Vanilla Crescent Cookies (Vanillekipferl)

Want to make delicious vanilla crescent cookies for the upcoming holiday season? We’ve got a Vanillekipferl recipe in English just for you!

Originally from Austria, these buttery, crumbly, and wonderfully sweet crescent cookies with powdered sugar are also popular across Germany and parts of Eastern Europe (e.g. in Hungary).

vanilla crescent cookies on blue plate with green pine branches behind
Vanilla crescent cookies are so deliciously crumbly!

Recipe Tips and Substitutions

Before making this vanillekipferl recipe, have a read through these recipe tips and substitutions so that you know exactly what do expect!

  • It’s important that the butter you use is cold. Otherwise, it’s more likely that the dough falls apart. Using butter from the fridge works well, but frozen butter won’t work – it’s too cold to knead.
  • To make it easier for the dough to turn out well, we use one egg yolk in our recipe (as a kind of “glue”). Originally, vanilla crescent cookies were made without egg but the egg version is completely acceptable in Austrian/German baking. If you’re up for a challenge, you can always skip the egg yolk (make sure the other ingredients are cold!) – but don’t be surprised if your dough falls apart.
  • As for the nuts, we use ground almonds which is arguably the most popular choice nowadays. However, you can also use ground walnuts or even ground hazelnuts if you prefer. Just keep in mind that this can affect the texture a little bit.
  • Don’t overknead the dough as this can warm up the butter too much and make it overly crumbly.
  • To make it easier for yourself, only have one baking sheet in the oven at a time. If you have two baking sheets in the oven at the same time, the cookies might bake unevenly.
  • Don’t overbake the cookies. They are done when the bottom/sides are starting to get golden brown. The top of the cookies does not need to be golden brown for them to be done.

How to Make Vanillekipferl – Step by Step Instructions

If you’re a little unsure about how to make Vanillekipferl crescent cookies, you can follow along with the process photos in this section to see how we make them.

In case you’re feeling confident and don’t like visuals, you can scroll down to the detailed recipe card at the bottom of this post!

cubes of butter cut in white mixing bowl on counter
Add the butter pieces to a bowl.

Start by cutting the cold butter into small pieces and place them into a mixing bowl.

Be sure to move kind of quickly when you cut the butter because it should stay cold.

cookie ingredients in white mixing bowl on white counter top
Add the other ingredients to the bowl.

To the medium-sized bowl, also add the flour, ground almonds, sugar, vanilla extract and egg yolk.

two hands mixing cookie dough in white bowl on counter top
Mix the ingredients together.

Mix everything together using your clean hands or a pastry cutter.

hands mixing ball of cookie dough in bowl on white counter
Use your hands to press the dough together.

Use your hands towards the end and press the dough together until it forms a ball – then stop.

Don’t overknead the dough as this can warm up the butter too much and make it overly crumbly.

ball of cookie dough sitting on white counter top with bowl behind
Store the ball of dough in the fridge for one hour.

Wrap the dough in cling film (or put it into a plastic bag) and place it in the fridge for one hour. You can also keep it in the fridge for longer but it should at least be one hour.

ball of cookie dough cut into four pieces on white counter top
Cut the chilled dough into four pieces.

Once the hour is up, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and put parchment paper on your baking sheet.

Place a small amount of flour on the counter and cut the dough into four pieces of equal size. Keep 1/4 of the dough out, and place the rest back into the fridge.

It’s important that the rest of the dough stays chilled.

long sausage of cookie dough on white counter
Roll the dough out into a sausage.

Briefly knead the dough, then roll it out with your hands until it becomes a long “sausage” with a thickness of approximately 1/2 inch.

It might fall apart a little bit. In that case, simply knead the dough a little bit more, then press it together and roll it out again – but be quick since you don’t want the butter to get too warm.

sausage of cookie dough cut into pieces on white counter
Cut the dough into pieces.

Cut the dough into roughly 3-inch long pieces.

raw crescent cookies in a row on white counter top
Shape the dough into crescents.

Now shape the pieces of dough so they look like crescents. Make sure to slightly pinch the ends for a nicer look. This can take a little bit of practice but you’ll get there!

raw crescent cookies on parchment paper on cookie sheet
Place the cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Place the cookies on a baking sheet.

Now take the second piece of dough out of the fridge, briefly knead it, then roll it out, cut it, and shape the crescent cookies.

Repeat these steps until you have used up all the dough. You’ll likely need to use at least two baking sheets.

baked crescent cookies in parchment paper on cookie sheet
Bake the cookies until the edges are just starting to brown.

Bake the cookies for approximately 15-17 minutes on the middle rack of the oven until the edges are just starting to get lightly golden brown. Remember: The tops of the cookies don’t need to be brown.

Since every oven is different, your baking time might vary slightly. Also, if you made your cookies thicker than approximately 1/2 inches, they might need a touch longer.

We would recommend only having one baking sheet in the oven at a time. The cookies might cook unevenly if you have two baking sheets in a conventional oven at the same time.

silver strainer sprinkling powdered sugar on crescent cookies in counter
Dust the Vanillekipferl in powdered sugar.

When the cookies are done, take them out of the oven and lift the parchment paper with the cookies from the baking sheet.

Right away carefully move the cookies towards the center of the parchment paper and dust them in powdered sugar.

vanilla crescent cookies covered in powdered sugar on parchment paper on counter top
Make sure all the cookies are dusted in icing sugar.

Alternatively, you can also roll them in powdered sugar, but the cookies are more likely to break if you do that.

blue plate of vanilla crescent cookies with green pine branch behind
Vanillekipferl – all dusted in powdered sugar and ready to eat!

