Melomakarona Recipe (Greek Christmas Honey Cookies)

This easy Melomakarona Recipe produced tender, traditional Greek Christmas Honey Cookies that are drenched in a honey syrup. This Greek cookie recipe is traditionally made every Christmas in Greek homes.

Melomakarona or Greek Honey Cookies are quintessentially Greek. From the walnut, cinnamon, and honey flavorings which are pretty much on the front stage of Greek desserts (think baklava) to the use of olive oil instead of butter. It’s no wonder this cookie is top of mind when you think of a traditional Greek Christmas cookie.

These Greek Christmas cookies are spiced with cinnamon and clove and drenched in a honey syrup. The honey gets right into the cookies, making them wonderfully moist and flavorful. Since they are drenched in honey, the actual cookie itself isn’t too sweet. That way, you end up with the perfect cookie that isn’t sickly sweet.

Melomakarona cookies topped with crushed walnuts stacked on a white platter.

Traditionally, melomakarona cookies have crushed walnuts sprinkled on them but you can also add some chopped walnuts into the cookies themselves too. If you are serving these to someone with a nut sensitivity, you can skip the walnuts altogether and just top the cookies with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar (mix icing sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and sprinkle them onto each cookie).

These delicious cookies are also naturally egg free and dairy free, which makes them great for serving to those with an intolerance to these ingredients.

Greek households make plenty of these Greek cookies along with other popular Greek cookies like Kourabiedes (Greek Butter Cookies) to share with others during Christmas. This recipe makes about 36 cookies but can easily be doubled, which I often do. I included step by step photos of the entire process to help guide you along the way as well. So let’s get baking!

Melomakarona cookies drenched in honey and topped with crushed walnuts on a black circular rack.
Melomakarona (Greek Christmas Honey Cookies)

Why you’ll love this Melomakarona Recipe

  • This recipe is easy to do!

  • It requires simple ingredients that you likely already have on hand (or can easily locate at a grocery store).

  • This recipe yields 3 dozen cookies so there are plenty of cookies to share during Christmas time!

  • The cookies can be prepared in stages so you don’t have to do it all at once. The syrup stage can be done the next day if you like.

  • The cookies store for a long time.

  • Melomakarona are downright delicious and go perfect with a cup of coffee!
Closeup of a melomakarono (Greek Honey Cookie) topped with crushed walnuts on a white platter surrounded by other cookies.

Ingredients in my Melomakarona Recipe (Greek Christmas Honey Cookies)

  • Oil: These cookies are dairy free and made with oil instead of butter. For my recipe I use a mixture of olive oil and vegetable oil.

  • Sugar: There is only half a cup of sugar in this recipe. Since they are drenched in a honey syrup, the cookie itself isn’t too sweet.

  • Orange juice: If possible, freshly squeezed orange juice is always better. In a pinch, you can certainly use a store-bought juice.

  • Cognac: This adds a little flavor to the cookies. You can also substitute another liqueur like brandy.

  • Honey: A little is used in the cookie but primarily, honey is used to make the syrup that these cookies are dipped in.

  • Warm spices: Cinnamon and ground clove.

  • Leveners: Baking powder and baking soda.

  • Flour: all purpose flour.

  • Walnuts: crushed or finely chopped walnuts are used in the topping. You can also add them into the cookie dough for added walnut flavor and crunch. The best way to prepare the walnuts is to pulse them in a food processor to make this step super quick and easy.

Note: Ingredient quantities and full instructions are in the recipe card at the end of this post.

How to make Melonakarona Cookies

Making this traditional treat is easy to do and comes down to three simple stages. I have outlined the steps below and provided step by step photos to help you make these cookies. Though the full instructions are in the recipe card at the end of this post, the steps come down to this:

  1. Make the Melomakarona Dough
  2. Form the Cookies
  3. Dip the Cookies in Honey Syrup
Closeup of melomakarona cookies topped with walnut piled together on a platter.

Make the Melomakarona Dough:

  1. Add the oils and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed for 1 minute. (Alternatively, you can do this by hand in a large bowl). Add the orange juice, cognac, honey, cinnamon, clove powder, baking soda, and baking powder and continue to blend.

  2. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour slowly. Finally, add the walnuts (if adding to the dough itself) and mix until combined.

  3. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and let it rest for 15 minutes at room temperature.
A photo collage showing three steps for making melomakarona dough with the first photo showing oil and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, the second showing all the wet ingredients mixed in the bowl and the final photo showing the completed dough in the bowl.

Form the Cookies:

The next step is to form the cookies. I like to add pretty designs to my cookies using the back of a crystal platter to press on a design. This isn’t necessary though.

Melomakarona are most often shaped into an oval shape or a round shape. I personally prefer making them into round shapes but you can do what you like best.

  1. Scoop out a small portion of dough. I use slightly more than a golf ball sized portion for my cookies (about 1 1/2 tablespoons).

  2. Roll the dough into a ball using the palms of your hand. Press down slightly and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I press mine down onto the back of a plate with a textured design on it but this is not necessary.

  3. Bake the first 2 cookie sheets in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the cookies begin to turn golden brown. Repeat with the final cookie sheet.

  4. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.
A photo collage with four photos showing the steps for forming the melomakarona cookies.

