Chinese Five-Spice Cookies

These Chinese five-spice cookies get their kick from ground star anise, cinnamon, ginger, fennel seeds, Szechuan peppercorns, and cloves. They're so versatile, they can be your favorite everyday cookie or, with a zhuzh of powered sugar, new holiday tradition.

Chinese Five-Spice Cookies Recipe

Say bye-bye-bye to your boring plain sugar cookie and nǐ hǎo to these Chinese five-spice lovelies. They’re sugar cookies on steroids. Depending upon your five spice blend (I like Penzey’s), it can include ground star anise, cinnamon, ginger, fennel seeds, Szechuan peppercorns, and cloves. The cookies are the perfect holiday treat, edible gift–even accompaniment to tea. Because of their snappy, crisp texture, they can handle lots of dunking.–David Leite

Special Equipment: 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter or favorite holiday-shaped cutter

Chinese Five-Spice Cookies Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 1 H, 40 M
  • Makes about twenty cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar (or just blitz granulated sugar in a blender until finely ground but not powdery)
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  • 1. Dump the flour, Chinese five-spice powder, and salt in a small bowl and whisk thoroughly.
  • 2. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter in a large bowl until creamy and well combined. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until fluffy, about 1 minute more.
  • 3. Stir in the flour mixture, combing just until everything is incorporated and a soft dough forms. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • 4. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and adjust the rack to the center position.
  • 5. Unwrap the dough, place it on a fresh piece of plastic wrap, and roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Slide the wrap and the dough onto a baking sheet and place the whole shebang in the freezer for 5 minutes to firm it slightly.
  • 6. Remove the dough from the freezer and quickly cut out the spice cookies with a 2 1/2-inch round cookie biscuit cutter (or if it’s the holidays, your favorite cookie cutter) spacing them 1/2-inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until the edges are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Immediately transfer the spice cookies to a wire rack to cool. (The cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.)
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Comments

  1. These sound amazing. And I have a jar of Chinese 5-spice in the kitchen right now leftover from a soup I made (and I haven’t had another reason to use it yet). Thank you!

  2. I made these last weekend and they are so good and so different. I love that they aren’t super sweet, and they *are* perfect with a cup of tea :)

    1. Hi jenijen, so glad you liked the cookies. They’re one of my favorite tea-dunking snacks. I developed these years and years ago (when I was still young and beautiful) and I still turn to them every fall and winter. So nice to tuck into.

  3. These cookies are delicious! The dough was a little difficult to work with, but I couldn’t be more pleased with the finished product. Thank you!

    1. Angie, so glad you like the cookies. I agree the dough is tough to work with, but slipping it in and out of the fridge certainly helps.

  4. David — I had to write and tell you that I tried something a little different when I made the cookies a second time. After I got the dough together, I placed it in wax paper and rolled it into a log shape. I wrapped the whole thing in plastic wrap and let it freeze overnight. This morning I just pulled the cookie log out of the freezer, peeled away the plastic wrap and wax paper and just sliced the frozen dough into 1/4″ rounds. I baked at same temperature and same amount of time. So easy and I couldn’t be happier to have my new favorite cookie! Thanks again for this great recipe.

    1. Angie, I couldn’t be happier. I developed that recipe a million years ago. It’s so delightful to me that you’ve discovered it and that you added to it–making the preparation better. Thank you!

  5. Just made these for Christmas and they were a hit! I made a few alterations just for simplicity’s sake. After my dough was combined, I simply took a teaspoon and made small mounds on my pan, which I then pushed into small rounds with a fork. After baking, I placed a small amount of chocolate glaze on each one since they were destined to be stand alone Christmas cookies. End result: delicious. Even my little nieces loved them.

  6. Amazing cookie! We added ~ 1 tablespoon candied ginger, diced, and ~ 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped. This will be one of our go-to henceforth! Thank you very much, David!

    1. On behalf of David and everyone at Leite’s, Nuna, you’re welcome! Love that you added candied ginger!

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