Koulourakia – Greek Easter Cookies

These are literally my favorite cookies of all time. All time.

Koulourakia are a traditional cookie served at Easter time. There are a bunch of different recipes for this cookie, but basically it’s like a butter cookie. Maybe that’s not quite right. You can’t really explain these I think, you just have to try them I think. They are not sweet. You shape them into a variety of fun designs, like “S” shapes, twists, or swirls. These cookies are soft, not cakey, but more like a tender biscuit that crumbles a little. Okay, I’ll stop now. They are tasty and you should make them to see what I mean. My nostalgia for these may be giving me a bias here, but they are the best cookies ever.

Depending on the recipe, some have a hard texture and look golden brown, while others are soft and have little to no color. Some cookies are topped with sesame seeds. Some cookies have an orange flavor and others have vanilla or even whiskey.

My mom makes these cookies every Easter and I’ve finally formalized it into an official recipe. I say “official” because my mom’s recipe card is a bit of that old school cryptic recipe magic stuff that only moms know how to turn into food. There are instructions like “add 8 to 11 cups of flour until the cookies come together.” My mom has made these cookies so many times that it totally makes sense to her. To me, on the other hand, I need more precise directions. I’ve been leery about making these cookies because nothing tastes as good as the way mom makes it, almost like there is an extra secret ingredient of “mom love” that instantly makes her cookies better than anything that I could make. (See? Nostalgic.)

They are really just sheer perfection, at least according to me. My husband isn’t as wowed by them as I am because he’s more of a chocolate chip cookie kind of guy. If you know me, then you know that I love my chocolate. But these koulourakia are my weakness. Unlike any other cookie, I can eat an embarrassing number of them in one sitting. My husband just piped in to say “really, really embarrassing” might be more accurate.

They may look difficult to make but I promise that it’s not hard. The cookie dough is just like making a standard issue cookie. You don’t need any specialty ingredients. You do need a little time and patience to make the designs.

I don’t usually include so many step by step photos but I thought it would be helpful for those trying to make these fun shaped cookies, especially for the first time. If you’re not going to make them, then enjoy the pics and scroll down to see the conclusion of my post.

Step 1: Grab about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of cookie dough. I’m a perfectionist so I use a cookie scoop to make sure all the cookies are the same size, but that’s not required.
Step 2: Roll out the dough with your hands into a snake shape, about 9 to 10 inches long. Make sure it’s an even thickness. Use the least amount of flour possible when rolling them out because the more flour, the tougher it is to roll them out.
Step 3: Cross the dough over in the middle.
Step 4: Twist the dough over a 2nd time.
Step 5: Twist the dough for the 3rd and final time. (And yes, I may have counted out loud to make sure that I didn’t mess it up. 😉 )
Step 6: Place the cookie on the tray and brush them with an egg wash. You can fit a lot of cookies per tray because they don’t spread much.

Like most Greek baking, it’s a lot of work to make koulourakia but it’s so worth it. These cookies will always be near and dear to my heart and bring back wonderful memories of all my family Easters.

Koulourakia Recipe
(Makes about 45 cookies)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of butter, room temperature (equivalent to 2 sticks)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 1 %.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (equivalent to 27.0 ounces)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • For the egg wash: 1 egg and 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a very big bowl, beat the butter for about 1 minute.
  3. Add in the sugar and beat the mixture until it’s light and fluffy.
  4. Add in the 4 eggs and beat the mixture.
  5. Add in the milk and vanilla extract and beat the mixture again.
  6. Gradually mix in the flour and baking powder.
  7. In a separate small bowl, make the egg wash by beating 1 egg and water together. Set this aside.
  8. On a very lightly floured surface, take about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of dough. I use a medium Oxo cookie scoop to help portion each cookie consistently.
  9. Roll the cookie dough to about 9 to 10 inches long. Only use extra flour if the dough sticks to the surface. Don’t use too much flour because if you overshoot the dough can become too stiff to roll into a snake shape properly.
  10. Bend the dough in half and then twist it three times.
  11. Place each cookie on the cookie sheet, 10 per cookie sheet.
  12. Brush the egg wash on top of each cookie.
  13. Bake them for about 18 minutes or until they are lightly browned.

Adapted from an old family friend’s recipe.

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