Making these sweet little Greek honey cookies always makes me realize that it’s Christmas time! Melomakarona are one of the most popular treats throughout Greece during the Christmas Holidays and their intense homely smell makes every house smell like Christmas.
These sweet little Greek honey cookies (melomakarona) are super quick to bake, so much fun to make and highly addictive! My traditional Greek melomakarona recipe makes 50 of these delicious festive Greek Christmas cookies, plenty for everyone to try.
Serve them over a hot cup of Greek coffee and you will have a match made in heaven!
Melomakarona recipe – A delicious Greek Christmas tradition
As with most holidays in Greece, Greek Christmas also revolves around food! This means that these are these festive days of the year to make all these traditional Greek recipes, like kourabiedes, vasilopita, diples, Christopsomo and of course these amazing sweet little honey cookies, the traditional Greek melomakarona!
Melomakarona are my absolute favourite Greek Christmas cookies. And how couldn’t they be? These cookies are incredibly soft, moist, flavorsome and soaked in a delicious honey syrup. Once baked, the intense aromas of the sweet spices permeates the house and brings back childhood memories.
Tip: For a more traditional touch, garnish the melomakarona cookies with roughly chopped walnuts and just a pinch of cinnamon and clove.
What does “melomakarono” mean?
Melomakarona (μελομακάρονα) are traditional Greek Christmas cookies, that are served during Christmas time throughout Greece. The word “melomakarona” is a combination of the two words “meli”, which means honey and “makarona”. “Makarona” comes from the ancient word “makaria” and means blessed.
In some regions “melomakarona” are also called “finikia”. The traditional recipe for melomakarona and finikia is pretty much the same, but some times finikia are deep fried instead of baked.
How to make the best Greek Christmas honey cookies / Melomakarona?
This melomakarona recipe was first published on November 2013, but I decided to update it, so that you can see all the preparation photos and find out all the little secrets to guaranty the perfect result. Making traditional Greek Melomakarona is not really difficult, but you have to pay attention to the little details.
First of all, it is really important not to overwork the dough for the melomakarona, because this will cause the oil to separate from the mixture. Just knead lightly with your hands or a spoon until the flour has incorporated and the dough is really soft.
Try to make and bake your melomakarona on the same day. If you don’t and end up storing it in the fridge the oil will separate from the mixture and they won’t taste as good. So set aside about 1 hour, get your melomakarona ingredients ready and let’s bake!
Finally be careful not to add any more flour than this melomakarona recipe calls for, as this will make the cookies tough. If the dough is too sticky let it rest for a few minutes and try handling it then. If they are still too sticky then add a little bit of extra flour. Take a look at my picture below, which shows how the dough texture should be.
It is also important to use a combination of ultra fine semolina and flour as this will make your melomakarona crispier and crumblier. Yum!
To syrup the melomakarona your syrup must be cold and the melomakarona hot. This will help the cookies to absorb the syrup and become moist on the inside. So, start by making the syrup first and then the dough.
Tip: If you are in a hurry you can place the syrup in the refrigerator to cool down, while preparing the dough for the melomakarona. Also try baking them in batches so when one cooks the other can soak up the honey.
So go ahead, try out this traditional Greek melomakarona recipe and let the smell of freshly baked cookies, orange and cinnamon remind you it’s Christmas! Enjoy!
A traditional melomakarona recipe! These Greek Christmas honey cookies (melomakarona) are super quick to bake, so much fun to make and highly addictive!
For the melomakarona
- 150g fine semolina (5.3 ounces, half a cup)
- 550g flour (soft) (19.5 ounces, 4 1/3 cups)
- 1/2 tbsp baking powder
- 100g orange juice (3.5 ounces, 1/3 cups)
- 3 tbsps cognac
- 100g sugar (3.5 ounces, 1/3 cups)
- 1 flat tbsp powdered cinnamon
- 1/3 tsp nutmeg (powder)
- 1/3 tsp clove (powder)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tbsp baking soda
- 90g water (3.2 ounces, 1/3 cups)
- 125g olive oil (4.4 ounces, 1/2 cups)
- 125g vegetable/sunflower oil (4.4 ounces, 1/2 cups)
- 50g honey (1.8 ounces, 3 tbsp)
- zest of 2 oranges
For the syrup
- 300g water (10 ounces, 1 1/4 cups)
- 600g sugar (20 ounces, 2 3/4 cups)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 orange, cut in half
- 200g honey (7 ounces, 10 tbsp)
- 200g chopped walnuts (7 ounces, 1 2/3 cups)
- powdered cinnamon (optional)
- powdered clove (optional)
- To prepare this melomakarona recipe start by making the syrup first. In a pot add all the ingredients for the syrup, besides the honey and bring to the boil. Boil for 3-4 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and remove from the stove. Stir in the honey and set aside to cool completely.
- Prepare the dough for the melomakarona. In a bowl add the semolina, flour and baking powder and mix with a whisk to combine.
- In another large bowl add the orange juice, the cognac, the sugar and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, vanilla) and mix. Add the baking soda and whisk immediately for 5-10 seconds until the ingredients combine and the baking soda dissolves and starts to foam. Pour in the bowl the water, the oil, the orange zest and honey and whisk to combine.
- Now it’s time to combine the two mixtures. Add the mixed flour, semolina and baking powder (from step 2) in the bowl with the rest of the ingredients from step 3 and start kneading the dough for the melomakarona. Knead the dough for the melomakarona using your hands, until the ingredients combine and the dough is smooth and soft and slightly sticky. Be careful not to overwork the dough as they will become tough.
- Preheat the oven at 180C / 356F. Layer the bottom of 4 large baking trays with parchment paper and start shaping the melomakarona. Pinch a portion of dough about the size of a walnut – 30g / 1oz and shape with your palms into a smooth oblong shape, like a small egg. Place on the baking tray, push lightly the top with a fork and pierce three times on top about half way through the dough. Continue with the rest of the dough.
- Depending on how large on oven you have when your first two trays are ready you can start baking them. Place the baking trays with the melomakarona in the oven and bake for approx. 15-20 minutes, until the melomakarona are lightly and evenly browned and cooked through. If you’ve made them bigger, you’ll need to bump up the cooking time!!
- When the melomakarona come out of the oven, dip them immediately in the cold syrup, flipping them with a slotted spoon to absorb the syrup for approx. 10-20 seconds, depending on how syrupy you like them. Remove the cookies using a slotted spoon, place on a platter and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
- While you are dipping your first couple of tray in the syrup add the next two in the oven to bake. Don’t forget to set your timer!!
- Store the melomakarona at room temperature in an airtight container. They will keep for all your Christmas Holidays!
- Serving Size: 1 piece
- Calories: 195kcal
- Sugar: 20.4g
- Sodium: 39.4mg
- Fat: 7.6g
- Saturated Fat: 2.6g
- Unsaturated Fat: 4.5g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 31.2g
- Fiber: 0.9g
- Protein: 2.1g
- Cholesterol: 0m
Keywords: Melomakarona, Greek Christmas cookies, Greek honey cookies, Finikia