Swedish ginger thins (pepparkakor)

Swedish ginger thins are a true staple of the Swedish Christmas. Made worldwide famous by Ikea, pepparkakor (as they’re known in Swedish) are thin spiced cookies that are wonderfully crispy. Kept safe from humidity they preserve their crispiness for a few weeks, so they are a great make-ahead Christmas cookie.

Ikea has various merits, and one of them is to spread Swedish delicacies around the world. The famous Swedish meatballs, of course. But the Swedish ginger thins are no exception. You may have encountered them in cardboard boxes or in round tins, they are usually flower shaped and you probably know them as Annas Swedish thins. Ring a bell now?

If this year you want to make the famous Ikea cookies at home, here’s my Swedish ginger thins recipe. It has been developed following a true original Swedish recipe, but it has been scaled down to make about 2 trays. These ginger cookies are perfect to serve your guests or as a small homemade gift for Christmas.

Stacked ginger thins in the form of a snowflake.

How to make the ginger thins

Making the Swedish ginger thins is a rather simple task. If you have a food processor, all you gotta do is combine all the ingredients together and blitz until a dough ball forms. Otherwise you can start working the flour and butter with your hands and then add the rest of the ingredients and knead until you have your dough.

What gives the Swedish gingerbread biscuits their distinctive flavour is a combination of spices and the use of both sugar and syrup. More about some of them after the ingredient list:

  • Flour 
  • Butter 
  • Brown sugar
  • Syrup
  • Ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Baking powder (not obligatory)

Hand lifting a teaspoon from a container with syrup, other recipe ingredients placed around it.

The syrup used in Swedish baking is called light syrup and is made from the sugar beet like white granulated sugar. Golden syrup (from the sugar cane), maple syrup, corn syrup, liquid honey or date molasses are all viable alternatives. The use of one syrup over the other will change the colour of the dough. In the photo above you see the colour of beet sugar light syrup, but in the dough I have used date syrup (date molasses), hence the rather dark colour.

The spices are to be intended ground, all three of them. While you can choose your syrup of choice, these spices are non-negotiable. It’s these three together that make pepparkakor.

The butter should be preferred lightly salted, if available. Since these ginger cookies have no eggs, swap the butter for plant-based margarine to make the cookies vegan and allergy-friendly.

The baking powder can be omitted. The cookies will have a slightly harder bite, which I personally prefer.

Cookie dough wrapped in baking paper like a candy.

Baking the cookies

Make sure the dough is cold before rolling it out. This is particularly important if you have worked the dough with your hands: the warmth of your hands may make the dough too sticky. Wrap the dough in cling film or baking paper and chill it in the fridge for about a half hour before rolling it out.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a thickness of 1 mm – they’re ginger thins indeed! Cut out the cookies using your favourite cutters. Heart-shaped ginger thins are probably the most common among commercial pepparkakor, but homemade Swedish cookies include such shapes as pigs and goats. I’ve made a few of those, but used my snowflake cutter for the majority of them.

Set cookies on an oven tray lined with baking paper and bake at 190°C (375°F) for 7-8 minutes. Thicker cookies may require a minute more. I do not recommend making them thinner than 1 mm or they may burn too easily.

Remove the cookies immediately from the hot oven tray as soon as they come out of the oven. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let them air dry for about half an hour. This will ensure perfect crispiness.

Ginger thins in various shapes placed on a tray lined with baking paper.

Swedish Christmas cookies

No Swedish Christmas is complete without a ginger thin or two. In fact, the Christmas period in Sweden stretches out throughout all of Advent. That is when lots of restaurants offer Christmas buffet food. A very common way to start the festive meal is with a ginger thin and a small cup of glögg, a mulled hot drink that can be alcoholic or not.

Even if you don’t participate in any such buffet, it is still pretty common to be served gingerbread cookies during that time of the year. Everyone bakes pepparkakor in December. In fact, gingerbread baking is one of the top activities for families on Advent weekends. Many bake walls and roofs out of the delicious spiced dough, for their children to assemble. Gigerbread houses are serious business around here.

The famous ginger thins are commercially sold year round, but it’s only during Advent that stores sell packaged dough for the part-time home-bakers that want freshly baked gingerbread. I swear Swedish houses smell amazing in December!

Swedish gingerbread biscuits on white plates on a wooden table.

