Have a snowy Merry Christmas with these festive Kourabiedes! If you haven’t tried Greek kourabiedes also known as kourambiethes (Greek christmas cookies) before, then you are certainly missing out! They are deliciously buttery Greek biscuit with a crunchy bite, a rich almond and butter flavor, and a mesmerizing rosewater smell.
So go ahead, read on to discover how to make this super easy kourabiedes recipe (kourambiethes) to perfection with my tips and tricks, step by step photos, my nutty variations, my tips on how to store and serve them and of course the recipe!
Easiest homemade kourabiedes recipe / Greek Butter cookies
Kourabiedes (kourambiethes) are traditional Greek Christmas almond butter biscuits, packed with the aromas of roasted almonds, fresh butter and rosewater and garnished with luscious layers of icing sugar. They are the ultimate Christmas cookie! Whenever I bake a batch, their incredible aroma spreads through the house and brings back all those wonderful festive memories!
Traditionally, kourambiedes are served during Christmas as part of a Greek Christmas platter, together with melomakarona (Greek Christmas honey cookies), diples (Greek Christmas fried pastry with honey) and of course, during New Years eve, with a slice of delicious Vasilopita (Greek New Years Cake).
In some Greek households you will also find kourabiedes served during Easter as well as during engagement parties and weddings. For Greeks they are the ultimate kerasma (treat)!
How to make the perfect Kourabiedes?
If you have ever tried making your own homemade kourabiedes before, you must know that it takes some time and effort to succeed. Not anymore! This kourabiedes recipe changes everything.
This kourabiedes recipe is so quick and easy because I use a food processor to mix the ingredients. It cuts preparation time in half without compromising on their delicious texture and taste. Don’t have a food processor?
Don’t worry, you can still follow the same recipe but use a hand mixer to blend the ingredients together. The result? Your Greek almond biscuits are ready to bake in less than 15 minutes and ready to eat in less than 45!
Over the years I have tried many Kourabiedes recipes. There are a few tips and tricks to make them to perfection that most recipes won’t tell you. From my experience, these are:
- Pay attention to the ingredients used
- Shape them the right way to prevent them from flattening when baking
- Bake them just enough so they don’t dry out
Sourcing the right ingredients for your Kourabiedes
Good quality Kourabiedes need good quality ingredients. Firstly, make sure you use good quality, unsalted, cows milk butter. Kourabiedes are, in effect, an almond shortbread where butter is one of the most important ingredients and provides the “foundation” flavour.
Secondly, try and source some rosewater as it gives Kourabiedes their unique aroma. But rose water is not always as easy to find. Your best bet would be to scour the international food isle at your local supermarket, a Greek deli or just buy it online.
You can find rose water for cooking on Amazon. If you live in the UK, you can find it here, in the US take a look here, in Canada take a look here and for Australia here. Make sure you get the version for cooking. My personal favourite is Cortas rose water!
How to prevent your Kourabiedes from flattening when baking?
One of the difficulties with making Kourabiedes or any other shortbread type cookie is that they tend to spread when baking. This happens because the butter softens before the flour is baked and they lose their structure. So, what can you do to avoid your kourabiedes looking like pancakes?
Firstly, make sure your butter warms up as little as possible. Use it cold, straight out of the fridge, and handle try to handle it as little as possible. Also make sure your toasted nuts have cooled down completely before adding them to the mix. If they are still hot, they will make the butter in your Greek almond biscuits melt! If you notice that the dough is getting warm and is melting in your hands, pop it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes until it has set.
Secondly, give your kourambiedes the right shape. Portion your Greek Christmas cookies in 30-35 grams / 1-1.2oz pieces. Shape them into a small ball using the palm of your hands and then squash them into a cylinder that is equally tall and wide.
Place your Greek almond biscuits on the baking tray and push the top in with your finger to make a little dimple in the middle. This will allow the inside of your kourabiedes to bake while keeping their round shape.
Finally, make sure you have spaced your kourabiedes apart about a couple of fingers width. They will spread a little, so you don’t want them to stick to each other when baking!
Once you have shaped your first tray of kourabiedes pop them in the fridge for 5-10 minutes so the butter has a chance to set. To cut down preparation time, as you layer one tray pop it in the fridge before starting to layer the next. Also take one batch out to bake while the others are in the fridge cooling down.
Baking your kourabiedes
As your Kourabiedes are a rich buttery biscuit it is very easy to overbake them. Since visually they don’t turn deep golden brown, like your usual biscuits, it can be tricky to know when they are fully baked.
To bake your kourambiedes to perfection, you need to leave them in the oven just enough for them to have a pale, faint golden tint and not more. When you take them out of the oven your kourabiedes will not feel firm as the butter is still hot.
Leave your Greek almond biscuits on the baking tray for a few minutes to cool down, then lift them and place them on a cake rack to fully cool down. Be careful not to handle them when still hot as they will crumble!
There are many variations to the traditional Kourabiedes recipe that you can try. You can play around with what nuts and what butter you use, make Kourabiethes with ouzo or even cover them in chocolate!
