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Kourabiedes Recipe

Kourabiedes Recipe

These are meant for New Year's. With the spiciness of cloves and the soft citrus-y hint of cognac, these cookies crumble as you eat them in a way that, for whatever reason, bodes well for the year to come.


  • 1 cup shortening
  • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon brandy or cognac
  • Pinch cloves
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 2½ cups flour
  • About 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar, for sifting over


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

To grind the walnuts, combine the nuts and 2 tablespoons of flour in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are finely ground, not pasty. Set aside.

In a mixer, beat butter and confectioners’ sugar for 1 minute, until fluffy. Add the egg yolk, brandy, and clove. Beat in remaining flour and walnuts just until mixed — don't overmix.

Shape a scant tablespoon of dough in a ball. Flatten it out and elongate the ends slightly. Set on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 12-16 minutes, until the cookies are firm but colored only on the bottom. Remove the tray and set it on a rack.

Sift a coat of confectioners’ sugar all over the hot cookies. Let cool for about 15 minutes, and then add a second coat of sugar. Let cool completely. Keep in an airtight container.

Melt in your mouth Kourabiedes

These melt in your mouth kourabiedes (Kourabies (pl. kourabiedes, pronounced kou-rah-bee-EH-thez), as most of you, who follow my blog, must know by now, are the Greek shortbread cookies made during Christmas.

In the older times, before the use of the mixer, these cookies needed elaborate preparation and that was done by hand, so these were made for special occasions such as weddings, christenings and other celebrations.

Traditionally they were flavoured with rose water or blossom water. Local butter, usually ewe&rsquos and/or ewe&rsquos and goat butter is used and roasted almonds are sometimes added.

They are then formed into round or crescent cookies which, after baking, are then coated with confectioners&rsquo sugar.

Through the centuries, other flavorings have been added in lieu of, or in combination with, rose or blossom water, such as lemon zest, orange zest, vanilla, etc.

Liquor such as Metaxa brandy, Greek mastiha, or ouzo are sometimes added to kourabiedes.

After the cookies are removed from the oven and slightly cooled, blossom or rose water may be sprinkled on the cookies before dusting with sugar to help the coating to stick, although this method seems not be used any more.

We continue to do this in Cyprus for Loukoumia tou Gamou, our Wedding cookies.

Modern versions of kourabiedes now include other non traditional ingredients as well.

I have been making kourabiedes for many years and a very significant factor to have tasty kourabiedes lies mainly in the quality of butter used.

This year I made them with a butter I never used before and quite frankly I was really afraid what the outcome would be.

I asked my husband to bring sheep&rsquos butter and instead he brought a Cretan butter called Stakovoutyro, made of sheep&rsquos and goat milk.

Staka is the fresh cream skimmed off the top of milk and Stakovoutyro is the buttercream (like clotted cream) made by cooking staka.

I know that all Cretan products are delicious but I didn&rsquot know if I could use this butter to make kourabiedes. On the back of the jar it said suitable for cooking and for desserts, so I risked making them and the result was fabulous.

If you cannot find ewe&rsquos or goat milk butter these can also be made with regular butter, although they will lack the characteristic taste, they will still be delicious.

They were perfect in taste and each bite they melted in your mouth, making you want to eat more and more.

You can get the recipe by downloading my free e-book just by subscribing to my blog.

This recipe also goes to Rosa, of Rosa&rsquos Yummy Yums, for her even Pastries For Peace.

This recipe also goes to Susan of Food Blogga for her event Eat Christmas Cookies, Season 3

This recipe goes to Cinzia of Cindystar, for her event Baking under the Christmas Tree.

You can find many more Greek recipes in my cookbooks «More Than A Greek Salad», and «Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!» both available on all Amazon stores. Read more here.

It’s time for the Greek Christmas cookie battle. In one corner we have Melomakarona — honey walnut syrup soaked spice cookies. And in the other we have Kourabiedes — festive almond flavored powdered sugar butter cookies. Choosing between these two confections is one of the most difficult parts of the holiday season. But why even choose? Luckily you can bake (and eat) both.

Even though I am having a long standing love affair with Melomakarona, Kourabiedes were my absolute favorite cookie growing up. (Because my mom never baked Melomakarona.) We devoured Kourabiedes for Christmas (where you’ll find them most traditionally) and Easter, and on every cookie table at every Greek wedding and baptism. When you make them correctly, the sugar and butter just melt in your mouth and you have to immediately go back for more (unless you’ve already stuffed a stash in your purse). They are perfect with coffee or tea. I like to eat them for breakfast as well.


These festive biscuits most likely ended up in Greece because of the Ottoman occupation. In Turkey you’ll find similar crescent-shaped shortbread cookies dating back to the 15th century. But we are Greeks, so always roll ours out round.

Origins of this recipe

This recipe, much like my recipe for Koulourakia, is based on one from our dear family friend Andriana Skinner. The only difference is that hers did not have almonds or almonds flavor. In Greece these cookies are traditionally made with almonds. Because of that my mom added in the almond extract to compensate for not using actual ground almonds.