Ginger thins as Christmas tree ornaments

You can also use your gingerbread cookies as ornaments to put on your Christmas tree! To do that, remember to pierce a hole through them before baking. Keep in mind that the hole will shrink as the cookie bakes, so make it larger than the ribbon/twine you’re to use. To pierce mine I have used the pointy end of a chopstick, as a toothpick would have delivered a hole too thin.

Let the cookies cool completely before adding the thread and placing them on your Christmas tree. It’s already up, isn’t it? Mine sure is – I love my Christmas tree!

I have associated the Swedish ginger thins with Christmas long before life brought me to Sweden. It’s only Ikea to blame, as buying a tin of Ikea ginger thins had become a Christmas thing ever since Ikea opened in my hometown back in Italy. What kind of cookies resonate with Christmas to you? Let me know in the comments!

This recipe was originally published in December 2015 and has been updated in November 2020.

 

Overhead shot of gingerbread cookies on small white plates on a wooden table.
5 from 7 votes
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Swedish ginger thins Pepparkakor

Crispy ginger thins pepparkakor are traditional Swedish Christmas cookies. Made famous by Ikea, they are delicious and can also work as cute Christmas decorations!

Course Dessert
Cuisine Scandinavian, Swedish
Keyword christmas buns, ginger thins, gingerbread cookies, Ikea cookies
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Resting Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 375 kcal
Author Eva | Electric Blue Food

Ingredients

  • 160 g flour
  • 60 g butter cold, cubed
  • 50 g brown sugar
  • 90 g syrup
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon ground
  • 3/4 tsp ginger ground
  • 1/4 tsp cloves ground
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder optional

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until the dough forms and gathers into a ball.

  2. Wrap the dough in cling film or baking paper and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

  3. Roll out the dough on a well floured surface to 1 mm thick. Cut out the cookies and using an angled spatula transfer them to a cookie tray lined with baking paper.

  4. Bake at 190°C (375°F) for about 8 minutes - thicker cookies may require one more minute. Remove the cookies from the hot tray and transfer to a wire rack to finish drying out as they cool off.

Recipe Notes

  • Keep the cookies airtight and they will stay crispy for a couple of weeks.
  • If you don't have a food processor, start working the flour and butter with your hands and then add the rest of the ingredients and knead until you have your dough.
  • Baking powder can be omitted; the cookies will have a slightly harder bite.
Nutrition Facts
Swedish ginger thins Pepparkakor
Amount Per Serving
Calories 375 Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Fat 13g20%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Cholesterol 32mg11%
Sodium 173mg8%
Potassium 59mg2%
Carbohydrates 61g20%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 30g33%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 375IU8%
Calcium 59mg6%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

Crispy Swedish ginger thins - the Ikea cookies - are a traditional Christmas cookie in Sweden. They are easy to make and have a pretty long shelf-life if stored correctly. They are the perfect homemade Christmas gift as they are delicious cookies that double as cute Christmas tree ornaments!

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25 Comments

  1. Mutsumi December 28, 2015 at 20:02

    Pig & goat shaped biscuits on the Christmas day are sweet. I guess they traditionally farm them but “alligator”? in Sweden??? That is beyond my imagination?!

    Reply
    1. Eva December 28, 2015 at 20:11

      Yeah, I know, not a very typical Swedish animal. But it looked so cute! And it didn’t come in the set, it was just an animal I decided to add to the”farm” 😀

      Reply
      1. Mutsumi December 28, 2015 at 20:16

        Oh, I see. It is a nice farming collection! 🙂

        Reply
  2. Camellia Lesniak December 7, 2019 at 01:58

    I am enthused by the recipies galore , I am not an avid iPad user , but browse through , suddenly touching accidently one. Utton and it gets into an these unusual pages, which I did not know so this is the Gingerbread thins -Swedish made ,sold by Ikea ,( I was searching for a recipe) received as a gift for St. Nicholas feastday – 6december. ” Mikolajki” – Me-koh-wye-kee” in Polish language . Great one can find many things on Google/Safari . Technology has moved fast, although it is a heartache that books are being destroyed showing the love off them , as we live in a society of no books, only technology , therefore no individualism of reading ,seeing, , the GOLD OF IT ALL. , but well,at least one can find it maybe quicker only .
    I am happy I found some recioes . So conti ue to show extras into the future. Thanking , smikes Camellia

    Reply
    1. Eva December 7, 2019 at 18:40

      Dear Camellia, I guess there are some positive features about technology, too. I love that with my blog I can share my recipes with the world. Think if I had to send you a recipe to Australia by regular mail. I belong to a younger generation and I promise books are still in use. I see technology as a complement. Once again, thank you for taking the time to write to me. It was a pleasure!

