Kourabiethes (Kουραμπιέδες)

Kourabiethes (kourabiedes) are a Greek almond shortbread type cookie that is coated in icing sugar.

Kourabiethes (kourabiedes) are a Greek almond shortbread type cookie that is coated in icing sugar.

Who doesn’t dream about a white Christmas? We certainly do! Thankfully, living in Canada means that most years, our dream comes true.  It is rare that December 25th rolls around without a blanket of beautiful, white, fluffy snow covering everything!  If you have never made snow angels on Christmas morning, we really hope that you get to one day!  Our parents grew up in Greece however, a country not known for frosty winters and snow storms.  So, in their villages, the whitest and fluffiest thing they could hope for at Christmas time, were kourabiethes (kourabiedes).

Kourabiethes (kourabiedes) are a Greek almond shortbread type cookie that is coated in icing sugar.

There are several ways that Greek households get ready for the Christmas holidays. When we were younger, our family would put up our artificial Christmas tree, (which we used for probably 15 years before finally putting it to rest), and adorn it with a mishmash of ornaments.  There was no colour coordination or overall theme to our lopsided tree; we used Christmas ornaments that didn’t match, gold and silver tinsel, and Christmas balls wrapped in satin thread (remember those!).  And of course, there were the decorations which we made at school…and Christmas cards.  Who else’s parents put the Christmas cards you received in the mail, into the tree? Charlie Brown had nothing on our Christmas tree!  It was a beauty!

Of course, the tree was only one of our Christmas traditions. We were constantly told to eat all of our supper in order to ensure that Santa Claus (or Άγιος Βασίλης) would bring us a nice present.  We usually got a new outfit to wear to church and for holiday visiting.  And, of course, there was the Christmas baking.  December began with a frenzy in the kitchen as our parents would bake a seemingly endless supply of holiday treats. While our friends at school were getting excited for gingerbread and shortbread, we were anticipating freshly baked koulourakia, melomakarona and kourabiethes (while at the same time wondering what the heck gingerbread was).

Kourabiethes (Kουραμπιέδες)

Kourabiethes (kourabiedes) are a delicious Greek cookie.  Flavoured with almonds and coated in icing sugar, these cookies have a tendency to stick to the roof of your mouth.  Perfect! We think they are best served with a nice glass of milk, or cup of coffee,  and a big napkin…all that icing sugar makes a mess!  Finally, when you take a bite of your cookie, before taking your next bite, press the bitten part into the icing sugar which is on the plate.  And when your cookie is done, lick your finger, and then use it to press into any icing sugar which is left, and lick your finger again!  This might sound like horrible table manners (it is), but if you ask us…it’s worth it!

Helpful hints

There are many variations of kourabiethes (kourabiedes) out there; most of which are made with butter.  You will notice that in our recipe, there is butter, but also vegetable shortening and olive oil.  This trifecta of fats may seem unnecessary, but trust us…it produces a near perfect cookie.

Kourabiethes (Kουραμπιέδες)

The almonds are a key element to kourabiethes (kourabiedes).  Our parents use whole, unpeeled almonds which they coarsely chop.  They also toast the almonds in a frying pan set over medium-low heat.  You must do this very carefully; because you are coarsely chopping the almonds by hand you will have some very small pieces and also some of the almond will be practically ground up.  In order to prevent these smaller pieces from burning, sift your chopped up almonds in a sieve, catching all of the tiny almond bits in a bowl.  Set these aside and only toast the larger almond pieces that did not pass through the sieve.  As soon as you can smell the toasted almonds, remove them from the frying pan and transfer to a bowl to cool.  When adding the almonds to the batter, be sure to include even the ground up bits in your bowl.


The dough for the kourabiethes (kourabiedes) will be pretty soft, but should be easy to handle.  They will also be oily, while handling.  Remember that the kourabiethes will puff up as they bake, so it is a very good idea to cook a few to ensure that the way that you shape your cookies gives you the end result you are looking for.  In particular, if you are going to make crescent shaped kourabiethes (our favourite), you should use a relatively thin roll of dough as it will almost double in size as it cooks.  We have found that the easiest way to create the crescent shape, is to knead the dough in your hand and then roll it into a ball.  Then, using your hands turn your ball into a long shape, the length of about 2 1/2 to 3 inches, (we use the width of the palm of our hand as a guide), and complete the shape in the baking pan, molding it into shape.

Kourabiethes (kourabiedes) are a Greek almond shortbread type cookie that is coated in icing sugar.

You will find that if you allow your dough to sit a bit before shaping your cookies, it will tend to become crumbly.  This is normal and due to the fact that the fats are separating out of the dough.  You will need to knead your dough well in order to reincorporate all of the butter, oil and shortening.  You know you are done when it is easy to shape your cookies.  You will have to do the same thing if you allow your dough to sit in the refrigerator for a little while before baking your kourabiethes.  We have found the best way to reduce the amount they spread while baking is to refrigerate the dough after making it, for 2-3 hours.  Furthermore, after shaping the cookies, place the pan in the fridge for 10 minutes, before baking.  This is an important step.

