Fill up your holidays with lovely linzers

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Linzer cookies are for many of us the type of cookie we would buy in a bakery, but never think we could make at home. Often-tiny treats with impossibly small and delicate looking cut-outs, and a drifted dusting of confectioners’ sugar that miraculously never touches the jam filling, these can be intimidating cookies to look at. Have faith, dear reader, for I am here to tell you that the lovely linzer is within your reach.

Yes, you too can have these tasty cookies, with their jewel-like centers of sparkling jams, so tempting to taste with a fingertip. The dazzling white sugar surround is just waiting to tickle your nose when you take the first bite as it drifts down to cover the front of your sweater like soft snow on the lawn. Let’s not forget the rich nutty flavor of the cookie itself, crisp and sandy before the jam hits your tongue. Oh, yes; linzers will be yours this season for sure.

Back before I came to King Arthur Flour, linzer cookies would have been something I associated with the holidays, and with a certain dining and entertaining maven with her own magazine and TV show. A fussy little cookie that maybe tasted good, but probably was just average and all about looks instead of flavor. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. These cookies are big on style, but HUGE on flavor, and simpler to make than you might think.

Now that I’ve been here awhile and know the secrets of producing lots of linzers with very little time and effort, these cookies have been part of cookie trays and holiday plates at our house ever since.

Because it is the holidays and I’m full of good cheer, not to mention eggnog, I’m here to share those secrets with you. I’ll even tell you what to do if you don’t have any linzer cutters. (No, not just “go buy linzer cutters,” but a variation with all the flavors and none of the cutting out, fuss-free and fantastic. PJ Hamel, are you listening? This part’s for you.)

First, let’s chat a bit about nut flours. You have your choice with these linzers of three different kinds of nut flours: almond flour, hazelnut flour, or pecan meal. On top of that, you can choose the toasted or untoasted version of each. Untoasted nut flours are a milder flavor, more subtle; the toasted versions bring out a richer, deeper nut flavor. For those of you who cannot have nuts, it’s best to choose a different recipe, but the technique would be the same.

You can try each nut flour in the recipe, or try a combination. I like an almond/hazelnut mix myself, with almond oil. Remember, they’re your cookies and you can try what you like. I recently read a quote that stated “baking mistakes are your kitchen’s way of telling you what you need to learn next.”  Too true!

One of the things that I feel will make linzers even more attainable for novice linzer bakers is our new linzer cutter set. These cutters are much bigger and easier to handle than cutters from the past, and they make a great bold statement on your cookie plate. Each shape is easy to cut, and easy to move to your baking sheet. Plus, a bigger cookie means more filling, and who doesn’t love more filling? Don’t worry though. If you still have smaller linzers, this recipe will work beautifully. Let’s make linzers!

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Cream the butter, sugars, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and vanilla or flavorings if using. Mix in the nut flour, all-purpose flour and egg. The dough will be soft and very slightly sticky.

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Divide the dough into two relatively equal pieces and wrap well in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Overnight would be fine, and the dough can be frozen for up to 3 months at this point.

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Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and allow to rest at room temperature for a few minutes to make rolling easier. I like to roll in narrow strips, between 1/8” and 1/4”, thinner for a crisper cookie, thicker for a sturdier cookie. You can certainly roll the whole piece at once. Generous flouring of the board will be your best friend at this stage.

For each individual cookie, you’ll need one base and one cutout topper. I like to cut mine in pairs so I know I have even numbers. Don’t toss the little cutout centers either. They can be baked on a separate sheet and used for lunchbox treats just the way they are.

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Uh-oh. Mr. Bear got a little bent out of shape during the move to the cookie sheet. No worries, there’s a simple fix.

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Place the cutter back into the “hole” in the cookie and gently wiggle it about on the cookie sheet until the cookie takes shape again.

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Ta-da! All better.

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Bake the cookies until lightly browned on the edges. They’re quite fragile when warm, so do wait until the cookies cool before moving them for dusting with sugar. To create the beautiful white sugar tops, fill a fine sifter with confectioners’ sugar or snow white topping sugar (lets you work with a warmer cookie, and doesn’t melt off). Hold the sifter a few inches above the cookie and shake or tap the sifter to drift sugar onto the cutout piece of the cookie. Be sure to cover the cookie with an even layer, all the way to the center and edges.

