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Bethmännchen (German Marzipan Cookies)

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An authentic German Bethmännchen recipe!  Firm on the outside, chewy on the inside, and packed with marzipan, these traditional German marzipan Christmas cookies are absolutely delicious!

bethmännchen recipe german marzipan cookies authentic traditional bethmaennchen rezept

What are Bethmännchen?

One of the most famous and beloved of all German Christmas cookies, Bethmännchen have been a favorite for almost 200 years.  With a firm exterior and delightfully chewy interior, these almond-studded marzipan cookies will win your heart – or at least your palate.  No German Christmas is complete without them.

And if you’re thinking, *groan* “Marzipan is hard to find and it’s so expensive!”, don’t worry – I’ve got you fully covered with a recipe for homemade marzipan that is SO easy you’ll never buy it again!

Today’s recipe originated in the city of Frankfurt, two hours north of where I grew up in Stuttgart.   Let me tell you a little story of long ago.

frankfurt germany historic

Once upon a time in the village of Frankfurt, Germany lived the affluent Bethmann family.  They had hired a Parisian pastry chef, Jean Jacques Gautenier, who held the position of head cook in their home.  In 1838, their cook created a marzipan cookie with four almond halves decorating the sides of each cookie in honor of the family’s four sons, Karl, Moritz, Alexander and Heinrich (yes, very German names), and named them Bethmännchen (“little Bethmann’s”).  The legend goes that Heinrich died a few years later and ever since then the cookies have been made with three almonds.  Whether factual or not, one thing is certain:  These wonderful cookies have stood the test of time for a reason and have remained unaltered for nearly two centuries.

Of course Frankfurt has changed quite a lot since 1838.  Today it’s one of the most modern cities in Germany and a European financial mecca.  But many of the beautiful centuries-old structures still stand, mingled with the new.

Frankfurt is also home to one of the largest Christmas markets in Germany and the stats show that two years ago over 4.3 million tourists spent their holidays there.

Bethmännchen marzipan cookies can be found in every bakery and in many homes throughout Frankfurt during the Christmas season and are popular throughout Germany.  I grew up 2 hours south of Frankfurt in Stuttgart and every Christmas my mom and I would make these cookies.  Simple, easy, delicious.  Give them a try!

bethmännchen recipe german marzipan cookies authentic traditional bethmaennchen rezept

The central ingredient in Bethmännchen is marzipan.  It can be challenging to find and always comes with a hefty price tag, but you don’t have to worry about that because I’ll show you how to make your very own homemade marzipan that’s super easy and is much cheaper!

Check out my recipe for easy homemade Marzipan.

marzipan recipe homemade traditional authentic how to make almond paste rose water

Bethmännchen Recipe

Let’s get started!

How To Skin Almonds.  First we’re going to blanch and skin the almonds.

In the meantime (or can be done well in advance), blanch the whole almonds.  Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the almonds.  Boil for exactly one minute, no longer or the nuts will become soft.

Drain the nuts and rinse with cold water.

Remove the skins by squeezing the nuts – they’ll slip right out!  Cut the almonds in half along their natural seam.

blanching whole almonds

Okay, we’re ready to proceed with the cookies.

Break up the marzipan into small pieces and place them in a mixing bowl.

Sift the powdered sugar on top of the marzipan.

marzipan and powdered sugar in bowl

Separate the egg and add the egg white to the marzipan mixture and reserve the yolk for later.

Add the ground blanched almonds, flour, and rose water.

Use your fingers to combine the ingredients.

making cookie dough

The cookie dough will be somewhat sticky.  If it’s too sticky to work with add some more ground almonds and powdered sugar.  Note:  The dough will firm up after it’s been refrigerated so a little sticky is fine.

Wrap in plastic wrap and chill the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

wrapping cookie dough

Form the dough into 3/4 to 1-inch balls and place them on a lined cookie sheet, spaced at least an inch apart.  Rub your hands with a little powdered sugar if the dough is still a little too sticky.

