During the Christmas season, you will find many different types of cookies in Switzerland. Within particular geographic regions, and even within individual households, people have their favorite recipes — some of which have been passed down from previous generations. When considering the most popular Swiss cookies during the holiday season, here’s my list of six — in no particular order, which seem very well-known and loved. I have also included links to recipes in English for each of them, if you want to try making them yourself.
Mailänderli / Milanais
Mailänderli (German) or Milanais (French) are small, cut-out cookies flavored with lemon zest. Before baking, bakers brush the tops of these cookies with a beaten egg yolk thinned with water or milk. This gives the cookies a shiny, yellow appearance. It’s hard to find someone who does not like these.
Basler Brunsli / Brun de Bâle
Another favorite Swiss cookies during the holidays is the Basler Brunsli (German) or Brun de Bâle (French). These small cut-out cookies contain chocolate and ground hazelnuts or almonds, although I most often see recipes that call for the latter. Flavored with spices like cinnamon and cloves, these cookies get their name from their place of origin (Basel) and their color (brown).
RECIPE: Basler Brunsli
Chräbeli / Biscuits à l’Anis
These delicious little cookies contain whole, toasted anise seeds. Chräbeli come from the City of Baden, in the Swiss canton of Aargau. If you are looking for a new Christmas cookie to make this year, you must add this to your list! They are rather easy to throw together, but like several other cookies on this list, you have to let them air-dry for several hours before baking. I think they are absolutely irresistible. You truly cannot eat just one.
RECIPE: “Christmas cookies | Swiss Aniseed Chräbeli,” Nettle & Quince
Spitzbuben / Miroir
Spitzbuben (German) or Miroir (French) are jam-filled sandwich cookies. The cookies are delicate and flavored with vanilla. You can choose any jam you want, but during the holidays, I like to use a red-colored jam, such as raspberry or sour cherry.
RECIPE: “Spitzbuebe” are my favorite Swiss Christmas cookies, and here’s the recipe,” from Newly Swissed
Vanillekipferl / Croissants à la Vanille
Vanillekiperferl (German) or Croissants à la Vanille (French) are delicate crescent-shaped biscuits made with vanilla and ground almonds. After they come out of the oven, you gently coat them in sugar. They are light and crumbly and a pleasure to eat.
RECIPE: “Vanillekepferl – Vanilla Almond Christmas Cookies,” Little Swiss Baker
Zimtsterne / Étoiles à la cannelle
The name of these biscuits — Zimtsterne (German) or Étoiles à la cannelle (French) — translates to “cinnamon stars” in English. These biscuits are similar to the Basler Brunsli, as they are made with ground almonds or hazelnuts and egg whites, and of course, cinnamon — but they do not contain chocolate. And, part of the egg white and powdered sugar mixture used inside the cookie, is also brushed on top before baking. They do not need to be baked for very long, otherwise the meringue-like top begins to crack and turn brown.
What are your favorite Swiss Christmas cookies? Please leave a comment below. Thanks!
Updated: December 17, 2021