A classic Vanillekipferl cookie recipe gets an upgrade à la Elle. This version of the popular Christmas cookie is made with whole grain oat flour — which is super easy to make yourself — as well as almonds, vanilla and of course butter and powdered sugar, which makes these shortbread cookies, so absolutely delicious. They are sweet without being overly sweet, and have just the right amount of crisp and tender, making them the perfect cookie for enjoying with your afternoon coffee or cup of tea. Best yet, is that they are super easy to prepare. And if you prefer an even simpler cookie recipe, you can easily transform then into simple shortbread cookies. In this recipe, I will give you step by step instructions on how to prepare the best Vanillekipferl cookies!
My understanding is that traditional Austrian Vanillekipferl are made with ground walnuts, since the natural oils make the cookie moister. But depending on which types of nuts you prefer you could also make them with ground almonds or hazelnuts. Either blanched (without the skin) or with the skin, which is what I like to do. And almonds were my choice here, as I simple love the taste of almonds and vanilla together. But, all versions are delicious – just choose your favorite!
Oat flour is one of things that can be quiet difficult to find, but the good news is that it is pretty easy to make yourself. Some natural food stores sell it in their gluten-free section, but I think this is relatively new, since I have only seen it this past year here in Germany. So in the past, I have always ground it myself. You can do this in a high-powered standmixer/blender which produces quite good results, but to get it really fine, it’s best to use a grain mill. There are hand-operated versions, or you can use a grain mill attachment for your Kitchenaid machine, which is what I do. This lets you have control on how fine you want your flour to be. And since I don’t use blanched ground almonds for this recipe, a fine ground oat flour works best.
Tips for making the best Vanillekipferl – step by step
This recipe is incredibly easy to make, but there is one caveat. You need to properly chill the dough. If not, the cookies will spread too much in the oven. So, I recommend chilling it for at least an hour, or simply make the dough the day before.
Chilling the dough
And this is also where the easiness factor comes into play. Before you chill the dough you want to shape it into two equal sized logs wrapped in plastic wrap. Making two logs means that half the dough can continue chilling in the fridge why you prepare the cookies. It’s important that the dough remain cold and that you don’t handle it too much. If unsure, you can always form the cookies and then re-chill in the fridge before baking.
Forming the cookies
Once, the dough has fully chilled, you can form it into the crescent/half-moon cookies. I find the best way to do this is to roll them quickly into small ball then roll into shape with the palm of my hand and place directly on a parchment lined baking sheet. Make sure your crescents are all the same size so they bake evenly. Again if you are making them for the first time and have handled the dough a lot and it is very soft, then place the formed cookies in the fridge to chill and firm up again before baking them. We want them to hold their shape. Plus, this helps keep their shortbread-like structure light and flaky.
Baking & garnishing
Bake on the middle rack of the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes (depending on the size of the crescents) or until the edges begin to turn golden. Then let the cookies sit for 1 minutes and then use a fine sieve or sifter to dust them with the powdered sugar while they’re still warm. Let the cookies further cool and then transfer them to a cooking rack to completely cool. If desired, feel free to give them a second dusting of powdered sugar before doing so.
Tips for making quick, easy vanilla shortbread cookies
So here, instead of forming the cookie dough into crescents you can also simple create rounds, bake them in the oven and then dust them in sugar. Super EASY! Simply create the same two sausage like logs wrapped in plastic wrap, chill the dough, and then slice it into rounds ca. 0,5 cm thick and arrange them on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the edges are golden, let stand a minute, then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Voila! It couldn’t be easier. And if you prepare the dough ahead of time, or night before, you could have a fresh batch of cookies ready for guests in less than 20 minutes!
Eggs are typically not part of a Vanillekipferl recipe
One note about the egg yolk. Traditionally Vanillekipferl do not contains eggs. I include an egg yolk in my recipe, as I am using a gluten-free flour, less butter, and the addition of arrowroot powder as both a binder and to give the cookie a lighter consistency. All-in-all this Christmas cookie is not entirely traditional in the way it’s made, but its triple tested, definitely a tiny bit healthier and 100% just as delicious. I hope you think so too!
Looking for other easy Christmas cookie recipes?
Try one of these delicious cookie ideas:
- Lemon Butter Cookies
- Gingerbread Cookies
- Easy Lemon Almond Cookies (Gluten-Free)
- Gluten-free Thumbprint Cookies
Vanillekipferl - Almond-Oat Crescent Cookies
- 200 g oat flour (fine-cut oats, ground, GF certified)
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
- 100 g almond meal
- Generous pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 180 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 80 g powdered sugar, sifted, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/8 teaspoon bourbon vanilla powder
- 1 large egg yolk
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, arrowroot powder, almond meal, nutmeg and salt.
Place the softened butter, sugar and vanilla into a large mixing bowl. Mix, using a hand mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment on medium speed for 1-2 minutes, until butter mixture is light and fluffy. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl once or twice during the mixing process. Add the egg yolk and continue mixing, scraping the bowl as needed, until well incorporated.
Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.
Divide the dough into two and form each portion into a log, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 1-2 hours, or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C (Umluft: 155 Grad) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Remove the rolls from the fridge and cut into 1/2-1/3 cm inch slices, and shape into crescents, using the palms of your hands. You will need to work quickly so the dough remains cold. See tips below.
Place cookies on the prepared baking sheet, leaving some space between each cookie, and bake on the middle rack for 12-15 minutes (depending on the size of the crescents), until the edges begin to turn golden.
Place the cookie sheet on a cooling rack and let the cookies cool for 1 minute. Then sprinkle powdered sugar over the warm Vanillekipferl. Let them further cool and then give them a second dusting of sugar, if desired.
Once completely cooled, store in an airtight container. Enjoy!
- The dough should always stay cold while you are shaping the cookies. Therefore I recommend taking only half of the dough out of the fridge so the remaining dough stays cold.
- Shaping the crescents might take a little bit of practice if you’re doing it for the first time. If the dough gets quite soft from forming the cookies, then let the formed cookies chill in the fridge for 10 -15 minutes before baking them. If your fridge is big enough you can place the whole cookie sheet in the fridge before baking.
- Make sure your crescents are all the same size so they bake evenly.
- For lighter coloured cookies, use blanched almond meal. It also has a finer consistency which will result in a finer cookie.
- For more tips, check out the blog post above.