Kourabiedes are delicious, melt-in-your-mouth butter almond cookies and a staple in Greek households during Christmas time.
Everyone’s family has their traditional Christmas cookies that they make year after year. In my house, it’s always kourabiedes, melomakarona, and koulourakia. These traditional cookies are the most popular in Greece and Cyprus during the holidays.
Kourabiedes are butter almond cookies, similar to a shortbread. After they are baked, they are lightly sprayed with blossom water and then dusted with copious amounts of powdered sugar. LOTS of powdered sugar. [pro tip - do NOT wear black while making these cookies. You will be covered in powdered sugar]
Just like any other traditional Greek recipe, every family has their own version. In Greece, many people use goat or sheep butter instead of cow's milk butter. It’s common to spray the cookies with rose or orange blossom water before covering them in confectioner’s sugar. And in some parts of Greece kourabiedes are flavored with mastiha (mastic resin).
This is my family's kourabiedes recipe, and my personal favorite. These cookies are full of roasted almonds and flavored with brandy (we always use Metaxa) and vanilla.
The secret to really good kourabiedes is using a high quality butter and beating it with powdered sugar until it becomes very light and fluffy - like 15-20 minutes worth of beating.
Kourabiedes are usually shaped into crescents or balls, but I sometimes shape mine into stars or hearts. They are baked until light golden and then dusted with powdered sugar while still hot, which creates the perfect coating.
BEST KOURABIEDES RECIPE INGREDIENTS
Let’s go over the ingredients used in this kourabiedes recipe. Using high-quality ingredients is key to producing the best cookies!
- Butter: I always bake with salted butter. It doesn’t contain any flavorings that unsalted butter has. Just two ingredients; cream and salt. You can use unsalted butter if you prefer, you may just need to increase the sea salt by ¼ tsp in the recipe! Make sure that the butter is at room temperature.
- Confectioner’s Sugar: Use your favorite brand of confectioner’s sugar! This is the one that I use in all of my baking.
- Egg Yolk: Make sure that your egg yolk is at room temperature for the best results.
- Brandy: Any brand of brandy works in this recipe. I like to use a high-quality brandy that is not too pricey.
- Vanilla Extract: Always use pure vanilla extract (not imitation) for the best tasting baked treats!
- Slivered Almonds: Slivered almonds are the best for kourabiedes because they have been slices into little sticks. If the almonds are not already roasted, make sure that you dry roast them in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 10-15 minutes, or until light brown and fragrant.
- All-Purpose Flour: I always use unbleached all-purpose flour in my baking. You can also use pastry flour or all-purpose gluten free flour with great results as well!
HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT KOURABIEDES
This recipe for kourabiedes is sooo easy to make! Let’s go through the steps to make sure you end up with the perfect Greek Christmas cookies.
STEP ONE: BEAT THE BUTTER AND CONFECTIONERS SUGAR
The first step in this kourabiedes recipe is to beat the butter and confectioner’s sugar until very light and fluffy. Use a paddle attachment and beat at medium speed for about 15-20 minutes.
STEP TWO: ADD THE EGG YOLK AND FLAVORINGS
Once the butter is very light and fluffy, beat in the egg yolk, brandy, and vanilla extract.
STEP THREE: MIX IN ALMONDS
Add the cooled roasted almonds to the butter mixture and mix until they are evenly incorporated.
STEP FOUR: WHISK FLOUR AND BAKING POWDER
In a separate bowl, whisk 5 cups of flour with the baking powder.
STEP FIVE: ADD FLOUR TO BUTTER MIXTURE
Add the flour, 1 cup at a time into the butter mixture, mixing after each addition. Once the dough is not sticky and workable, you are ready to form the cookies. [NOTE: you may not have to use all of the flour, so feel the dough when you get to 4 cups of flour, and then add ¼ cup at a time until the dough is formed.]
STEP SIX: FORM COOKIES
I like to shape my kourabiedes into balls using a cookie scoop to measure out each cookie. Roll the cookies into balls then gently press on the top to flatten them a little bit. Use your thumb to create a small indent in the center. Alternatively, you can roll out the dough and cut into a crescent shape.
STEP SEVEN: BAKE COOKIES
Bake the cookies for about 20-25 minutes or until bottoms are light golden brown.
STEP EIGHT: SPRAY WITH BLOSSOM WATER AND COVER IN CONFECTIONERS SUGAR
As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, give them a light spray with blossom water. This step is optional. Next, you will have to work fast. Use a sieve to dust confectioner’s sugar onto a platter. Add the cookies, and then dust with more sugar until they are fully coated.
Frequently Asked Questions
To store kourabiedes, keep them covered with plastic wrap or in an airtight container at room temperature. You can also freeze kourabiedes for up to 3 months. Defrost them at room temperature and give them another dusting of confectioner’s sugar before serving.
If stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, kourabiedes can last up to 1 month.
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Kourabiedes - Greek Christmas Cookies
- 2 cups butter room temperature
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp brandy
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup slivered almonds, lightly roasted and cooled
- 4 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- orange blossom water optional
- 2 lbs powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper
- Add butter and 1 cup powdered sugar to bowl of electric mixer. Beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment until very light and fluffy (about 15-20 minutes).
- Add egg yolk, brandy, and vanilla. Beat until well incorporated.
- Add roasted almonds beat until mixed in.
- Sift flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Gradually add flour to butter mixture until a dough forms.
- Roll the dough into 2 tablespoon-size balls, or roll out dough and cut into crescents, stars, or whatever shape you like.
- Place cookies on prepared baking pan and bake 20-25 minutes until light golden, rotating pan half way.
- Use a sieve to evenly spread about half of the powdered sugar in a large deep baking pan. Once cookies are out of the oven, spray with blossom water. Then, carefully place each cookie in powdered sugar lined pan. Cover cookies with remaining powdered sugar.
- Cool completely and transfer to serving platter.
- HOW DO I STORE KOURABIEDES?
- To store kourabiedes, keep them covered with plastic wrap or in an airtight container at room temperature. You can also freeze kourabiedes for up to 3 months. Defrost them at room temperature and give them another dusting of confectioner’s sugar before serving.
- HOW LONG DO KOURABIEDES LAST?
- If stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, kourabiedes can last up to 1 month.