Easiest Homemade Kourabiedes recipe (Christmas Greek Butter Cookies)

Kourabiedes recipe - Kourambiethes (Christmas Greek butter cookies)

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:

  1. Pay attention to the ingredients used
  2. Shape them the right way to prevent them from flattening when baking
  3. 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.

Kourabiedes - Christmas Powdered Sugar Cookies recipe preparation

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!

Kourabiedes variations

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.

Chocolate covered Melomakarona (Greek Christmas honey cookies with chocolate)

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 recipe - Kourambiethes (Christmas Greek butter cookies)

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!

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Kourabiedes recipe - Kourambiethes (Christmas Greek butter cookies)

Easiest Homemade Kourabiedes recipe (Christmas Greek Butter Cookies)

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  • Author: Eli K. Giannopoulos
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 25 pieces 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Greek

Description

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!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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


Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. In a blender, add the raw almonds (50g/ 1.8 ounces) or the pistachios and blend, until powdered. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Preheat the oven to 170C / 340F. Layer the bottom of 2 baking trays with parchment paper and form the kourabiedes.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Leave the kourabiedes aside to cool down for a while. If you try to lift them, while still warm, they will break!
  9. Spray the kourabiedes with rosewater and sift with icing sugar. Enjoy!


Nutrition

  • 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

Kourabiedes recipe / Kourambiethes Preparation Gallery:


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58 Comments

  1. Rena Hemmert

    On the list of ingredients, it mentions 9 ounces of cows milk, but nowhere in the recipe does it state to add any milk. Can you please let me know if I missed something. Thank you!!! Rena

  2. Bear in mind if you use a mixer to mix ingredients, you run the risk of the kourabiedes becoming too hard (biscuity) as the gluten develops. Best way is to mix by hand as if you were making crumble and chill in between.

  3. hi! My cookies came out a little too large and a little flat. Any idea what I did wrong? Thanks

    • Hi Eleni,

      Probably used too much dough in each cookie and it spread out from the weight. Also the results depend on the flour used (too soft a flour might make them go a little flat)- try to cool the cookies in the fridge for a few minutes before cooking next time and they will hold shape a bit better…

    • Eleni, you probably used too much butter vs flour. Did you chill the dough before baking?

  4. Sandra Miceli

    My Greek neighbour makes these and I amuck she loves to share. It’s time to go say hello again, she must have a fresh batch by now. Her house always smells amazing from baking. I will be trying this recipe myself. Thank you for sharing.

  5. 18-20 minutes? I did turn it down to 180 degrees straight away but half the batch was burned after thirteen minutes.

  6. olivia stamoulis

    Does all purpose flour mean, plain or self raising flour

  7. Please convert the Celcius temperatures to Farenheight for American ovens.

  8. These sound perfect for our Mamma Mia/Greek party in December! How many biscuits should this recipe make so that I can increase the amounts for our 60 guests? Thanks!

    • Ive just made these, using I tablespoon of mixture to make the balls I have 14 ! You could make them smaller as they are like cookie size rather than bites. Cut the time in the oven though !

  9. Fariya Kazi

    Hello, is there any substitute for all purpose flour for people on gluten free diet? If so, will that change the taste?

    • You can use corn flour but any other flour would alter the taste. Be warned that using corn flour will make them very fragile. I recommend using finely ground almonds and corn flour to achieve best consistency. Let us know how it goes!

      • Yeah Im not sure how nice it will be with Corn flour. Its harder in texture, will be more crumbly I would think. If you do try it, let me know how it goes!

  10. Can I use pecans instead of almonds?

  11. I was just about to make these but I don’t have almonds. Do u think I can make them with pecan? My friend use to make these and added ammonia. Do u know how much I would use. Thank u in advance .
    Merry Xmas and a healthy happy New Year. Nina

  12. Nut allergies in this family, too. Grandma made them with sesame seeds.

  13. Giasas
    I love these cookies. Thanks for this recipe as well as for all the other spot on recipes!!!! Great site.
    The thing is the kourabiethes from our local bakery here (in Greece, where I just spent xmas and new years again) are good, but not good enough… Too much oil instead of butter and no rosewater, etc… close but no banana…

    …so I decided to go for a mission and try better myself this year with the help of your website. I went looking for the best almonds around (not the supermarkt ones), got local handmade butter (which really is the 2nd most important if not the most important ingredient) and rosewater… Bingo! I totally burnt the first load of course but after that I was full on target (I like em a bit crispier anyway)…

    Only tiny adjustments to your recipe were mendatory… Sorry! Real vanilla! And a dash of Metaxa (Brandy)!!

