Kourabiedes are traditional Greek buttery snowball cookies that are very popular during Christmas but also on other special occasions like weddings and christenings. They have a unique aroma and flavor coming from the rose water and they are crunchy and nutty from the almonds. Compared to other butter cookies, they are light and melt in your mouth on each bite, so if they come out too hard then something has gone wrong with the dough!
This recipe for kourabiedes comes from my late grandma. She had mastered the art of baking kourabiedes and I’m sharing here with you her top tips and secrets. The two secret ingredients for perfect-every-time cookies are to use a combination of butter & oil and to add a little bit of alcohol to the mixture. These two things will make your kourabiedes always come nice and crumbly and not too hard.
Why you should try my recipe
- Easy to follow step-by-step instructions on how to make the best Kourabiedes.
- They are very crumbly and melt in your mouth.
- Crunchy from the almonds that you taste in each bite.
- Ready in less than an hour.
- A whole batch that can last for a few weeks if you can resist.
Ingredients & How to
To make these Greek butter cookies, you will need some basic baking ingredients like flour, powdered sugar, butter, baking powder, eggs, vanilla extract, oil and then some extra ingredients that are specific to kourabiedes like rose water, blanched almonds and some cognac or brandy.
1. Preparing the dough
01. I always start with toasting the almonds when making greek butter cookies. The reason is that the almonds need to cool down completely before adding them to the buttery mixture. Otherwise, the warm almonds will melt the butter that we’ve worked hard to make fluffy. I add the almonds to a pan and toast them for 3-4 minutes over medium heat until they get a nice color. Be careful not to burn them! Keep stirring with a wooden spoon the whole time, as they are very sensitive and can burn quite easily.
02. When they are ready to handle, I cut them into big chunks. I take each almond and cut it into 2-3 smaller pieces as it’s nice to have that crunch in each bite. You could also use flaked almonds if you are going to share the greek butter cookies with children or older people. If you do choose to use flaked almonds, you will need less time to toast them as they are much thinner and more sensitive to heat.
03. Now, it’s time to start preparing the dough for the kourabiedes. I add the butter and icing sugar to a big bowl and start mixing with a hand blender or a stand mixer. Make sure you remember to get the butter out of the fridge a couple of hours before starting, as it needs to be at room temperature. I mix the butter and sugar for a few minutes until the butter gets white and it’s light and fluffy.
04. When the butter mixture is ready, it’s time to add the wet ingredients to the bowl. I start by adding two egg yolks and mixing them just for a minute with the hand mixer. We are done with the mixer now and we will be using a spatula or wooden spoon from now as we want to keep that light fluffy butter intact.
Then, I add the vanilla extract, rose water, vegetable oil and a little bit of cognac, brandy or ouzo. The alcohol helps to get a nice crispy cookie, and the rose water and vanilla give it a nice aroma. The combination of butter and vegetable oil in the recipe for kourabiedes, is one of my late grandma’s secrets. This way, the cookie will have that buttery taste, but it won’t be too hard to bite, which is something that can go wrong quite often with kourabiedes.
05. The next step is to add the dry ingredients to the mixture. I add the flour and baking powder to the bowl and with the spatula, I start mixing everything gently. Try not to overmix it as the butter might start losing its air and fluffiness and that will make the cookies end up too hard.
06. When the dough is ready, it’s time to add the chopped almonds in. Remember that the almonds need to be cool enough so we don’t melt the butter. Then again, I gently blend the almonds in using my spatula or a wooden spoon.
2. Shaping the snowball cookies
01. So now it’s time to start shaping the cookies. The dough for kourabiedes is one of those that you shouldn’t leave to rest, especially if it’s too hot, as the butter will start melting and it’s going to make the cookies too hard. I take a small piece of dough, around 30-35grams or 1-1.2oz. I gently shape the dough into a round shape using my palms without overworking it or pressing it too hard.
02. Then, I place it on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Because we’ve added some baking powder in our dough, the cookies will get slightly bigger and rise. For this reason, I’m pressing the center of each cookie with my finger lightly to form a small indent, so when they rise they will have almost a flat top. That will also help for the powdered sugar to sit nicely in the end.
03. The recipe makes enough cookies to fill in a couple of trays at least, depending on the size. Leave some space between the cookies, around a finger size as they will get slightly bigger and we don’t want to stick to each other. Make sure your oven is preheated and bake them for no more than 25 minutes as they will get too dry and crumble when you try to eat them. We want to have a very light golden color when they come out of the oven.
04. Leave the kourabiedes to cool down for 5-10 minutes when you take them out of the oven. When they are cool enough to hold, I spray them with some rose water that gives the greek butter cookies their characteristic flavor and aroma.
