German Gingerbread Hearts (Markt Lebkuchenherzen)

German Gingerbread Hearts

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Prep: 2 hrs 30 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Resting Time: 4 hrs
Total: 6 hrs 55 mins
Servings: 2 to 3 servings
Yield: 2 to 3 gingerbread
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
1461 Calories
31g Fat
275g Carbs
25g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 3
Amount per serving
Calories 1461
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 31g 40%
Saturated Fat 18g 90%
Cholesterol 133mg 44%
Sodium 666mg 29%
Total Carbohydrate 275g 100%
Dietary Fiber 7g 25%
Total Sugars 111g
Protein 25g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 203mg 16%
Iron 12mg 68%
Potassium 320mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Bake traditional gingerbread hearts at home with this recipe, spelling out exactly what you wish with royal icing decorations. Lebkuchenherzen, or gingerbread hearts, are popular in German outdoor markets such as Christmas markets, Oktoberfest, Kirmes, or Schutzenfest. They usually hang from ribbons and carry cute sayings in the center. Traditionally they are given to friends, sweethearts, or one's family to express one's feelings.


  • 7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter

  • 3/4 cup honey

  • 10 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder

  • 1 tablespoon gingerbread spice mix

  • 5 cups flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (single- or double acting)

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 large egg

Steps to Make It

Make the Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Bring the butter, honey, sugar, cocoa powder and gingerbread spice mix to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan.

  3. Boil for several minutes until the sugar dissolves, then remove from heat and cool slightly.

  4. Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt into a bowl.

  5. Make a depression in the bowl and add the egg, then pour the honey mixture over the flour and mix on low speed until a ball of dough can be formed.

  6. The ball of dough might still be shaggy but will form a smooth dough as it cools down, so do not add extra flour.

  7. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and put in a safe place at room temperature for 4 to 48 hours.(This dough should rest overnight before baking for best results.)

Roll the Dough & Bake the Cookies

  1. Heat the oven to 350 F.

  2. Roll out half the dough to 1/2-inch thickness on a lightly floured board.

  3. Use a large, heart-shaped cookie cutter or your own template to cut out large, heart shaped cookies.

  4. If you want to hang these hearts from a ribbon, create 1 or 2 holes about 3/4-inch below the rim of the cookie before you bake it.

  5. Repeat with the rest of cookie dough. This dough does not reroll well, so take care to roll it into the right size the first time.

  6. Place the cookies on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cookies are set in the middle and lightly browned on the bottom. Bake the trimmed scraps to use for practice decorating.

  7. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet. They will harden as they cool. Although they are edible, this dough is most often used to make decorative cookies that are hung on the wall or around the recipient's neck and are seldom eaten.

Decorate the Cookies

  1. Use tinted royal icing to decorate the cookies. You only need about half of the recipe, but you will want to practice decorating with your baked scraps, and you might want to use several colors, so make the whole batch.

  2. Tint some of the icing in a separate bowl using normal food coloring. if the icing is not completely tinted you can create swirls of lighter and darker colors as you pipe it.

  3. Place the icing in a decorator bag with a leaf tip attached to make the border. Use a writing tip for the words. Find out more about filling and using pastry bags here.

  4. Decorate as you like. It is traditional to write cute sayings in the center and give the cookies to people you like.


  • These cookies will last for months in a tin or well wrapped and stored at room temperature.
  • While they can be eaten, they are usually made for decorative purposes.


Useful German and English Phrases

You can use the most popular German phrases for these cookies, or their English translations:

  • "Ich liebe Dich" (I love you)

  • "Ich mag Dich" (I like you)

  • "Spatzl" (Little sparrow)

  • "Weil i Di mog" (Because I like you—in Munich dialect)

  • "Für mein Mädl" (For my girl)

  • "Ich hab Dich (sooo) lieb" (I like you sooo much)

  • "Zum Muttertag" (For Mother's Day)

  • "Drücke mich" (Hug me)

  • "Markus + Claudia" (or Mike + Jen, etc.)

  • "Meiner Kuschelmaus" (My snuggle-mouse)

  • "No. 1 Lehrer" (No. 1 teacher)

  • "#1 Mutti" (No. 1 mother)