Melomakarona Greek Cookies Recipe
These Greek cookies stay fresh up to two weeks, and in fact, get BETTER in the days AFTER you bake them. Savor the warmth of the Mediterranean with every bite of melomakarona flavored with walnuts, spices, orange and honey.
I originally discovered these Greek cookies while completing a practical exam in culinary school, where I had to prepare a meal of traditional Greek foods.
The melomakarona cookies I made for dessert ended up being absolutely delicious, and I couldn’t wait to make them again.
With love, I have refined my recipe for years ever since, resulting in the soft spiced cookies bathed in honey syrup and sprinkled with walnuts that you’ll find in this post.
Not only do the warm Mediterranean flavors instantly put me in a Christmas spirit, but because these cookies stay fresh up to two weeks, I actually CAN start my holiday baking by making them earlier in the month!
Why you will love these Greek Honey Cookies
- They get BETTER as they sit. Tell me a cookie that’s actually better 3 to 4 days after you make it, versus fresh out of the oven. It’s hard to believe, but melomakarona are!
- They’re perfect for holiday gifting and cookie tins, because they transport so well and last so long.
- This is a time-tested recipe that I have been making for my family for years. I hope you love it as much as we do.
“Oh, my goodness! Made these cookies to bring to my daughter’s for Christmas. I waited patiently to do the “taste test” and it was worth the wait! They are delicious and taste just like the ones I’ve been buying at the annual Greek festival close to home for years. Thank you so much!”—Connie
- flour – this will provide the structure for these cookies. Some melomakarona recipes call for semolina flour, but this one is perfect with all-purpose flour.
- baking powder – makes the cookies light and fluffy.
- baking soda – also contributes to the dough’s rise.
- cinnamon – adds warm aromatic notes to the cookie dough and the walnut topping.
- cloves – adds another spice note to the dough and the walnut topping.
- sea salt – just a touch enhances the overall flavor of the dough.
- unsalted butter – contributes richness and moisture to the cookie dough.
- sugar – sweetens the cookie dough and honey syrup.
- eggs – binds the cookie dough together.
- olive oil – provides a distinctive Greek flavor, as well as moisture.
- fresh orange juice – adds a citrusy brightness to the cookie dough.
- orange zest and orange peel – grated orange zest adds orange flavor to the cookie dough, while strips of orange peel infuse the honey syrup with citrus flavor.
- honey – the backbone of the honey syrup, this will make the cookies nice and sweet and give them a glossy finish.
- walnuts – sprinkled on at the end, these give the cookies a delightful crunch.
How to make Melomakarona Greek Cookies
1. DRY INGREDIENTS. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and cloves, then set aside.
2. CREAM, EGGS. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed and add the eggs one at a time, beating until just incorporated after each addition.
3. OIL, JUICE, ZEST. Add the oil, orange juice and orange zest and mix until combined.
4. ADD FLOUR. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, then beat until just combined.
5. KNEAD AND CHILL. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for a minute. Then, cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour but preferably overnight.
6. MAKE SYRUP. In a pot on the stove, stir together the orange peel, sugar, honey and water. Heat this to boiling, then let it boil 1 minute. Remove the syrup from the heat and allow it to cool completely at room temperature.
7. MAKE TOPPING. In a small bowl, stir together the walnuts, cinnamon and cloves. This is also where you want to preheat your oven.
8. SHAPE COOKIES. For each cookie, take about 1-1/2 tablespoons dough and roll and press it into an oval shape with your hands.
9. PRICK. Place the cookies on a rimmed baking pan until you have enough cookies to fill one pan. Prick the tops of the cookies with a fork 4 to 5 times so that tine marks are lightly visible. We’ll be baking one bach at a time, so return the remaining dough to the refrigerator between batches.
10. BAKE. Transfer the cookies to the oven and bake until golden brown.
11. DIP. Line a second rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. Then, in batches, transfer the hot cookies fresh from the oven to the cooled honey syrup. Let them soak 30 seconds, turning them over halfway through.