Evenly spaced, press three almond halves around the sides of each cookie, pointed sides up.

forming cookie balls and adding almonds

Brush the bethmaennchen with the egg yolk that’s been mixed with 1 teaspoon water.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and bake the Bethmaennchen on the middle rack for about 15 minutes until the egg wash begins to turn golden.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.  These cookies will keep for at least 2 weeks.

egg washing cookies


bethmännchen recipe german marzipan cookies authentic traditional bethmaennchen rezept

For more traditional German Christmas goodies be sure to try our:

bethmännchen recipe german marzipan cookies authentic traditional bethmaennchen rezept

Bethmännchen (Marzipan Cookies)

Delicious centuries-old German Christmas cookies that are easy to make and taste wonderful!
4.87 from 102 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine German
Servings 35 cookies
Calories 78 kcal


  • 8 oz marzipan , (click link for recipe) **SEE NOTE
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup ground blanched almonds/almond meal (for the sake of consistency and ensuring the almonds are dry and compact enough, I recommend using store-bought almond meal)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 medium egg white
  • 2 teaspoons rose water
  • 1 medium egg yolk , mixed with 1 teaspoon water
  • 3/4 cup blanched whole almonds split in half (see post for pictured instructions on how to blanch and skin almonds)


  • Preheat to 350 degrees F
  • Break marzipan into small pieces in a mixing bowl. Sift the powdered sugar over the marzipan and add the ground almonds, flour, rose water and egg white. Use your hands to combine the ingredients in to a dough. The dough will be somewhat sticky but it will get firm after it's sat in the fridge. If too sticky, add some more ground almonds and powdered sugar.
  • Wrap the cookie dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  • Roll the dough into small balls, no more than 1-inch in diameter. Sprinkle your hands with a little flour or powdered sugar if the dough is too sticky. Place the balls on a lined cookie sheet and press 3 almond halves evenly around each cookie, pointed side up. Brush each cookie with the egg yolk mixture and bake for about 15 minutes until the egg wash turns golden in color.
  • Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to several weeks.


Not all marzipan is created equal.  Some use a higher ratio of sugar to almonds which may result in your cookies deflating.  For the best results, be sure to use the homemade marzipan.  It's SUPER easy to make!


Calories: 78kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 2gFat: 4gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 3mgPotassium: 41mgSugar: 5gVitamin A: 5IUCalcium: 18mgIron: 0.4mg
Keyword Bethmaennchen, Bethmannchen, Marzipan Cookies
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
kimberly killebrew the daring gourmet

Hi, I’m Kimberly Killebrew and welcome to Daring Gourmet where you'll find delicious originals, revitalized classics, and simply downright good eats from around the world! Originally from Germany, later raised in England, world-traveled, and now living in the U.S., from my globally-influenced kitchen I invite you to tour the world through your taste buds!

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Recipe Rating

4.87 from 102 votes (80 ratings without comment)


  1. Fabulous little gems. Thank you for sharing, as a mother of 4 sons, one deceased, I was touched by the tale. My husbands German heritage, 3/4 German, was on full display as he happily munched his way through half the batch.

  2. Excited to try these. However it sounds like the recipe is just making more marzipan, and adding marzipan to it. Why not just add flour into marzipan to make the dough? I might be reading this wrong.

  3. Hello! I just made my first batch of cookies and they are delicious. I have never cooked or baked with rose water before and the cookies have a pronounced rose water flavor to them. Are you supposed to taste the rose water so much? I only used 2 teaspoons of Nielsen Massey Rose water in this batch. Also, the bottoms of the cookies are rather dark – is this normal? I only baked them at 350 for 15 minutes. Thank you in advance for responding.


  4. Love these cookies. Although I just make the homemade marzipan and add the flour instead of following it directly to save almond flour.

