These 4-ingredient Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars) aka German Christmas cookies are lightly spiced, chewy, and perfect for the holidays. Plus, the easy recipe is naturally vegan (dairy-free, egg-free), gluten-free, and optionally refined sugar-free!
The end of Fall is fast approaching, and Winter is around the corner. So, do you know what that means? It’s time to start preparing for Christmas. And, this year, I’m doing that by first baking these delicious German Christmas cookies, also known as Zimtsterne.
Since I am German, I may be slightly biased, but German desserts dominate my Christmas baking repertoire. With the likes of Fruit Cake (Früchtebrot), Stollen, Lebkuchen, Pfeffernüsse, Vanillekipferl, Hazelnut cookies, and, of course, Zimtsterne. I love the smell of ginger, cinnamon, and other spices wafting through the house and making everything feel warm and cozy – ringing in the arrival of Christmas time.
What are Zimtsterne?
Zimtsterne (aka cinnamon star cookies) are a type of German almond cookies. They contain ground almonds/ almond meal (and sometimes also hazelnuts), cinnamon, and powdered sugar. They are topped off with a meringue icing before baking.
These festive cookies are naturally dairy-free and gluten-free, though they usually contain egg whites (in the cookie and the meringue icing).
Unlike a regular Zimtsterne Rezept (recipe), my recipe is fully vegan. However, there’s no need to fiddle around with egg alternatives like aquafaba or chia eggs. Instead, all you need to form this Cinnamon star cookie dough is a little bit of orange juice – easy-peasy! Plus, this recipe omits a baked icing option, for a simple vegan royal icing glaze.
These delicious German cookies are available all over the globe during the holidays, at Christmas fairs (Weihnachtsmarkt) and markets. But in my opinion, homemade is always best! So, it’s the perfect time to get in the kitchen and make some of these cinnamon vegan almond cookies (and maybe even give some away as gifts)!
Here are the ingredients that you will need for this recipe:
The Step-By-Step Instructions
Step 1: Combine the dry ingredients
Add the ground almonds (almond meal), icing sugar (or a low-carb sweetener, for example, powdered Erythritol or Xylitol), cinnamon, and cardamom in a food processor and blend for a couple of seconds. If you don’t have a food processor, simply add the ingredients to a medium-sized bowl and stir with a spoon.
Step Two: Add the wet ingredients & mix
Now add the orange juice and orange zest and mix until the dough is crumbly and sticks together when you press it between your fingers. If it’s too dry, add a little more orange juice.
Step Three: Form & chill the dough
Remove the dough from the food processor and shape it into a ball. Wrap it in cling film and chill in the fridge for between 30-60 minutes (or longer).
After that, place the chilled dough between 2 layers of plastic wrap or parchment paper and roll it out with a rolling pin. It should be about 0.5-0.7 cm thick (1/4 inch).
Step Four: Cut & bake the cinnamon star cookies
Preheat the oven to 350F/175C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Use a star-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the cookies. Depending on the size of your cutter, the recipe will make 30-40 cookies (mine was small, therefore, I had about 50 cookies).
Transfer them to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Depending on the thickness of your cookies, the baking time may vary by about 1-2 minutes. After that, let them cool completely.
Step Five: Glaze the cinnamon stars
Meanwhile, make the glaze by mixing icing sugar (or powdered Erythritol or Xylitol) and water in a small bowl until it’s a creamy paste. If it’s too thick, add a little more water, and if it’s too thin, add more icing sugar.
Brush the glaze on the cooled cinnamon stars, then let it dry. Enjoy!
For the full ingredients list, ingredient measurements, and nutritional information, read the recipe card below.
How to Store
Store the vegan Christmas cookies in a cookie tin in a cool place for between 2-3 weeks.
You can also freeze the un-iced cinnamon stars too for several months. You can ice them after they’ve thawed.
Alternatively, you can freeze the uncooked dough too (for about 1 month). I like to cut out the cookies and freeze them between layers of parchment paper, then allow to thaw before baking.
Useful Recipe Notes & Variations
- Icing sugar: You can also use powdered Erythritol for a keto version or powdered Xylitol for a low-carb version. Please note that dogs shouldn’t consume anything made with Xylitol.
- Almonds: You can replace half of the amount with your favorite ground nuts, for example, ground hazelnuts.
- Orange: I love the flavor of fresh orange juice and zest. Alternatively, you could use lemon instead.
- You could omit the icing entirely from these gluten-free, vegan cookies and dust with a little powdered sugar (or Erythritol/Xylitol).
- Optionally, you could use a splash of liquor (i.e., Kirsch) with your icing instead of water for more ‘adult’ Zimtsterne cookies (orange juice is fine too).
- You can also add a little ground ginger with the cinnamon for extra flavor.
- If you find the dough too sticky, add a little extra almond meal/ powdered sugar.
- If you find the cookies hard to cut out, you can certainly dip your cutter in a small bowl of powdered sugar between cutting the cookies. This will help prevent the dough from sticking to the cutter.
