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Zimtsterne is a delicious, traditional, German Christmas cinnamon star cookiess made with almonds, cinnamon, and merengue.
A plate with Zimtsterne (German Cinnamon Star Cookies)

Zimtsterne – German cinnamon cookies appear in Germany around the time of advent. Deliciously moist, busting with cinnamon and almond flavors, these are some of the most popular German Christmas cookies. The Zimtsterne recipe doesn’t include flour which is why they’re also naturally gluten-free! 

A plate with Zimtsterne (German Cinnamon Star Cookies)

What are Zimtsterne? 

Zimtsterne is a classic German Christmas cookie that is made from egg whites, sugar, ground almonds, and cinnamon. 

These iconic star-shaped cookies are very popular for a reason: they have an exquisite taste of cinnamon, are lovely and moist plus they look impressive. 

The Cultural Importance of Zimterne 

It is difficult to trace back the origin of these traditional cinnamon cookies, but it is assumed that they were invented around the beginning of the 16th century. The Zimtsterne recipe didn’t make it into the German cookbooks until the 18th century. This was because cinnamon, until then, was known as the “secret ingredient” amongst the super-rich! Cinnamon until then was rare and not many people could afford it. 

How to Make Zimtsterne? 

Despite what some people may believe, these cookies are not difficult to bake. This Zimtsterne recipe will show you how to make these authentic German star cookies so that they will taste as if they came from a German bakery. 

To make the perfect cinnamon stars you need to ensure you follow the instructions and don’t take shortcuts. The important factors are the resting time, the baking temperature, and time.

Step 1: Making the Dough

Using an electric hand or stand mixer, whisk the egg whites, salt, and icing /confectioners sugar with a paddle attachment until stiff. You want to save about 1/3 of the stiff egg white and place it into a separate bowl, and store. You’ll be using it to decorate the cinnamon stars later. 

Then add the orange zest, vanilla sugar, cinnamon, and almonds to the egg white and knead with your hands to an even dough. Cover the dough in cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for at least two hours. You can also leave it to rest overnight. This will allow for the cinnamon aroma to develop. 

Step 2: Shape the Cookies

After leaving the dough to rest, preheat your oven to 160°C/320°F, top to bottom heat. Line two baking trays with parchment paper. Cover your rolling pin in cling film or icing sugar. Doing so helps the dough from sticking. Then cover your work surface with icing sugar or, better yet, use a non-stick silicone mat. 

Roll out the dough so that it is approximately 1 cm/0.5 inch thick. Cut out the stars using a star-shaped cookie cutter and place them carefully onto the baking trays. To prevent the dough from sticking to your cookie-cutter – intermittently dunk your cutter in a bowl of icing sugar. 

Step 3: Decorating the Zimtsterne

To decorate the cinnamon stars, use the stiff egg white mass you set aside. You have two options for applying the egg whites:  brush them with a pastry brush on the cookies, or,  my preferred way, is to apply them with an icing bag. First, follow the edges of the stars then fill out the middle. This will give you a more precise icing and they will look just like in the bakeries in Germany. 

Step 4: Baking Process

The last part of the Zimtsterne recipe is to bake these German Cinnamon Star Cookies in the oven for about 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them – they should stay white and soft. 

Tips to make the BEST traditional German cookies 

Depending on the size of the eggs you use, your dough might become too moist – then just add a bit more ground almonds. 

The dough ends up sticking to the baking roll. The easy fix to prevent this from happening is to place a sheet of cling film over the dough before rolling it. For your baking surface, I always recommend a non-stick silicone baking mat. 

The dough sticks to the cookie cutter. If this happens, clean the cookie cutter with some water and then dust it with icing sugar to prevent it from sticking. 

Serving Suggestions 

If you visit a house during advent in Germany, they will likely offer you a plate of traditional German cookies. These are stored in tins until guests arrive. 

They will probably offer you a cup of coffee to enjoy your cookies with as well. In the evening it is not uncommon to serve these cookies with a glass of mulled wine. 

Storage Information 

Germans start making these types of cookies around four weeks before Christmas. You can store them for a long time. In Germany, we store them in biscuit tins. 

Make sure you store them in an airtight container and at room temperature. If you want to store different types of cookies in the same tin, it is best to separate them with sheets of baking parchment. This will prevent the flavors from mixing. If your cookies get too hard, simply place a couple of apple slices in the tin. This should soften them. 

These cookies freeze well. Freeze in an airtight container and let them defrost at room temperature. This way they can be stored for at least three months.

A plate with Zimtsterne (German Cinnamon Star Cookies)

Traditional Zimtsterne Recipe (German Cinnamon Star Cookies)

Marita Sinden
Zimtsterne is a delicious, traditional, German Christmas cinnamon star cookiess made with almonds, cinnamon, and merengue.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Resting Time 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 40 mins
Course Dessert, Pastry
Cuisine German
Servings 50 cookies (approx.)
Calories 51 kcal

Equipment

Rolling Pin
Star Shaped Cookie Cutter
Non-stick silicon baking mat
Pastry brush or piping bag

Ingredients
  

  • 3 egg whites (room temperature)
  • 250 grams ground almonds (with their skin on)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar (or use one tsp vanilla extract)
  • 250 grams icing/confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange peel (see note 1)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 20 grams icing/confectioners sugar (to roll)

Instructions
 

  • Using an electric hand or stand mixer, whisk the egg whites, salt, and icing /confectioners sugar with a paddle attachment until stiff. Remove about 1/3 of the stiff egg white mixture and place it into a separate bowl and set aside. You will need it to decorate the cinnamon stars later.
  • Add the orange zest, vanilla sugar, cinnamon, and almonds to the egg white and knead with your hands to an even dough. Cover the dough in cling film and leave it to rest in the fridge for at least two hours (you can also leave it to rest overnight). This will allow for the cinnamon aroma to develop.
  • The next day, preheat your oven to 160°C or 320°F top to bottom heat. Line two baking trays with baking parchment. Cover your rolling pin in cling film or icing sugar (this should help the dough from sticking). Cover your work surface with icing sugar or alternatively use a non-stick silicone mat.
  • Roll out the dough so that it is approximately 1 cm/0.5 inch thick. Cut out the stars using a star-shaped cookie cutter and place them carefully onto the baking trays (see note 2).
  • To decorate the cinnamon stars use the stiff egg white mass you set aside. You have two options on how to apply the egg whites: brush them with a pastry brush on the cookies or (my preferred way) apply them with an icing bag. First, follow the edges of the stars, then fill out the middle. This will give you a more precise icing and they will look just like in the bakeries in Germany.
  • Bake them in the oven for between 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them – they should stay white and soft.

Notes

  1. Make sure you use an organic orange.
  2. To prevent the dough from sticking to your cookie-cutter – intermittently dunk your cutter in a bowl of icing sugar.
I strongly recommend referring to the step-by-step photos on the main post.
Storage Instructions:
Make sure you store them in an airtight container and at room temperature. If you want to store different types of cookies in the same tin, it is best to separate them with sheets of baking parchment. This will prevent the flavors from mixing. If your cookies get too hard, simply place a couple of slices of apple pieces in the tin. This should soften them. These cookies freeze well. Freeze in an airtight container and let them defrost at room temperature. This way they can be stored for at least three months

Nutrition

Calories: 51kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 1gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 4mgPotassium: 3mgFiber: 1gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 1IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 11mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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