Kourabiedes (Kουραμπιέδες) cookies are a traditional Greek shortbread-type biscuit, usually made with ground almonds. These Greek butter cookies are typically served at Christmas since they resemble snowballs.
The best part about Kourabiedes is the booze. They are soft, buttery and perfectly delicate with a hint of orange and almond. Like my Christmas Cake Balls and Easy Pecan Tassie Cookies aka Nut Cups they're ideal for cookie exchanges or gifting!
This recipe allows you to add brandy or ouzo to give them a deliciously unique flavor! Rose water is another traditional ingredient that can be used.
These Greek butter cookies have become a family tradition every December.
Like my Vanilla Pudding Mudy Buddies, they're something my family enjoys making together at least once a year. Christmas is typically the time these delicious cookies make their appearance however. I like to make a large batch of them and freeze the dough.
They're crumbly, tender and melt in your mouth. And although they're coated in confectioners sugar, surprisingly NOT overly sweet.
Okay so let's start with the pronunciation shall we because if you'll be serving them, you better pronounce them properly.
It is simply, "Kou-Ra-Bie-Thes" or Qurabiya depending where you're from. They originated in Greece and Turkey and are often made for special celebrations like christenings, holidays and weddings.
I'm assuming this is why many people call these cookies as 'Greek Powdered Sugar Cookies' or 'Greek Snowball Cookies' instead. Fair enough.
I have tried many, MANY different kourabiedes over the last 35 years. Although there are many delicious versions, I believe these are my favorite. You can substitute some ingredients as well. (See substitutions below!)
- Flour- Regular white flour is best. I don't recommend substituting almond or coconut flour.
- Butter- Make sure to buy the BEST high quality butter you can find. It makes a difference! Sheeps or goats milk butter would be a delicious addition.
- Egg yolks- The fat in egg yolks help to make the dough chewier, more tender and richer.
- Powdered sugar- (aka icing or confectioners sugar) Granulated is not recommended.
- Cornstarch- Helps to make your cookies delicate and crumbly.
- Nuts- Almonds are traditionally used in kourabiethes but you can use any nut.
- Baking Powder- Helps your cookies to rise.
- Vanilla- Vanilla extract adds flavor. You can use almond extract if you wish.
- Brandy- Adds a layer of flavor that isn't too strong or alcohol tasting. You can use Metaxa or Mastiha both of which are made in Greece.
📃 NOTE: You can print the FULL recipe with all ingredients & detailed instructions below!
🧑🍳How To Make Kourabiedes
Step 1: Beat together the butter and sugar in an electric mixer on high until light and fluffy.
Step 2: Add egg yolks, brandy and vanilla. Beat again for another minute.
Step 3: Mix in your crushed almonds until combined.
Step 4: Use a mini ice cream scooper to scoop a ball of dough into your hands. Roll into a ball and place on parchment paper or a nonstick baking sheet.
Step 5: Press down each cookie using your thumb and bake for 15 minutes.
Step 6: Let cookies slightly cool but while still warm, toss in powdered sugar.
The Rose Water
Kourabiethes are often made with rose water which gives it an interesting floral flavor that isn't overpowering if you get the amount just right.
Rose water is very tough to find in local grocery stores so I order mine off of Amazon. This is the brand I use.
If you do choose to use rose water, you can add about a tablespoon to the dough OR put your water in a spritz bottle and spritz the baked cookies with a little bit. The idea is to use enough to taste it but not too much where it's overwhelming!
Spritzing your cookies as opposed to brushing them, gives you more control.
Brandy or Ouzo?
Ahh, that's like asking chocolate or peanut butter.
They're both good and both work. Use what you have on hand or better yet, halve the dough and use both to compare the flavors!
Crescent Moon vs. Round Shape?
Okay let's talk shape!
Let's get one thing straight. The shape truly DOES NOT MATTER!
I have seen kourabiedes both shaped as crescents and round equally. To save time, round is the way to go. If you want to make these look more fun and dippable (I recommend coffee), I suggest shaping them longer with a curve.
Either shape you choose, the taste will be just as tasty just like my mini baklava rolls!
Substitutions & Variations
✔ Use rose water in place of the brandy.
✔ Use crushed pecans, almonds, pistachios, or macadamia nuts.
✔ Use almond extract for an added almond flavor.
✔ Roast your almonds in the oven for an added layer of nutty flavor.
Here are some tips to ensure your kourabiedes turn out perfect every time:
- Use a sifter to sift extra powdered sugar over top of your cookies to resemble snow.
- Store your cookie dough in the freezer until ready to bake.
- Roasting your nuts wakes up the oils taking their flavor to the next level.
- Cream together your butter and sugar well in the beginning. The color of the butter should lighten up and the texture should turn fluffy.
- Chill your kourabiethes dough in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to make rolling your cookie balls easier.
- Bake your cookies in the middle rack and don't overbake them.
- Coat the kourabiethes in the powdered sugar while they are still warm so the sugar can slightly melt into the cookie.
- Don't be afraid to use too much confectioners sugar. Any excess sugar will fall off.
Other Cookies You Will Love
The Best Kourabiedes (Greek Almond Cookies)
- Food Processor (for grinding nuts)
- 1 stick Unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
- 1 Egg yolk
- ½ tablespoon Brandy or Ouzo (*you can replace with rose water if you prefer)
- ⅔ cup Powdered sugar + ½ cup for coating
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup Almond, walnuts or pecans, crushed (*See note below)
- 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
- 2 tablespoon Cornstarch
- ¾ teaspoon Baking Powder
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Add nuts to a sheet pan in the middle of the oven and roast for about 8 minutes or until you can start to smell them. Be careful not to burn them.
- Beat together the butter and ⅔ cup of sugar in an electric mixer on high until light and fluffy.
- Add egg yolk, brandy and vanilla. Beat again for another minute.
- When nuts are cooled, use a food processor to grind them. You want the nuts to be coarsely ground.
- Add your nuts to the mixer along with all of the dry ingredients and mix until everything is well incorporated.
- Option #1: Round- Use a mini ice cream scooper to scoop a ball of dough into your hands. Roll into a ball and place on parchment paper or a nonstick baking sheet. Use your thumb to slightly press down the middle.
- Option #2: Crescent- Shape about 1 tablespoon of dough into a crescent moon shape (curved).
- Bake in the middle of your oven for about 15 minutes. Do not over bake! You do not want them overly brown on the bottom.
- Add ½ cup of powdered sugar to bowl and toss warm cookies in so they are fully coated. You can also sift more powdered sugar over top after plating.
- You can use any liquor you prefer or omit it all together.
- If using rose water, I suggest spritzing your cookies with it after they bake for a subtle flavor.
- Almonds, pecans or walnuts are the best for this recipe.