How to bake Oktoberfest Gingerbread Hearts / Lebkuchen Herzen

Oktoberfest is all about beer, Brathändel (rotisserie chicken) … and Lebkuchenherzen (Oktoberfest Gingerbread Hearts)!

How to bake Oktoberfest Gingerbread Hearts / Lebkuchen Herzen

One could almost say that the Oktoberfest is some sort of Bavarian Valentine because it is a “must do” for the men to get their beloved girlfriend or wife a gingerbread heart with a nice writing on it.
Writings would be like “Schatzl” or “Spatzl” or another Bavarian word with the meaning like “darling”. These Gingerbread hearts have a ribbon attached, so the women can wear them like a necklace.

gingerbread heart cookies

An Oktoberfest treat for young and old

These hearts are quite expensive and I was really surprised how easy it is to make the dough and just bake them myself. If you make only a few of them, then the icing and writing aren’t too much trouble either … it’s just that I always make so many of them, that at the end my hands hurt from all the decorating.
I made a lot of them for one of our Oktoberfests, packed them in small bags and gave one to every child that came with their parents. They loved it! My hearts were smaller than the original Gingerbread Hearts, though. In Munich, they have about the size of an iPad.

Important to know about the Oktoberfest Gingerbread Hearts

Preparing the dough is a little uncommon with the melting of the sugar, honey, and butter but I swear, once the dough is ready it is the softest dough you’ve ever touched!
One important thing one must know is, that after baking and cooling, the hearts are sort of hard but that’s OK. You need to put them in a tin jar for a few days and then they get nice and soft and ready to be eaten.

Gingerbread Cookies

A German Christmas gift?

I really hope you try this, it’s so much fun and some friends like them so much that I bake a large batch before Christmas as a gift for them.
Actually one finds Gingerbread Hearts not only at the Oktoberfest they also are on every Christmas market in Germany.

What to write onto Oktoberfest Gingerbread Heart in German / Bavarian

“I mog di” (I like you)
“Wiesn’ Madl” (Oktoberfest is also called “Wiesn” which means meadow, so this can be translated to “Meado Girl”)
“Herzl” (Heart)
“Wiesn Gaudi” (kind of refers to the fun you have at Oktoberfest which is also called “Wiesn”, the German word for meaddow)
“Gib ma a Busserl” (Kiss me)
“O’zapft is” (means that the first barrel of beer has been opened)
“Fesches Madl” (beautiful girl)
“Du fehlst mir” (I miss you)
“Ich liebe Dich” (I love you)
“Wiesn Prinz” (Oktoberfest/ Wiesen prince)
“Shenk mir Dein Herz” )Give me your heart)

Other Ideas

Will you marry me?
Name of your girl
“Oktoberfest” (followed by the year)
Happy Birthday
It’s a boy / girl
xx’th Anniversary
Be Mine
Forever

How to bake Oktoberfest Gingerbread Hearts / Lebkuchen Herzen

Oktoberfest Gingerbread Hearts - Lebkuchenherzen

Barbara
Bake these Oktoberfest Gingerbread Hearts a few days ahead to give them time to soften.
5 from 1 vote
Cook Time 12 mins
Total Time 12 mins
Course Afternoon Coffee, Snack
Cuisine Bavaria, German

Ingredients
 
 

  • 300 g honey
  • 150 g sugar
  • 100 g Butter
  • some lemon zest
  • 500 g flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 15 g baking powder (3 to 4 tsp)
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 egg white
  • 200 g confectioners sugar
  • several different food colors

Instructions
 

  • In a sauce pan combine the honey, the sugar and the butter and melt (don't boil!).
  • In a large bowl mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and egg yolk and lemon zest.
  • Add the butter-honey-sugar mix to the dry mix and knead all to a nice, soft dough.
  • Roll out on a large surface and use a heart cookie cutter for smaller hearts or use a larger heart shape to cut out a larger heart.
  • Place the gingerbread hearts on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for about 11 to 12 minutes.
  • After baking, let them cool and prepare the frosting.
  • Whisk the egg white and gradually mix the confectioners sugar to it until it is a nice, stiff texture.
  • Divide into several different batches and add different food colors to each batch.
  • Fill into piping bags with apropriate tips and decorate like in the pictures.

Notes

 
gingerbread heart cookies
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

About The Author

31 thoughts on “Oktoberfest Gingerbread Hearts – Lebkuchenherzen”

    1. That’s right, there is no ginger in this gingerbread and I can see how you can find this odd. The reason is, that in German, the name of this recipe is “Lebkuchen” which would be translated to “Life Bread”. In this recipe, ginger is not an ingredient but we always translate Lebkuchen to Gingerbread because it is kind of the same thing, just a different recipe that also happens to be without ginger. Even if I use google translate, the word Lebkuchen gets translated to gingerbread, despite the missing ginger. I guess a food is more than the one ingredient that is in its name. I hope I could explain it good enough.
      Best,
      Barbara

  1. Lize Van der Merwe

    Hello Barbara,

    How many small hearts will this recipe make more or less?

    Liebe Grüβe aus Südafrika
    Lize

    1. I can’t tell a definite number since it also depends on the size of the cookie cutter. I think I got about 30 with a cookie cutter that’s about 2.5 inches – at least that is what I remember.

  2. Servus! Grüß Gött! I cannot wait to make these asap!
    I am running low on honey and have sudden craving for some molasses, do you think molasses would ruin this if I used some for rest of the honey which I lack? An Estonian Piparkoogid recipe called for it, so it probably would still taste pretty good; i just don’t know if it would ruin consistency.
    Lebkuchen Herzen are so good with honey though, so I am already almost talking myself out of it ? and just making a half batch or wait until I can get to store ?

