Kourabiedes (Greek Christmas Cookies)

Kourabiedes. This Greek Christmas cookie has a sweet almond flavour with a delicate meltaway texture that I can’t get enough of. You’ll LOVE this easy, one-bowl recipe.

A batch of Kourabiedes or Greek Christmas Cookies on a surface with one cookie broken.
  • These are just the most delicious, buttery cookies. They melt away with a delicious, almond flavor.
  • I turned this traditional Greek classic Christmas cookie into a crazy-easy, one-bowl recipe.
  • The dough is totally no-fuss. No chilling, holds its shape in the oven, doesn’t spread, and isn’t sticky.
  • Freezer friendly, these can be made up in advance. You can either freeze the raw dough balls or the baked cookies.

Kourabiedes Greek Christmas Cookie Ingredients

Here are some notes on a couple of the standout ingredients:

  • Butter. Your butter should be a bit softer than you’d have it for other types of regular cookies because you will stir it directly into the dry ingredients rather than beating it with sugar (this is called “reverse creaming”. Coating the flour with fat makes the most tender cookie ever (because minimal gluten is formed).
  • Almond slices. Toasting blanched almond slices and finely chopping them yourself is much better than using almond meal or almond flour which dry out and lose flavor as they sit on the shelf.
  • Almond extract. This is gives these cookies even more of that sweet almond flavor so try not to omit it.
  • Powdered sugar. Using confectioners’ sugar in the dough gives them their meltaway texture. There’s only a little bit in the dough. The majority of the sweetness comes from the dusting at the end.
  • There is no egg in this recipe (in case you were going to ask if I left something out!).
Adding butter to the flour mixture.

How to Make Them

These are really fun to make. You’re going to start off by toasting sliced almonds and then creating a dough using a super-easy reverse creaming method.

After this, you’re going to shape your little crescent cookies and bake them off. No chilling required. The final step involves dousing them with a fresh dump of powdered sugar. 

Here’s what to do:

  • Toast the sliced almonds for 6-8 minutes in an oven preheated to 350º F. Toast the nuts until they are lovely and golden. Once they have cooled, finely chop them or whizz them up in a blender or food processor.
  • Next, sift together the flour, 1/2 a cup of the confectioner’s sugar, and the salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir them together at a low speed to get them mixed together nicely.
  • Add in the soft butter and almond extract and beat on medium speed until the flour is moistened. Increase the speed and beat until you have bread crumb texture. Add in the almonds and beat to combine. There is no need to beat them for too long.
  • Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and knead the dough until it comes together in a cohesive ball.
  • Scoop the cookie dough into tablespoon-sized balls. Roll each ball in your hands to form a 2 1/2″ log. Fold these into a crescent shape. 
  • Bake the cookies for 10 minutes on parchment-lined baking sheets. Make sure the cookies are spaced out about 1″ apart.
  • Cool the cookies for 5 minutes on the pan. Toss them in the remaining confectioner’s sugar in a shallow bowl. Work carefully with these cookies as they are very short and therefore can break easily. 
  • Transfer the cookies onto a wire rack. Once the cookies have cooled, dust them once more time with sugar. Traditionally, these are laden with powdered sugar, so don’t be shy.
Toasted almonds in a measuring cup.
Stirring Kourabiedes dough with spatula.

Make Ahead Instructions 

If you want to prepare a little ahead of time, here’s what you can do:

  • The almonds can be toasted and chopped up a few days ahead of making the recipes.
  • You can make up the entire cookie dough a day or two in advance. You’ll need to keep the ball or dough wrapped up in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to use it, take it out the fridge and let it come to room temperature.
  • You can also freeze the raw dough balls if you want to prepare a little in advance. 
Holding a ball of kourabiedes dough.

Storage Instructions 

  • You can store your cookies in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Their coating of icing sugar helps to keep them stay fresh.
  • To freeze them, line them up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, after their first dusting of icing sugar.
  • Freezing them first on baking trays, spaced apart, will prevent breakage as these cookies are pretty delicate. 
  • Once frozen solid, transfer them into storage bags or containers. 
  • You can freeze them this way for around 2 months. When you’re ready to serve them, thaw them out and bring them to room temperature. Dust them with their second coating of powdered sugar and they’re ready to party.
  • You can also freeze the portioned-off raw cookie dough balls. I would also freeze these first on a baking sheet, with some space between each one. Once frozen, transfer them into a freezer bag or container.

Variations 

Here are a couple of twists and turns you can take with your Greek shortbread cookies:

  • Substitute the almond extract for either half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, rose water or orange blossom water. Each of the flavors will take you on a different flavor journey. 
  • If you want to give your cookies a citrusy flavor, try adding in the zest of a lemon or orange in when adding the butter mixture. 
  • If you prefer pecans and walnuts to almonds, you can swap these nuts out. 
  • Try adding a little splash of cognac , brandy, or ouzo to the mixture.
  • For a gluten-free version, swap out the all-purpose flour for gluten-free flour at a 1:1 ratio. 
  • For a dairy-free cookie, you can use good quality plant-based butter intended for baking (not the soft, spreadable kind which has too much water).

