With their bright white coats of powdered sugar and jewel-toned jam centers, Linzer cookies are a treat for both the eyes and the tastebuds.
Made with a crumbly, buttery nut dough and simply filled with jam–raspberry and apricot are traditional, but feel free to use your favorite jam–Linzers make the perfect, fruity addition to a Christmas cookie tray.
For ease of browsing, you can find all my cookie and bar cookie recipes in one place. Now let’s make these little guys, shall we?
Why You Need to Make These Cookies
If you’re looking for a cookie that is just right–not too sweet, too crumbly, too gooey–Linzers might be what you need.
Mellow and nutty with just enough jam to give them a little sparkle, these cookies are the small, handheld version of the Austrian Linzer torte.
Also called Linzer tarts some recipes call for a sable dough without nuts. But, a Linzer Torte is all about the nuttiness–traditionally almonds or hazelnuts–so my vote is to make them with a nutty dough.
If these sound like cookies you can get behind, you can jump straight to the recipe. Or read on to get some tips, serving suggestions, and step-by-step instructions.
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How to Make Classic Linzer Cookies
The following sections go over ingredients and substitutions, step-by-step instructions, and give some tips and tricks. If you are good to go, skip to the recipe and get to baking!
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here’s what you’ll need to make these classic Linzer cookies:
- butter: Carries flavor and tenderizes the gluten, making for a lovely, crumbly cookie
- powdered sugar: Adds sweetness, assists in browning, and keeps the cookies from being too dry, allowing them to soften as they sit (especially with the jam filling). Powdered sugar makes for a very delicate crumb. Powdered sugar also provides the lovely white finish to the tops of these little cookies
- eggs: Provides structure. The addition of egg is what separates a sable-type dough (sandy) from a shortbread (super crumbly)
- all-purpose flour: Gives us bulk and structure
- nuts: Provides a bit more fat to assist with browning and adds a nutty dimension to the cookies. Toasting and cooling the nuts before grinding/chopping results in a deeper, nutty flavor. Nuts to consider: almond, hazelnut, walnut, pecan, pistachio, macadamia, pine nuts (which aren’t really nuts). Try to pair the nuts you use with the jam you choose. For example, almonds would work well with stone fruit like cherries or apricots. Pecans work well with peaches. Walnut and apple pair nicely together.
- kosher salt: Brings out the flavor in the cookies, especially in the butter and nuts
- extract: A little vanilla rounds out the flavors in the dough. You could also use nut extracts such as hazelnut or a little almond extract to reinforce the flavor of the nuts you’re using
- jam/s of choice: Use all one sort of jam, or use different jams. This is a great opportunity to use up the ends of jars you may have in your fridge
Make your dough and roll it out. Use cutters to cut the tops and bottoms of your cookies:
Sandwich cookies are very straightforward to make. Take 2 cookies, and stick them together with something tasty.
Linzer cookies require a couple of extra steps, but the basic process is straightforward.
- Cut out cookies (I love these nesting, fluted cutters).
- Cut out a smaller hole from the center of half of the cookies. These will be the tops of the cookies.
- Bake and cool.
- Turn the solid cookies upside down. Dust the cookies with the holes in them (the tops) with powdered sugar.
- Spread a teaspoon–no more, seriously–onto the centers of each cookie and then press on the top cookie so the jam shows through the small hole.
Jenni Says: Hold the tops by the edges so you don’t get fingerprints in the powdered sugar.
What Happens If I Use Too Much Jam?
This. This is what happens:
Freinds, let this be a cautionary tale.
You only need enough jam to show through the “window” on the top of each cookie, plus enough to stick the two cookies together.
If you use enough jam to spread it from end to end, you are in trouble.
In adding jam to Linzer cookies, restraint is key.
Don’t feel like you need to limit yourself to round cookies, or even to cookies with round “windows.”
Use any type of cutter you’d like. You could make them with windows that are card suits, if you have tiny canape cutters to cut out the centers.
Round cookies (or square, or diamond-shaped) with small hearts, spades, diamonds, or clubs in the centers.
Not only can you vary the look by changing up the cutters you use, you can also swap the finish, from a shower of powdered sugar to a layer of sparkly sugar, as I did for some of the Linzers I made. Not traditional, but a nice variation.
If you want to use sparkly sugar, roll or press the sugar gently into the dough after cutting but before baking.
Vary the flavor of your cookies by swapping in other ground nuts and by using different flavors of jam. Traditional Linzers use almonds or hazelnuts with raspberry or apricot preserves, but there is zero reason to stay in that lane.
Equipment You May Need
Since this recipe requires a 2x batch of nut dough, to keep the cookies from getting tough during mixing, I recommend using either a stand mixer to mix the dough efficiently or just making it by hand.
If you prefer some mechanical assistance and have a hand mixer, make a 1x batch of the dough twice. A hand mixer doesn’t have a strong enough motor to efficiently mix in the flour and nut mixture without making your cookies tough.
To make the cookies, you’ll need parchment paper sheets, a good rolling pin (my preference is for a tapered French pin), fluted cutters (or your favorite shape/s), baking pans, and a sifter or fine-mesh strainer for dusting the tops of the cookies with powdered sugar.
