Cookies are a beloved tradition during the holiday season. The smell of freshly baked cookies brings back fond memories of family gatherings and happy times spent with loved ones.
Whether it’s classic gingerbread men, shortbreads, chocolate chip morsels, or sugar cookies, each has a unique flavor that evokes a sense of warmth and comfort during the holidays. These German spritz cookies are no exception.
My holiday favorite is making a traditional German butter cookie called a spritz, also referred to as German spritzgebäck cookies. These homemade cookies capture all the nostalgia of conventional holiday baking. They remind me of times spent with my grandma as a little girl. She would bake several different types of classic spritz cookies every year. We could count on arriving at her house with a cookie tin overflowing with dozens of buttery spritz cookies in perfect, beautiful shapes waiting for us on the kitchen table.
Spritz cookies get their unique look and shape with a cookie press. I love a cookie press because it decorates and portions each cookie in a single step. This is great for bakers who struggle with decorating or having the time to decorate but still want beautiful cookies.
I hope you enjoy making these cookies as much as I have. Keep reading for a few tips to help make the process as simple as possible. Maybe this will begin a new tradition for you and yours. Happy holidays. Enjoy!
Tools for Making Spritz Cookies
Unlike many other holiday cookies, the Spritz requires a few special tools—mainly, a quality cookie press like this one by Wilton. So far, my Wilton cookie press has held up to dozens of batches of spritz cookies over several years. The press is easy to use, and clean and has various fun shapes for different occasions.
However, if you plan on making several dozen batches, you may want to look into purchasing an electric cookie press to save your hand from cramping.
When you’re getting ready to bake, make sure you have these items on hand:
- Cookie Press
- A small bowl for your wet ingredients
- A large bowl for your dry ingredients
- Electric Stand Mixer or Electric Hand Mixer
- 2-4 baking sheets
- Oven mitts
- Wire rack set for cooking
Spritz Cookie Ingredient List
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups (3 Sticks) soft butter, room temp
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg, room temp
- 2 tablespoons milk, room temp
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Optional decoration: Sprinkles, Icing, or frosting with piping bag, gel food coloring, and melted chocolate for dipping
Step 1: Chill baking sheets & preheat oven to 350°
Step 2: Combine flour and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl
Step 3: Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Step 4: Mix the extracts, egg, and milk into the butter mixture until incorporated
Step 5: Add flour to the wet mixture in stages with your mixer at low to medium speed. Add remaining flour until dough forms. Your ideal dough consistency should be firm but malleable and slightly tacky. The tacky consistency helps the cookies adhere to the baking sheet as they are pressed through.
If you wish to add food coloring to your cookies, divide the dough and work on the color. Gel food coloring tends to work best.
Step 6: Once you’ve decided on colors, it is time to fill the cookie press. Split the dough again and roll it into cylinders that fit into your cookie press.
Select your cookie shape, and you’re ready to go! Give your spritz cookie press a few pumps to get the dough started through the shape.
Step 7: Grab your chilled cookie sheets from the refrigerator or freezer. Fill your cookie sheet with cookies as close as your cookie press will allow them to fit.
Another great thing about this recipe is that the cookies don’t spread, so you can fit a lot on one baking sheet. When your press empties, feel free to switch between different shapes or colors, even on the same baking tray.
Bake 10-12 minutes until the edges of the cookies start to golden.
I prefer a crispier cookie that is borderline burnt by spritz standards. So I may or may not remember to pull at least one sheet out of the oven on time. I guess I’ll just have to eat those burnt ones with a cup of coffee or two.
Decorating your German Spritz Cookies
In addition to colorful tun shapes, you can take your spritz cookies further by adding more embellishments. Below is a list of tried and true decorating methods to get you started, but I feel confident it won’t take long before you’ve come up with your signature decorating style.
Food coloring Is a great way to add variety to any cookie tray. Making bright green wreaths, Christmas trees, or red and white candy canes is a simple way to ensure your cookies stand out.
Line the green ridges of your Christmas tree shapes, or add colorful dabs as ornaments. Fill in white poinsettia-shaped flowers with bright red icing for an enticing pop of color on the cookie tray. These are just two ideas for Royal Icing, but endless possibilities exist.
Adding frosting to these delicate little morsels might be tricky, but you could always make cookie sandwiches filled with your favorite frosting flavor or cookie butter.
Confetti, glitter, shapes, and more!
Use melted milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or white chocolate chips to coat the ends or part of your spritz cookies. If I am feeling especially creative, I enjoy dipping the fronts of the Christmas tree shapes in white chocolate to give them a snow-covered look.
Storing your Homemade Spritz Cookies
- Airtight container
- parchment paper
These treats could last up to three months in an airtight cookie tin. However, it’s unlikely any will last that long. Use the parchment paper to line your tin and separate layers of decorated cookies if you use lots of icing or sprinkles.
Making these cookies is so much fun. I hope they become a staple of your family’s traditional Christmas foods.
Spritz Cookies German Inspired Recipe
Pin the recipe and instructions to your holiday baking board for future reference.
Spritz Cookie Recipe Tips
- Room temperature means room temperature. Don’t rush your dough! Using cold ingredients from the fridge will inhibit the creaming process and lead to an unevenly mixed dough. It could even make your cookie dough unusable.
- Put your ungreased cookie sheet in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes before adding cookies. This will help the warm dough stick when you press the cookies.
- Be cautious of overworking your dough. When over-mixed, the dough goes from tacky to gummy and loses its light texture. If you wish to make colored cookies, choose gel food coloring to get the brightest colors. Though you can add sprinkles immediately upon pulling the spritz from the oven, I find they stick best if added to the tops of the cookies before baking.
Troubleshooting the Recipe
There are nuances to spritz cookies and using a cookie press. Though the recipe is straightforward, bringing it together with the cookie-making method can be tricky. Below are some common questions and solutions.
Why aren’t my cookies sticking when pressed?
As the name implies, butter cookies are filled with butter, so they do not require prepared baking sheets of any kind. No parchment paper, silpat, or pam is needed. Having any of these will prevent the cookies from sticking.
What if I don’t have a cookie press? Can I still make Spritz?
Yes! Spritz cookies without a press are just as delicious. You can cut simple round cookies like a sugar cookie recipe or grab your favorite cookie cutter set with various shapes for whatever special occasion you are celebrating. A few hand-rolled shapes, like red and white candy canes, don’t require a press. Or you can use a pastry bag and tip to squeeze different shapes by hand.