    Here in Greece there are numerous recipes of course. Some ask for goat milk or an egg even. In the old days before baking powder I was told soured milk (the mentioned goats milk) and alcohol were doing the raising job! This I find highly interessting and I may try variations without baking powder next time though I am very happy with the result this time. Thanks again (I am not up for any other nuts than almonds for this particular cookie though – but I dont have an allergy either…).

    Oh, and put 2 good pinches of salt! It just doubles the flavours, adds a whole new dimension and really lifts it to perfection.

    Cheers, and
    HAPPY NEW YEAR! ευτυχισμένο νέο έτος,

    • Maria-Olga

      Spot on, Tony! Salt does enhance the flavour and buttermilk will create a fluffier kourabie. There is no need for baking powder and brandy does give it a lovely flavour (brandy in dough, rosewater after they bake). Only one observation on your comments: kourabiedes cannot be crispy. Even if you overbake them, they will naturally soak up humidity from the air and turn soft. If you eat crispy kourabiedes, you are not eating kourabiedes but biscuits. The joy of kourabiedes is for them to melt in your mouth 🙂 Xronia polla.

  14. These turned out great! I put the dough in the fridge for a couple of hours to avoid spreading. But otherwise followed all directions and they came out perfect. And for those who do not know conversions, please remember you are on the internet. All you have to do is google Celsius to Fahrenheit to get the conversion.

  15. these are the best, thanks for the recipe!

  16. Hi there’s no eggs in this recipe?

    • Hi Walt

      Indeed there are none! I’ve made this the other day and it turned out amazing. Very much like a shortbread!

  17. Do you have a nut free version of the cookies?

  18. Please send me the other recipes for all the Greek cookies, I am having a hard time finding all of the different Rose waters and etc. thank you

  19. Maria-Olga Mimikopoulou

    You can buy rosewater at supermarkets in the international foods aisle, usually in Asian section or from Amazon. You can also use flower water or cactus water.

  20. Hi just wondering if this recipe can be doubled?

    We ate all of it in a day oops

    • Eli K. Giannopoulos

      Easily 🙂

    • You can totally double the recipe, in fact just hit 2x under the ingredients. Once the dough is made, divide it in half and put the one portion in the fridge while you make & bake the first batch, that way the dough doesn’t warm up. I make double batches by default and they come out great.

  21. Linda Sosnowski

    Are there any eggs in this recipe? I made it and added one because the dough seemed strange compared to my old recipe. They were tasty.

  22. I’ve now made these cookies numerous times now & they always turn out, they are one of the family favourites.
    Thank you for sharing your fool proof recipe, I’m not the world’s best cook but haven’t had a failure yet. Great recipe!

  23. Page Tasker do not freeze the ready biscuits. You can freeze the dough. The kourabiedes will last a long time in a tin. (Must not be tupperware as you need some air circulation). We used to make them weeks before Christmas (we fast before Christmas).

  24. Hi can you use gluten free plain flour

    • Eli K. Giannopoulos

      Yes you can! It will be more crumbly so you may want to add a tiny bit of xanthan gum to make sure the dough holds together.

  25. I’ve just tried these for the first time at a Greek dinner event tonight in Tokyo. They were delicious but very dry. Now reading this I realize they could have been even better! I’m wondering if you think it’s possible to use almond flour in place of regular flour? (Can add xantham gum to hold it together I think).
    Thank you 🙏🏻

  26. Hilary Drysdale

    Hi the recipe states 1 TBSP of baking powder, is this correct as it seems a lot to me?

    • I came on here to ask the same thing! I made them and they did turn out really well but I think I can taste the baking powder as an aftertaste. Other recipes don’t seem to use nearly so much. I am interested to know if it was a typo b it no one else seems to mind.

      • Eli K. Giannopoulos

        Hey Louisa

        It is indeed one Table spoon. However if you do find the taste strong you can reduce it to 0.75 tbsp but they will rise a bit less in the oven. Also make sure you are using plain flour, not self raising flour as it already has baking powder in it!

        Finally make sure you bake them till they are a pale golden brown colour and make sure they are not too big. When the baking powder cooks it stops tasting like it. So it may be that the cookies needed a little bit longer in the oven.

  27. Can I use cake flour instead of all purpose?

  28. Hi there, just want to make sure about the baking powder( 1Tbs) or 1 tsp

  29. I bought powder almond can I use them

    • Eli K. Giannopoulos

      Yeap, but be aware that the kourabiedes will be a little bit more “solid” as there won’t be any crushed almonds inside to make them flake apart. They should taste great anyway!

  30. Hi – what happened is you add egg yolks?

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