  5. Hi. I’m super excited to try this recipe. Could you please clarify for me, do I need to make the almond paste or the marzipan from the link?

  6. I made these, they were lovely, had to make more today. No issues, used your marzipan recipe which is brilliant. Thank you.

  7. Thank you so much for the recipe They are delicious . Making another batch. I noticed under the photo of the procedure of the cookies. It does say preheat the oven to 300f degrees, however, in the actual recipe it said 350f degrees. Can you tell which is the correct temperature. Fan or not.

    Thank you

  8. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I made marzipan following your recipe and had left overs. I followed the link to this recipe. So glad I found your link. The Bethmannchens turned out beautifully. I followed your oven temperature but they didn’t brown, so I read some comments and realised the reason.
    Thank you once again.

      1. I have a conventional oven, so the temperature for my oven should be 350 deg farenheit. So my Bethmannchens were in the oven for 15 mins at 300 Deg f (following your instructions) and when t didn’t brown, I turned it up to 350 Deg f for another 15 minutes. All good. My husband can’t stop eating them. He loves marzipan.
        Once again, thank you.

      2. In your recipe’s ingredients, 1/3 of a cup of all-purpose flour was mentioned. I assume it needs to be added to the ingredients before kneading the mixture. Am I correct? Please advise!

        Thanks for this great-sounding recipe! I will certainly try it.

  9. I previously commented on 5 January 2016, when I’d had an issue with the bethmannchen going flat. I’ve now moved to New Zealand where you cannot buy marzipan in the shops at all (you can buy ‘almond icing’ which has apparently never been within 50 miles of a nut), so I used your marzipan recipe. What a difference!! 50% almond marzipan -v- 25% almond marzipan is why my original ones were falling flat. This batch is just perfect. (I see that since I first made it, you have updated your notes to say the same thing.)

    A handy hint. I bought blanched almonds so didn’t have to soak the skins, off, and I was finding it almost impossible to split them into halves. So I soaked them for 10 minutes in boiling water, and then it was very simple to halve them.

    A final question – there is already 1 tsp of rose water in the marzipan, so do I still need to add a further 2 tsp of rose water with this recipe, or do I cut it back a bit due to the existing rose water in the marzipan?

    Next stop – Mandelhoernchen!

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to provide this feedback, Alison, I appreciate it. And I’m happy they were a success this time! Yes, I still recommend the additional rose water as that flavor emphasis is typical in traditional Bethmännchen. That said, if you prefer a less pronounced rose water flavor you can reduce it.

  10. The basic recipe for Bethmännchen is a bit confusing for me as it starts with marzipan and then adds all of the ingredients of marzipan, plus an egg whit to bind it. Am I missing something?

    My marzipan recipe is fairly sweet with honey, so I would be reluctant to add sugar, and rose water already goes into my marzipan (most recipes for marzipan seem to include that), and almond meal is used to make it in the first place (though I process it to a fairly fine texture).

    So, can’t one just add egg white to marzipan and make Bethmännchen dough and then brush with egg yolk?


  11. These turned out really nice but did need to change a few things.
    Firstly I grated the marzipan, that way you don’t need to overwork the dough and it comes together easily!
    Secondary, I rolled the dough out to about a £2 thickness and then cut the cookies out with a fluted circle, put the half almond on each then painted the tops with yolk. Took about 12 mins to cook to a nice Rich caramel brown …. really good flavour with the rose water!!

  12. Just wonderful. Been baking these cookies since I’ve learned from Kimberly home made marzipan for a fruit cake. Leftover marzipan goes in these cookies which are amazing. Everyone loves them and reminds us the beautiful Europe. Thank you Kimberly

    1. Just wonderful… And I meant to give 5 star rating – which is what Kimberley recipe deserves. (4 star rating above was a typo :-)

  13. Greetings Daring Gourmet,

    Thank you for sharing this recipe.

    I had the following issues while making it.

