Spekulaas Cookies

James Beard

Author and Educator

"A rich and spicy cookie that can be rolled out and cut as any rolled cookie, but in Holland and Central Europe, the dough is invariably pressed into a carved board to form interesting figures. The dough can be stored, chilled or frozen and then sliced before baking," said James Beard. This recipe makes a large amount of cookies and can easily be halved.


  • 2 cups (1 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 lemon, zested with microplane
  • 4 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely crushed or ground cardamom seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until creamed and pale in color, about 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs and lemon zest until smooth; scrape bowl with a rubber spatula.

In a separate mixing bowl, sift the flour, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves together; add salt. Add flour mixture into the bowl with the butter and sugar in 2 to 3 additions; beat on low until just barely combined. Scrape bowl with spatula between additions. Do not overmix.

Divide dough into 4 pieces. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill 4 to 12 hours.

Bring dough to room temperature, 30 to 45 minutes before rolling. Place dough on large piece of lightly floured parchment paper to prevent sticking. Roll dough to ¼-inch thickness. If dough becomes too warm, chill dough as needed.

If making molded cookies, use a dry pastry brush to apply flour onto the dough and into wooden the carved details of the cookie molds. Press mold firmly to make an even impression; slowly pull mold away from the dough to release. For best results, trim cookie using a knife or cookie cutter before pressing each cookie. Using a small offset spatula, transfer cookies to a rimmed sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat steps with remaining dough, making sure to flour the molds each time. Dust excess flour off any scraps, kneed and re-roll once. Freeze or chill cutouts for 20 minutes or overnight.

If using a carved springerle rolling pin, brush rolling pin with flour and firmly roll with even pressure. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes; separate and transfer with a spatula to a parchment-lined sheet pan. Repeat.

Preheat oven 325°F oven with rack in middle position. Place cookies on a parchment-lined sheet pan spaced 1 inch apart. Bake until lightly golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, depending upon the thickness and circumference of the cookies. Cool for 5 minutes and transfer to rack until completely cool. The cookies can be kept in a airtight container for 1 week.


Adapted from James Beard's original recipe. Recipe photo and food styling by Judy Kim.


40 cookies