Vanillekipferl are vanilla crescent cookies filled with nuts and dusted in a generous coating of vanilla sugar. A popular European treat, these delicate cookies are perfect for holiday cookie trays.
Vanillekipferl are crescent shaped cookies, popular in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, and Slovakia. Their signature taste comes from vanilla sugar, a common baking ingredient in Europe.
While vanilla sugar is not common in the United States, it is easy to find online. I also have a few simple ways to make your own at home!
The cookies can also be made without vanilla sugar, but I highly advise against this. The vanilla sugar truly makes these cookies special.
Vanillekipferl remind me of a shortbread cookie, with the addition of ground nuts. They are tender and buttery, with added texture of ground almonds.
Traditionally, ground walnuts were used to make these crescent cookies. However, almonds and hazelnuts are also commonly used. I chose to make almond crescent cookies, but may try using walnuts in my next batch.
How to Make Ground Almonds
If you don’t have ground almonds on hand, it is easy to make your own with whole, raw almonds.
Add your almonds to a food processor, then pulse until you have a coarse meal.
You can use this method for any type of nuts. Be careful not to blend your nuts too much – this is how you make peanut (or almond) butter.
If you have almond flour on hand, you can also use this instead. I prefer the coarser texture of ground almonds for these cookies.
How to Make Vanilla Sugar
If you’re like me, you probably don’t have vanilla sugar on hand in the United States. Once I started researching a few German cookie recipes, I discovered that vanilla sugar is a common baking ingredient in Europe, and widely available in stores.
Luckily, we have the internet, and can gain access to just about any ingredient that exists. I found these packets of vanillinzucker on Amazon, which worked perfectly. Keep in mind that vanillezucker is made with real vanilla and vanillinzucker is made with artificial vanilla.
Would you rather make your own? I like to reference this post from The Kitchen Maus regarding vanilla sugar. She compares several types of vanilla sugar and shows you how to make your own using vanilla beans.
You can also make vanilla sugar using vanilla extract. In a food processor, combine 1/4 cup of granulated sugar with 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Spread it out to dry. Once dried, the sugar will be clumpy. Transfer back to the food processor and pulse until you have a sugar consistency again.
How to Make Vanillekipferl
Are you ready to make a batch of vanillekipferl? First, gather your ingredients.
For this recipe, you’ll need cold, unsalted butter, vanilla sugar, salt, all-purpose flour, ground almonds (or walnuts or hazelnuts), and confectioner’s sugar.
First, cube up your cold butter. Then, place your butter and flour in a food processor and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas.
If you don’t have a food processor on hand, simply use a fork or a pastry blender to work the butter into the flour.
Transfer your flour mixture to a bowl and add the remaining ingredients for your cookies – ground almonds, vanilla sugar, and salt. Mix until dough comes together.
Your dough will be crumbly, but will hold together when pinched between your fingers. If your dough isn’t holding together and very crumbly, add a tablespoon of water at a time until the dough holds together when pinched.
Shaping Almond Crescent Cookies
Toss your dough out onto a sheet of wax or parchment paper. Using your hands, form the dough into a disc, wrap, and refrigerate for an hour.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Scoop your dough using a medium cookie scoop – these cookie scoops are life savers when it comes to making cookies. They will ensure that your cookies are perfectly portioned and you get the correct quantity of cookies from your recipe.
If you don’t have a cookie scoop, the medium scoop is 1.5 tablespoons. I’d suggest scooping a heaping tablespoon of dough for each crescent.
Next, you’ll want to take each scoop of dough and gently (but quickly) shape them into a crescent moon shape.
This method was easy and worked for me. Roll the ball of dough between your hands to make a log, lay onto your baking sheet, then gently turn the ends into a crescent shape.
Be careful – the more you handle the dough, the softer and stickier it will become. The warmer the dough, the more it will spread when baking. Once you’ve lined up your crescent cookies on a baking sheet, they’re ready to bake. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.
Just out of the oven, your cookies will need a dusting of sugar. In a small bowl, combine your dusting ingredients : confectioner’s sugar and vanilla sugar.
Dust the top of each cookie with a generous layer of dusting sugar. The initial layer may melt slightly, so feel free to dust each cookie twice.
Storing Vanillekipferl Cookies
Vanillekipferl are delicate cookies, even more when they are still warm. Make sure you allow your cookies to cool completely before handling them or transferring to a container.
Your vanilla crescent cookies will keep in a sealed container for 5-7 days. Baked cookies can also be frozen for up to several months, if well packaged in a sealed container or freezer bag. I like to freeze cookies in a freezer safe container, between layers of wax paper.
Cookie dough can also be frozen for up to six months. Wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper, then store in a freezer safe bag or wrap in heavy foil.
German Cookie Recipes
Make all four of these delicious German cookies below using my easy to follow recipes below!
Left to right:
- Zimtsterne – German Cinnamon Star Cookies
- Haselnussmakronen – German Hazelnut Macaroons
- Vanillekipferl – Vanilla Crescent Cookies (you are here)
- Heidesand – German Browned Butter Shortbread Cookies
Vanillekipferl - Vanilla Crescent Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter cold
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup ground almonds
- 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar *
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla sugar *
- Slice cold butter into cubes. In a food processor, add flour and cubed butter. Pulse until butter is the size of small peas. Alternately, use a fork or pastry blender to incorporate butter into flour.
- Add the remaining ingredients to your flour mixture - ground almonds, confectioner's sugar, vanilla sugar, and salt. Mix until combined. Dough should be crumbly, but hold together when pinched between two fingers.
- Toss dough out onto wax paper or parchment. Form into a disc, wrap, and refrigerate for one hour (up to 24 hours).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Scoop dough using a medium cookie scoop (1.5 tablespoons) and shape into a crescents with your hands. Work quickly - your hands will warm the dough, so try to handle as little as possible.
- Place crescents 2 inches apart on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.
- Meanwhile, combine dusting ingredients - confectioner's sugar and vanilla sugar in a small bowl.
- Immediately upon removing cookies from the oven, top each cookie generously with prepared dusting sugar.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before storing.