Keeping the dough in the fridge in between baking, is also a good idea.


The recommended cooking time is 12 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit in the middle rack of your oven, however we know that not all ovens are created equal.  Check your cookies at the 10 minute mark; your kourabiethes are done when they are slightly golden brown on top, and golden brown on the bottom.  They will be soft when they come out of the oven.  This is fine, they will firm up as they cool.

Kourabiethes (Kουραμπιέδες)

Our parents like to spritz the top of the hot cookies with some rose water.  They use a pastry brush to do this, and sprinkle the rose water on the kourabiethes (they do not brush it on).  If you don’t have rose water, or don’t like the flavour, you can use some additional ouzo.

Kourabiethes (Kουραμπιέδες)
Sprinkling with rosewater

When your cookies are completely cool, it is time to coat them with icing sugar.  Don’t be shy here; part of what makes kourabiethes (kourabiedes) the special treat that they are is the mound of icing sugar that lays on top of them.  Delicious!  Also, don’t forget to line the bottom of the platter (or container) that you will be storing them on with icing sugar.  This way, the cookie gets completely covered.

Kourabiethes (kourabiedes) are a Greek almond shortbread type cookie that is coated in icing sugar.
Kourabiethes (kourabiedes) are a Greek almond shortbread type cookie that is coated in icing sugar.

Our parents would often serve kourabiethes in cupcake liners.  Our parents have never made cupcakes or muffins, and so we were stunned when we learned the intended purpose of these paper liners as we got older; we thought they were made for kourabiethes and melomakarona!

Looking for more festive treats, try these:
Melomakarona cheesecake

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Dec.2019..Please note, that to make these cookies even more delicious, we have updated and revised our recipe 🙂

Kourabiethes (kourabiedes) are a Greek almond shortbread type cookie that is coated in icing sugar.

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Kourabiethes (kourabiedes) are a Greek almond shortbread type cookie that is coated in icing sugar.

Kourabiethes, (or kourabiedes)

Kourabiedes are a buttery, almond cookie coated in icing sugar
5 from 32 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Greek
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour
Resting time: 3 hours
Total Time: 5 hours
Servings: 50 cookies
Author: Mia Kouppa


  • 3 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tbsp powdered vanilla or 2 tbsp vanilla extract (see notes below)
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup melted vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 2/3 cups icing sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup ouzo
  • 1 tbsp rose water for sprinkling on top of cookies
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar for coating the cookies


  • In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and vanilla.  Set aside.
    3 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 tbsp powdered vanilla
  • Place the chopped up almonds in a sieve and shake it over a large bowl. Catch the small almond bits in the bowl and then place the larger pieces of almonds in a frying pan and roast them over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.  Remove the almonds from the heat, and transfer them immediately to the bowl with the small almond pieces to cool once they are toasted; you will know that they are toasted when you can smell the toasted almonds.
    1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped almonds
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle, beat together the melted vegetable shortening, olive oil, melted butter and icing sugar.  Mix well until combined and there are no lumps of sugar visible, about 2-3 minutes.  
    1/2 cup melted vegetable shortening, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 cup melted unsalted butter, 1 2/3 cups icing sugar
  • Add the egg yolks and ouzo and mix for about 4-5 minutes.
    4 egg yolks, 1/3 cup ouzo
  • With the speed of the mixer turned on low, slowly incorporate the flour / baking soda / vanilla mixture (see Recipe Note).  Mix until just well combined.  Use a rubber spatula to clean the edges of your bowl, to make sure that all ingredients get incorporated.  Add the almonds to the cookie dough and mix until evenly distributed.
  • At this point we refrigerate the dough for 2-3 hours, before shaping. This will prevent them from spreading too much while baking. 
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, place rack in the middle.
  • Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Begin shaping your kourabiethes. Keep in mind, that the dough is oily. If you will be shaping them as crescents, use one tablespoon of dough, per crescent.  SEE NOTES BELOW. Remember, the cookies will puff up during cooking, so your crescents should be relatively thin (about an inch in diameter). We found that the best way to shape them is by rolling the dough in our hands,  ending up with a 3 inch long piece of dough, (about the width of your palm) and creating the crescent in the baking pan.. you can help mold its shape in the pan.  If you are going to be shaping them in rounds, using a mini ice-cream scooper is a great option.  Roll the dough in your hands and complete the shape.  Leave about 2 inches between each cookie.
  • Once you have filled up a baking tray, place in the fridge for 10 minutes before baking… then remove from the fridge, and right into the oven.  This is a very important step.. It helps further reduce the amount they spread, while baking.
  • Bake in the middle rack of your oven for approximately 12-14 minutes.  Remove the cookies from the oven and using a pastry brush, sprinkle some rose water on the cookies.  You can also use ouzo if you prefer.  Allow the cookies to cool on the baking tray for about two minutes and then transfer them carefully to a cooling rack.
    1 tbsp rose water
  • When your cookies are completely cool, line a serving tray or container with icing sugar and set your cookies on it. Then, liberally sift icing sugar over the cookies so that they are completely covered.
    1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • Enjoy!


