Nana's Anise Pierniki (Polish Christmas Cookies)

A little bit of patience and a lot of sprinkles will get you the most memorable Christmas experience when you whip up a batch of my Nana's Anise Pierniki!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Polish
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 7 minutes
Servings 36 cookies
Calories 93kcal
Author Erica


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise extract or oil

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Assorted sprinkles


  • In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, ~3 minutes. Add anise, egg yolk, and milk, beating to combine. In a separate bowl, sift baking powder and salt into flour, then add to wet ingredients, mixing until incorporated. Dough will be sticky but thick.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-24 hours.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon liners. Set up a station with flour, rolling pin, cookie cutters, and prepared baking sheets.
  • Flour your workstation moderately, as well as your hands. Take half of the dough and dust it with flour, knead it into a ball, then roll it out as thinly as possible (or as desired,) dusting with flour sparingly but as needed to prevent sticking. Cut into desired shapes. Transfer to baking sheets, leaving a bit of space between each cookie (they don't spread much at all.)
  • Bake for 7-10 minutes, until edges are barely golden (these are very pale finished cookies.*) Remove from oven and cool on pans for 3-4 minutes, then remove to cooling rack with a metal spatula.
  • Return scraps to bowl and repeat the steps with the remaining cold ball of dough. Repeat a third time with scraps from first two rounds, being sure not to overwork the dough or add too much flour to it as you work.**

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • Combine ingredients in a small bowl and beat until a fluffy buttercream consistency is reached, adding milk or sugar as necessary (I like my frosting fluffy, but you may prefer it thinner.)
  • Gently spread frosting on each cookie and decorate with sprinkles as desired. This is a fun project for little ones to help with! Allow cookies to dry overnight before packaging and storing. 


* These are very pale finished cookies, with only the edges being barely browned. I recommend testing a couple in your oven until you find the right amount of baking time. The cookbook calls for a 10 minute bake time, but my oven is near the 6-7 minute mark.
** It is important not to use too much flour on your work space, or to overwork the dough. It's very sensitive, and can lead to altered taste if abused.


Calories: 93kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 10mg | Potassium: 25mg | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 130IU | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 0.3mg