If you enjoy these vegan Christmas cookies, then you might like these other German desserts, recipes with cinnamon, and other Christmas related cookie recipes:
- Apple Strudel (German Apfelstrudel)
- Apple Crisp Without Oats
- Vegan Coffee Cake
- Apple Cinnamon Crepes
- Apple Cinnamon Rolls
- Apple Pie Cookies
- Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
- Vegan Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
- Soft Coconut Sugar Cookies
- German Hazelnut Cookies
- Vegan Snickerdoodles
If you try these German Christmas cookies, I’d love a comment and also a recipe ★★★★★ rating below. Also, don’t forget to tag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebook with @elavegan and #elavegan – I love seeing your recreations.
- 7-8 tbsp (70 g) icing sugar or powdered Erythritol (see notes)
- 1 tbsp water
- Watch the video in the post for easy visual instructions.
Combine the dry ingredients
- Add the ground almonds, icing sugar (I used powdered Erythritol), cinnamon, and cardamom to a food processor and blend for a couple of seconds. If you don't have a food processor, simply add the ingredients to a medium-sized bowl and stir with a spoon.
Add the wet ingredients & mix
- Now add the orange juice and orange zest and mix again until the dough is crumbly and sticks together when you press it between your fingers. If it's too dry, add a little more orange juice.
Form & chill the dough
- Remove the dough from the food processor and shape it into a ball. Wrap it in cling foil and chill in the fridge for about 30-60 minutes.
- Place the chilled dough between 2 layers of plastic wrap (or wax/parchment paper) and roll it out with a rolling pin. It should be about 0.5-0.7 cm thick (1/4 inch).
Cut & bake the cookies
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Use a star-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the cookies. You can dip your cutter in a bowl of powdered sugar between cutting the cookies. This will help prevent the dough from sticking to the cutter.
- Depending on the size of your cookie cutter the recipe will make 30-40 cookies. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheet and bake in the oven for 8 minutes. Depending on the thickness of your cookies, the baking time may vary by 1-2 minutes. Let them cool completely.
Glaze the cookies
- Meanwhile, make the glaze by mixing icing sugar (or powdered Erythritol) and water in a small bowl until it's a creamy paste. If it's too thick add a little more water and if it's too thin add more icing sugar.
- Brush the glaze on the cooled cookies and let it dry. Enjoy! Store cookies in a cookie tin in a cool place for up to 2-3 weeks.
Video Of The Recipe
- I recommend using a kitchen scale and measuring the ingredients in grams.
- If you find the dough too sticky, add a little extra almond meal/ powdered sugar.
- Icing sugar: You can use powdered Erythritol for a keto/ low-carb version.
- Almond meal: You can replace half of the amount with ground hazelnuts or your favorite ground nuts.
- Orange: I really love the flavor of fresh orange juice and zest. Alternatively, you could use lemon instead.
- Check the step-by-step photos in the blog post.
- The total time doesn't include chill time.
- You might also like these Vegan Snickerdoodles.
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically
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Genius! Thank you
Very welcome! 🙂
Oh my Gluten Free Goodness!- these are amazing! I followed the recipe to the tee and they were chewy and crispy and just perfect. I made these for our annual Octoberfest block party and these were GONE before dinner was served and people were asking me if I had more. Thank you for such a simple and delicious cookie. These will be made over and over again in this house!
Hi Kim, I am so glad you loved the recipe! Thanks for your great feedback. 🙂
Hello. Can I use almond flour instead of almond meal?
Yes, absolutely! 🙂
Gestern gemacht! Einfach mega lecker!
Leider is der zuckerguss nicht so schön dick geworden aber da muss wohl einfach mehr zucker genommen werden.
Fazit: super rezept!!!
Vielen Dank! Gerne mehr weihnachtskeks Rezepte bitte!
Freut mich riesig liebe Jasmin! Danke für dein wundervolles Feedback. 🙂
Hi! Just wonder if finely ground almond flour will work?:)
Yes, definitely. 🙂
To keep these whole-food, I used the idea mentioned in one of the German comments & used 4.5 super soft medjool dates instead of sugar in the dough (& skipped the icing). Worked really well & turned out super yummy – hubby & toddler approved, too. Will become a regular in our Christmas cookie rotation, thanks.
That’s awesome, Yulca! I am so glad they turned out delicious with dates. 🙂
Delicious cookies! We decided they were fine without icing.
I glad you enjoyed them, Debora. 🙂
Great recipe Ela, as usual!
Happy you liked it, Eva. 🙂
Hello..this recipe seems soo easy!
I was wondering if I could substitute pecans or walnuts completely? My husband and son are allergic to anything almond.
Yes, that should be fine. 🙂
This recipe is delicious! I used 150gr of ground almonds and 50gr of nuts. The taste is awesome!
Thank you for this great recipe.
So happy you liked it, Léa 🙂
Hi are ground almonds same as almond meal?
Or do I need to coarsely grind almonds in a food processor first?
Hi Neha, yes, you can use almond meal. 🙂