Pepernoten in a white cup

Pepernoten are little spiced cookies made with speculaas spices and brown sugar. They are super easy to make and are the perfect thing to bake with (small) children!

Every year pepernoten are the start of the holiday season in the Netherlands. You can smell these small cookies and their big cousin speculaas everywhere you go. I love eating them as they are and you can also get them covered in chocolate! Needless to say that I eat way too much of them in November and December.

Pepernoten and Speculaas on baking sheet

In the Netherlands, there is a discussion about whether these cookies should be called pepernoten or kruidnoten. Some believe that the softer ones, like taaipoppen, made with honey are the real pepernoten and the harder cookies made with flour and sugar should be called kruidnoten. I dived into old cookbooks to find some answers. However, and this won’t make me very popular because many people disagree but, I found that both recipes were called pepernoten so I will continue using this name.

Pepernoten have been around for hundreds of years. The oldest recipe I found comes from the Dutch cookbook from 1754. This recipe for pepernoten is made with flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, cardamom, aniseed or caraway seeds, candied peel, and egg. This is almost the same as how we make them today however if you buy them in a store they almost never contain pepper. I like the addition of pepper so in my recipe for speculaas spices (you can find this on this website) I mixed the old with the new and added some black pepper.

ingredients for pepernoten in a bowl

Ingredients you will need

  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Butter
  • Speculaas spices
  • Salt
Dough on a wooden plate
Do I have to let the dough rest overnight?

No you can use this dough right away but if you let it cool for atleast an hour your pepernoten will keep their shape better and if you leave it for 1-2 days the flavor becomes much better!

Are speculaas spices the same as speculoos?

Not quite. Speculaas spices are often called speculoos spices because the cookies are so simular however, Speculaas spices are made with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and other warming spices while speculaas only contained cinnamon and caramelised sugar.

Other Sinterklaas recipes you will love

Speculaas spice mix


Pepernoten on a bakingsheet ready for the oven
Pepernoten in a white cup



  • 240 g (1 cup) flour
  • 120 g (2/3 cup) dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp speculaas spices
  • 140 g (5 oz.) cold butter
  • A pinch op salt


  1. In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients together.
  2. Add the butter and knead the dough until you can form a ball.
  3. cover with clingfilm and let it rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour but it is best to leave it in the fridge for 1-2 days.
  4. Preheat your oven to 175˚C (350˚F).
  5. Take your dough out of the fridge, roll the dough into small balls, and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  6. Place your baking tray in the middle of the oven and bake your pepernoten for 15-20 minutes.


If your dough is a little dry you can add a little milk or water

Pepernoten are even better if you let the dough rest in the fridge for 1-2 days

You can also cover them in chocolate!!

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