We found the ideal weight as you're shaping the kourabiethes, to be 25 grams per cookie. We find this gives the best size.
Vanilla powder versus vanilla extract
If you are using vanilla extract, add it in with the vegetable oil, shortening and butter.  If using vanilla powder, follow the instructions as described.

Thanks for sharing!


  1. Delicious and crunchy!! Just the way I like them!! Good job girls!!

    1. miakouppa says:

      🙂 🙂 Thanks Fotini! So glad that you liked them! 🙂

  2. Beautiful & delicious !!

    1. miakouppa says:

      Thank you Megala 😉

  3. Elaine @ foodbod says:

    Lovely to read your memories 🙂

    1. miakouppa says:

      Thank you so much Elaine. It is fun for us to revisit them…and share with others 🙂

  4. Veronica Drakopoulos says:

    I cannot find vegetable shortening here in Melbourne, can you please tel me what exact shortening you guys used? Thankyou

    1. miakouppa says:

      Hi Veronica. We use Crisco brand shortening, which we don’t think is available to you in Australia. We’ve received this question before, and when we did our research it seems that you have a product called Copha which would be a good alternative. Hope this helps!! Happy baking and thanks for your interest in Mia Kouppa 🙂

  5. Do you clarify the melted butter? Love your recipes!

    1. miakouppa says:

      Thank you Mersina, for your question and for your nice comment. No, the melted butter is not clarified…simply melted 🙂 Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  6. Can I use only butter and olive oil, dont care for shortening

    1. miakouppa says:

      Hi Angeliki. You can, but your cookie texture will be different than ours. The shortening creates an almost flaky texture. But, if you don’t want to use shortening, you can try and substitute it for butter; we wouldn’t use any more olive oil because the flavour would be overpowering. Let us know how they turn out.

  7. Hi! How strong is the ouzo flavour? Can it be left out or substituted please?

    1. miakouppa says:

      Hi Kat! It’s not really that strong, but if you prefer you can omit it completely and replace with either water or even orange juice. You can also use a different alcohol, like brandy if you prefer that.

  8. Yes our family recipe uses brandy. So good!

    1. miakouppa says:

      Thank you!! Enjoy the recipe 🙂

    2. Larry G Slover says:

      Are these the same as Greek wedding cookies

      1. miakouppa says:

        Not sure – we’ve never heard them referred to this way, but we would venture to guess that yes, they are the same. Not many Greek cookies are loaded with icing sugar 😉 xoxo Helen & Billie

  9. Are you sure its olive oil thats used? I made them and the color was no where near yours and the taste was very oily. I followed the recipe exactly as i didnt want to alter it

    1. miakouppa says:

      Hi Maria, Yes, absolutely it is olive oil which is used, in combination with the butter and shortening. All three of these give the kourabiethes a great texture and flavour. We wonder what olive oil you used – it should be extra virgin (we have actually clarified that in the recipe based upon your comment – so thanks! 🙂 )

  10. Hi, I can’t find vegetable shortening, can I substitute it for something else. I really want to I’mpress my Greek neighbours!

    1. miakouppa says:

      Hi Jane! You are a great neighbour! 🙂 You can use 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of either margarine or additional butter. Have fun baking and let us know what your neighbours (and you!) think! xoxo Helen & Billie

  11. Hello ! Can I use granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar inside the cookie dough ?

    1. miakouppa says:

      Hi Demi, If you need to make that substitution then you should probably use a kitchen scale to be sure that the measurement are exact; it should be 7 ounces of icing sugar for 1 cup of granulated sugar. Also, each cup of granulated sugar should be combined with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, mixed in a blender and used that way. (keep in mind that we have never actually made this substitution so we can’t be certain how it would turn out). Good luck! xoxo Helen & Billie

  12. Hi:
    I made the recipe as you mentioned. My question is should we have use caking powder instead of baking soda. They taste bitter.

    Let me know. Thanks.

    1. miakouppa says:

      Hi Violet, Thank you for giving our recipe a try. Although adding too much baking soda to a recipe can lead to a bitter taste, the quantity and proportion of ingredients in our recipe should be fine. Is it possible that you added more than was called for? Or less of other ingredients? Did you whisk the ingredients well? To substitute with baking powder you would have to use 3 times the amount – you can give it a try, but it really shouldn’t be necessary. Otherwise, you can try making them again and use less baking soda – they may not rise as much, but perhaps it will be better for you if you are particularly sensitive to the taste. We hope that helps! xoxo Helen & Billie

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