12. SPRINKLE. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cookies to the parchment-lined pan and immediately sprinkle them with the walnut topping. Repeat this process with the remaining cookie dough, honey syrup and walnut topping.
How to store Greek Honey Cookies
When these Greek honey cookies are finished, it’s important to store them in an airtight container.
I also like to place sheets of parchment paper or wax paper between layers of cookies, to prevent them from sticking together. They can be kept at room temperature.
Stored properly, these cookies will last up to two weeks. In fact, in my opinion, melomakarona cookies get BETTER with age.
I think the flavor and texture hit their peak about four to five days after the cookies are made.
I love the fact that even though these cookies are somewhat time consuming, they’re totally worth it, because I can enjoy them all through the holiday season!
Home Chef Tips for making Melomakarona Cookies
- I generally use an all-purpose clover honey for these Greek Christmas cookies. Taste of Home has a nice article on 9 Types of Honey (and Where to Get Them) to help you choose which honey would be best for your tastes.
- You might be tempted to taste one of these Greek Christmas cookies as soon as it comes out of the honey syrup, but try to wait if you can. I don’t want you to be disappointed! The REAL magic is what happens when the cookies sit overnight (or even better, several days), and the syrup really soaks into the cookies.
- In my opinion, this melomakarona recipe is MEANT to be made in a big batch and shared with family, friends and neighbors throughout the holiday season. But, if 6 to 7 dozen Greek Christmas cookies is way more than you need, this Greek cookie recipe can be made as a half batch, with no changes to cooking times.
Greek Cookies Recipe FAQs
Kourabiedes are almond-based shortbread cookies, while melomakarona are spiced cookies soaked in honey syrup.
The word melomakarona is thought to be derived from medieval makaria, which is a meal eaten after a funeral or burial.
The recipe has gradually changed over time to include the addition of dipping the Greek cookies in honey.
Etymologically, the word is derived from the Greek word for honey – “meli.”
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For the Cookie Dough:
- 6-3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting work surface
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1-1/2 cups olive oil
- 1 cup fresh orange juice (from about 4 juice oranges)
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
For the Honey Syrup:
- 3 strips orange peel, about 1-inch wide
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1-1/2 cups honey
- 1-1/2 cups water
For the Walnut Topping:
- 8 ounces walnuts, very finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves
- Make Cookie Dough: In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and cloves.
- In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.
- Reduce speed to medium-low. Add eggs one at a time, beating until just incorporated after each addition. Add oil, orange juice and orange zest; mix until combined.
- Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture and beat until just combined.
- Turn dough out onto floured work surface and knead 1 minute. Transfer dough to large bowl; cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or preferably overnight. Dough may also be kept in the fridge up to 3 days.
- Meanwhile, make Honey Syrup: In high-sided pan or large pot, stir together orange peel, sugar, honey and water. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat and let boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and let syrup cool completely at room temperature.
- Make the Walnut Topping: In small bowl, stir together walnuts, cinnamon and cloves.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For each cookie, take about 1-1/2 tablespoons dough and roll and press it into an oval shape with your hands.
- Place cookies on rimmed baking pan, spaced 1-1/2 inches apart; repeat until baking pan is full. Prick tops of cookies with fork 4-5 times so that tine marks are lightly visible. Return remaining dough to refrigerator between batches.
- Transfer cookies to oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Line a second rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. In batches, transfer hot cookies fresh from the oven to cooled honey syrup. Let them soak 30 seconds, turning halfway through.
- Using slotted spoon, transfer cookies to parchment-lined pan (you can put them very close together at this stage). Immediately sprinkle with walnut topping. Repeat with remaining cookie dough, honey syrup and walnut topping.
- When completely cool, transfer cookies to airtight containers, with parchment or wax paper between layers (or put each cookie in a paper cupcake wrapper). Cookies will last up to 2 weeks.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 78 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 199Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 52mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 1gSugar: 15gProtein: 3g