    1. It took 3 times as long to bake them if not longer and they still didn’t turn golden. I basically went by how they looked on the bottom to pull them out. After over 40 minutes of baking these cookies still didn’t not bake all the way through. The middle is still a bit raw. I used the homemade marzipan recipe from this website. Why do you think that is?

    2. While making these cookies I did wonder if the amount of sugar in the recipe is just way too much because Marzipan itself (from this website) was already very very sweet. Cookies turned out unpalatable do to so much sugar in them. It’s so much it makes my teeth ache immediately as I start chewing them. I even tried reducing sugar by 1/4 cup on my second try and it barely made any difference in taste. I wonder if not adding any sugar, but the one that’s already in the Marzipan would work as far as baking the cookies?

    1. I had the same problem and fond the culprit to be insufficient temperature. Raised the oven to 350 convection (375 standard) after the initial 15 minutes at 300 and they got the nice golden tops.

  14. I adore marzipan, and decided to make these little buggers as another cookie choice among this year’s Christmas cookies. They look so cute and nicely golden brown in your photos, but despite me following your directions to the “T”, the end colors of mine were not so appealing. A while beyond the recommended time for baking (at 300 F), they looked more raw dough than golden brown, despite the yolk wash. I turned up the heat to try to brown them quickly more, and they looked more yellow than golden brown. I didn’t want to bake them further, so gave up. I ended up dusting them with confectioner’s sugar. That really helped their appearance a lot, but I’m assuming that’s not traditional to do.

    The cookie center was perfectly done, but I think the rose water flavor was more dominant than I like. I definitely had culinary rose water (from Lebanon) purchased in Whole Foods market’s baking section. If I were to make them again with the same rose water, I’d cut the amounts by 50% in both your marzipan recipe and the Marzipan cookies recipe here. I’m not very experienced using rose water, so don’t know if different brands have different potencies.

    1. Hi Elaine, thanks for your feedback. I’m a little stumped on the challenge with the color. Just to confirm, you did brush them with egg yolk, not egg white, correct? Also, were you by chance using the convection setting, i.e., was your oven fan on while baking? That could impact it as well. If so, I’d recommend turning the fan off. Alternatively try placing the cookies on the top rack for the final few minutes. Rose water: Yes, the strength absolutely varies from brand to brand.

      1. Hi Kimberly. I definitely used egg yolk with the little bit of water beaten in, as directed. I don’t have a convection oven, and there’s no fan involved. I have a typical gas oven range. I baked some at the 300 F, as directed, and the next batch at 325 F hoping that might brown them better.

        Unlike some of the previous commentors, my marzipan balls were perfectly shaped after baking (looking exactly like yours), and the cookies’ insides were perfect. Perhaps because I used the marzipan recipe you recommended? It was easy to make. I used a product called Bob’s Red Mill very fine almond meal. I recommend it. The only issue I had was the outside color. As stated, my personal preference would be to cut down on the rose water a bit, but my native Czech husband totally disagreed with me. He thought the amount was perfect. I guess it’s just a matter of taste. I gave the recipe 4 stars, but think it can definitely be 5, in my book, with less rose water and solving the color issue. Really, they are quite pretty dusted with confectioner’s sugar. That solved my batchs’ color issue. I wonder if my egg yolk itself was a factor. Their colors do vary slightly. Maybe due to diet?

        I do think this is a lovely little cookie. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

        1. Hi Elaine, thanks for the feedback. I doubt the egg yolk itself is the issue. The mystery remains unsolved! :) I’m so glad you and your husband enjoyed the cookies, thanks again and Merry Christmas!

  15. My cookies baked up either flat or puffed but hollow. I was having issues getting 3 almonds to fit & stick onto the balls of dough. I rolled it into 1” balls & pressed an almond on top of each then brushed with yolk wash. I don’t know why the cookies were so airy? They taste fantastic though & im going to make another batch.