Linzer cookies are a favorite amongst classic Christmas cookies. Baked sandwich cookies made of lightly spiced flaky shortbread and filled with a peek-a-boo cut-out on the powdered sugar dusted top.
These are one of the prettiest cookies on the holiday cookie trays. The assembled cookies look fancy and taste delicious! Instead of traditional jam filling we’ve filled these favorite cookies with Nutella for a touch of chocolate and hazelnut.
What are Linzer cookies?
They are a sandwich cookie made of two shortbread cookies, one with a cut out. The cookies are filled usually with jam and in our case nutella, and dusted with powdered sugar. The cut out shows the inside filling of the cookie.
The shortbread cookies include ground nuts and warming spices in our recipe.
Linzer cookies originated in the city of Linz Austria as spinoff of traditional Linzer torte. The torte is a shortcake made with flour and ground nuts (usually ground almonds), topped with fruit (often black current preserves) and nuts with a lattice crust allowing the fruit to be seen.
This Linzer cookie recipe adds some ground cinnamon and nutmeg to the shortbread too.
Recipe Ingredients Notes
Complete ingredient list and amounts in the recipe card at the end of the post.
All purpose flour. Regular or gluten-free measure-for-measure flour blends can be used. We recommend Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour for making the gluten-free version.
Fine almond flour. This can be purchased in multiple grind sizes. Be sure to use ‘fine’ ground almond flour.
Unsalted butter. Start with softened butter.
Nutella. Nutella is a chocolate hazelnut spread. Nutella is both a brand and a product name. You may find it in other brands called chocolate hazelnut spread. Any brand can be used.
Powdered sugar. This will be sifted over the top cookies before completing the cookie sandwich. If there are lumps in the confectioners’ sugar pass it thought a sifter or fine mesh sieve before adding to the cookies.
Linzer cookie cutters
To make Austrian Linzer cookies you’ll need two cookie cutters of different sizes. One to cut out all the cookies and a second smaller cookie cutter to cut out the design in the top cookie.
You can buy Linzer cookie cutter sets that come with the outer cutter and different images for the center cut out. It’s also easy to use a 3-inch round cutter (or biscuit cutter) and a second smaller cookie cutter you may already have on hand.
Alternatively you can use the wide end of a large piping tip to make a circle cut out instead of using a small cookie cutter.
How to make Linzer Cookies – Step-by-Step
Please find the detailed printable recipe card at the end of this post.
STEP 1. Make the cookie dough
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, almond flour, ground cinnamon and nutmeg (photo 1). Set aside.
In a separate large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer (hand held or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment) beat together the butter and sugar until creamy, around 3 minutes (photo 2).
Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until smooth and well combined (photo 3).
Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat until a soft dough forms (photo 4).
STEP 2. Chill dough
Divide dough in half and form each half into a flat disk. Wrap each disc of dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour (photo 5).
When the cookie dough has chilled, remove one dough disk from the refrigerator. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for five minutes.
STEP 3. Roll dough and cut out cookies
Remove the dough from the plastic wrap and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it’s around 1/8 inch thick.
Use a round cookie cutter to cut out each cookie, transferring the cut-out dough to a cookie sheet lined with a layer of parchment paper (photo 6).
Combine the dough scraps back with the remaining dough, roll out and cut more cookies.
Keep half the cut-out cookies a full circle, then use a smaller cookie cutter (photo 7) or the wide end of a piping tip to cut out a hole in the center of the other half of the cookies on the prepared baking sheet.
Repeat for the second dough disk.
STEP 4. Chill cut out cookies
Transfer the cookie sheets to the refrigerator to chill for another 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F while the cookies chill.
STEP 5. Bake and Cool
Place the chilled cookies in the oven to bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown.
Allow the cookies to cool for 5 to 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then place cookies on a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
STEP 6. Assemble
When the cookies are cool, spoon a small amount of powdered sugar into a fine-mesh strainer (photo 8). Lightly shake the powdered sugar over the tops of the cookies with the cut outs in the center.
Flip the other cookies over so the bottom is facing up, then spread a thin layer of Nutella over each cookie (photo 9). Place the powdered sugar cookies on top of the Nutella and lightly press to secure it in place (photo 10).
Use jam for the filling instead of Nutella. Raspberry jam is a favorite. Use 1/2 cup of jam. To make the jam more spreadable microwave it for 10 seconds and stir vigorously to smooth the texture. Try red current or black currant preserves too for a traditional flavor combination. Any jam can be used (apricot jam, raspberry preserves, etc).
Change the spices. For a different flavor to the shortbread do not add the cinnamon and nutmeg to the linzer cookie dough. For regular shortbread, leave out the spices. Or add some citrus zest instead! They would be great with lemon curd filling. Or leave cookies ‘as is’ without added spices.
Keep the dough cold. If the dough is kept cold it’s easier to roll out without getting too soft to handle. If the scrapes of dough get too soft to easily roll and cut, combine them, wrap them back in plastic wrap and place back in the refrigerator to chill.
Use 1 dough disc at a time. Rolling out and cutting one dough disc while the other is kept in the refrigerator makes it easiest to cut out the cookie shapes.
Cut out cookies may cook more quickly. Keep an eye on the cookies when baking. The cut out cookies may bake more quickly. If baking multiple baking sheets at a time place the non cut out cookies on one and the cut out cookies on another. This allows you to remove the cut out cookies earlier if needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. For the best result freeze the cookies then assemble the cookie sandwich after thawing. To freeze: allow cookies to cool, place in an airtight freezer container and freeze for up to 1 month. Allow to thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Assemble the cookies as directed.
How to Store
Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week at room temperature. Place cookies in a single layer with a sheet of parchment paper between layers.
They can also be stored in the refrigerator. Be sure the container if airtight. Allow chilled cookies to sit at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.
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Linzer Cookies with Nutella Filling
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup fine almond flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup butter softened
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup Nutella
- Powdered sugar for decorating
- Whisk together the flour, almond flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy.
- Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth and well combined.
- Mix in the dry ingredients and beat until a soft dough forms.
- Divide the dough in half and form each half into a flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.
- When the cookie dough has chilled, remove one dough disk from the refrigerator. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for five minutes.
- Remove the dough from the plastic wrap and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough until it’s around 1/8 inch thick.
- Use a round cookie cutter to cut out each cookie, transferring the cut-out dough to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Keep half the cut-out cookies a full circle, then use a smaller cookie cutter or the wide end of a piping tip to cut out a hole in the center of the other half of the cookies.
- Transfer the cookie sheets to the refrigerator to chill for another 30 minutes.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chilled cookies in the oven to bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown.
- Allow the cookies to cool for 5 to 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- When the cookies are cool, spoon a small amount of powdered sugar into a fine-mesh strainer. Lightly shake the powdered sugar over the top of the cookies with the cut-out center.
- Flip the other cookies over so the bottom is facing up, then spread a thin layer of Nutella over each cookie. Place the powdered sugar cookies on top of the Nutella and lightly press to secure it in place.