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You should end up with perfect outline in sugar when the cookie is moved.

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On the solid base of the cookie, spread 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite filling or jam. We’ve used apricot, raspberry, strawberry, chocolate, or even icing for fillings. Have fun and try different combinations.

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To complete the cookie, place the sugared top gently on the filled base and press together. It’s best to let these cookies sit for a few hours to let the “sandwich” set. Overnight is fine as well; just cover the cookie tray with plastic wrap.

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Remember, shortcuts make for happy bakers. Dust whole sheets of cookies at once, using a larger sifter and parchment paper for easy cleanup.

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A separate tray of base cookie makes for easy assembly as well.

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Oh dear, that bear is injured again. Pressing your pieces together can lead to breakage. A little “makeup” can hide a multitude of messes, though.

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Sift a small pile of sugar onto a corner of parchment, and use a teaspoon  to sprinkle a little onto the cracked parts of the cookie. An easy fix that makes any breaks much less noticeable.

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I’ll be more gentle this time I promise, Mr. Bear.

OK, I also promised to show you what to do with this recipe if you don’t happen to have cutters.

Make and chill the dough as directed in the recipe. Remove from the fridge and form 1”-sized scoops of dough. Our teaspoon scoop is perfect for this. Keep the size relatively small so that the cookies won’t be soggy inside.

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Using a bit of flour and your thumb, make a depression in the center of each ball of dough.

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Your baking tray will look a bit like prairie dog holes, but go with it .

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Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350°F. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets and dust generously with confectioners’ sugar.

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Fill each depression with 1/2 teaspoon of jam. Voilà ! Linzer thumbprints with all the wonderful nutty flavors, sweet jams, and delicate sugar – and not a cookie cutter in site.

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YUM!

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Linzer Cookies.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. ER

    quick question – can I use almond EXTRACT or does it have to be almond OIL?

    Oil is stronger than extract, so you may need more extract to get the same flavor. Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  2. Ariel

    I have been looking for a great go-to Linzer recipe. They are by far my favorite. But here is a question: is there a difference between a linzer tart and a linzer cookie?

    Linzer tart is a tart serving many people, linzer cookies are individual servings. They have similar flavors, but different shapes and techniques for assembly! Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  3. June

    Thank you for this recipe- I am soon going to begin my holiday cookie baking marathon and linzers had crossed my mind- now they can cross my tastebuds as well! I love the idea of using nut flours. I don’t have any fancy schmancy cutters but I bet I can improvise as you did! Thanks again- y’all rock!

    June

    Reply
  4. Sue

    These look wonderful and very tasty too! I’ve never made linzer cookies. Hazelnut flour with nutella filling? Mmmmm.
    Almond Flour with Apricot fillings? Mmmmm.
    Pecan meal with raspberry filling? Mmmmm.

    Reply
  5. Angela

    Wow! I may have to use my linzer cutters to make linzers now! Seriously though I love my cutters I got from your site. They’re nice and sharp but easy to use and I use them to cut cute shapes out of vegetable slices to dress up lunch boxes; cut pie crusts either for cute vents or to do edges trimmed with repeating shapes; and the outside edge cuts cute sandwhich rounds!

    Another favorite trick of mine with any mini cooking cutter. Bake a dozen each of 2 different types of non filling cooking (exp sugar and snickerdoodle or chocolate fudge). Then while they’re still warm but not hot cut the center out and swap them out! As the cookies cool the peices stick together and you get for instance a sugar cookie with a cinnamon heart in the center.

    Whoa, Angela – LOVE that idea! PB cookie with a chocolate heart? Thanks for the inspiration! PJH

    Reply
  6. Florence Ruggiero

    They certainly look a lot easier to make than my recipe. Can’t wait to try them. Like especially the drop version.

    Reply
  7. HMB

    My Swiss mother taught me to make similar cookies called “Spitzbuebli” (“little rascals”), but this year I want to make them with the chocolate filling I saw in your catalog version of the Linzers — wow, does that look good!

