Melomakarona: Delicious Greek Christmas cookies

Melomakarona: Delicious Christmas Cookies from Greece

If you still don’t know Melomakarona, hold tight… you’re about to be introduce to a whole new dimension of taste and flavor lust! Melomakarona are little soft cookies, that are soaked in delicious honey syrup before being served. Small bites of pleasure that literally make your mouth water even by just reading about them.

Melomakarona recipe is one of the oldest and most traditional Greek recipes. For centuries, these cookies have been served as a desert after a meal, a treat for the guests, or just as a treat for yourself.

But you can’t find them anywhere and anytime… No! They are only prepared in winter time, specifically during the Christmas holidays. Melomakarona in fact is one of the two sweet staples of Christmas in Greece.

History of Melomakarona

Melomakarona soaking in sweet syrup.

It’s said that the ancient Greeks celebrated the day of the God Ilios (meaning the God of sun) around the end of December, making melomakarona almost as they are made today, and the tradition has been followed for so many years that these have become one of the most popular Greek winter sweets. 

During the years the tradition has changed keeping the same basic ingredients to prepare them. These include local honey, extra virgin olive oil, and almonds (or walnuts in some recipes). You can even find differences in the recipes coming from different areas of the country.

Origin of the Word Melomakarona

Back in Ancient Greece, the word μακαρωνία (makaronia), in medieval Greek, described a dish usually eaten during funerals.

At the same time, μακαρια (makaria) was more ancient work also naming a type of bread usually offered in a funeral. When these little treats started being dipped in honey (μελι), the treat got its present name, melomakarono. And as time went by, it also became a popular dish to be enjoyed during the twelve days of Christmas.

The word makarona made its way to many other nations, evolving and changing together with the dishes they represented, so that today we have macaroni in Italy and macaroon in France and eventually England as well.

Why Melomakarona in Winter… and for Christmas?

Melomakarona is a typical Greek treat for Christmas.

However, at present, and since they don’t celebrate the God Ilios anymore, why are melomakarona prepared only during this time of the year?

The answer is simple: some of their main ingredients are honey and olive oil, which both symbolize fertility and good life, and this is the reason why the Greeks make, eat, and treat their loved ones with the delicious sweet, to present their wish for a new year full of happiness, health, and good moments.

Don’t Feel Guilty! 

… After all you’re only eating them once a year…

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

However, keep this in mind: If you are a diet-conscious eater, then you might want to pay some attention to the calorie count.

Click here to lean how to make Kourabiedes.

In general, a medium-sized melomakarono cookie can go from 150 to 200 calories, depending on various factors concerning the ingredients, including the amount of nuts and type of nuts sprinkled on top.

If compared to the other popular Greek Christmas sweet, kourabiedes, they tend to be more healthier because they do not contain butter nor tons of confectionery sugar sprinkled on top. Besides, since they are prepared with olive oil, honey, and walnuts, melomakarona are certainly a much healthier choice. 

Melomakarona with Chocolate… The Ultimate Greek Sin!

Everything tastes better in dark chocolate!

These magnificent Christmas treats can be eaten on their own, and you fell you can never have enough of them… Until you taste the ones dipped in dark chocolate.

Probably the most delicious Christmas treat you will ever come across, μελομακαρονα με σοκολατα (melomakarona me sokolata), are richer, heavier, and you might end up having no more that 3 or 4. But they embody the best and sweetest part of Christmas and an are a treat not to forget!

Melomakarona Recipe… with a Cretan Twist

Melomakarona: Greek Christmas honey cookies

Greek melomakarona

Delicious Greek Christmas Cookies

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 800 gr. flour
  • 20 gr. baking powder
  • 200 ml Extra virgin olive oil
  • 100 ml sunflower oil
  • 150 gr. confectionary sugar
  • 200 ml orange juice
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • 50 ml Cretan raki (you can replace it with Metaxas or another type of cognac)
  • finely chopped walnuts or pistachios
  • SYRUP:
  • 600 ml water
  • 500 gr sugar
  • zest of one orange
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 100 gr honey


    For the Melomakarona:

    1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.
    2. In a bowl, mix the sugar with the oils until the sugar is diluted.
    3. In a separate bowl, add the baking soda to the orange juice and raki, mix and set aside.
    4. Pour the remaining ingredients together in a large bowl and slightly mix.
    5. Add the other two mixtures (the sugar with the oil and the orange juice with baking soda mixtures) slowly into the dry ingredients and knead well. The more you knead, the lighter and fluffier the dough will be, this is something we want!
    6. Shape the dough into the traditional oblong shape of melomakarona, but don’t make them too big because they will double in size once baked.
    7. For the same reason, make sure you leave enough space between them when you place them in the baking tray.
    8. Bake them for 20-25 minutes or until they turn a light brown.
    9. Remove from oven and let them cool well.
    10. When they have cooled well, prepare the syrup.

    For the Syrup:

    1. Mix all the ingredients except for the honey together and boil them for 5-6 minutes.
    2. Remove from flame and mix in honey.
    3. Slowly dip each cooled melomakarono, one by one, into the syrup and place in a platter.
    4. Add the remaining syrup on top and sprinkle with the chopped walnuts or pistachios.

Do you prefer Melomakarona or Kourabiedes? Let me know!

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