    ? Es tut mir wirklich leid. I hope I am not being a pain. ❤

    Vielen Dank,
    Julchen

    1. Hu Julchen,
      I don’t know what molasses would do to this recipe but here in the US molasses tastes very bidder and I would not use it in a sweet recipe. I hope you could wait for getting some honey and make it with my recipe for the best outcome.
      Barbara

  3. Great! Should I let the hearts get hard first, then decorate? Or is it better to ice them while still fresh?

  4. Does the icing get hard, like at Oktoberfest? I want to skrink-wrap them for a german party.

    1. Yes, the icing gets hard but it needs time. At least 24 hours of drying, sometimes 48 hours to fully harden if the icing is very thick.

  5. 5 stars
    Hello Barbara,
    I am glad to have found your site and this recipe. Since childhood I loved the Lebkuchenherzen that were sold at Kirmes and Oktoberfest or similar fairs.
    Might be an acquired taste preference, but I still miss some of the foods I grew up with in Germany. That is was motivated me to make my own yogurt and sourdough breads after I moved to the US.

    My question is, what do you mean with lemon zest in the recipe, candid lemon zest pieces( Zitronat) or thin slivers of fresh real lemon zest and could you please specify the quantity?

    Thanks in advance
    Angelika

    1. Lemon zest is the skin of a lemon. Use one lemon (fresh, organic, washed) and use only the yellow part of the skin, not the white parts (they are bitter). It is not Zitronat.

  6. ?? greetings Barbara,
    Thank you so much, for all of your lovely recipes and your additional notes ~ it all makes your site very special and we appreciate it !
    ? My question is: could I add a little more raw honey instead of the 1/2 cup of the sugar as we don’t use any sugar in our house anymore, & a bit more flour to the Octoberfest Gingerbread Cookies ?
    ?? Thank you so much,
    ~ Nell
    I would like to leave you with a little gift for all of the wonderful recipes and information you have shared with us. As I mentioned I think that your site is very wonderful and de-stressing (=CovidLand), because of you and how lovely your site is.
    Here are two wonderful romantic comedies films that are very well done and I know you will enjoy them.

    the first one is called” Ladies in Black “and the second one is called: Finding Your Feet”, both are available on Amazon Prime but if you go to a movie site called : OK.RU
    You can watch these movies for free and many other movies from all countries going from the silent era to the present day films. This site does not ask for a credit card just a username and password that then goes to a fingerprint.
    it’s a wonderful site if you like to watch old classic movies too. ( German films too !).
    I also highly recommend any movies by Jean Arthur, which you won’t find anywhere else.
    ?? Enjoy !
    ~ Nell

    1. Hi Nell,

      I am not sure if the gingerbread hearts will turn out the same without sugar but honey instead. My guess is, that it can work but I’ve never tried it like that. I hope it will work!

      Barbara

  7. Hi, thank you for this recipe. I have many handmade german scrap ornaments on my Christmas tree and would like to try and decorate my tree next season with some of these cookies. How do I prepare the cookies for stringing, please?

    1. Hi Lisa,
      when you take them out of the oven, use one of your round icing tips to punch a hole into each cookie while they are still warm and soft.
      Best,
      Barbara

  8. Hello!
    I’m also confused about baking powder quantity. Is it 2 1/2 tsp as you say in the video or 3-4 tsp as it is written in the ingredients list…?
    Thank you!!

    1. I double checked and my original recipe calls for 1 pouch of baking powder as it is sold in Germany. Since we don’t have baking powder in pouches here, the amount of baking powder in tsp. is 3-4 (more on the 4 side).

  9. Hello!
    I don’t see any GINGER in the ingredients list, is that right? Since they are gingerbread hearts they should contain ginger… Wright?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Ana,

      these hearts have a different name in Germany: Lebkuchen. With a direct translation it would be “life-cake” … not helpful to anyone I guess. So the official translation for this kind of baking goods is Gingerbread. We have a huge variety of this kind of cookies / cakes and some do indeed contain some ginger but most often not. So it is absolutely correct that this recipe does not contain ginger but it will taste delicious – promise! :-)

      Best,
      Barbara

    1. I am not sure what you mean with “finger spice”, can you please explain what you mean so I can answer?
      Best, Barbara

    1. Hi Heather,
      there are two ways to store them. If you want to keep them for a long time, let them get hard in a container that is NOT airtight. This way it can actually be good for months (if not years, but not sure if I would want to eat them after a year). If you want to keep it fresh to be eaten any time, then you should put them in an AIRTIGHT container. I can’t really tell you how long they will last that way since if they are stored to be soft they are eaten in this house pretty fast. But I actually have a batch of soft hearts as a gift here since a month and they are still good. If you have hard Lebkuchenherzen and want to get them soft again, just put them in an airtight container, maybe add a slice of fresh bread or apple to it for 2-3 days and the hearts will be fresh and soft again.
      I hope this helps you with your question.
      Best, Barbara

  10. Looks like a good recipe, doesn’t need to sit in the fridge overnight. Question- how much baking powder do you add?

    1. Hello Frau Bee,
      thank you for your question, which I will be happy to answer … in a few weeks. Unfortunately, I am out of town and my recipe book is at home, so I cannot look it up right now. But I will come back to this and complete the recipe with this indeed very important information.
      Barbara

        1. Oh, so sorry I forgot to put in how much it is. It’s 15 g of baking powder which is about 3 to 4 teaspoons.

          1. Ann, if you look at the recipe section, below the ingredient list: There is a link where you can switch and the program shows US customary units if you click it. But it will never be as accurate as measure with grams and the outcome might not be perfect. A kitchen scale costs about $15, even less at Walmart. I think it’s worth the investment.

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