Tricks to perfect Kourabiedes

If you want to bake perfect Kourabiedes follow these two tips.

1) Do not add too much flour. If you’re using an electronic mixer, stop adding in flour once the dough cleanly separates from the side of the mixing bowl. It should be a soft dough. Remember these melt in your mouth they’re not supposed to break your teeth!
2) Hit them with sugar when they are warm, so it soaks in. That means removing them from the cookie sheet to a surface that is dusted with powdered sugar. Once they’re down then dust them on top. Reserve even more powdered sugar to dust them with right before you serve them. Is that enough powdered sugar. Probably not.

Either way, there’s nothing more festive than endless cookies throughout the holidays. Where do you fall on Melomakarona vs. Kourabiedes? Let me know in the comments.

Kourabiedes Recipe

There are many variations and our delicious family recipe features lightly toasted almonds and a splash of Ouzo! The measurements below make around 60 biscuits and can be placed in airtight containers to retain their freshness for a few weeks.


– 500 grams unsalted butter
– 1 kilo self raising flour
– 200 grams caster sugar
– 2 egg yolks and 1 egg white
– 1 cup olive oil
– 3/4 cup of Ouzo
– 200 grams chopped almonds
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 3 cups confectionary sugar for dusting


– Spread chopped almonds on baking paper and place in baking tray. Toast in oven for about 10 minutes in a 150 degrees celsius oven or till lightly browned.
– Add butter in a small saucepan and melt over low heat.
– In a large bowl add melted butter with caster sugar and use mixmaster to mix until light and fluffy. Gradually add 1/2 cup of ouzo, olive oil, egg white, yolks and toasted almonds and mix all together for about 5 minutes on high speed.
– In another bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture and blend until smooth.
– Roll about 2 tablespoons of dough into small balls and then start forming them into a crescent shape.
– Line baking trays with baking paper and place the biscuits on paper. Bake in a 180 degrees celsius oven for about 20 minutes.
– Allow biscuits to cool for about 5 minutes and then lightly drizzle some Ouzo on top of them.
– Place wax paper on your working bench and then sift 1 and 1/2 cups of confectionary sugar over the paper. Transfer the biscuits on to paper and then sift the remaining confectionary sugar on top.
– Allow to stand until completely cool and then store in an airtight container.

*Recipe & Images by IN+SIGHTS GREECE © (Copyright)

Penny Zalalas

Executive Editor

At the age of 18, when starting her university degree in Media & Culture, Penny was offered her first role in the industry and began her career at Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited. Since then she has worked as a journalist & editor in both print & online publications, bringing with her 20 + years of experience in magazines. Her utter love for Greece, plus a constant urge to create, innovate & inspire is what led her to launch IN+SIGHTS GREECE.

Can these be made ahead of time?

Yes! Since we give them out throughout the holidays, we actually let them cool completely and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. When I’m ready to give them away, I pop them in a 300 degree oven until they’re warm again, then coat them in powdered sugar and let them cool completely before packaging them up or serving. You can also freeze them in an airtight container for up to six months. Again, freeze them without powdered sugar and coat them just before serving.


Kourabiedes are Greek cookies, similar to shortbread cookies, coated with icing sugar.

How to make the Greek cookies

Their main ingredients are butter, icing sugar and flour but you will also find recipes with eggs in them. They are usually flavored with vanilla or masticha (mastic resin).

A well known brand of Greek brandy is also included which adds more flavor but twists to the traditional recipes call for rum, ouzo, masticha liqueur or other alcoholic beverages. In Cyprus, the cookie is wet with rose water and then coated with icing sugar.

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A very significant factor to have tasty kourabiedes lies mainly on the quality of butter used. Ewe’s milk butter, goat milk butter or a mixture of ewe’s and goat milk butter is used in Greek kourabiedes but you can also make them with buffalo milk butter and they taste amazing.

If you can’t find any of the above butters, you can substitute it with regular butter. Although they will still be delicious, the taste will not be the same.

In Cyprus, people used to make them with Spry shortening but this is not available in Greece. People fill them with dates and almonds or dates with walnuts and these were called phoinikota, from the word phoinikia (φοινίκια) meaning dates.

While kourabiedes are now popular holiday delicacies, mostly during Christmas, in the older times these were a treat for many Greek occasions, mostly weddings, engagements, christenings, name days, birthdays, etc.

What is the origin of the word kourabiedes?

The word kourabies (plural kourabiedes) originates from qurabiya in Azerbaijani, qurabiyə in Arabic, kurabiye in Turkish and of course you will find this “cookie” under a similar name in many other countries as well. The word literally means dry (kuru) biscuit (biye).

However, the word biscuit was given around the Middle Ages, etymologically deriving from the Latin bis-cuit, which means baked twice. This technique was known in ancient Greece and was called δί-πυρον (di-pyron) which also means baked twice. This technique was developed by the ancient Greeks mainly to preserve bread for the soldiers and seafarers.