    Reply
  8. AmandaLP

    Where did you get that quote from?!? “baking mistakes are your kitchen’s way of telling you what you need to learn next.” That is so appropriate for me!

    The cookies look great :)

    Reply
  9. AJ

    Have to get the kids to make these. By the way, mom used to use her
    doughnut cutter to cut the top layers, then take out the center cutter a nd cut the bottoms. Perfectly matched sets!

    Reply
  10. PieBird

    I make dozens of linzer cookies every year for Christmas. Arranged in a pretty box, they make nice gifts for the mail man, UPS guy, and the FedEx gal. My favorite nurses also love them. Surprisingly, they soften once assembled and stored. The tender cookie is amazingly rich with nutty flavor and the filling is a perfect accent. They are so pretty!

    I have the small linzer cutters – fussy, but fun! I did have problems with the cutout shapes deforming in the oven. I solved this by recutting the hole as soon as they came out of the oven. I know – fussy. These larger cutters probably won’t misshapen as much.

    I highly recommend the flavor oils, also – more intense flavor.

    Another thing that I learned, was to use the fillings used by bakeries for their pastries. The fruit fillings set up better, almost gel-like, and won’t run. If you use jam – be sure to make them plenty ahead of time, so that the jam filling can set and doesn’t escape. I know firsthand about that! The first year that I made them for gifts was pretty sloppy. I was rushed to get them packaged and delivered. The filling is supposed to be inside the cookie – not all over the edges and the gift box!

    Each year my linzers have improved, as I have learned from my mistakes. And each year I have fun coming up with different flavor and design combinations. Tasty, pretty and fun – let the baking begin!

    Sharon

    Reply
  11. susie

    I made the Linzer recipe from the KAF site last year for the cookie swap I hosted. They were a HUGE hit and so easy to make. I would recommend them to anyone – just follow the directions.

    Reply
  12. Lish

    These look lovely, and I can’t wait to try them with some of the jams I made this summer. Since I don’t have any nut flours, can I substitute very finely ground nuts?

    Yes, Lish, that would be fine – PJH

    Reply
  13. Linda

    I tried linzers for the first time today. They cutout beautifully and I transferred them to the cookies sheet with no problem. But, while they were baking, the tops closed up the design window. It’s like the cookie spread to the center. What did I do wrong?

    Hmmm… Sounds like perhaps a lower protein flour? Did you use King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour? Other than that, if you followed the recipe we gave as written,I’m not sure what would do this. Spread is generally a sign of too much fat, too much liquid, too much sugar, or low oven heat, so review exactly what you did and see if it might be any of those… Sorry about that! Hope it works for you next time, Linda. PJH

    Reply
  14. Erika

    Linda, ‘scuse me for tossing in my “two tablespoons,” but was it very humid on your baking day? Even if you followed the recipe without adding additional liquid, a really humid day might cause your cookies to spread and lose their shape. This is more likely if your cookies sat after cutting and before baking, and especially likely if you left them somewhere warm. When my kitchen is warm and humid, I’ve noticed that any cookie (drop or cutout) waiting unbaked on the baking sheet for its turn in the oven will spread and lose its shape.

    Reply
  15. Erika

    “Linzers” on a budget — I don’t own linzer cutters, but love to make my Christmas cookies a bit fancy for gifting. The thumbprint variation above is a great solution, and I like to take it one step further by making “bullseyes.” I make the thumbprint cookies as described, but also use a homemade fake-it pastry bag (i.e. plastic sandwhich bag with a tiny bit of one corner cut off) to pipe little cookie dots small enough to sit in the middle of the jam centers with some jam exposed around the edges. A little trial and error may be necessary to pipe dots that bake to the right size, and keep in mind that these mini cookies don’t take as long to bake. Sift powdered sugar over the dots after their baked if you’d like. After filling the thumbprint bottoms, I sit one little dot in the middle of each jam center. Voila! Bullseye cookies with no cutters, relatively little fuss or special skill, and a cute result.

