Quinn tends to be a bit more ambitious in my baking than I am. He thought these cookies would be a great addition to my holiday baking roster. I agreed that they looked and sounded delicious, but I wasn’t sure about the painstaking efforts involved in making them. I came up with a compromise, though, that he help me bake them. He quickly agreed, being a fool for painstaking details like rolling out dough and icing cookies.

Also known as Cinnamon Star Cookies, these are a traditional German Christmas cookie. They are described as being somewhere between a macaroon and a meringue. They are somehow both a little bit crunchy and a little bit chewy. They immediately reminded me of a pecan meringue cookie my mother used to make.

We found that the dough was much easier to deal with after it had been in the freezer for about 20 minutes. That provided some stiffness that made cutting them easier and helped them stay together better.

Zimtsterne are delicious cookies that exist somewhere between a macaron and a meringue. - Bake or Break

Even with such a short list of ingredients, these are not short on flavor. The combination of cinnamon and almonds is a definite winner. Despite all the almonds in these cookies, that almond flavor is not overpowering. They were, indeed, an excellent addition to my holiday baking lineup. Just be warned that these are definitely a labor of love. If you have the time and patience, however, they are certainly worth it.


Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: about 24 cookies



  • 2 & 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 15 ounces sliced almonds (about 4 & 1/2 cups)
  • 1 & 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest


Preheat oven to 250°. Line baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper.

Place 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, 10 ounces almonds (3 heaping cups), and cinnamon in a food processor. Process until nuts are finely ground.

Using an electric mixer on high speed, whip egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Continue whipping and gradually add remaining confectioners' sugar about 2 more minutes. Whites should be thick, creamy, and somewhat stiff. Set aside 2/3 cup of mixture for tops of cookies.

Gently fold ground almond mixture and lemon zest into egg whites mixture. Dough will be stiff.

Lay a sheet of parchment paper or waxed paper on a clean, flat work surface. Place dough on paper. Flatten dough and lightly dust with confectioners' sugar. Cover dough with another sheet of paper.

Roll dough between papers to a 1/4-inch thickness. Flip dough over. Gently peel off the top sheet of paper. Lay the paper back onto the dough and flip again. Peel other sheet of paper so that the dough is not stuck to either sheet of paper.

Using a 3-inch star-shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies and place about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Gather and re-roll dough as needed.

Use an offset spatula or small spoon to spread remaining meringue mixture on top of each cookie. Do not let the meringue drip over the sides. Place remaining almonds on top of meringue.

Bake 30 minutes, or until bottoms of cookies are light golden brown and meringue is set and crisp. Turn off oven and open oven door. Leave cookies in oven for 10 minutes to allow them to dry.


Dough can be frozen between sheets of parchment or waxed paper for up to 2 weeks.

Cookies will keep for 10 days in an airtight container.

Recipe adapted from Food Network.


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  1. Gigi December 8, 2007 Reply

    They are just lovely.

  2. Gretchen Noelle December 9, 2007 Reply

    beautiful cookies!

  3. Hannah December 9, 2007 Reply

    These are gorgeous, and so tasty sounding, too!

  4. Dana December 9, 2007 Reply

    Wow, these look fantastic! Great photos, and they sound delicious.

  5. jennifer December 9, 2007 Reply

    Thanks, everyone! I have to admit that they’re pretty, but definitely much work.

  6. Kate December 10, 2007 Reply

    They look gorgeous.i’m very tempted to make these, but i dont see a recipe on the page.

  7. Sarah December 10, 2007 Reply

    I made these for the first time this year and love them! So delicous! I didn’t figure out the freezer trick and got so frustrated with how sticky they were, I made them into drop cookies. They were still delicious and now have a permanent spot in my Christmas cookie list! Your pictures are gorgeous!

  8. Patricia Scarpin December 10, 2007 Reply

    OMG!! This is the most beautiful cookie I have ever seen!

  9. jennifer December 10, 2007 Reply

    Kate, there is a link to the recipe in the text, but I added one at the top that’s easier to see. Happy baking!

    Sarah, aren’t they delicious? The freezer trick saved us A LOT of heartache. That is some sticky dough!

    Patricia, you are so sweet. Thank you very much!

  10. Andy December 5, 2012 Reply

    These are definitely not “painstaking”. Probably the easiest cookies I’ve ever made. Try making Lebkuchen if you want to know about painstaking. In any event, you will be rewarded for your efforts.

  11. Eden Passante November 5, 2015 Reply

    I’ve never seen anything like this before! How beautiful and unique!

  12. Susan P November 19, 2015 Reply

    I cannot wait to make these cookies. Meringue combined with almonds-my favourite combo. Wondering if they will keep in the freezer once baked? and if so – should I freeze individually first?

    • Author
      Jennifer McHenry November 21, 2015 Reply

      Hi, Susan. I’ve never frozen these cookies, but I would recommend putting waxed paper between layers of the cookies and freezing them in an airtight container.

  13. Susan P November 23, 2015 Reply

    I am making these right now – so excited. I am a little unclear on when to put dough in the freezer. I am going to roll out btwn parchment and after unsticking put it in the freeze before cutting. Wish me luck.

  14. I made Zimtsterne for the first time, just before a last minute trip to the Cologne Christmas markets two years ago. I had asked a German friend what not to miss and these were on her list. I love them and it’s especially nice that they are gluten free for my gf friends! I love your almond slices on top!

    • Author
      Jennifer McHenry December 14, 2015 Reply

      Thank you, Christina! They’re really such lovely cookies. Definitely worth the effort!

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