Koulourakia: the easy dessert recipe for Greek Easter cookies

Total time: 70 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 12 people
By Cookist

Koulourakia (pronounced ku-lu-rah-kee-ah) are traditional Greek Easter butter cookies. They are usually made on Holy Saturday and enjoyed on Easter Sunday with a cup of coffee or tea together with tsoureki. It is said that koulourakia date back to the Minonan civilization of Crete in the distant 2600 BC.

With a buttery and delicate, sweet vanilla flavor, they are crunchy, crispy on the outside and soft, airy on the inside thanks to the tender crumb. Koulourakia are finger-sized, shiny, golden brown cookies because of the egg wash. You can shape koulourakia into different designs – braid, swirl, little boats, into an S.

For making this delicious recipe, you need simple few pantry ingredients like milk, flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and baking powder. Flavor the cookies with vanilla extract, orange zest and ouzo if used, an aniseed-flavored Greek alcoholic drink. Just make sure not to use too much flour for your koulourakia if you don't want to see them crack out on the outside. Finally, you can top them with sesame seeds.

Greek Easter Cookie Ingredients

You need few simple ingredients for making this recipe. Make sure you weigh the doses well by using a kitchen scale.

Baking powder – use active baking powder as it is essential for rising.

Butter – use unsalted butter at room temperature. Press your finger on it and if you feel it soft then the butter is ready to be used. If it is still hard, let it soften a bit more.

Eggs – they are perfect as binder.

Flour – use unbleached all-purpose flour.

Sugar – use granulated sugar.

Vanilla, orange and ouzo – they are the perfect ingredients to give much more flavor to these delicate cookies.

Can you use Baker's Ammonia for making Koulourakia?

Traditionally koulourakia are made with baker's ammonia (or ammonium bicarbonate). It is an old-fashioned leavening agent from 19th century that can be hard to find in stores nowadays. For this reason in this modern recipe we used baking powder. Don't worry about the amount, you should use a 1:1 ratio of baking powder to baker's ammonia.

How to make Koulourakia

Making koulourakia is easier than you may think.

Making the Koulourakia dough

Start by combining the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl, then set aside. In another one, beat butter with sugar with a stand mixer until fluffy, then add in the eggs and whisk until combined. Finally, stir in the grated orange zest, lukewarm milk, vanilla extract, and ouzo.

Gradually add the dry mixture into the butter one and start mixing until you get a soft yet pliable dough that's not sticky. Add a bit more flour if needed. Let the dough chill for about 20-30 minutes.

Shaping Koulourakia

Now it's time to give a shape to the dough. You can choose different twisted designs for your Greek Easter cookies. First, divide the dough into 24 even balls (about 1 inch/3 cm in diameter).

Form a kind of thin rope for each piece, fold it in half and twist it twice as if to form a spiral. Another fun design to try is twist rope, form an upside-down U and start twisting the dough together lengthwise. You can also give the cookie the shape of an S, or braid. Just be creative!

Baking Koulourakia

Place each cookie dough on a greased baking sheet. Brush each piece with an egg wash made by mixing an egg yolk and milk, then top with sesame seeds.

Bake cookies at 350°F/160°C for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let them cool on a wire rack, then serve koulourakia on your Easter celebration.

Tips for making the Best Greek Easter Cookies

Make sure you weigh the flour amounts well otherwise the kouloukaria will crack if you use too much. If you don't have a kitchen scale, add flour as you go and only as needed until the dough is soft yet easy to knead.

You can leave out ouzo or replace it with another liquor such as brandy, cognac or whiskey.

For more flavor, you can also add a tablespoon of orange juice instead of alcohol.

How to store Koulourakia

You can store koulourakia in a sealed container at room temperature for about 2 weeks.

Can you freeze Koulourakia?

Yes! You can freeze baked Greek Easter cookies for about 2 months, closed in an airtight container.

All-purpose flour
4 1/2 cups
Baking powder
1 tsp
unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup
Granulated sugar
1 cup
Vanilla Extract
1 tbsp
orange, zest
Lukewarm milk
1/4 cup
ouzo Greek spirit (optional)
1 tbsp
sesame seeds for topping (optional)
for the egg wash
egg yolk
1 tbsp


In a bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, add the butter and sugar.

Using a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs.

Add the vanilla extract, orange zest, lukewarm milk and ouzo. Mix well.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture little by little. The dough should be soft and pliable, but it should not be sticky. You should be able to pinch off a ball of dough and roll it into a cord or thin tube. If the dough is too sticky, add a little bit more flour. Allow the dough to chill for about 20-30 minutes before rolling into shapes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/160°C. To shape the cookies, pinch off a piece of dough about the size of a walnut. You should get about 24 pieces of 1 inch/3 cm in diameter.

Roll out a cord or thin tube of dough about the length of a dinner knife.

For an upside-down U.

Twist it twice. You can also make spirals with the dough.

In a small bowl, mix eggs and milk for the egg wash. Place the cookie dough into a greased baking sheet, then brush each one with the egg wash and sprinkle with some sesame seeds.

Bake cookies for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let them cool on a wire rack, then serve and enjoy!

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