In modern Italian, the word for cookies is biscotto (cookies is of Flemish / Dutch origin that passed to the English language). The Latin word bis-cuit, was spread by Venetian merchants to Asia, where it was established as a corruption of the Latin word to biya (or biye), which they connected with their own qura / quru (which means dry) and gave a new compound word mixing Latin with oriental to form the word qurabiya / kurabiye. This word was later borrowed and it thus returned to the West.

The Hellenized word “kourabies” was formed in the sense of dry biscuit, which was mixed with almonds and coated with icing sugar. Almonds were used because of their abundance in Greece and Cyprus but depending on the regions where they are made, if there is abundance of walnuts, they are used instead of almonds.

The production of pistachios in Greece started in the early nineteenth century and now they are also used.

When these cookies became a Christmas treat, they were given a crescent shape and a whole clove was inserted on the top to represent the gift of spices that the Three Wise Men brought to Bethlehem.

The sprinkling of icing sugar is probably due to the fact that Christmas is during winter when there is snow. Similar cookies are the Mexican wedding cakes or Spanish polvorón and the Italian wedding cookies.

You can shape them by hand by making small round balls of 3/4 to 1 oz each which can be flattened or give them a crescent shape or even use a cookie cutter. The time of baking will depend on their size and your oven.

This recipe is featured in our FREE eBook Christmas – A world of flavors, available on 196 flavors.


In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter at high speed until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Add the egg yolk, brandy and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Sift the flour with 3/4 cup of the confectioners' sugar, the baking powder, cloves and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in 3 batches, beating at low speed just until smooth. Scrape the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper and roll into a 2-inch log. Wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days.

Preheat the oven to 325°. Line 2 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap the dough and roll it into a perfect cylinder. Cut it into 3 equal pieces. Slice each piece crosswise into 12 cookies and arrange them on the prepared sheets about 1 inch apart.

Bake the cookies on the top and middle racks of the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden on the bottom shift the sheets from top to bottom halfway through baking. Let the cookies cool slightly on the sheets, about 15 minutes.

Pour confectioners' sugar into a large shallow bowl. Add the warm cookies in batches and heavily coat the tops and sides. Transfer to a sheet of wax paper that has been dusted with confectioners' sugar and let cool.


Photo credit: G. Drakopoulos - Food Styling: T. Webb

This is a delicious, melt in your mouth, traditional Greek sweet called “Kourabiedes”. Sweet and crumbly, with crunchy toasted almonds and they look so Christmassy!!

  • Remove the butter from the refrigerator about 2-3 hours before using, so that it can soften at room temperature.
  • Preheat the oven to 180* C (350*F) Fan.
  • In the mixer using the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 5-6 minutes on high speed until it turns white. Add the icing sugar and vanilla. Continue beating for another 5-7 minutes. As soon as the sugar is added, the volume of the butter may lessen but it will rise again. It will be ready when it looks like whipped cream.
  • Remove the mixing bowl and add the flour in batches. Gently fold in with a spatula and add then add the almonds.
  • The mixture should be soft but not that soft that it will stick to your hands.
  • Mold into balls the size of walnuts (25 g). Place them in rows, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make a small indentation on top of every little ball of dough with your finger. This way it will it can hold on to more icing sugar.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until they turn light golden.
  • Remove from oven. Carefully move them from the baking sheet and place them on to a wire rack to cool. They are very soft and crumbly when hot.
  • When cool, spray them with some rose water.
  • Put some icing sugar in a sieve and dust.

*In the nutritional chart you will find on the right handside, we have calculated 100 g of icing sugar (from the 300 g with which the Greek Almond Snow Balls have been dusted) as an average quantity that stays at the top of the cookie when consumed.

Recipe Summary

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup slivered blanched almonds, toasted and finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons honey, preferably Greek
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup mastiha liqueur, such as Skinos

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift together flour, almonds, confectioners' sugar, and salt into a medium bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and honey on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and lemon zest. (It may not come together fully until you add flour mixture.) Reduce speed to low gradually beat in flour mixture, alternating with mastiha.

Scoop 1 tablespoon of dough roll into a ball. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until brown around edges, about 20 minutes. Transfer sheets to wire racks let cool completely. Roll cookies in confectioners' sugar until thoroughly coated. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.


Beat butter and sugar until very fluffy, almost white. Add egg yolks, and beat. Add vanilla, almond flavoring and cognac beat.

Mix baking powder with a little flour, and add to butter mixture. (This distributes baking powder evenly.) Add nuts.

Add flour, a cup at a time, until you have a medium-thick dough that isn't sticky and feels like Play-Doh. Form into crescent shapes.

Bake 20 to 22 minutes at 350 degrees F, to a pale, golden brown. Dust with additional confectioners' sugar. When cool, dust again. (The first coating ensures the sugar sticks.)