Brunkager Recipe – Traditional Danish Gingerbread Cookies

Brunkager – which literally translates to “brown cookie” is a traditional Danish that you’ll see traditionally served on the first Sunday of Advent or throughout December. They’re a type of spiced cookies that you can say are similar to gingerbread cookies. Brunkager can either be round or made into fun Christmas-themed shapes. These traditional Danish gingerbread cookies can be enjoyed with either coffee or tea and a brunkager recipe can be fun to try.

History of the Brunkager Recipe

The cookie is said to be in relation to the Danish pepper cake, pebernødder. This is because both dishes use the same recipes. The term brunkager made an appearance in the 19th century. During that period, brunkager became a traditional sweet to make for more than high society. The term itself coincides with the iron stove. The iron stove is meant to make heat regulation better. Plus, it makes a better use of the Potash in the mixture.

What is Potash?

Potash is a chemical leveling agent that gives brunkager bitterness in its flavor profile. It also adds more crispness to the cookie and is generally not used in any other Danish dessert. Potash is also only available during the Christmas season. As an alternative, you can use baking soda. On the downside, using baking soda won’t result in a distinct brunkager taste nor the traditional level of crispness.

brunkager recipe

Brunkager (Traditional Danish Gingerbread Cookies)

A traditional spiced and crispy Danish cookie
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Danish
Servings 20 people


  • 90 g syrup
  • 50 g sugar
  • 50 g margarine intended for baking
  • 1 tsp. potaske
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsk. all spice
  • ½ tsk. ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. grated lemon peel – of course from an unsprayed lemon
  • 300 g flour


  • Put syrup, sugar and margarine in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Add potash when the mass is bubbling.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add the cinnamon, allspice and crushed cinnamon.
  • Finally add the lemon juice and grated lemon zest, and mix it all well.
  • Put the mass in a bowl, and knead the flour in until you have a uniform dough.
  • Turn the oven on 180 ° C hot air.
  • Roll out the dough while it is still warm.
  • Cut the cookies into desired shapes with a knife or cookie cutters. The dough that is left over can be rolled out again.
  • Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake the cookies in the oven for about 6-8 minutes.
  • Allow the cookies to cool on a rack before placing in cake tins with tight-fitting lids.

Variations in the Brunkager Recipe

While there is a traditional receipt to brunkager, there are different ingredients you can consider for additions. Some ingredients you can add are pistachios and pickled oranges. Depending on what you decide to add and how you cut the dough, there are different ways your brunkager recipe can turn out. For example, you can use different syrups to affect the cookie’s thickness. Or you can explore the variety of nut additions so long as you keep to the key ingredient of almonds.

Tips and Pairs for Brunkager

More than the different variations you can play with when making brunkager, there are also different tips to note. One way to lengthen the cookie’s shelf life is to freeze the dough before rolling it out and cutting it. You can also make use of any leftover dough for a future batch if you’d like.
When it comes to pairings with brunkager, tea and coffee are some general options but a traditional option would be Glögg. Glögg is a type of Danish spiced mulled wine or spirit that is enjoyed during the winter season. It is typically a hot wine with a mixture of fruits like orange slices and sticks of cinnamon. If you are not a fan of alcohol, the recipe can also have berry juices as an alternative.

brunkager recipe

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