Zimtsterne (German Cinnamon Stars)

These Zimtsterne Are a Classic German Holiday Cookie!

Searching for an authentic German Christmas cookie? German cinnamon stars – or Zimtsterne as they are called in German – are exactly that!

Made from ground almonds and cinnamon, these holiday cookies are naturally gluten-free and have a delicious white glaze on top.

Their fun shape, chewy texture, and simple, sweet flavors make them a great addition to the holiday cookie platter!

stack of german cinnamon stars on wooden board with cookie rack behind.
Our Zimtsterne were chewy and so good!

German Cinnamon stars have been around for ages. Lisa has made and eaten Zimtsterne cookies since she was a child growing up in Germany.

She used to always enjoy them in December during advent with her family.

Since these cinnamon stars are gluten-free they also work well as part of a cookie-based gift.

Ingredients

ingredients for german cinnamon stars in bowls on white counter top with labels.
The ingredients you’ll need for this recipe!

To make this Zimtsterne recipe, here are the ingredients you’ll need – there are not too many:

  • Egg whites – Try using medium-sized eggs; if you’re using large eggs, you’ll have to add a little bit more ground almonds.
  • Powdered sugar – Also known as icing sugar or confectioner’s sugar.
  • Ground almonds – Can also use almond flour/almond meal, but ground almonds are usually pretty easy to find.
  • Cinnamon – To give the cinnamon stars their classic taste; can add more if desired.
  • Vanilla extract – Traditionally made with vanilla sugar, but this can be hard to find in parts of North America so we typically use vanilla extract.

Recipe Tips

Before you make this recipe for Zimtsterne cookies, have a glance through these recipe tips so that you know everything we know!

  • Traditionally German cinnamon stars are made with a smaller 6-pointed star cookie cutter. If you have a difficult time finding a 6-point star cookie cutter, 5-point is also fine. We’ve made them with 5 and they’re just as tasty!
  • You can dip your cookie cutter into some powdered sugar if the dough sticks to the cookie cutter too much.
  • Make sure that the cookies roughly have an even thickness so they cook evenly in the oven.
  • These cookies will come out of the oven soft and harden up as they cool. This is completely normal. Don’t overbake them as this will make them hard.
  • Depending on the size of your cookie cutter, the baking time might be slightly shorter or longer than indicated in the recipe instructions.

How to Make Zimtsterne – Step by Step Instructions

If you want to make these classic cinnamon star cookies, you can stay in this section and read through the steps one by one.

We’ve included recipe process photos so you can compare your progress at every step of the way!

The recipe card is at the bottom of this post and contains much of the information but without the photo.

mixing bowl full of fluffed egg whites with electric mixer beside.
Beat the egg whites.

If you haven’t yet, first separate the eggs. Make sure that no egg yolk gets into the egg white!

Next, beat the egg whites in a medium-sized bowl until stiff. The egg white is stiff enough when you can turn over the bowl and the egg white doesn’t move.

white spatula folding powdered sugar into egg whites in white mixing bowl.
Add the powdered sugar.

Now sift in the powdered sugar and fold it in carefully with a spatula.

silver spoon testing icing in white mixing bowl on counter.
Remove some of the mixture.

Remove approximately 3 tablespoons of the mixture and set it aside in a small bowl.

ingredients for cinnamon stars like ground almonds being poured into mixing bowl with spatula.
Add the ground almonds, cinnamon and vanilla extract.

Next, add the ground almonds, cinnamon, and vanilla extract into the bowl and mix carefully with your spatula.

You can use your hands towards the end.

ball of cinnamon star cookie dough sitting in white mixing bowl.
This is what your ball of dough should look like.

You should get a ball of dough that is not overly sticky. If it is too wet, you can add a little bit more ground almonds.

ball of cinnamon star cookie dough covered in plastic wrap on white counter.
Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

Now wrap the ball of dough into cling film and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

This will make it easier when it comes to rolling out the dough in the next step. If you find that the dough is difficult to work with in the next steps, place it in the fridge again.

hand holding wooden rolling pin rolling ball of dough out on white counter top.
Roll out the dough.

At this time, preheat the oven to 280 degrees Fahrenheit and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.

Now place some powdered sugar on the surface and roll out the dough until it is approximately 1/4 inch thick.

silver star cookie cutter cutting star cookies out of raw brown dough on counter top.
Cut out stars.

Cut out the stars with your small star-shaped cookie cutter and set the cookies aside.

You can dip the cookie cutter into some powdered sugar if you find that it sticks to the dough.

many raw cinnamon star cookies sitting on white counter with cookie cutter beside.
You’ll end up with lots of Zimtsterne.

Gather the leftover dough, form another ball, roll it out again, and cut more cookies until you have used up all the dough.

hand holding cinnamon star cookie with white icing on top with more cookies behind.
Brush the tops of the stars with the egg white-sugar mixture.

Now brush the egg white mixture you set aside earlier on top of the stars with a brush or the tip of a butter knife.

many cinnamon star cookies with white icing on parchment paper baking sheet.
Place the glazed cinnamon stars onto a baking sheet.