And there you have it – you’ve got yourself some vanilla crescent cookies ready to be eaten!

You can always sprinkle more powdered sugar on them when they are cooled off for taste and design. Enjoy!

Storage Tips

Once your vanillekipferl have cooled, you can store them in a cookie tin in a cool and dry place (e.g. a cold bedroom, the garage, or basement).

Properly stored, they’ll stay fresh for around four weeks (but they probably won’t last that long anyway because they are delicious).

This means you can whip up a large batch of vanillekipferl and confidently store them or send them to family and friends after bake day!

Vanilla Crescent Cookies FAQ

vanillekipferl cookies in blue plate on white counter with green holiday decor on top
These crescent cookies won’t last long on your holiday plate.

If you’re planning to make these delicious crescent cookies for the holidays (or for any occasion, really), here are a few things you might want to know about or consider before and after baking!

What is a Vanillekipferl?

Vanillekipferl is Austrian/German for “vanilla crescent cookies”. These buttery cookies are shaped in a crescent, heavily dusted in powdered sugar, and popular around Christmas. “Kipferl” in German and/or “Kifli” in Hungarian means “crescent”.

What is the history of Vanillekipferl?

Of Austrian origin, these cookies are said to originate in Vienna. The crescent shape is said to represent the Turkish crescent moon (from the days of the Ottoman Empire). The cookies exist to celebrate the Austro-Hungarian (and Polish) win over the Ottomans in the Battle of Vienna in 1683.

How to pronounce Vanillekipferl?

You would pronounce the German word “Vanillekipferl” like “Van-illeh-kip-fair-yl”.

Where are Vanillekipferl eaten?

Originally from Austria, these cookies are also a very popular Christmas cookie in Germany and Switzerland. However, you can also find similar variations across parts of Eastern Europe like the Czech Republic (Vanilkové rohlíčky), and Hungary (Mandulás kifli), Slovakia and Poland. These cookies were originally made with ground walnuts but some vanillekipferl recipes (like ours) utilize almond or even hazelnut as the nut-base.

How much powdered sugar should go on Vanillekipferl crescent cookies?

As much or as little as you like. We lightly dusted ours but some vanilla crescent cookies are absolutely coated in powdered sugar all around. It’s really up to personal preference.

Related Recipes

Looking for other popular European holiday treats? Try out these classic German cookies and sweet treats from around the region!

blue plate of vanilla crescent cookies with green pine branch behind

Vanillekipferl (Vanilla Crescent Cookies)

These Vanilla Crescent Cookies – also known as Vanillekipferl – are perfectly sweet, soft yet crumbly, and really easy to make. Finished off with a dusting of powdered sugar, these Austrian cookies don't stand a chance on your holiday dessert plate!
4.50 from 4 votes
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 44 cookies

Ingredients

The Dough

  • 1 cup butter, cold
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk

The Topping

  • powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Cut the cold butter into small pieces.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour, butter, ground almonds, sugar, vanilla extract, and egg yolk with your clean hands or a pastry cutter. Use your hands towards the end and press the dough together until it forms a ball. Don’t overknead the dough as this can warm up the butter too much and make it overly crumbly.
  • Wrap the dough in cling film (or put it into a plastic bag) and place it in the fridge for at least one hour (longer is fine, too).
  • Once the hour is up, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and put parchment paper on your baking sheet.
  • Place a small amount of flour on the counter and cut the dough into four pieces of equal size. Keep 1/4 of the dough out, and place the rest back into the fridge. You should only take out a small amount of dough at a time and let the rest stay cold.
  • Briefly knead the dough, then roll it out with your hands until it becomes a long "sausage" with a thickness of approximately 1/2 inch. If the dough falls apart, briefly knead it again and roll it out again.
  • Cut the dough into roughly 3-inch long pieces and shape them so they look like crescents. Make sure to slightly pinch the ends for a nicer look. Place the cookies on a baking sheet. Repeat step 5 and 6 until you have used up all the dough. You’ll likely need to use at least two baking sheets.
  • Bake the cookies for approximately 15-17 minutes on the middle rack of the oven until the edges are just starting to get lightly golden brown. Since every oven is different, your baking time might vary slightly. Also, if you made your cookies thicker than recommended above, they might need slightly longer. We would recommend baking the cookies one baking sheet at a time since they might cook unevenly if you have two baking sheets in a conventional oven at the same time.
  • Take the cookies out of the oven and lift the parchment paper with the cookies from the baking sheet. Right away carefully move the cookies towards the center of the parchment paper and dust them in powdered sugar. Alternatively, you can also roll them in powdered sugar, but the cookies are more likely to break if you do that. Enjoy!

Notes

  • It’s important that the butter you use is cold. Otherwise, it’s more likely that the dough falls apart. Butter from the fridge is perfect, but frozen butter won’t work.
  • Some traditional vanilla crescent cookies are made without egg. However, this also makes it much more likely that the dough falls apart. Making the dough with one egg yolk is the "safer option".
  • Make sure that all the cookies are roughly the same size and thickness or else they will bake unevenly. You might have crispy ends on some while others are still undercooked and that’s no good – so stick to a uniform thickness.
  • Don’t overbake the cookies (they don’t need to be golden brown all around!) as this will make them too hard and less crumbly.
  • You can store the cooled cookies in a cookie tin in a cool and dry place for up to 4 weeks.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 76kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 37mg | Potassium: 8mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 135IU | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg

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 Austrian
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