Our Favorite Koulourakia Recipes for Easter

Koulourakia for Pascha are a traditional favorite and are always a centerpiece of the dessert table at the Easter feast. The stacks and stacks of koulouria made with love are a special treat after the fasting of Great Lent. The following recipes are some of our most requested over the years. The variations are endless with classic Greek flavorings including orange, masticha, and cinnamon. The tradition of making koulourakia goes back well before Christianity. The Minoans in Ancient Crete made snake-shaped koulourakia reflecting the healing power of snakes that were part of their religious practice. In more recent Greek tradition, typical Easter koulourakia shaped like twists are flavored with vanilla. Orange flavor koulourakia are also a particularly popular flavor. The addition of orange juice and orange zest impart a fresh, fragrant essence to these tasty cookies that will impress your guests at Easter or any time of the year.

 

Koulourakia with Orange Flavor

1 pound sweet butter

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

1 cup orange juice

5 eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

2 tablespoons baking powder

3-4 pounds all-purpose, unbleached flour

2-3 eggs for the egg wash

Sesame seeds (optional)

 

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the oil and the sugar. Add the orange juice, vanilla, orange zest, and the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Lower the mixer speed and add the baking powder and the flour gradually. You may need to incorporate the remaining flour by hand depending on the size of your mixer. Add as much flour as needed to make a dough that doesn’t stick to your fingers and can be made into cookie shapes. Roll the dough into cookie twists, the traditional shape for koulourakia, but circles, S-shapes and figure eights can also be made. Place the cookie shapes on ungreased baking sheets an inch or two apart since the koulourakia will puff up. In a small bowl, beat the eggs for the egg wash. Brush the koulourakia with the egg wash, and if preferred sprinkle with some sesame seeds on top, and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about twenty minutes until golden brown, rotating the pans from the lower to the upper rack and brushing again with egg wash about half way through the baking process. Cool on the baking sheets on wire racks for a few minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container.

Koulourakia tis Lambris (Easter Cookies)

1 pound unsalted butter (4 sticks), at room temperature

2 cups sugar

10 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup milk

2 cups vegetable oil

3 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 shot glass cognac

5 pounds unbleached, all-purpose flour

4-5 large eggs, or more for egg wash

In the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the baking powder, vanilla, milk, oil, and cognac and beat well. Lower the mixer speed and add the flour slowly, as much as the butter mixture will take to form a dough that doesn’t stick to your fingers and can be rolled into koulourakia shapes. You may have to mix in the last bit of flour by hand, and be careful not to add too much flour, or over-beat or over-handle the dough since the results will be tough cookies. To make shapes, take about a teaspoonful of dough and roll it into a ball, then roll between your hands or on a flat surface to form a strip 3-4 inches long, then twist to form the traditional koulouraki shape. If preferred, you can make the shapes larger and make an additional twist, but be advised, the koulourakia do puff up, so leave at least an inch or two around them when you place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Continue making the koulourakia shapes and placing them on cookie sheets. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, beat one to two of the eggs for the egg wash and brush the koulourakia before placing in the lower third of the oven and baking for about 10 minutes until the koulourakia are puffed up and just beginning to color around the edges. Remove from the oven, brush the koulourakia with additional egg wash, and return them to the upper rack of the oven, rotating the pans, to finish baking for another 10 minutes or until the koulourakia are golden brown. Set the koulourakia to cool on the cookie sheet on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes and then remove them from the cookie sheet and allow to cool completely on wire racks before storing in an airtight container. If desired, different shapes can be made with this dough, such as rings or s-shaped coils, brush with egg wash and bake as directed above.

Smyrneica Koulouria

5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

3⁄4 cup sugar

6 ounces butter, melted

3 ounces milk, lukewarm

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 beaten egg white

Sift the flour in a large bowl, make a well in the center, and add melted butter, eggs, salt, sugar, and vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in the milk and add to the flour mixture.

Knead the dough until you have a soft, pliable dough. Shape dough into s-shapes, braids, and snails. Place on a greased baking sheet, or silpat, and brush with beaten egg white. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets about half way through the baking process. Cool completely on wire racks before serving or storing in an airtight container.

Koulourakia me Krasi (Wine Cookies)

3 and 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup dry white wine

Additional sesame seeds, if desired

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and sesame seeds. Make a well in the center and add the oil and white wine. Stir until just combined. Form one to two inch cookie shapes, and place on ungreased baking sheets about one inch apart. If desired, roll the cookies in additional sesame seeds before placing on the baking sheets. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until lightly golden, rotating the pans to ensure even baking. Cool completely on wire racks before serving or storing in an airtight container or cookie jar. If preferred, lightly toast the sesame seeds on a baking sheet in a preheated 350 degree oven for a few minutes before adding to the flour mixture for a more robust, nutty flavor.

 

Koulourakia Methismena (Drunk Cookies)

3 and 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup vegetable or olive oil

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup sweet red wine, Mavrodaphne

1/4 cup cognac, Metaxa

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, wine, cognac, and the vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined. Take a scant tablespoon of the dough, roll into strips, and then form circles or other cookie shapes. Place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes until the cookies are lightly golden brown, rotating the pans about halfway through the baking. Cool completely on wire racks before serving or storing in an airtight container or cookie jar.