Then place the Zimtsterne on a baking sheet. You’ll likely have to cook it in two batches.

baked cinnamon star cookies with icing cooling on black cookie cooling rack with white counter below.
Place the baked cooking on a cooking rack.

Bake the cinnamon stars in the bottom third of the oven for approximately 14-5 minutes.

Since every oven is different, your baking time may vary. The white top of the cookies should remain white.

And remember, the cookies will still feel slightly soft – this is normal, they will harden as they cool.

cinnamon star cookies with icing on blue plate sitting on wooden board with cookies and almonds around.
These Zimtsterne cookies taste delicious.

Remove the cookies from the oven and place them on a cooling tray. Once they have cooled, you can transfer them to a cookie tin.

Storage Tips

As for storing these German cinnamon star cookies, we’d recommend keeping them in a cookie tin with a lid that is lined with some parchment paper.

Store them in a cool and dry place, for example your basement, garage, or a cooler room in your house. They will for around 3-4 weeks.

In case the cinnamon stars are too hard after they have cooled, you can put them in a cookie tin/plastic container with a slice of apple for a couple of days.

This will add moisture and soften them a bit again.

FAQ

Here are a few answers to some of the most asked questions about these cinnamon stars!

What are Zimtsterne?

Zimtsterne is the German word for Cinnamon Star cookies popular around Germany and other parts of Europe during Christmas. These holiday cookies are made from egg whites, ground almonds, and cinnamon making them naturally gluten-free.

What does German word Zimtsterne mean?

The word Zimtsterne translates to English as: Zimt – meaning cinnamon – and Sterne – meaning stars. Literally speaking, these are “Cinnamon Stars”!

How to pronounce Zimtsterne?

To pronounce Zimtsterne properly, “zimt” is with a “ts” sound as opposed to a “zee” sound so it’s “tsimt”. Sterne begins with a “shhht” sound like in shell rather than a hard “st” like in “street”. So it’s more like “shhhtairn”. Together, Zimtsterne is pronounced something like “tsimt-shhhtairn”.

How to make Zimtsterne?

To make Zimtsterne, beat the egg whites and fold in the powdered sugar. Then combine with dry ingredients like ground almonds and cinnamon and wet ingredients like vanilla extract. Mix the dough, then let it rest in the fridge. Roll the dough and cut cookies with a star-shaped cutter. Ice the cookies before baking at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for around 15 minutes.

Related Recipes

If you enjoyed these authentic Zimtsterne, here are a few more classic German Christmas cookies that you should make this season:

german cinnamon star cookies in stack on wooden board with cookies behind.

German Cinnamon Stars (Zimtsterne)

These Zimtsterne – also known as German Cinnamon Stars – are a delicious holiday treat. Made from cinnamon and ground almonds – with no flour at all – these cookies come out sweet and chewy. They are topped with a simple, sweet glaze!
5 from 3 votes
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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 30 cinnamon stars

Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites, from medium-sized eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Separate the eggs and beat the egg whites in a medium-sized bowl until stiff. The egg white is stiff enough when you can turn over the bowl and the egg white doesn’t move.
    2 egg whites
  • Sift in the powdered sugar and fold it in carefully with a spatula. Remove approximately 3 tablespoons of the mixture and set it aside in a small bowl.
    1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Add the ground almonds, cinnamon, and vanilla extract into the bowl and mix carefully with your spatula. You can use your hands towards the end. If the dough feels very sticky, knead in a little bit more ground almonds.
    2 cups ground almonds, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Place the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes. This will make it easier when it comes to rolling out the dough in the next step.
  • Preheat the oven to 280 degrees Fahrenheit and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Place some powdered sugar on the surface and roll out the dough until it is approximately 1/4 inch thick. Cut out the stars with your small star-shaped cookie cutter and set the cookies aside. Dip your cookie cutter into powdered sugar if it sticks to the dough.
  • Gather the leftover dough, form another ball, roll it out again, and cut more cookies until you have used up all the dough.
  • Brush the egg white mixture you set aside earlier on top of the stars with a brush or the tip of a butter knife. Then place the cookies on the baking sheet.
  • Bake the cinnamon stars in the bottom third of the oven for approximately 14-15 minutes. Since every oven is different, your baking time may vary. The white top of the cookies should remain white.
  • Remove the cookies from the oven and place them on a cooling tray. The bottoms of the cookies should still feel slightly soft. They’ll harden a bit more once cooled.

Notes

  • If you’re using large eggs instead of medium-sized eggs, you’ll have to add a little bit more ground almonds – otherwise the dough will be too sticky. 
  • You can dip your cookie cutter into some powdered sugar if the dough sticks to the cookie cutter too much.
  • Depending on the size of your cookie cutter, the baking time might be slightly shorter or longer than indicated in our recipe above.
  • In case the cinnamon stars are too hard after they have cooled, you can put them in a cookie tin/plastic container with a slice of apple. This will add moisture and soften them a bit again.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 67kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 0.3g | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 4mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 0.2IU | Vitamin C: 0.003mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 0.3mg

This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice.

Course Desserts
Cuisine German
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