Kourabiedes made with pistachios: While traditionally Kourabiedes biscuits use almonds for their nutty flavour, another popular variation is made with pistachios. Kourambiedes pair incredibly well with the zest of an orange and the sprinkled rose water!
Or alternatively skip the rose water and pair the pistachios with the zest of one lemon and a couple of table spoons of cognac! If you want to try pistachios, replace all the almonds in my recipe below with an equal amount of ground pistachios.
Kourabiedes with sheep’s milk butter: Admittedly, it is very rare to find sheep’s milk butter outside Greece, but if you can get your hands on some you won’t regret it! If you like your kourabiedes tasting stronger and fuller simply substitute the cows milk butter in my recipe below with sheep’s butter.
Kourabiedes with chocolate: Another very popular variation to the traditional Kourabiedes recipe is to cover them in chocolate! If you’re a chocolate lover this variation together with my chocolate covered melomakarona is for you!
To make Kourabiedes with chocolate use the same recipe as below, but don’t sprinkle them with the rose water and the powdered sugar. Melt around 400g/14oz of dark chocolate in the microwave, stir in one tablespoon of coconut butter and dip your kourabiedes in the chocolate sauce. Sprinkle with some powdered almonds or pistachios and let them cool on a cake rack.
How to store your kourabiedes
I still remember when my grandmother used to bake kourabiedes for us every Christmas. She used to make a huge batch which, even after our constant nibbling, would stay fresh for the whole of the Christmas holiday.
Her secret? To cover the kourambiedes platter tightly with some cling film and to store the remaining batch in air-tight containers. That way, the kourabiedes will last for 2 to 3 weeks and will be just as fresh and tasty as when they came out of the oven!
Kourabiedes, the perfect Greek Christmas almond biscuit!
So go ahead, give them a try and let me know what you think! If you love ouzo, take a look at my kourabiedes recipe with ouzo. Looking for more Christmas inspiration? Take a look at my delicious Christmas recipes collection featuring my very best Melomakarona, Vasilopita (New Years cake), Diples and Christopsomo (greek christmas bread with walnuts) recipes!Print
If you think that making homemade kourabiedes / kourambiethes (Christmas Greek butter cookies with almonds) takes lots of time and effort, try this super easy recipe!
- 250g butter made from cows milk, cold (9 ounces, 1.1 cups) (Lurpak unsalted)
- 150g almonds, roughly chopped or almond slivers, roasted (6 ounces, 1 1/4 cups)
- 50g almonds (whole) or almond slivers, raw (1.8 ounces, 1/4 cups)
- 75g icing sugar (2.7 ounces, 1/2 cups)
- 1 tbsp rose water
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 400g all-purpose (plain) flour (14.2 ounces, 3 1/5 cups)
- lots of icing sugar for powdering
- Preheat the oven to 200C / 390F. To prepare this kourabiedes (kourambiethes) recipe start by roasting the almonds. Place the roughly chopped almonds (150g/ 6 ounces) or almond silvers on a baking tray and sprinkle with some water. Bake them for 7-8 minutes, until roasted, being careful not to burn them. Set aside or put in the fridge to cool.
- In a blender, add the raw almonds (50g/ 1.8 ounces) or the pistachios and blend, until powdered. Set aside.
- In a food processor, add the cold butter and sugar; mix for about 10 seconds, until the butter ‘breaks’ and is completely dissolved. Add the powdered almonds, a pinch of salt, the rosewater and the vanilla extract; mix for 10-20 seconds, until combined. At the end, add the baking powder and flour and mix again for 10-15 seconds.
- Place the mixture in a large bowl and add the roasted almonds; blend lightly with your hands. For the kourabiedes to remain fluffy, it is important that the butter doesn’t warm up and melt. So wait for a while for the roasted almonds to cool, before adding them to the butter mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 170C / 340F. Layer the bottom of 2 baking trays with parchment paper and form the kourabiedes.
- Roll 1 tbsp (about 30g) of the dough into a ball, place on the baking tray and push with your finger in the middle, to form a little dimple. Continue with the rest of the dough. Place in the fridge for 5 minutes until you prepare your next tray.
- Place the baking trays with the kourabiedes in second and fourth rack of the oven. Bake for approx. 15-20 minutes, until they have a very faint golden tint and are cooked through. Be careful not to overbake them.
- Leave the kourabiedes aside to cool down for a while. If you try to lift them, while still warm, they will break!
- Spray the kourabiedes with rosewater and sift with icing sugar. Enjoy!
- Serving Size: 1 cookie
- Calories: 196kcal
- Sugar: 8g
- Sodium: 95.5mg
- Fat: 12.2g
- Saturated Fat: 5.4g
- Unsaturated Fat: 6.2g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 19.6g
- Fiber: 1.4g
- Protein: 3.1g
- Cholesterol: 21.5mg
Keywords: kourabiedes, kourambiethes, Rosewater cookies, Greek christmas butter cookies, Greek almond cookies