This recipe for Kourabiedes is a family favourite producing the most delicious traditional Greek butter cookies. Easy to make, studded with roasted almonds and always a favorite during the Christmas season, although they are also enjoyed year-round!
In a Greek home, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas until traditional Greek cookies are baked. It goes without question that Kourabiedes (Greek Butter Cookies) and Melomakarona (Greek Christmas Honey Cookies) will make an appearance this time of year. And I, for one, look forward to making them (and devouring them) every year!
Every household has a favourite recipe and for me, that one is my mom’s. I remember making these cookies with her every Christmas and now I continue the tradition in my own home.
These tender, buttery cookies melt in your mouth. They are also surprisingly easy to make and do not require too much time. Totally worth the effort, kourabiedes also keep for awhile meaning you don’t need to wait until the last minute (i.e. the day before) you intend to serve them. I love having these on hand, ready to serve up to surprise guests over the holidays!
If you haven’t had Kourabiedes before, chances are you have had similar cookies by a different name. Popular all around the world, these buttery cookies go by names such as Snowball Cookies, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes.
How a Recipe for Kourabiedes differs from similar cookies
As mentioned before, Kourabiedes cookies are similar to other cookies popular around the world. There are a few ingredients, however, that make these a bit different and distinctly Greek:
- Toasted Almonds: while many other versions include pecans as the nut of choice, kourabiedes are almost always made with toasted almonds
- Greek liquor: Metaxa (a Greek amber spirit similar to cognac or brandy), Mastixa, or ouzo are often incorporated into the dough and add to its delicious flavour
- Rose water or anthonero: Although typical in many kourabiedes recipes, my mom’s recipe doesn’t actually use anthonero (orange blossom water) or rose water. If you choose to use it, it is often sprayed onto the baked cookies before they are powdered with sugar.
How to shape your kourabiedes
Kourabiedes are traditionally made in two different shapes- balls or crescent shapes.
These cookies are made year-round but especially around Christmas time, so Christmas shapes can also be used. To do this, you roll out your dough into a thick rectangle and use cookie cutters to make them into whatever shape you like (e.g. Christmas trees, stars, etc).
I usually just opt for a ball shape as I like the snowball look, especially around Christmas time.
Ingredients in a recipe for kourabiedes
- butter, softened
- vegetable shortening (Crisco)
- large egg + large egg yolks
- vanilla extract
- Ouzo, Metaxa or Mastixa liquor
- lemon juice
- all purpose flour
- icing sugar (aka confectioners sugar or powdered sugar)
- baking powder
- baking soda
- toasted almonds
Step by step guide to making kourabiedes
This recipe for kourabiedes requires only a handful of simple steps:
- Cream the butter and vegetable shortening together: this provides a nice, fluffy base for these tender cookies.
- Add the wet ingredients: the eggs, vanilla, liquor and lemon juice get blended in.
- Mix in the dry ingredients: flour, icing sugar, baking powder and baking soda.
- Stir in the almonds: mix in the toasted almonds.
- Form the cookie balls: use a cookie scoop to get uniform sizes and roll out the cookie balls, pressing down just a bit
- Bake the cookies: these cookies require about 25 minutes to cook until they are only slightly golden brown.
- Powder them: after cooling the cookies, sift powdered sugar over top
That’s it! They truly are easy to make! The hardest part is not eating them all up before you get to share them with friends and family!
How do you store kourabiedes?
Kourabiedes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. If you are stacking them and the powdered sugar looks a bit flattened, you can easily sift them with a bit more sugar before serving.
Kourabiedes can also be frozen in a freezer-safe container.
I hope you enjoy this family recipe!
You may also like:
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!
Recipe for Kourabiedes (Greek Butter Cookies)
- 1 cup butter softened
- 1 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons Ouzo, Metaxa or Mastixa liquor
- 1/4 lemon juiced
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup icing sugar (aka confectioners sugar or powdered sugar)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds
- additional icing sugar for powdering
- Preheat oven to 350F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the butter and vegetable shortening until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg, egg yolks, vanilla extract, lemon juice and liquor and blend until incorporated.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, icing sugar, baking powder and baking soda. With the stand mixer running on low, slowly add the flour mixture until fully incorporated. Add the almonds and mix in.
- Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop out batter and roll them into a ball. Arrange the cookie balls onto a baking sheet leaving enough space for them to expand as they bake. Press down very lightly to flatten them out just a little.
- Bake until they begin to brown underneath and get a very light golden colour, about 25-28 minutes.
- Allow the cookies to cool on the rack for 5-10 minutes. Gently place cookies in a dish sprinkled with icing sugar and sift with more icing sugar until they are well covered.