Dip the Cookies in Honey Syrup:

  1. The final step is to warm the honey and water in a saucepan on low heat until thin and syrupy. Remove from heat and dip the cookies in the syrup for a minute on each side (be sure to flip so that they are well coated). [Tip: Test one out to ensure the honey has soaked into the cookie. If it hasn’t keep the cookies in for a bit longer.]

  2. Place cookies back on the cooling rack with a baking tray underneath so the excess honey can drip off. Sprinkle with crushed walnuts or with a mixture of cinnamon and icing sugar, if desired.
A photo collage showing four photos of how to dip melomakarona cookies in honey syrup and decorate them.

How to Store Melomakarona

Melomakarona can be placed in an airtight container and stored at room temperature for a couple of weeks. I like to place each cookie on a muffin liner and then I can easily stack them in my container.

Can you freeze Melomakarona?

Melomakarona can be frozen, but should be frozen without the syrup on them. Once baked, allow them to cool completely. Then transfer the cookies to an airtight freezer safe container. I also recommend wrapping the container in plastic wrap to prevent any freezer burn.

When you are ready to enjoy the cookies, just defrost them completely. Once they are room temperature you can dip them in the honey syrup.

Tips for Making the Best Melomakarona

  • Mix on low speed at first. This dough starts off with an oily base. The last thing you want is to splatter your kitchen and yourself with oil. When adding the oil and sugar to the bowl of stand mixer, be sure to mix it on low speed.

  • Don’t over mix the dough. As with all baked goods, in order to have tender cookies, don’t overwork the dough. Once you add the flour, mix just until incorporated.

  • Cool cookies, hot syrup. When adding syrup to any Greek dessert, its important that one component is cold and the other is hot. It doesn’t matter much whether the cookies are hot and the syrup cold or the other way around, just as long as they are not both hot or both cold. I opt for cool cookies and a hot syrup so that I can control when I do the syrup step. Sometimes I drench them the next day or even days later.

  • Keep a small bowl with the crushed walnuts near by when dipping in syrup. In order to allow the walnuts to stick better to the cookies, I like to sprinkle them as soon as they are out of the hot syrup.

  • Make them nut free. Omit the walnuts in the recipe and sprinkle an equal mixture of powdered sugar and cinnamon on the cookies.
A platter of Melomakarona (Greek Christmas Honey Cookies)
These Melomakarona cookies are made nut-free.

This is hands down my favorite cookie to make during the holiday season, though you can certainly make them for other special occasions too. Any excuse to eat Melomakarona is a good one, I say!

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Kala Xristougenna!

-Cathy

A stack of melomakarona cookies on a white platter with a bitten cookie on the top of the pile showing the honey drenched interior.

You may also like these other types of Greek Cookies:

Recipe for Kourabiedes (Greek Butter Cookies)
Amygdalota Recipe (Greek Almond Cookies)
Greek Olive Oil Cookies (Vegan) – Koulourakia Ladiou
Koulourakia Recipe– Greek Easter Cookies

If you try and enjoy this recipe, I would love to hear about it! Leave a rating and/or comment below to let me know what you think!

This post was updated on December 19, 2022 with an improved recipe, new photos and more tips and instructions.

Melomakarona cookies topped with crushed walnuts stacked on a white platter.

Melomakarona (Greek Christmas Honey Cookies)

Herbs and Flour
Melomakarona are traditional Greek Cookies drenched in a honey syrup. This cookie recipe is traditionally made every Christmas in Greek homes.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Greek
Servings 36 cookies
Calories 216 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup vegetable oil or grape seed oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons cognac
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon clove powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup walnuts chopped (optional)

For the syrup

  • 1 1/2 cups honey
  • 1/2 cup water

Optional Toppings

  • walnuts crushed
  • mixture of equal parts cinnamon and icing sugar (if prefer nut free version)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350F and line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Make the Melomakarona Dough:

  • Add the oils and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Add the orange juice, cognac, honey, cinnamon, clove powder, baking soda, and baking powder and continue to blend.
  • With the mixer on low speed, add the flour slowly. Finally, add the walnuts (if adding to the dough itself) and mix until combined.
  • Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and let it rest for 15 minutes at room temperature.

Form the Cookies:

  • Scoop out a small portion of dough. I use slightly more than a golf ball sized portion for my cookies (about 1 1/2 tablespoons).
  • Roll the dough into a ball using the palms of your hands. Press down slightly and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I press mine down onto the back of a plate with a textured design on it but this is not necessary.
  • Bake the first 2 trays in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the cookies begin to brown slightly. Repeat with the final tray of cookies.
  • Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Dip the Cookies:

  • Warm the honey and water in a saucepan on low heat until thin and syrupy. Remove from heat and dip the cookies in the syrup for a minute on each side (be sure to flip so that they are well coated). [Tip: Test one out to ensure the honey has soaked into the cookie. If it hasn't keep the cookies in for a bit longer.]
  • Set the dipped cookies back on the cooling rack with a baking sheet underneath so the excess honey can drip off. Sprinkle with crushed walnuts or with a mixture of cinnamon and icing sugar, if desired.

Nutrition

Calories: 216kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 1gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gSodium: 34mgPotassium: 35mgFiber: 1gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 8IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 16mgIron: 1mg
Keyword christmas, christmas cookies, greek food, honey, walnut
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