Dutch Speculaas Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 40 min. + chilling Bake: 10 min./batch
Want something a little more elevated than gingerbread cookies this year? Spicy Dutch speculaas are just the thing.

Updated: Feb. 16, 2024

In the Netherlands, speculaas are as synonymously Dutch as tulips, windmills, wooden clogs and Gouda cheese. Speculaas are warmly spiced, crispy biscuit cookies shaped into gorgeous designs with cookie molds. Windmills, snowflakes and nature scenes are popular shapes!

Also known as “speculoos” or “Dutch windmill cookies,” speculaas are eaten year-round alongside a cup of coffee or tea. They’re especially popular during Christmastime. Our speculaas recipe is made as traditionally as possible to hold you over till there’s a plane ticket to the Netherlands with your name on it.

Ingredients for Speculaas

  • Molasses: We love the molasses in this recipe for the color and bold flavor it adds to the speculaas.
  • Orange zest: Orange zest and warm spices pair together beautifully. Make sure you are grating this citrus the right way so you’re not getting the bitter white pith in the dough!
  • Ground almonds: Also known as “almond meal,” ground almonds are traditional in speculaas cookies. However, do not reach for almond flour—they’re not the same!
  • Spices: We use six warm, bold spices in this speculaas recipe. They each play a critical role in making these cookies deeply flavorful, so try not to skip out on any of them.

Directions

Step 1: Beat the wet ingredients

In a large bowl, use a hand mixer or stand mixer to cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy, five to seven minutes. Beat in the eggs, molasses and orange zest. Make sure everything is incorporated by scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Editor’s Tip: It may seem excessive to cream the butter and sugar for up to seven minutes, but it really does make a difference! For a more in-depth tutorial on what this should look like, check out our guide on how to cream butter and sugar.

Step 2: Create the cookie dough

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, ginger and cardamom. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and beat well. Cover the dough with storage wrap, and refrigerate until the dough is easy to handle, at least four hours.

Step 3: Shape the dough

Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a parchment-lined surface, roll a small amount of dough to 1/8-inch thickness. With a floured cookie stamp, press the design into the dough. Cut with floured 3-inch cookie cutters, leaving 1 inch between each cookie. Remove the excess dough, and reroll scraps if desired.

Step 4: Bake

Transfer the parchment with the cutout dough to a cookie sheet. If the dough has warmed, place the baking sheet in the refrigerator until it firms up, 10 to 15 minutes. Bake the cookies until the edges are lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the pans to wire racks to cool to room temperature.

Dutch Speculaas on a Blue SurfaceTMB Studio

Recipe Variations

  • Swap for pumpkin pie spice: Buying all the spices individually might be too costly for some. If that’s the case, swap them for pumpkin pie spice! It won’t taste exactly the same, but pumpkin spice mix has a lot of the same warm and cozy flavors.
  • Add a glaze: If you decide to just use cookie cutters (and not traditional speculaas cookie molds with detailed designs), you can drizzle a confectioners’ sugar glaze on top to decorate the cookies.

How to Store Speculaas

To store, allow the speculaas to cool completely to room temperature. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week. They can also be frozen for up to one month.

Can you make speculaas ahead of time?

Of course! The dough can be made and chilled two days in advance of baking. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling out and using. Cookies can also be baked a few days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Once your speculaas cookies are gone, try making more Old World cookie recipes.

Speculaas Tips

A Plate of Dutch Speculaas And Two Glass of MilkTMB Studio

What kind of molasses should you use to make Dutch speculaas?

There are many types of molasses, and we advise using light or regular molasses for these speculaas cookies. Molasses imparts a deep, near-smoky flavor, but you don’t want it so rich that it masks the spices in these cookies.

Can you make Dutch speculaas into other shapes?

A chocolate pie with cookies and berriesTMB Studio

Certainly! The dough for these speculaas lends itself well to cookie molds or stamps with decorative patterns. You can even use a detailed embossing rolling pin to create lovely surface designs. Make sure that your dough is nicely chilled, and not too soft, before stamping out the patterns. A light dusting of flour doesn’t hurt, either, to keep the dough from sticking to the stamp or rolling pin. You can cut the rolled dough out into any desired shape with cookie cutters. Here are a few of our favorite cookie decorating tools to get you started!

Speculaas

Prep Time 40 min
Cook Time 10 min
Yield about 2-1/2 dozen.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup finely ground almonds
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Beat in the eggs, molasses and orange zest. Combine the flour, ground almonds, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, ginger and cardamom. Gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until easy to handle.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°. On a parchment-lined surface, roll a small amount of dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Use a floured cookie stamp to press design into dough, then cut with floured 3-in. cookie cutters, leaving 1 in. between cookies. Remove excess dough, and reroll scraps if desired.
  3. Transfer parchment with dough to cookie sheet. If dough has warmed, place baking sheet in refrigerator until it firms up, 10-15 minutes. Bake until edges are lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Nutrition Facts

1 cookie: 151 calories, 7g fat (4g saturated fat), 30mg cholesterol, 65mg sodium, 19g carbohydrate (8g sugars, 1g fiber), 2g protein.

In Holland, it’s tradition to mold this Dutch speculaas dough into the shape of St. Nicholas and serve the cookies on Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas Day). —Taste of Home Test Kitchen