Kourabiedes: The Perfect Greek Christmas Cookies!

Kourabiedes: Perfect Christmas Cookies from Greece

If you spend your winter in Greece there is a very high chance that you will taste this delicious Christmas treat known as kourabie. In fact, together with melomakarona, kourabiedes are one of the two sweets most related to Greek winter holidays.

If you still haven’t heard of them, kourabiedes are a crunchy kind of biscuits, short bread style, simply made with just a few ingredients, including butter, flour, and roasted almonds.

Christmas kourabiedes.

We agree that they seem easy and plain, yet selected flavors of your choice, including orange juice, or even a few drops of rose water make a huge difference and along with some of the other ingredients included in the kourabiedes recipe, they make the most delicious Christmas treat.

Covered in tons of icing sugar, kourabiedes resemble the wintery snow-capped mountains of Greece. In other words, they are nothing but just the perfect Christmas biscuit!

The Origins of Kourabiedes Christmas Cookies

It all started many, many years ago, when immigrants from Asia brought with them a delicacy very similar to what we now know as kourabiedes in Greece.

As often happens, the Greeks kept the tradition and made the recipe even better by adding some of the best local ingredients. All of them still to be found the most traditional recipe for kourabiedes. Since then, and every winter, locals prepare kourabiedes during the holiday season.

We Can Eat Them All Year Round!

Friable, and rich in flavor, it is no wonder that in many Greek regions, kourabiedes are actually prepared (and even bought) on many happy occasions, including Easter holidays, a wedding, or a christening celebration.

It’s true that kourabiedes are better known for being winter sweets, especially popular around the Christmas holidays. As a matter of fact, many believe that the plenty of icing sugar that covers each cookie is supposed to represent the pure wish of happiness and abundance of blessings for the new year. 

Where Does the the Word Kourabie Come From?

Butter, flower, sugar… the main ingredients fro kourabiedes.

As yuo probably remember, Greece has been for many, really too many years, under the oppression of the Ottoman Empire.

Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise to discover that the word originally comes from Turkey. Kourabiedes (kourabie in singular) were originally known as kurabiye, a Turkish word made from two different words kuru, meaning dry, and biye, which stands for biscuit.

In fact, being dry and crumbing are two of the most remarkable characteristics of this biscuit. Want to learn more? Check this article about the origin of kourabiedes.

Calories in Kourabiedes

… Before embarking on a guilt trip, remember that you will probably eat kourabiedes only during Christmas, not the best moment in the year to start counting calories, right?

Which carries more calories? Are the sugar-coated kourabiedes or the syrup-drenched melomakarona?

A medium-sized kourabie can contain from 130 up to 200 calories, especially when they includes large chunks of almonds, which make the calorie count go up by a lot.

Click here to learn more about melomakarona

Remember that, these biscuits are made with tons of butter, a source of saturated fat, less healthy than olive oil (monounsaturated and therefore healthier fat), the most common kind of fat used in the majority of Greek recipes. 

However, and as long as you keep a moderate intake of kourabiedes, you will also take in the excellent healthy properties of almonds. If you want to keep it more on the healthier side, get rid of some of the icing sugar to avoid some extra calories that you don’t really need as the biscuits are already super tasteful.

Kourabiedes with Chocolate… What About That?

I have always had a preference for melomakarona and, especially, melomakarona dipped in dark chocolate.

However, it is fair to say that kourabiedes dipped in milk chocolate can be be a fantastic alternative to chocolate melomakarona.

Kourabiedes Recipe

Kourabiedes: The Perfect Greek Christmas Cookies!


Friable and full of taste, kourabiedes are Christmas staple cookies from Greece.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


  • 900 gr. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 500 gr. good quality unsalted butter
  • 220 gr. powdered sugar
  • 2 envelopes of vanilla powder
  • 30 gr. cognac or ouzo… or use raki as we do in Crete
  • 200-280 gr unsalted almonds
  • a pinch of salt
  • Rose water (optional)
  • 300 gr. powdered sugar (for coating)


    How to roast the almonds:

    1. Preheat oven to 180°
    2. Place the almonds in a tray and roast for about 8-10 minutes.
    3. When cool, chop in chunks, but do not chop too finely.

    For the kourabiedes;

    1. Mix baking powder, one of the dry vanillas, salt and flour in bowl and set aside.
    2. Begin by making the butter soft with a mixer for at least 10 minutes. Add sugar and keep mixing for another 7 minutes.
    3. The secret to great kourabiedes lies in this step. This mixture must be white and very fluffy.
    4. Add the egg yolks, one at a time.
    5. Remove the mix from the mixer and slowly add half of the flour mixture and the raki, ouzo, or cognac.
    6. Slowly add the rest of the flour carefully so as not to add too much at a time.
    7. The mixture should not be hard, but light and airy, so perhaps you might not need to add all the flour mixture.
    8. Incorporate the almonds and once the mix has reached a firm consistency, shape them in small balls, or half moon shapes, or any wat you like! You can even use cookie cutters to give the cookies a fun holiday-themed shape.
    9. Place the cookies on a trave on top of waxed paper and, if you like, lightly sprinkle with rosewater.
    10. Bake at 170° for 20 to 25 minutes.
    11. Try to space them properly on the baking tray because they may double in size.
    12. When you remove the kourabiedes from oven, coat them by sprinkling the 300 gr of powdered sugar mixed with the remaining vanilla powder.
    13. If stored properly in a covered container, they can last for weeks.

Which Cookies Do You Like Best? Kourabiedes or Melomakarona?

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