Dessert/ Easter/ Recipes/ Snack

Koulourakia – Greek Easter Cookies

17/03/2020 (Last Updated: 06/04/2020)
 

Light and crumbly like shortbread but not too sweet, get ready for our Koulourakia cookies to knock your socks off this Easter. With flavours of sweet vanilla, sumac and citrus zest, these biscuits go perfect with a hot cup of tea and only need 20 minutes in the oven!

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

Why We Love This For Easter

When the shops are filled with Hot Cross Buns and chocolate eggs from top to bottom, it’s nice to make something a little different. Koulourakia not only taste great, they’re also fun to make all the different shapes without being complicated.

The biscuit’s light texture and ever-so-slightly sweet flavour with a refreshing citrus burst will have you wanting to bake multiple batches for the whole family.  The best part is dough AND biscuits are freezable for later.

Tray of Koulourakia cookie twists.

What are Koulourakia? 

With a simple base of flour, butter, sugar and eggs, Koulourakia are Greek Easter cookies that come in a heap of different shapes and subtle flavours. Lemon and orange flavours are more authentic, and others are a little non-traditional like the version we’re sharing today that includes one of our favourite spices – sumac.

It’s a powdered spice made from dried Middle Eastern berries. Often used with meats in Middle Eastern cuisine, it’s versatile enough to add to any sweet or savoury dish, adding a slightly tart, sour citrus burst and helping to offset some of that sweetness from the sugar in our Greek cookies. The great news is nowadays it’s readily available in the spice section of your supermarket or you can buy sumac online.

The basic/original Koulourakia recipe calls for a dash of vanilla extract, with some recipes including some freshly grated zest from citrus fruits like orange or lemon. (We love using lemon!) But there’s no reason you can’t mix things up if you’re feeling a little experimental!

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 For These Greek Easter Cookies

If you have baking essentials in the cupboard, you’ll be set for getting those cookies in the oven. The only ingredients you may not have on hand is sumac and fresh lemon rind, both can be replaced with a couple of tablespoons of lemon or orange juice if you have them on hand instead. 

Flat lay of Koulourakia ingredients.

How to make Koulourakia:

Go ahead and preheat your oven to 180˚C / 350˚F. Pop your butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and combine using a wooden spoon or beat on medium high until smooth and creamy.

Next, grate in your fresh lemon zest, adding as much or as little as you like depending on the strength or subtlety of flavour you’re after.

Add in the vanilla extract and sumac if you’re keen to try our Wandercooks version, or omit the spice if you prefer. Then mix briefly until the flavours are evenly mixed.

Sumac and lemon rind added to Greek Easter biscuit mix.

Then, add the eggs to the mixture, mixing through or blending on low until they’re evenly incorporated.

Now, add the baking powder and 1 cup of flour and mix for a few minutes until mixed through.

Continue adding the remaining flour a bit at a time until the mixture turns into a dough. You’re aiming for dough that’s still soft but not too sticky.

Pouring flour into the sugar, egg and butter mixture.

Transfer the dough mixture over to a clean surface and knead with your hands for a few mins until the dough is smooth and even.

Then cover with cling film and let it rest for 20 mins.

Koulourakia dough on a chopping board.

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. Get creative!

Koulourakia being tied into a twist shape cookie.

Optional: Brush with milk and top with any of the toppings you want to use, then place on a lined baking tray and bake in the oven for around 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Tray of different Easter cookie shapes.

Cook’s Tips

  • If you find the dough is too dry, add a little more butter. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour. Finally, if you’re still unsure, watch our video to see the texture for the perfect Greek Easter cookies.
  • The biscuits last quite a while when stored in an airtight container, so don’t feel like you have to eat them all within a few days.

FAQs

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 biscuits.

What does koulourakia mean?

Koulourakia comes from the Greek word – “kouloura” meaning a loop or twist, just like the shapes of the biscuits themselves. 

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 rounded strip about 15cm long by 1.5cm thick.

It takes a little more work than pressing out 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!

Tray of Greek Easter cookies in various shapes.

Variations & Substitutes

  • Get creative with your toppings. Traditionally speaking, Koulourakia cookies are normally brushed with beaten egg for a crispy golden shine.
    But if you’re looking to amp things up, you might like to try the following:

    • Icing Sugar: Play it safe with 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!
  • Make the naughty version called Drunk Koulourakia aka Koulourakia Methismena. Add in a shot of ouzo, frangelico or whatever liqueur takes your fancy. 
  • For a more golden topping brush with egg yolk instead of milk.

 

Want more cookies? We know your answer, so try these next:

 

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

Koulourakia cookies on a plate including spiral and twist shapes.

Koulourakia - Greek Easter Cookies

Light and crumbly like shortbread but not too sweet, get ready for our Koulourakia cookies to knock your socks off this Easter. With flavours of sweet vanilla, sumac and citrus zest, these biscuits go perfect with a hot cup of tea and only need 20 minutes in the oven!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Resting Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Greek
Servings: 20 biscuits
Calories: 166kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $5

Ingredients

Optional Toppings:

Instructions

  • Go ahead and preheat your oven to 180˚C / 350˚F. 
  • Pop your butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and combine using a wooden spoon or beat on medium high until smooth and creamy.
  • Next, grate in your fresh lemon zest, adding as much or as little as you like depending on the strength or subtlety of flavour you’re after. Add in the vanilla extract and sumac if you’re keen to try our Wandercooks version, or omit the spice if you prefer. Then mix briefly until the flavours are evenly mixed.
  • Then, add the eggs to the mixture, mixing through or blending on low until they're evenly incorporated.
  • Now, add the baking powder and 1 cup of flour and mix for a few minutes until mixed through. Continue adding the remaining flour a bit at a time until the mixture turns into a dough. You're aiming for dough that's still soft but not too sticky.
  • Transfer the dough mixture over to a clean surface and knead with your hands for a few mins until the dough is smooth and even. Then cover with cling film and let it rest for 20 mins.
  • 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. Get creative!
  • Optional: Brush with milk and top with any of the toppings you want to use, then place on a lined baking tray and bake in the oven for around 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Video

Notes

Cook's Tips
  • If you find the dough is too dry, add a little more butter. If it's too sticky, add a little more flour. Finally, if you're still unsure, watch our video to see the texture for the perfect Greek Easter cookies.
  • The biscuits last quite a while when stored in an airtight container, so don’t feel like you have to eat them all within a few days.
FAQs
  • 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 biscuits.
  • What does koulourakia mean? Koulourakia comes from the Greek word - “kouloura” meaning a loop or twist, just like the shapes of the biscuits themselves. 
  • 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 rounded strip about 15cm long by 1.5cm thick. It takes a little more work than pressing out 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!
Variations & Substitutes
  • Get creative with your toppings. Traditionally speaking, Koulourakia cookies are normally brushed with beaten egg for a crispy golden shine.
    But if you're looking to amp things up, you might like to try the following:
    • Icing Sugar: Play it safe with 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!
  • Make the naughty version called Drunk Koulourakia aka Koulourakia Methismena. Add in a shot of ouzo, frangelico or whatever liqueur takes your fancy. 
  • For a more golden topping brush with egg yolk instead of milk.

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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