      Reply
  3. Bernice Hill December 8, 2020 at 05:11

    Awesome! I buy these from IKEA all the time. I bet your homemade version is even better!

    Reply
    1. Eva December 8, 2020 at 23:12

      Hi Bernice! Hope you get a chance to try the homemade ones sometime 😉

      Reply
  4. Candice December 8, 2020 at 21:05

    5 stars
    This is my favorite tea cookie, and I was excited to find your recipe. It came out perfectly! So easy to follow, and just how I remember them. Thank you for the recipe!

    Reply
    1. Eva December 8, 2020 at 23:13

      Thank you Candice. It’s nice to hear they did not disapoint!

      Reply
  5. Aleta December 9, 2020 at 23:34

    5 stars
    If it’s one cookie I can’t get enough of, it’s gingerbread. I am just as excited about the turn of the season as my kids are, because I get to make gingerbread cookies! Your cookies are much thinner and crispier than the cookies I usually make, but are just as delicious! Thanks for the awesome recipe Eva 🙂

    Reply
    1. Eva December 12, 2020 at 22:53

      Thank you for your kind words Aleta!

      Reply
  6. Anna December 10, 2020 at 12:48

    5 stars
    Love your ginger thins Eva! What a perfect festive treat! They would make perfect edible gift for the loved ones, I’m definitely adding them to my annual xmas cookie box as they are delicious!

    Reply
    1. Eva December 12, 2020 at 22:54

      Thank you Anna! I’m sure they will fit in great with your other fantastic cookies.

      Reply
  7. Marisa F. Stewart December 13, 2020 at 19:51

    5 stars
    I love these and had them at IKEA — and I wanted a recipe. Every year I like to add more Christmas cookie recipes from different countries. I made the ginger cookies and I think they taste better than the stores. These will be regulars at Christmas.

    Reply
    1. Eva December 13, 2020 at 21:57

      Hi Marisa! Isn’t it so cool that Ikea has helped spread the word about these little cookies? I’m very happy to read you liked my recipe!

      Reply
  8. Ben M December 13, 2020 at 20:26

    5 stars
    I love traditional Swedish food and love cookies, so this recipe was perfect. Great cookies and a really easy recipe to follow. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Eva December 13, 2020 at 21:57

      Thank you Ben! My pleasure!

      Reply
    2. Aashni S December 30, 2020 at 16:49

      Hi, just wondering when you say 190 is that fan or conventional oven?

      Thank you!

      Reply
      1. Eva December 30, 2020 at 17:27

        Hi Aashni! When I do not specify fan forced I always mean conventional (static). For fan-forced I’d recommend 180°C.

        Reply
  9. Tammy December 13, 2020 at 21:10

    5 stars
    Your photos are so beautiful!!! These look lovely and sounds delicious. A perfect new cookie recipe to try this holiday season. Thank you!!

    Reply
    1. Eva December 13, 2020 at 21:58

      Thank you Tammy! This was a new task for me as I usually go for lighter moods but right now with winter darkness I had to embrace a different mood if I wanted to shoot with natural light. I’m very pleased with the result and I was happy to receive feedback about the photos!

      Reply
  10. Leslie December 14, 2020 at 01:38

    5 stars
    I can almost smell these just looking at the picture! I need to make these with my kids!

    Reply
    1. Eva December 14, 2020 at 20:37

      I used to make them with my pupils at school, it’s a funny activity to share with kids!

      Reply
  11. Cindy December 14, 2020 at 08:12

    These look amazing on the christmas tree and they taste so good! I love gingerbread cookies and especially enjoy thin ones with my morning coffee. Can’t wait to make these the next time my friends do a cookie exchange 🙂

    Reply
    1. Eva December 14, 2020 at 20:37

      Thank you Cindy! I really like having some on the Christmas tree, too. They make the room smell like gingerbread!

      Reply

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