Baking/ Dessert/ Easter/ Recipes/ Snack

Koulourakia – Greek Easter Cookies

23/03/2021 (Last Updated: 30/10/2020)

Greek Easter cookies are light and crumbly with a hint of citrus. Also known as Koulourakia, they’re made from easy baking staples, kid-friendly and so easy to make!

Plate of freshly baked Koulourakia. A spiral cookie has sesame seeds.

Why We Love This

Koulourakia have a deliciously crumbly texture and slightly-sweet flavour. The refreshing citrus burst will have you raiding the cookie jar again and again this Easter!

It’s such a family-friendly recipe and especially good for kids to enjoy a fun afternoon of baking. The dough is super easy to make, and it’s so much fun to make all the different shapes.

You can even make a double batch and freeze the dough OR the baked biscuits for later.

For more Easter baking fun, try this Italian Lemon Ricotta Cake to serve alongside them! Or for the Italian version, check out our Sicilian Cuddura.

Tray of Koulourakia cookie twists.

What are Koulourakia? 

The name koulourakia comes from the Greek word kouloura, meaning a loop or twist, just like the shapes of the biscuits themselves.

Koulourakia are a traditional Greek easter cookie (sometimes baked as Christmas treats too). They’re similar in essence to Italian cuddura biscuits which are also made at Easter.

The dough is made from a simple base of flour, butter, sugar and eggs, but there are lots of traditional variations when it comes to shapes and subtle flavours.

The basic/original Koulourakia recipe calls for a dash of vanilla essence, with some versions including freshly grated lemon or orange zest. For our take on Koulourakia we’ve mixed things up with a sprinkling of one of our favourite spices – sumac – see ingredients section below for more info.

Koulourakia Recipe - The butter based Greek cookies are Easter winners in our household. Their slightly crispy, and cake-like in the center with a lemon and sumac twist. | wandercooks.com

What You’ll Need

All you need is a few everyday baking essentials for the base dough: flour and baking powder, softened butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla essence. We’ll also be using:

  • Lemon zest – Fresh lemon zest is so fragrant, adding a beautiful lemony flavour all on it’s own. You can add as much or as little as you like depending on the strength or subtlety of flavour you’re after. Sub with orange zest, or a couple of tbsp of lemon or orange juice if you need.
  • Sumac – This is a powdered spice made from dried Middle Eastern berries, adding a tart citrus burst while offsetting some of that sweetness in the cookies. It’s usually available in the spice section of your supermarket or you can buy sumac online.
Flat lay of Koulourakia ingredients.

How to Make Greek Easter Cookies:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180˚C / 350˚F. Add the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and combine using a wooden spoon, or use an electric beater on medium high until smooth and creamy. Add the lemon zest, vanilla essence and sumac, stirring until combined.
  2. Crack in the eggs and mix through (or blend on low) until evenly incorporated. Add 1 cup of flour along with the baking powder and stir through. Continue adding the remaining flour a bit at a time until the dough is soft but not too sticky.
  3. Transfer dough onto to a clean surface and knead with your hands for a few minutes until smooth and even. Cover with cling film and rest for 20 mins.
  1. To make your dough shapes, take a small handful of dough and form into a ball with your hands, then roll out into a thin strip around 15 cm long x 1.5 cm wide. Twist into braids, roll up into spirals or ‘S’ shapes, or form them into any shape your heart desires! Watch our video for a step by step guide to rolling each shape.
  2. Transfer cookie shapes on a lined baking tray. Brush with milk and garnish with any of the toppings you want to use (see recipe card below for ideas). Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown, then transfer to a cooling rack.

How to Shape Koulourakia

Once you’ve created your cookie dough, Koulourakia can be made in a variety of different shapes – from the traditional to the more… creative. However, they all start from the same basic method, which is to take a small amount of Koulourakia dough in your hands, form it into a ball,  and roll it into a strip about 15cm long by 1.5cm thick.

It takes a little more work than a simple flat cookie, but it’s also a heck of a lot more fun. Almost like play-doh you can eat. Below are some of the more traditional shapes, but in all honesty we figure they’ll taste good no matter how you shape them. 