Tips and Tricks for Success
Chill your rolled-out sheets of dough for 30 minutes. This will make the dough firmer and much easier to cut cleanly.
Only fill your cookies with enough jam to show through the hole in the tops of the cookies plus a tiny bit to stick the two halves together. You need 1 teaspoon of jam per cookie, tops.
Linzer Cookies Q & A
No, you don’t. The amount of jam in each is very small, and it sets up pretty quickly. A “gooier” cookie with a bunch of jam would need to be refrigerated. You can refrigerate them if you prefer, but it’s not necessary for food safety.
In airtight containers at room temperature, your cookies will stay fresh for 4-5 days. The first day, they’ll be a bit crunchy, but they will soften up as the moisture from the jam works its magic.
I would make and freeze the dough in sheets, and then make the cookies when you need them. If you need to freeze them after making, arrange them in single layers, not overlapping, with waxed paper or parchment between the layers, and freeze in freezer-safe containers until needed.
Other Classic Christmas Cookie Recipes
If you’re planning on gifting a variety of cookies on a cookie plate, consider a mix of cookies that differ in color and shape.
A Note About Measurements
For convenience, consistency, and accuracy, almost all my recipes are written by weight, either in ounces and/or grams, even the liquids.
I strongly encourage you to purchase a kitchen scale and learn to use it.
This is the one I used for years. I love it and highly recommend it:
Don't let its small price and small size fool you. The Escali Primo is an accurate and easy-to-use food scale that I have used for years. It's easy to store, easy to use, has a tare function, and easily switches between grams and ounces/pounds for accurate measurements.
It would be so helpful to me and to other readers that, when you make a recipe, you rate it and leave a comment. Whether it’s a recipe or an informational post, your feedback helps others decide if the post is helpful or if the recipe works as advertised.
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For the Nut Dough
- 320 grams unsalted butter 11.3 oz or 2 1/4 sticks plus 1 Tablespoon
- 240 grams powdered sugar 8.5 oz or 2 cups
- 10 grams salt salt volume varies wildly between kosher and table salt. Weighing will be most accurate. See NOTES
- 2 large eggs
- 80 grams very finely chopped or ground nuts, your choice of nut 2.8 oz or 1/2 cup (measured before chopping)
- 620 grams all-purpose flour 22 oz or 4 1/2 cups, measured by stirring, spooning, and sweeping
To Shape, Bake, and Finish
- 1 teaspoon jam of choice per cookie
- ½ cup powdered sugar or coarse sugar for a less traditional finish
For the Nut Dough
- Cream butter and salt together until smooth and creamy.
- Whisk the powdered sugar in really well.
- Mix in the eggs, one at a time, until completely combined. Scrape the bowl as necessary.
- Whisk the flour and ground nuts together then stir into the butter and egg mixture.
- Divide the dough into 2 pieces, form each into a thick disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about an hour.
To Shape, Bake, and Finish
- Place racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven. Heat oven to 350F.
- Working with one disc of dough at a time, place between 2 sheets of parchment, and roll out to about 1/8". Remove and smooth out the parchment periodically so you don't roll creases into your dough.
- Using a scalloped round cutter in whatever size you prefer (around 2" is a nice size) cut out rounds close together. Carefully remove the scraps and reroll once, cutting as many cookies out as you can. You should have about 20 rounds of dough. Do NOT reroll scraps more than once–the 2nd rerolls will be tough.
- Cut out a smaller round from the centers of half the cookies and place on parchment-lined cookie sheets or half-sheet pans. Cookies won't spread, so you can bake them close together.
- Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, rotating the racks from top to bottom and back to front halfway through the baking time. Cookies are ready when they are firm and no longer shiny and are golden-brown around the edges.
- Allow the cookies to cool on the pans for a couple of minutes before transferring to cooling racks to cool completely
- Once completely cool, dust the cutout cookies (the ones with the holes in the centers) liberally with powdered sugar. Turn the solid round cookies over so the bottoms are up..
- Repeat with the second round of dough.
- Scoop about a teaspoon of your favorite jam/s onto the centers of the solid cookies and spread out a little bit. Do NOT be fancy and try to use a ton of jam, or it will run out the sides. You really only need enough to show in the cutout "window" in the center of each cookie plus enough extra to actually stick the cookies together.
- Let the cookies sit out for about an hour so the jam can set up. Store them at room temperature in single-layers without overlapping, using a piece of waxed paper or parchment between the layers. The cookies will be crunchy on the first day and will soften up a bit over the next couple of days.
Did You Make Any Changes?
A Note about Salt
- 1 teaspoon of Morton’s kosher salt weighs 5 grams.
- 1 teaspoon of Diamond kosher salt weighs 3 grams.
- 1 teaspoon of fine table salt weighs 6 grams.
TipsFor the easiest cutting, roll the dough between two sheets of parchment and chill for 30 minutes before cutting out the cookies. Do NOT use more than 1 teaspoon jam per cookie. Using too much jam will result in very sloppy, messy Linzers. If you want to use sparkly sugar instead of powdered sugar, roll or press the sugar gently into the dough after cutting but before baking.
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