Viennese Vanilla Crescent Cookies

Viennese vanilla crescent cookies are a tradition in Austria. One nibble and we think you’ll comprehend why.

A pile of crescent-shaped cookies on a platter with greenery and Christmas ornaments on the side

These Viennese vanilla crescent cookies are traditional Christmas cookies in Austria. As Gourmet magazine wrote, “From Vienna, city of music, laughter, and good food comes a cookie so delicate, so fragile, so meltingly good that it takes its place with the most famous of Vienna’s justly famous pastries.” We’re incredibly taken by these cookies and their soulful crunch, delicate texture, and dusting of confectioners’ sugar that’s as light as fall’s first snowfall. We were also more than a little curious as to their proper name. Turns out it’s Vanillekipferl, although don’t ask us how to pronounce it. Or how to say it three times fast. Especially not when we’re distracted with our mouths full of these little lovelies. Originally published October 1, 2006.Renee Schettler Rossi

Viennese Vanilla Crescent Cookies

  • Quick Glance
  • 1 H
  • 4 H
  • Makes about 8 dozen cookies
5/5 - 1 reviews
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  • For the vanilla confectioners' sugar (for coating)
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise and chopped
  • For the crescents
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup skinned hazelnuts (5 oz)
  • 3/4 pound cold unsalted butter (12 oz), cut into tablespoons


  • Make the vanilla confectioners’ sugar
  • 1. Combine the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla bean in an airtight container and let stand, covered, for at least 24 hours. The vanilla sugar keeps indefinitely in an airtight container at room temperature. Sift before using.
  • Make and bake the crescents
  • 2. Pulse together flour, 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, salt, and hazelnuts in a food processor until nuts are finely ground. Add butter and pulse just until a dough forms. Turn dough out and form into a ball, then flatten into a disk and wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.
  • 3. Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • 4. Roll level tablespoons of dough into balls, then roll each one on a smooth surface into a 3-inch length with slightly tapered ends, rolling ends lightly to make them narrow. The lengths should be about 1/3 inch thick. Bend each length to form crescents and arrange about 1 inch apart on baking sheets.
  • 5. Bake in batches until edges are pale golden, 10 to 15 minutes per batch.
  • Coat the crescents
  • 6. While each batch of crescents is baking, sift enough of the Vanilla Confectioners’ Sugar onto a lipped baking sheet to cover the bottom. Carefully transfer the warm baked cookies to the sugary baking sheet and sprinkle with additional Vanilla Confectioners’ Sugar to coat completely. Transfer the crescents to wire racks to cool.

    The cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax or parchment paper, in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

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  1. We have been making these forever.

    Did you know that these cookies and other baking came about as a protest product. In the case of these, they where baked in this shape as a protest against the Ottoman invaders who used the crescent as one of their national symbols!

  2. I’ve just made the dough for these cookies tonight, and they’re sitting in the fridge ready to be baked off tomorrow. I followed your instructions and nicely wraped them up. I took took a little piece to try it and they are not sweet at all.

    In your directions no mention is made about adding the 2 cups of confectioners. I’m assuming it’s an error that was omitted.

    I made the confectioners vanilla sugar, but that’s for rolling the cookies in after they are baked. I’m thinking of breaking clumps of dough off and mixing that with the 2 cups of confectioners sugar back in the food processor. Do you think that will work. With all the butter in there l’m not worried about a tough overworked dough. I have to say even without the sugar in the dough it still tasted good.

    1. Branka, I’m going to have to ask you to trust me on this. You made the Vanilla Confectioners’ Sugar first. And, yes, that is what the cookies are rolled in. The 2 cups of sugar listed under the dough ingredients, is the Vanilla Confectioners’ Sugar you already made. The cookies are buttery and delicious and get their sweetness from the coating of sugar. This a classic, beloved cookie! I think adding the sugar to the dough would be a mistake and make the cookies very crumbly. Please let me know what you think when you’ve made them.

      1. Well, you are so right David. I baked them off early this morning and tasted one, and it’s perfect. I was just a bit confused when l saw the 2 cups of confectioners sugar listed in with the ingredients.

        I grew up in a European household and never tasted a chocolate chip or oatmeal cookie till was a teenager. Baking was a very elaborate time-consuming affair, which thankfully l learned from my mom.

        I love your website and all your recipes! I’ve tried various ones and none have disappointed. Thank you very much for putting so much time and effort into doing this for us.

        1. Branka, I’m delighted you didn’t go off freelancing and add the sugar to the already-mixed dough. And I’m delighted you enjoyed the cookies. I took another look at the recipe and, based on your comments, went in and rewrote the directions to make them clearer. Please tell me if I succeeded. And thank you for the kind words. I wish you and yours a happy holiday season!

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