Greek Christmas Cookies (Kourabiedes)

These Greek Christmas Cookies, called Kourabiedes are buttery beyond words! This shortbread is kissed with orange blossom water and covered in a flurry of powdered sugar.

Greek Christmas Cookies Kourabiedes

Now is the time when I’m making my cookie list, and checking it twice! I have a whole roster of recipes that I’m ready to dive into, and these are right near the top! Greek Christmas Cookies, or Kourabiedes are made from short dough, usually studded with almonds and flavored with orange blossom water or rose water. I love their wintry air, and I can just imagine how beautiful they’ll look tied up in a cellophane bag for gifting.

Greek Christmas Cookies Kourabiedes

If you reside in the US as I do, you can find orange blossom water in the international section at the grocery store with the Middle Eastern foods, and at most international markets. It’s such a beautiful ingredient in this recipe. 

The water is misted on the baked cookies with a kitchen-dedicated spray bottle, and then covered in powdered sugar. At first the scent is floral, but after a couple of hours the fragrance develops into a citrusy note. If you find yourself without a spray bottle – no worries! Just lightly brush the orange blossom water on the cookies using a pastry brush.

After the cookies are misted, they get a generous flurry of powdered sugar on top. Too much sugar is just enough here, so don’t be shy!

Greek Christmas Cookies Kourabiedes

A brief history.

This cookie has quite a long history (read more here) with lots of different versions (and name variations) originating from Greece, Turkey, the Balkans, Caucasus, and the Middle East. Most ottoman cuisines have their own variation, but all can agree that it’s a nutty shortbread. Serving these cookies is like having serving up a bit of history, as well!

Greek Christmas Cookies Kourabiedes

These are so deliciously dense, crumbly, buttery, nutty – pretty much everything you could ever want from a shortbread cookie! 

Related recipe: Lemongrass Snowball Cookies

Greek Christmas Cookies (Kourabiedes)

Heather Baird
Kourabiedes are Greek almond cookies that are buttery beyond words! This shortbread is kissed with orange blossom water and covered in a flurry of powdered sugar.
I originally used sliced almonds in this recipe, which was all I had on hand and hey worked well. However, chopped almonds are more traditional
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Greek
Servings 5 dozen

Ingredients
 
 

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped almonds, toasted or sliced almonds
  • 5 cups all purpose flour 540-600g all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Orange blossom water
  • 8 cups confectioners’ sugar

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line at least two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
  • Combine butter and 1 cup confectioner’s sugar in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat at medium speed until very light and fluffy. With the mixer still running, add egg yolk, liqueur, and vanilla; beat until well incorporated. Add the almonds and mix again.
  • Sift together flour and baking powder in a separate large bowl. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until a thick, un-sticky dough forms (you may not have to use all of the flour). Scrape down sides of bowl so that ingredients are well combined.
  • Scoop the dough using a cookie scoop (4 teaspoon capacity) or by the slightly heaping tablespoon. Place 2 inches apart on the lined baking sheets. Bake the cookies for 20-25 minutes until light golden on the edges. Cool slightly on the baking sheets.
  • Load a small kitchen-dedicated spray bottle with orange blossom water and spray the cookies with 2 spritzes of orange blossom water while they are still warm. If you don’t have a spray bottle, pour 1/4 cup of orange blossom water in a bowl; dip a pastry brush into the water and brush lightly over cookies.
  • Spread 3-4 cups of confectioner’s sugar evenly in the bottom of a deep baking pan or casserole dish. Carefully place each cookie in sugar lined pan, and use a sieve to evenly cover cookies with remaining powdered sugar. Let cool completely in the pan, and transfer to a serving dish.
  • Cookies will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Notes

Orange blossom water gives these a beautiful scent. It will smell perfume-y at first, then settle into a citrusy orange scent. If you don’t have orange blossom water on hand, a drop of orange oil in the batter would work, or add 1 teaspoon of orange zest to the batter.
While there’s no exact substitute that replicates the nuances that orange blossom water holds, orange oil and orange zest are both widely accepted as substitutions. 
Keyword animal cookies, easy christmas cookies, Greek Christmas cookies
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