Lebkuchen Recipe

German immigrants brought the recipe for this traditional Christmas cookie to Missouri in the 1800s. Lebkuchen cookies sit in sealed containers to “ripen” for a month before being consumed at Christmas. They were prepared around nut harvesting time in November and eaten at Christmas. They are kind of like a granola bar or a fruitcake without fruit.

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

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1 cup sorghum molasses or dark molasses
¼ cup lard or vegetable shortening
¼ cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
2½ tsp. baking soda
½ cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
½ Tbsp. each cloves, ginger, nutmeg, allspice
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 cup chopped mixed nuts (I used pecans and walnuts)
1 cup mixed dried fruit (I used raisins and dried cranberries)
Pinch of salt
Powdered sugar (optional)


  1. Heat molasses, lard, sugar and brown sugar, mix together, and then let cool.
  2. Add baking soda to buttermilk in a mixing bowl, and then add the molasses mixture and the rest of the ingredients. Mix together until a wet dough forms.
  3. Place dough on a sheet of waxed paper. Use your hands to shape the dough into a log-shaped roll. When the dough becomes too sticky to shape with your hands, wrap it in wax paper and continue shaping. Tip: You can cut the dough into 2 rolls if it’s hard to shape.
  4. Chill overnight with the wax paper around the dough.
  5. Slice and bake at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes.
  6. To “ripen,” store the baked cookies in an airtight container (like a stone jar or plastic container) at room temperature for a month, or freeze and eat them next year.
  7. For serving, combine powdered sugar with water until you have a drizzling consistency. Then drizzle over "ripened" cookies (optional)

Tip: You can also freeze the dough and then thaw and bake it later.