05. For the final step, we need to cover these delicious butter cookies with some powdered sugar. I add around a cup and a half of powdered sugar to a bowl and then dip each cookie in and gently cover all sides with sugar. I add each snowball cookie to a serving plate, making a small pyramid and then I usually dust with some more powdered sugar! Yes, you read right!
Tips & Secrets for perfect Kourabiedes
- Use a combination of oil and butter to get that perfectly crumbly and not hard cookie.
- Make sure the butter is beaten well with the sugar and it’s light and fluffy.
- Toast the almonds (careful not to burn them) and cut them into big chunks to get that nutty, crunchy texture.
- Don’t forget to add a teaspoon of rose water in the mixture and spray the cookies after they are baked to get that extra unique aroma.
- Add a little bit of alcohol in the dough, cognac, brandy or ouzo are some recommended ones.
- Do not overmix the ingredients as the dough will get tough and the cookies will end up being hard to bite.
- Bake until they have a light golden color, no more than 25 minutes or less depending on the size of the cookies.
- Press the center of each buttery cookie with your finger before baking to prevent breaking and to get a flat surface for the powdered sugar to sit nicely.
Melt in your mouth kourabiedes cookies are served in some parts of Greece, at weddings and christenings and are one of the most popular Greek desserts during Christmas. In some parts of Greece, like in peloponnese, they used to make them all year round as it’s a type of cookie that can last for a few weeks and you always have a treat for visitors and friends.
You can store the Greek butter cookies at room temperature for up to 4 weeks. If you make a big batch you could store them in an airtight container without the powdered sugar and then just prepare a few on-demand. With the powdered sugar on them, I wouldn’t recommend storing them in an airtight container as the sugar might start melting. Instead, you could store them in a tin or cover them with some foil.
When do you eat kourabiedes? In Greece, we make kourabiedes for Christmas or on other special occasions like weddings and christenings. In some parts of Greece, you will find that kourabiedes is a dessert made all year round.
Why are my kourabiedes too hard? Kourabiedes can turn out hard if the butter is not mixed enough at the start to become light and fluffy or if you overwork the dough with your hands that can cause the fluffy butter to melt and become more stiff.
What type of almonds can I use for kourabiedes? We usually make the kourabiedes with blanched whole almonds that are either toasted or baked for a few minutes. You could also use flaked almonds instead of whole, just make sure you cook them for less time as it’s easier to get them burnt.
Other Recipes to Try
If you liked my recipe for Kourabiedes, check out these recipes too
Watch the Video
Greek Butter Cookies - KourabiedesThis recipe for kourabiedes, the Greek butter cookies, is what you need for this Christmas. Melt in the mouth buttery cookies, crunchy from the almonds and with an amazing aroma from the rose water. They are very easy to make and can last for a few weeks at room temperature if you can resist eating them all in the first week. Enjoy!
- 2 sticks / 225gr butter at room temperature
- 1 cup / 250ml vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup / 70gr powdered sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon of rose water
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/8 cup cognac or brandy
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 4 cups / 600gr plain flour
- 1 cup blanched almonds
- 1 1/2 cups / 200gr powdered sugar
- Add the almonds to a non-stick pan and toast them for 3-4 minutes. While toasting, keep stirring with a wooden spoon to prevent them from burning. When they cool down, chop them into big chunks by cutting each almond into 2-3 pieces and set them aside.
- Add the butter and powdered sugar to a bowl. Mix well for 5 minutes using a hand or stand mixer until the butter is light and fluffy.
- Add the two egg yolks and using the mixer combine them with the butter.
- Add the rest of the wet ingredients, the oil, rose water, vanilla extract, alcohol to the bowl. Do not mix them this time.
- Add the flour and baking powder. Start mixing gently with a wooden spoon or spatula. Do not overmix as the butter will lose its air.
- Add the chopped almonds and mix well until all incorporated.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Prepare a baking tray by lining some parchment paper to the bottom.
- Take a small piece of dough, around 30-35gr or 1-1.2oz and using your palms, form it into a round shape without pressing it too hard. Place it on the lined tray and press the center of the cookie with your finger to form a small indent.
- Bake them for 20-25 minutes at 180°C/350°F until they have a light golden color.
- When they come out of the oven, allow them to cool down completely. Then spray them with some rose water.
- Add the powdered sugar to a bowl. Dip in each cookie and cover all sides. Place the cookies on a serving plate and dust with some more powdered sugar.
- This recipe yields around 35-40 cookies, depending on the size. Try to shape them the same size to cook uniformly. - Leave some space between them on the baking tray as they will get bigger and don't forget to press the center of each cookie with your finger. - You could use whole blanched almonds or flaked. With flaked almonds, you will need less time to toast them, as they are thinner and more prone to burning.
Kourabiedes can last at room temperature for up to four weeks.
Nutrition Info (per serving)
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.