  • Traditional Braid – To master this shape, simply take your dough strip and bend it in half, then give it two little twists. You should end up with a cute little braid or “key” shape.
  • Snails – Yep, that’s our silly name for this shape – you could probably call these flat spirals, but ‘snails’ sounds more fun. Simply take a strip of dough, and roll it up until you’ve created a flat spirally snail. (Adding a snail head or tail is, of course, completely optional.) 
  • S’s & O’s – Just like snails, the ‘S’ shape is created by rolling the dough up into a flat spiral, but this time you’ll roll it up from each end towards the centre, in opposite directions. And for the O’s, all you need to do is form a simple circle shape just like a doughnut and you’re done. Easy!
  • Cheat’s Spirals – Make a regular circle cookie shape, then use two different-sized jars to gently press circles on top. Check out our coffee scrolls biscuits to see this in action.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Dough – If the dough becomes too dry to work with, add a little more butter. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour. If you’re still unsure, watch our video above to see the texture you’re looking for.
  • Space – Make sure there’s a gap of at least 2-3 cm / 1 inch space around each cookie when placing them on the baking tray, as they will expand while baking.
  • Dunk in Tea or Coffee – It’s a match made in heaven!
  • Give them as Gifts – Make up a big batch to gift to family and friends.

FAQs

How long do Greek Easter cookies last?

They’ll last a few days when stored in an airtight container, or store them in the fridge to keep them fresher for longer.

Can you freeze the cookies and the dough?

Yes! That’s the magic about this recipe – you can either do a double batch of dough and cook half and freeze the other OR cook the lot and freeze some of the cookies for later.

Tray of Greek Easter cookies in various shapes.

Variations

  • Creative Toppings – Traditionally, Koulourakia cookies are brushed with beaten egg for a crispy golden shine. But if you’re looking to amp things up, you might like to try:
    • Icing Sugar – Try just a light sprinkling or dust liberally for extra sweetness.
    • Sesame Seeds – a hint of savoury deliciousness.
    • Sliced Almonds – Nutty goodness and extra crunch.
    • Sprinkles – Non-traditional but lots of colour and fun, especially for little ones!
    • Extra Golden – Brush egg yolk instead of milk.
  • Drunk Koulourakia – To make the naughty version (also known as koulourakia methismena) add in a shot of ouzo, frangelico or whatever liqueur takes your fancy!

Try these festive baking recipes next:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and star rating below!

Koulourakia cookies on a plate including spiral and twist shapes.

Koulourakia – Greek Easter Cookies

Greek Easter cookies are light and crumbly with a hint of citrus. Also known as Koulourakia, they're made from easy baking staples, kid-friendly and so easy to make!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Resting Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Greek
Servings: 20 cookies
Calories: 166kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $5

Ingredients

Optional Toppings:

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 180˚C / 350˚F. Add the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and combine using a wooden spoon, or use an electric beater on medium high until smooth and creamy. Add the lemon zest, vanilla essence and sumac, stirring until combined.
  • Crack in the eggs and mix through (or blend on low) until evenly incorporated. Add 1 cup of flour along with the baking powder and stir through. Continue adding the remaining flour a bit at a time until the dough is soft but not too sticky.
  • Transfer dough onto to a clean surface and knead with your hands for a few minutes until smooth and even. Cover with cling film and rest for 20 mins.
  • Then, add the eggs to the mixture, mixing through or blending on low until they're evenly incorporated.
  • To make your dough shapes, take a small handful of dough and form into a ball with your hands, then roll out into a thin strip around 15 cm long x 1.5 cm wide. Twist into braids, roll up into spirals or 'S' shapes, or form them into any shape your heart desires! Watch our video for a step by step guide to rolling each shape.
  • Transfer cookies on a lined baking tray. Brush with milk and garnish with any of the toppings you want to use (see recipe card below for ideas). Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Video

Recipe Notes

  • Lemon zest – Fresh lemon zest is so fragrant, adding a beautiful lemony flavour all on it’s own. You can add as much or as little as you like depending on the strength or subtlety of flavour you’re after. Sub with orange zest, or a couple of tbsp of lemon or orange juice if you need.
  • Sumac – This is a powdered spice made from dried Middle Eastern berries, adding a tart citrus burst while offsetting some of that sweetness in the cookies. It’s usually available in the spice section of your supermarket or you can buy sumac online.
  • Dough – If the dough becomes too dry to work with, add a little more butter. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour. If you’re still unsure, watch our video above to see the texture you’re looking for.
  • Space – Make sure there’s a gap of at least 2-3 cm / 1 inch space around each cookie when placing them on the baking tray, as they will expand while baking.
  • Dunk in Tea or Coffee – It’s a match made in heaven!
  • Give them as Gifts – Make up a big batch to gift to family and friends.
  • Creative Toppings – Traditionally, Koulourakia cookies are brushed with beaten egg for a crispy golden shine. But if you’re looking to amp things up, you might like to try:
    • Icing Sugar – Try just a light sprinkling or dust liberally for extra sweetness.
    • Sesame Seeds – a hint of savoury deliciousness.
    • Sliced Almonds – Nutty goodness and extra crunch.
    • Sprinkles – Non-traditional but lots of colour and fun, especially for little ones!
    • Extra Golden – Brush egg yolk instead of milk.
  • Drunk Koulourakia – To make the naughty version (also known as koulourakia methismena) add in a shot of ouzo, frangelico or whatever liqueur takes your fancy!