    Erika, great idea – very creative. Thanks for sharing – PJH

    Reply
  16. hddonna

    These look wonderful–I’ll put them at the top of this year’s to-bake list.
    I like Angela’s idea above for swapping out two pieces from two different recipes. Here’s an idea my family uses when baking sugar cookies: we cut out 2-3″ round cookies, then use mini cutters to cut out different shapes. Sprinkle the round cookies with colored sugar, then top with a plain shape and bake. An elegant way to use up the dough fast when we’re tired of cutting out fancy cookies, and a colorful addition to cookie trays. Works well with two sizes of the same shape, also.

    You’re right, Donna – I’ve used variations on this simple/fancy trick before, and it’s really cute and easy… PJH

    Reply
  17. Anna

    I am so glad these were posted- not because Linzer Cookies are my favorite, but because you aren’t afraid to show mistakes! A lot of other baking blogs never show mistakes which makes it even more sad when I make them, so I love that mistakes are being accepted as normal and posted :) Thanks!

    Reply
  18. Kat DeFonce

    How easy you make it seem that I’ll have to make them this year for my giant goodie trays!

    Also, by the way, your cookie recipe is the same as a recipe that I have for a Sweedish cookie that surrounds a marachino cherry. (The name of which I never knew.) That recipe was given to me over 30 years ago and I almost always make them on the holidays. So, I have no excuse not to make the Linzers!

    Reply
  19. MJ

    What would be a good alternative to the nut flour in this recipe? We need to modify the recipe due to food allergies.
    Hi MJ,
    Pretty much any roll out cookie will work well for linzers. Here a link to our Roll Out Cookies listing on the recipe site. Happy Browsing! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  20. Anita from MD

    I know I’m a little late with this post, but I made these cookies today. WOW!!! Even if you just ate the cookies and didn’t do anything else to them, they are fabulous!!! I did what the recipe called for 1/2 almond flour and 1/2 hazelnut and I used the almond flavoring. They are so good I hope they make it to Christmas!!

    Reply
  21. Judy

    I made these at Christmas time and had a problem with storing them. Have any hints to share? Unfortunately Linzers don’t store well. They get soggy from the filling. Mary@KAF

    Reply
  22. Katie

    How long do these cookies keep? Is refrigeration necessary because of the jam?
    Hi Katie,
    The cookies don’t need to be in the fridge, and they’ll keep well for 5-6 days, but they will soften up as time goes by as the jam absorbs moisture. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  23. glittergirl

    I just made these for the first time! I went with toasted almond flour – fantastic flavor!! I wish I could post a photo here for you! Thanks KAF I <3 u!

    One of the items on my “wish list” is for customers to be able to add their photos here in blog comments. Wouldn’t it be fun to see everyone’s creations! You can always post to our Facebook wall, though, as so many do… Thanks for your endorsement of the linzers – PJH

    Reply
  24. SH

    Hello, these cookies look beautiful and so christmassy! But I don’t have almond/hazelnut flour though, is it alright to just substitute with the same amt of plain flour, would it affect the taste? Also, I’m thinking of making the non-cutter version, but I foresee some problems storing/staking them, like the jam getting smeared on the rest of the cookies. Do you have any tips on storage? Thank! :)

    A nut flour gives the distinctive flavor and texture of this cookie – if you don’t have any you could sub flour. Storage can be problematic with the jam – sometimes parchment paper helps between the cookies. In general, they are best made fresh then distributed or displayed for hungry holiday eaters. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  25. Sue

    The linzer cookies look great, but I have a few questions. I have some beautiful Christmas cookie cutters, but do not have linzer cutters. Why is it important to use linzer cutters instead of cookie cutters? What jams or fillings do not run? Many thanks.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Sue, you don’t need to use linzer cutters; they’re handy since the center cutout is included right in the cutter, but you can certainly make your own designs with your own cutters. Any jam should work well, since it’s not being heated; but if you’re worried, I’d use a regular store-bought jam, as those tend to include thickeners, where homemade jams (and more expensive, “gourmet” jams) often don’t have those thickeners. Good luck – PJH

  26. Sue

    Do linzer cookies store well in the freezer after assembly?
    Thank you.

    Yes, those cookies will store very well in the freezer. Happy baking!

    Reply

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