What Are Koulourakia?
Koulourakia are a traditional dessert cookie eaten on Easter Sunday in Greece. They are characterized by a butter cookie base, egg glaze, and a little surprise - a sprinkle of sesame seeds on top! The cookies are usually hand-shaped into rings, braids, or the one shown in the photo above, a "twisted snake". The snake is most often seen used by the Minoans, since they believed that snakes have healing powers!
What Ingredients Do You Need?
These are simple cookies and require only basic ingredients you likely already have in your pantry.
- Salted butter - you can use unsalted and add a pinch of flour to the dough.
- Sugar - plain white granulated sugar
- Eggs - not much to say about 'em. I used size large.
- Fresh squeezed orange juice - you can use bottled juice in a pinch since it's such a small amount, I won't tell anyone
- Sifted all-purpose flour - sifting the flour before measuring will ensure the best texture in your cookies.
- Baking powder - this will help your little twists puff up in the oven.
- Raw sesame seeds - you'll only need a bit for sprinkling onto the dough before baking. This is what gives koulourakia their unique flavor.
You won't need any special equipment to make these cookies, though I do recommend using an electric mixer (hand or stand) to cream the butter and sugar properly. This is my favorite hand mixer.
How Do I Shape The Dough?
These cookies are traditionally shaped as rings, braids, or the one I chose - the twisted snake. I'm used to seeing this shape at the local Greek festival we try to attend each year. The cookies are always served alongside a cup of strong Greek coffee - yum!
On a lightly floured surface, and with floured hands, pinch off a ball of dough and roll it out into a rope 3-4 inches long.
Then bend the rope in half, into a U-shape.
Now twist the bottom part of the U together twice, or however many times you need. Your ropes might be different sizes than mine, and that's okay!
Line up the finished shapes onto an ungreased cookie sheet about 1.5 inches apart, brush with an egg wash for extra shine, and give each one a light sprinkle of sesame seeds.
You'll probably need to bake the cookies in 2-3 batches depending on the size of your pan. Just make sure to use a cooled pan for each batch! Depending on the size of your twists, this recipe may yield anywhere from 24-36 cookies. The cookies are done when they are lightly browned, around 16 minutes for my oven.
They taste like a lovely basic butter cookie, but with a fun shape and a bit of something special from the sesame seeds on top. Eat them on their own or dunk them into milk or hot Greek coffee.
Here's the recipe! I found the original at www.grouprecipes.com The only thing I changed was using juice from a real orange instead of "orange juice", which I assume meant the stuff in a carton. Nothing wrong if you want to use that - I just had an orange handy and no orange juice, so that's what I did!Print
Koulourakia - Greek Easter Cookies
- Total Time: 36 minutes
- Yield: 24-36 cookies (varies) 1x
Traditional Greek butter cookies twisted into a fun shape and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup granulated white sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbs juice from one orange
- 3 cups flour, sifted then measured (spoon into cup then level off with knife)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- raw sesame seeds for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Using a hand or stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar for several minutes until the mixture is pale yellow and fluffy.
- Separate one egg and reserve the yolk.
- Add remaining whole egg, egg white and the orange juice and beat well.
- In a second bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.
- With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients slowly.
- Mix until dough is smooth.
- Pinch off one to one and a half inch balls and roll into a rope and then twist the ends together (follow photos above).
- Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet 1.5 inches apart.
- Beat together remaining egg yolk with a couple tablespoons of water. Brush onto cookies.
- Lightly sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 16 mins
- Category: Dessert
Do you love this recipe and want to be able to find it later? Use the image below to pin to your Pinterest boards, or share with your friends on social media by using the buttons at the top and bottom of this post. Thank you for visiting my blog!
Other Easter Posts:
Hot Cross Buns - made with cinnamon roll dough!
Glazed Vanilla Buttermilk Cookies - Oh so soft and not too sweet!
Chocolate Pretzel Bird Nests - A fun food craft for the kiddos!
Jolie Derme Serum
First-class news it is without doubt. My mother has been waiting
for this info.
I really want to make this, but I need to know how many this makes. I need to make at least 50 cookies.
Friend, it says at the top 36 but if you make them 33% smaller you'll get 50.
I have been to Greece in 2012 and i loved making these with some women from a local town of Crete! This recipe is a great one! I am so glad i found this cause the women there gave me one but they had it in Greek!
Hi!, I've been to Crete twice - years ago. I too leaned to cook from these wonderful ladies - very fond memories. Where in Crete were you?? I was just outside of Iraklion - Kali Lemones........
Is this the recipe you remember - I remember using olive oil and sherry - not juice and crisco...
thanks - Afredisto (??spell)
THANK YOU For posting this recipe, my mom has been wanting to show me this recipe for years but I just recently got a kitchenaid, we talked about them yesterday at Easter and I am trying out your recipe right now to surprise her with them tonight. I hoping that they turn out as good as moms.
Glad you found us! I hope they turn out well - I'm sure your mom is going to be very surprised!
These look fabulous! I've never seen anything like these, so it's a definite "must try" for me. Thank you!
This is a fabulous recipe! I'm Greek and growing up we ate these with coffee, when guests came over. They are also great on car trips. Filling, convenient, tasty and easy to eat. Mmmmmm. Good memories.
Question: My great great great aunt used to put some kind of chopped nuts in a layer on top of the flattened dough. Then she would roll the dough over the nut filling, and bake. But how did she make the nut filling? It was chopped nuts, maybe a little cinnamon, but also kind of smooth inside. Do you have that part of the recipe? I can't seem to locate it from any of the older folks.
I've never heard of these cookies before but they are so adorable. And they look delicious! Thanks for the great new recipe.