Pierniczki (Polish Gingerbread Cookies) Recipe

Polish gingerbread pierniczki recipe

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 18 servings
Yield: 18 cookies
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
210 Calories
8g Fat
36g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 18
Amount per serving
Calories 210
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 5g 23%
Cholesterol 34mg 11%
Sodium 190mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 30g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 11mg 1%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 52mg 1%
*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.)

Pierniczki are Polish gingerbread cookies. The Polish city of Toruń—much like Nuremberg, Germany—has been famous for its gingerbread cookies and cakes (piernik) since the Middle Ages. The cookies were originally baked in intricately carved wooden molds, but today are more often cut into rounds or the shapes of St. Nicholas, hearts, and other fanciful designs.

Chocolate-glazed, heart-shaped pierniczki are passed out to children on December 6 by Swiety Mikolaj (St. Nicholas).


For the Cookies:

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda, dissolved in 3 tablespoons water

  • 1 cup honey

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

For the Chocolate Glaze (Optional):

  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon water

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Polish gingerbread
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga 
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with sugar until light and lemon-colored.

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  3. Add the spices, baking soda-water mixture, and honey. Mix well.

    Add spices
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  4. Add flour gradually and mix until a stiff dough forms. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic, and let it rest for 30 minutes.

    Plastic wrap
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  5. Preheat oven to 400 F. On parchment paper cut to fit your baking pans, roll the dough to 1/4-inch thickness.

    Roll out dough
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  6. Cut into your desired shape. Lift the parchment paper by opposite corners and place on the baking pans. See these steps for rolling and cutting gingerbread.

    Cut out shapes
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  7. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly brown around the edges. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container. It's best to ice or glazes these cookies right before serving.

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  8. Gather the ingredients for the glaze, if making.

    Make icing
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  9. Combine all the ingredients in a microwaveable bowl and nuke for 20 seconds at a time until almost completely melted. Stir until smooth.

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga 
  10. Use immediately to decorate cookies.

    Ice gingerbread cookies
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  11. Serve and enjoy!

    Polish gingerbread cookies
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

History of Gingerbread

The debate rages on as to the origins of gingerbread. An early form was used by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians for ceremonial purposes. Gingerbread didn't appear in Europe until 11th-century crusaders brought the spice back from the Middle East for those who could afford this precious commodity.

As ginger and other spices became more affordable to the masses, gingerbread caught on. An early European recipe consisted of ground almonds, stale breadcrumbs, rosewater, sugar and, naturally, ginger.

The resultant paste was pressed into wooden molds. These carved works of art served as a sort of storyboard that told the news of the day, bearing the likeness of new kings, emperors, and queens, or religious symbols. The finished cookie might be decorated with edible gold paint or flat white icing to bring out the details in relief.

In the 16th century, the English replaced the breadcrumbs with flour, and added eggs and sweeteners, resulting in a lighter product. The first gingerbread man is credited to Queen Elizabeth I, who knocked the socks off visiting dignitaries by presenting them with one baked in their own likeness.

Gingerbread tied with a ribbon was popular at fairs and, when exchanged, became a token of love. On a more practical note, before refrigeration was a twinkle in someone's eye, aromatic crumbled gingerbread was added to recipes to mask the odor of decaying meat.