Koulourakia (Greek Easter Cookie)

The greatest debate in all of Greece is this: who makes the best koulourakia? Since we all know what’s good for us, the only correct answer to that is our own yiayia (grandma) does. So, if you’re Greek, please don’t read any further because this recipe isn’t for you. You will hate me. You will send me horrible emails and threats. Or you can continue reading. Just don’t tell your yiayia you tried someone else’s koulourakia. I promise not to tell. But you need to know; mine is the best of all.

Koulourakia (pronounced koo-lou-rah-kia) is a Greek Easter cookie featuring two ingredients that are avoided during a true Lenten fast, butter and eggs. Flour, sugar and various rising agents are used in the mixture to make the cookies sweet and fluffy. Koulourakia are popular year round but are most commonly served as a sweet staple on Easter day. If you visited ten different Greek Easter parties and tried a koulourakia at each party, you’d taste ten different koulourakia.

Everything about koulourakia is variable. Some cooks add orange zest, others don’t. Some use milk. Many add anise to their batter. Sometimes a splash of ouzo or brandy is added to recipes. Some koulourakia are topped with sesame seeds, while others are kept plain with just an egg glaze on top. And, some cookies are only varied by the amount of flour used—is it four cups or six?

You really can’t go wrong with koulourakia. But as you know, most people prefer the taste they grew up with—most commonly handed down from their yiayia. When I make koulourakia, I make it two ways (it’s a good excuse for more batter to eat and cookies to dunk). One recipe comes from my Yiayia Helen Metos, and the other is my own. I’m sorry Yiayia Saltas, I know everyone loves your koulourakia, but I’m not into anise. Please forgive me.

If you don’t already have a go to koulourakia recipe, give these two a try, and feel free to play around with flavors you prefer. The long debate over the best koulourakia ends with these two recipes. Now, get your coffee ready, because there are koulourakia that need dunking. And with that great Greek tradition, everyone wins.

Note: There is a difference between koulouria and koulourakia that some may not be aware of. Koulouri (plural is koulouria) is a large, round, wreath like bread covered in sesame seeds. Koulouri is a popular street food item in Greece, and especially popular for breakfast. Koulourakia is the smaller version of koulouria, and are soft, sweet, and buttery.


Yiayia Helen's Koulourakia
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert/Cookie
Cuisine: Greek
Serves: 5 dozen cookies
 
Koulourakia are popular year round, but are most commonly served as a sweet staple on Easter day. This is my Yiayia Helen Patsuris' recipe.
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, left at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 5 to 5 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg yolks for glazing
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Prior to baking, leave butter out at room temperature to soften. Important note: DO NOT microwave butter to soften the butter.
  2. In a mixer, cream the butter until it softens. Add sugar and beat together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well and add the heavy whipping cream.
  4. Sift dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder) and add slowly to mixing bowl, continually mixing. Make sure the ingredients are combined well and dough is soft.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  6. When ready, place the dough on a clean surface for shaping. Take a little piece of dough (about the size of a walnut) and roll into a thin rope-like cord (about 6-7” long and ⅓”wide). Fold the rope in half and twist to form a braided cookie. Repeat this process with the remaining dough, ensuring that the koulourakia are the same size. You can also roll these into other shapes like circles or serpents.
  7. Eat some cookie batter.
  8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place koulourakia on the sheet, leaving space in between each as they will slightly expand.
  9. In a small bowl, whisk the two egg yolks for the glaze. Brush the cookies with the egg yolk glaze and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes, or until golden brown.
  11. Let the koulourakia cool and serve, or store in an airtight container for up to three weeks.

Dedicated to my Yiayia, Helen Patsuris Metos, who passed away from breast cancer in 1996.

Eleni's Koulourakia
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert/Cookie
Cuisine: Greek
Serves: 5 dozen cookies
 
Koulourakia are soft, sweet, and buttery cookies typically served around Greek Easter. But, they can be served year round and go especially well with coffee.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, left at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 box cake flour (32-ounces)*
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 2 egg yolks and 1 tablespoon milk for glazing
Instructions
  1. Prior to baking, leave butter out at room temperature to soften. Important note: DO NOT microwave butter to soften the butter.
  2. In a mixer, cream the butter until it softens. Add sugar and beat together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, allowing each one to be mixed in before adding another. Add the vanilla and mix in.
  4. Sift dry ingredients (cake flour, salt, baking powder) and add slowly to mixing bowl, continually mixing. Make sure the ingredients are combined well and dough is soft.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  6. When ready, place the dough on a clean surface for shaping. Take a little piece of dough (about the size of a walnut) and roll into a thin rope-like cord (about 6-7” long and ⅓”wide). Fold the rope in half and twist to form a braided cookie. Repeat this process with the remaining dough, ensuring that the koulourakia are the same size.
  7. You can also roll these into other shapes like circles or serpentines.
  8. Eat some cookie batter.
  9. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place cookies on the sheet, leaving space in between each, as they will slightly expand.
  10. In a small bowl, whisk the two egg yolks for the glaze. Brush the tops of the koulourakia with the egg yolk glaze.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees for 17-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  12. Let the koulourakia cool and serve, or store in an airtight container for up to three weeks.
Notes
*If you can't find cake flour, combine all-purpose flour with 2 tablespoons of corn starch (to equal measurements as above)

 

6 thoughts on “Koulourakia (Greek Easter Cookie)

    • elenisaltas says:

      Thank you! Yes, you get a bit more of a crumble texture but they result in a lighter and softer texture than when using all purpose flour. Both are so delicious, and my grandmothers recipe above is vert well loved. Hers are great to eat plain, mine tend to be better for dunking in coffee. Hope that helps!

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