapes were thought to make you gentler and kinder. My mother-in-law was a very quiet, unassuming, kind, and gentle woman and so I choose the heart shape to honor her.

Swedish Heart Shaped Pepparkaka Cookies

Pepparkaka cookies are decorated with white icing piped along the edges but they can be left plain like my mother-in-law preferred them.

I chose to make mine look more festive by giving them a light dusting of powdered sugar. I hope my mother-in-law would approve.

Swedish Christmas Cookie Recipe

Another cookie that has become part of my holiday baking regime is my Mom's Traditional Shortbread Cookies but with a lavender twist. The recipe has been in my family for generations and when we lost Mom in 2017, I continued the cookie tradition in her memory.

Pepparkaka ingredients

These are the ingredients to make these mouth-watering Swedish Christmas cookies. You'll find the printable recipe card further down in the post.

Swedish Pepparkaka Cookie Ingredients

The cookies are a two-day affair but so worth the wait. You make the dough one day and let it stand in the fridge overnight and bake them the following day.

Swedish Pepparkaka Cookie Dough

Helpful tips for baking Pepparkaka 

Wait approximately 10-15 minutes after taking the chilled dough out of the fridge before rolling it because the dough tends to crack.

Dip the cookie cutters in flour first because they have a tendency to stick a bit.

Don't overcrowd the cookie sheet like I did below because the cookies rise quite a bit. Some of my hearts were stuck together but once they were completely cooled I was able to separate them with a quick snap.

Heart Shaped Swedish Pepparkaka Cookies

These delicious cookies have that gingersnap but are soft on the inside. I promise you will not be able to stop at just one. I love to dip them in coffee or tea.

Can I freeze Pepparkakor cookies?

Yes, you can. In fact, I froze these after they were sprinkled with powdered sugar! I precut several pieces of wax paper to fit my long rectangular plastic Tupperware container that I've had since the late 70s. I placed the cookies in single layers covered with a sheet of wax paper and carefully added the next single layer. I managed to fit all five dozen cookies in four single layers.

I'd be so thankful if you pinned this recipe or shared it with a friend. With gratitude! -Marie

Mother-In-Law's Swedish Papparkaka Cookies

If you have any questions about this cookie recipe, please leave them in the comment section below or press the Contact Me button at the top of the blog to drop me an email. I love hearing from you!

As promised, here is the printable recipe card should you want to make these Swedish Pepparkaka Cookies.

Swedish Pepparkaka Cookies

Swedish Pepparkaka Cookies
Yield: 5 dozen cookies
prep time: 30 M cook time: 10 M total time: 40 M
Also known as Pepparkakor, these mouth-watering Swedish Ginger Cookies have been a Christmas tradition in my husband's family. They have that ginger snap on the outside with soft centers on the inside. Great dipping cookies!


  • 3 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses


How to cook Swedish Pepparkaka Cookies

  1. Sift the dry ingredients, except for the sugar, in a separate bowl.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add eggs and molasses.
  4. Stir in dry ingredients in increments until well blended.
  5. Shape into a ball and cover with plastic wrap.
  6. Let stand in the fridge overnight.
  7. Cut the dough into 4 pieces.
  8. Roll out the dough on a floured surface 1/8" thick.
  9. Cut with heart, star, or gingerbread men cookie cutters dipped in flour.
  10. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  11. Bake in 350°F oven for 10 minutes until lightly brown around the edges.
  12. Makes approximately 5 dozen cookies.


Prep time does not include letting dough stand in the fridge overnight.
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Created using The Recipes Generator

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12 Days Holiday Ideas Blog Hop

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Day 2 - Survival Guides
Day 3 - Holiday Kid Activities
Day 4 - Party Games
Day 5 - Holiday Advent Calendar
Day 6 - DIY Wreath
Day 7 - DIY Ornament
Day 8 - Holiday Printables
Day 9 - Christmas Potluck Recipes
Day 10 - Holiday Desserts & Treats (you are here)
Day 11 - Christmas Breakfast Recipes
Day 12 - Christmas Tree Tour

There are several more holiday desserts and treat recipes below from our talented co-hosts on this leg of the 12 Days Of Holiday Ideas Tour.

