Dutch Language Blog

Pepernoten and Kruidnoten Posted by on Nov 29, 2011 in Culture

As the studio lights dim and two spotlights focus on two white plates with brown cookies on each, you hear the presenter ask, “and Transparent Language reader, which plate has the pepernoten on them?”

You glance to the plate on the left and then you glance to the plate on the right.  While both plates contain cookie like items, slightly brown in colour and perhaps even recognizable from the supermarket or after having been thrown in your direction by a Zwarte Piet, knowing which falls into the pepernoten category and which into the kruidnoten category can be a challenge.

Rest assured, you are not alone.  Many people struggle with knowing the difference between the two.


Pepernoten are a kind of cookie-like dessert, traditionally associated with the Sinterklaas holiday.  They are light brown, randomly shaped, and made from flour, sugar, aniseed, cinnamon, and cloves.  They tend to be fairly chewy, although if they are left out uncovered they will harden up a bit.

According to Wikipedia, “a particularly distinct custom associated with pepernoten is throwing them in handfuls through the room so children can look for them. Originally this is an ancient fertility symbol (like a farmer sowing seeds) not unlike throwing rice at a marriage.”


Kruidnoten on the other hand are harder, have a slightly different colour and are more round and uniform in shape.  They are also associated with the Sinterklaas period.  If you are familiar with speculaas, then you will recognize kruidnoten as they are made with mainly the same ingredients.

An exciting trend has taken off in relation to kruidnoten as they can now be found with all sorts of coverings.  Everything from chocolate covered kruidnoten to caramel kruidnoten can be found.

If you would like to make your own kruidnoten and/or pepernoten, you’ll find lots of recipes on the internet.  Here is one that I found on www.food.com for “Dutch Pepernoten.”


50 g butter (1 3/4 oz)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon milk

1 cup self raising flour

 Speculaas spices

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground aniseed

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger


1.  Cream the butter and sugar, then add spice mix (or spices).

2.  Add the flour and milk and make very small marble sized balls.

3.  Bake for 10-15 minutes at 160 C (320 F) until golden.

Do you have a favourite kruidnoten or pepernoten recipe?



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