FAQs

What Does Kourabiedes Mean in English?

The root of the word “kuru” is “dry” and “biye” is “biscuit”. This is according to Turkish etymology.

Who Invented Kourabiedes?

It is believed that these buttery cookies appeared somewhere in the 7th Century in Persia. The exact person who invented them is unknown.

Why Are Kourabiedes Crescent Shaped?

The story goes that during the Ottoman rule, kourabiedes had to be crescent shaped, in honor of the Turkish flag.
Long after Greece regained her independence from Turkey, the shape and cookies remain the same. 
These cookies are found at most special occasions in Greece, from weddings to birthdays and Christenings. They are often handed out to guests as little take-home gifts.

Adding the Kourabiedes to bowl with powdered sugar.
Fully coating the kourabiedes in powdered sugar.

Pro Tips and Tricks

  • Butter should be softer than you’d have it for typical cookie dough.
  • 1 tablespoon cookie dough balls should weigh around 0.66 oz.
  • Fresh almond slices are much better than almond meals or almond flour. Both of these dry out and lose their flavor.
  • The toasting step really delivers incredible flavor.
  • I like to scoop out all the dough by tablespoon then go back and shape them all in one go.
  • Toast almonds in 350ºF  oven for 6-8 minutes until deeply golden brown.
  • With a more powerful stand mixer (vs. handheld) the dough may even come together on its own without kneading it.
  • You can alternatively mix the dough together by hand with a wooden spoon.
  • The dough may feel a bit crumbly, that’s normal. It’s a rich cookie, don’t worry about it seeming dry before baking.
Unbaked kourabiedes on a baking sheet.
Breaking a Greek christmas cookie in half.

Other Cookie Recipes That You Won’t Want to Miss

A batch of Kourabiedes or Greek Christmas Cookies on a surface with one cookie broken.

Kourabiedes (Greek Christmas Cookies)

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Servings 26 cookies
Dessert
Greek
Keyword Kourabiedes

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour 7.5 oz by weight (weight measurement preferred)
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter softened and cut into 2” pieces
  • teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup sliced almonds or ¾ cup ground almonds/almond flour

For Coating

  • 1 ½ cups confectioners' sugar

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. Toast almonds for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown; set aside to cool. Finely chop (or process them in a blender or food processor).
  • Use low speed to stir together flour, ½ cup of the confectioners’ sugar, and the salt in bowl of electric mixer.
  • Add the butter and almond extract. Beat on low speed until the flour is moistened, then increase to medium-low and beat until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add finely-chopped almonds and beat to combine.
  • Remove bowl from the stand mixer and knead the dough together into a cohesive ball. Scoop dough into tablespoon-sized balls. Roll each dough ball between your palms to form a log 2 ½” long then fold it slightly into a crescent shape.
  • Place cookies on parchment lined baking sheets about 1” apart. Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Let the cookies cool 5 minutes on the pan then toss them in remaining confectioners’ sugar in a shallow bowl. Transfer to a wire rack. Once kourabiedes are cooled completely, dust them one more time with more sugar.

Notes

  • The butter should be a bit softer than you’d usually have it for a regular cookie recipe. See this article on softening butter quickly: https://foodess.com/article/how-to-quickly-bring-ingredients-to-room-temperature/
  • 1 tablespoon cookie dough balls should weigh around 0.66 oz if you want to be precise with your cookie sizes.
  • Toasting sliced almonds and chopping them yourself takes the flavor of these cookies to another level. Even though it’s an extra step (vs. using ground almonds), the taste payoff is worth it 100%.
  • These are freezer friendly and can be made in advance. Freeze in a single layer before packing between sheets of parchment paper in an airtight container. Dust with sugar again just before serving.
  • If the dough feels crumbly at first, that’s okay! As the butter melts, the moisture is released and the cookies are melt-in-your-melt soft.
  • It’s normal that the powdered sugar melts away a bit with the first dusting. This creates a sticky surface for the final dusting to cling to. 
  • There is no egg in this recipe, which is why the dough feels a bit crumbly but this is what gives the cookies their heavenly melting texture once baked.

Nutrition

Calories: 94kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 2gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 45mgPotassium: 28mgFiber: 1gSugar: 0.4gVitamin A: 166IUCalcium: 16mgIron: 0.4mg
Keyword Kourabiedes

Last Updated on December 7, 2022 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

5 1 vote
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Amanda
Amanda
6 days ago

5 stars
I’d never heard of these but they sounded so good and I’m so happy I tried them. I will be making them every Christmas.

Barb
Barb
6 days ago

5 stars
. Everyone loved them, great recipe.

Jackie
Jackie
6 days ago

5 stars
These are SO GOOD. Melt in your mouth.

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