There’s something special about Koulourakia cookies (pronounced koo-loo-RAH-kee-ah). They’re simple and not too sweet, and they have just the right amount of spice that makes them perfectly delicious on their own or dipped in coffee. Or tea. Or crumbled into vanilla ice cream if you’ve got a sweet tooth like me.
But even more than I love the taste of Koulourakia cookies, I love the shapes. Each one has its own quirky personality. The imperfections are what make them so special. My Yiayia and I would even give them names just for fun when making them. A big one would be Zeus, and a small & sweet cookie would be Moro (baby in Greek).
However, it should be noted, making Koulourakia cookies isn’t a quick-in-a-pinch experience! It takes time to make the dough, wait for them to firm up, and then make each little spiral creation – all before waiting for them to bake and cool. Plus, it’s quite messy! But that’s part of the fun. I’ve had some of my favorite memories with family making Koulourakia… and now even when I make them alone, I put on Melisses and turn my kitchen into a dance floor. Why not, right?!
One more thing: If you’re wondering why Koulourakia cookies are known as Easter Cookies, it’s because they’re often prepared on Holy Tuesday of Easter week to later be eaten on Holy Saturday/ Easter Sunday when the fast is broken. But they’re also popular treats to whip up during Christmastime. That said, I like making them any day of any month, just because. And if you’re in Greece, you won’t likely have any trouble finding them at cafes year round.
Please note: I am not a professional chef or baker by any means! This is simply my Yiayia’s recipe that I love and hope you enjoy, too.
- 3 1/2 cups (unsifted) all-purpose white flour – unbleached is fine — plus a little to put flour on your board when you roll the cookies
- 2 sticks of butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon & 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1 teaspoon of anise flavorings [Note: I usually use ouzo. But I’ve also skipped this flavoring altogether and added a bit extra vanilla. It gives them slightly less licorice-y flavor – but it’s not a dealbreaker in my opinion.]
- Sesame seeds to sprinkle on top
- Egg Wash (1 egg beaten with a splash of water, which makes it easier for the sesame seeds to stick)
- Set your oven to 325 degrees
- Melt the butter and let it cool slightly.
- Beat the eggs well in a large bowl. Add sugar gradually while continuing to beat. Then, add the butter gradually. Finally, add the flavorings to the batter and mix. (No fancy mixer needed, just a wooden spoon!)
- In another bowl, mix the flour, spices and baking powder.
- Combine your bowl of dry ingredients to the wet ingredients (sugar & egg + flavorings) and mix well.
- Chill until firm enough to roll. Break off small pieces (walnut-size to small tangerine, depending on how big you want them). With your hands, roll it on a floured pastry board to a thickness of about half an inch. Form into braided twists and/or rings – or get creative with whatever shape is speaking to you!
- OPTIONAL: Brush the cookies with the “Egg Wash” and sprinkle the sesame seeds on tops
- Space two inches apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes — or until lightly browned on the bottom.
- Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!
*In our family, we call them coulouria (a c instead of a k) because we tend to make them on the smaller side than what you’ll typically see at Greek cafes. We prefer them smaller and a bit crispier, but it’s just a personal preference!
Notes on Freezing and Storing Koulourakia:
This recipe makes A LOT of cookies. What I like to do is either cut the recipe in half — or use half the dough and then freeze the other half for baking at a later date. For best flavor, roll the dough into a big ball and tightly wrap it with a plastic wrap, beeswax wrap, etc. Then, transfer it to a zip bag (I use Stasher bags). Be mindful to cover as much of the surface as possible to prevent freezer burn.
And just like most cookies, it’s best to store them after you bake them in an airtight container to keep them fresh. (Full disclosure: I’ve been known to dunk them in my morning coffee two to three weeks after making them.)
Καλή όρεξη! (Enjoy your meal or Bon Appetit!)
4 thoughts on “Cinnamon Spice Koulourakia “Greek Easter Cookies” Recipe”
I just made these : ) so good!
Yum, I’m eating one right now as I write this 🙂 so glad you enjoyed them!