Nutrition

Calories: 166kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 68mg | Potassium: 53mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 236IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1mg
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
Koulourakia - Greek Easter Cookies

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26 Comments

  • Reply
    Kari Anderson
    26/03/2020 at 4:17 am

    5 stars
    AH! I’m so glad I found this recipe. We were in Greece last year and my husband loved ALL the desserts. These remind me of koulouri as a cookie – not too sweet but just enough to still be a treat!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      26/03/2020 at 9:44 am

      Amazing Kari! Yes, exactly, we love that they’re not too sweet. They’re such a good snack with a cup of coffee or tea. 🙂

  • Reply
    Pam
    25/03/2020 at 12:12 am

    5 stars
    I have never heard of these cookies, but they look like fun to make. I love adding a recipe or two from a different culture to my meals. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      26/03/2020 at 9:43 am

      They are a bunch of fun. I really enjoyed playing around with all of the shapes. 🙂

  • Reply
    Charla @ That Girl Cooks Healthy
    24/03/2020 at 8:15 pm

    These look amazing and thank you for explaining what koulourakia is because I had never heard of it prior to stumbling upon your recipe.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      26/03/2020 at 9:41 am

      You’re welcome – glad you learnt something new Charla!

  • Reply
    Kushigalu
    24/03/2020 at 7:23 pm

    5 stars
    Looks so delicious. Would love to try these for Easter.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      26/03/2020 at 9:39 am

      Hope you do! 🙂

  • Reply
    Dannii
    24/03/2020 at 6:23 pm

    5 stars
    I was just thinking about what to bake this Easter. Definitely putting this on the list.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      26/03/2020 at 9:38 am

      Perfect Dannii, I do love experimenting with new seasonal recipes each year – hope you enjoy making these too!

  • Reply
    cyndy
    24/03/2020 at 3:06 pm

    5 stars
    These are so fun and super easy. A big hit with my family. I love these!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      26/03/2020 at 9:37 am

      Great Cyndy, so happy your family enjoyed them!

  • Reply
    nikki@soulfullymad.ecom
    23/02/2017 at 11:41 am

    5 stars
    These are beautiful! I love how versatile they are! I want to try these for Easter!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      23/02/2017 at 7:33 pm

      Absolutely, you really can mix and match to weave in your own flavour combinations. Hope you enjoy Nikki.

  • Reply
    Platter Talk
    23/02/2017 at 11:34 am

    5 stars
    Nope, I’ve never had sumac but would be willing to try. These cookies are pretty cool. I love all the different shapes that you used!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      23/02/2017 at 7:33 pm

      Oh my gosh we just adore sumac – you need to try! You’ll be surprised how often it comes in handy! 😀

  • Reply
    Ste
    23/02/2017 at 10:23 am

    These would be great for Easter. Love how you can make different shapes!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      23/02/2017 at 7:31 pm

      Absolutely Steph, they make a nice break from all that Easter chocolate. 😛

  • Reply
    Luci's Morsels
    20/02/2017 at 4:31 pm

    5 stars
    These look delicious! I may have to add these to my Easter spread!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      23/02/2017 at 8:29 am

      Yay hope you enjoy them Luci – what shape do you like most?

  • Reply
    Swayam
    20/02/2017 at 3:45 pm

    These look so so good! I can’t wait to make these

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      23/02/2017 at 8:30 am

      Hope you enjoy them Swayam, would love to hear how you go. Which flavour do you think you’ll try – orange or lemon zest, or sumac? 🙂

  • Reply
    linda spiker
    20/02/2017 at 3:05 pm

    5 stars
    Well those are fun and beautiful! Fun for a family night activity.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      23/02/2017 at 8:31 am

      They are seriously so much fun, especially with kids. They can have fun creating all kinds of shapes with them, and then eat them all up afterwards – win win! 😛

  • Reply
    Debra C.
    20/02/2017 at 1:29 pm

    5 stars
    So much yummy goodness in these bites, I think I would top with the nutty goodness – delish!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      23/02/2017 at 8:32 am

      Oooh good plan Debra – my fav is the dusting of icing sugar but the nuts were seriously good too. I think our batch might have lasted 24 hours.. maybe! Haha 😀

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