Holidays, Traditions and Culture

Traditional Recipe: Festive Old Rus’ Spiced Cookies

These cookies are perfect for a festive holiday activity! The word ‘Pryaniki’ evokes pleasant memories in most of those who grew up in a Russian household. This traditional spiced cookie can be traced back to the times of Old Rus – where it was made with rye flour, honey and berry juices during festive occasions such as the celebration of the Christmas & New Year period or a wedding. Since the spice trade reached Russia however, the traditional recipe has transformed to include spices such as nutmeg, cloves and ginger, making it quite reminiscent of the well known ginger bread that is also popular around Christmas time in many European households.

Nowadays there are a variety of different Pryaniki that are popular depending on where you visit in Russia – from jam filled cookie sandwiches to sugar glazed stamped Pryaniki.

Here we have shared a recipe where you can swap out what may have been traditional ingredients in ancient times for the more modern ingredients, depending on your preference – you can swap out the sugar for powdered sugar alternatives such as coconut sugar or maple sugar (powdered to replace the powdered sugar):

What you will need for spiced cookies:

  • 3/4 cups honey
  • 1.5 cups of normal flour
  • 1.5 cups of rye flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cups sugar (or replace with maple or coconut sugar)
  • 1.5 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup softened or melted butter


  • 0.5 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 0.5 tsp ground anise
  • 0.5 tsp ground ginger


  • 0.5 tsp caraway seed
  • 1 tbs powdered citrus peel
  • 1 tbs powdered tart berries such as honey berry, lingonberry, blueberry or blackcurrant

For the Cookies Glaze (Optional)

  • 2.5 cups powdered sugar (you can use powdered maple sugar or coconut sugar if preferred)
  • 1/4 cups milk

Cooking Instructions:

  • Whisk together the eggs and the sugar.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together the eggs and the sugar, then add the sour cream, butter and honey.
  • Combine the rye flour, normal flour and baking powder together and then slowly add it to the wet mixture.
  • Once the mixture has formed a dough, refrigerate it overnight or for a minimum of 4 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F
  • Spoon out the dough in portions with a table spoon and roll the dough into a ball or you can roll the dough out and cut it in the cookie shape you prefer (such as a reindeer or something festive)
  • Place the dough balls or cut cookies on a parchment lined baking tray
  • Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes.
  • Allow the cookies to cool down completely

For the optional glaze:

  • Mix together the milk and powdered sugar to make a glaze – you can add more milk or more powdered sugar to get the preferred consistency
  • For additional flavour you could add extract such as mint, almond or citrus.
  • Dip the cold cookies in your glaze mixture and place them on a rack to allow the excess glaze to drip off.

This can be turned into an exciting task for your children – you can bake the cookies in advance and then decorate them together with a thicker cookie icing or natural decorations, the options are endless!

For older children you could turn it into a lesson for them to learn to make their own cookies and get creative with their own variations! Happy holidays!