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  1. What a beautiful tradition and remembrance. My daughters would love fortune-telling via cookies! I can't wait to give this recipe a try. It's sure to remind my husband of his Swedish grandmother, too.

    1. I hope you enjoy the cookies and that they bring back memories of your husband's Swedish heritage.

  2. Oh my goodness Marie!! Does cookies look delicious!! I'm definitely going to try the recipe. Thank you!!

    1. Thank you so much, Christine! I hope you enjoy the cookies as much as we do during the holidays. Thanks for stopping by for a visit 😊

  3. I do so much enjoy a good dipping cookie with my coffee. These sound scrumptious and I like the addition of the powdered sugar. I'm sure you dear MIL would be pleased that you have taken up her tradition.

    1. Thank you Shirley, considering my husband is an only child, I'm sure she would be happy to see the tradition continues. More about her traditions coming on Wednesday 😉

  4. I love the tradition of these cookies! Some of the best cookies come from family and it's great that this recipe can be passed down. I think dusting the powdered sugar over top makes it festive and it looks great. Pinned.

    1. Thank you Erlene, I don't know what took me so long to make them. They'll definitely be added to my annual Christmas baking list because they are so dang tasty!

  5. I love family recipes, the evoke so many memories, smells and sweet moments! These look so yummy!!

    1. These definitely do that Kathleen and they are so delicious. I can't wait to serve them to guests.

  6. What a wonderful way to honor your mother in law's memory! They look delicious. Pinned.

  7. Marie, such a beautiful way to honor your mother in law and keep her holiday tradition. I have never made this cookies, but look forward to giving them a try. Thank you for sharing. Pinned!

    1. Thank you Lynne, this was my first time making them and they've definitely been added to my annual Christmas baking list.

  8. Marie, I'm gonna bake some of those yummy-sounding cookies! I've already printed out the recipe.

    Also, when I click on the entries for the giveaway nothing happens. Is it only me? Help!

    1. Glad to hear you're going to give the cookies a try, Naomi. I hope you like them as much as we do! As for the giveaway, did you log into the rafflecopter using either Facebook or an email address? It seems to be working on my end. Let me know if that didn't work either.

  9. These look delicious, Marie! I have never made Pepparkaka Cookies before, but I will definitely be trying them out this year! Pinned!

    1. Be prepared to have them call your name if you decide to bake them - so so tasty!

  10. These look so delish! When you come with your flip flops to sit by the fire, try to sneak a box of these through customs. LOL... we shall munch and sip tea and laugh the day away.....pinned... XO

    1. Well wouldn't that be grand! Your warm and cozy outdoor fireplace is just begging for a good chat with gingerbread cookies.

  11. These look delicious and what a terrific way to honor your mother-in-law's memory. Thanks for sharing to Inspire Me Monday I am pinning this recipe to try later.

    1. Awesome Erica, I hope you like the cookies as much as we do!

  12. These look delicious, Marie! How special that it's a family recipe!

    1. They really are tasty Beverly but they keep calling me from the freezer. LOL

  13. Your cookies look delicious Marie! I bet they smell wonderful while they are baking! Thanks for sharing with us at the Snickerdoodle Link Party! They will be one of my features this Saturday!

    1. Thank you so much for featuring these cookies, Roseann, I really appreciate it! xo Yes, the house did smell wonderful when making them.

  14. These look delicious, Marie! I love the photo with the powdered sugar! Looks for festive! Thanks for sharing at Tuesday Turn About... the party returns from the Christmas break this Tuesday, 1/7. Hope to see you there, and Happy New Year!

    1. Julie, these cookies were such a hit during the holidays. They were calling my name from the freezer far too often so I made up some festive jars and gave them all away. My mouth is watering just thinking about them. LOL

  15. I made these at our local country fair when I was very young with the help of my Swedish Grandmother and won. I have not made for years, thanks for inspiration!

    1. That is wonderful! I'm not surprised they won because they are so darn delicious. They are great dunking cookies too, eh!


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