Greek Almond Shortbread Butter Cookies (Kourabiethes)

Updated 18th December 2023

These Kourabiedes (or Kourabiethes) Traditional Greek Almond shortbread cookies often called Greek butter cookies/Greek Almond cookies are delicious, melt-in-your-mouth and a staple in Greek households. They are quite often served during festive occasions like weddings and showers along with melomakarona but you will be wanting them on any occasion. This is a small batch recipe for them that I love because it’s quick and simple, not too sweet, nutty, buttery and downright addictive. A lot of recipes yield 80 sometimes 100 cookies - perfect if you are making them for a wedding but sometimes you just want a smaller batch. This recipe is very easy to double or triple if you ever need to make a larger batch or are making plenty to share.


These cookies fall under the shortbread category but I have heard them described as snowball cookies or crescent cookies depending on what shape you bake them in. They have a delicious buttery flavour similar to shortbread cookies with a lighter slightly more crumbly texture. Our version has plenty of vanilla flavouring, a pinch of salt, and is coated in lots of powdered sugar.


Kourabiedes Ingredients

You only need a handful of pantry ingredients to make these cookies. This is what you will need to make these cookies:

  • BUTTER: I use unsalted butter and make sure it room temperature - I typically use cows milk butter (some recipes call for sheep butter or goat but I have not tried either of those for these cookies.) What about using vegetable shorting? More on that in recipe notes below…
  • POWDERED SUGAR: You will need approx 4-5 cups confectioners’ sugar. I cup for the actual cookie dough and the rest for dusting and rolling the cookies in. The amount varies depending on how much you want to cover your cookies.
  • ALMONDS: I use blanched slivered lightly toasted almonds, chopped (whole blanched ones can also be used). Toast them over low-medium heat in a skillet tossing them often or in the oven keeping a close eye on them as they can burn quite quickly if left unattended.
  • EGG YOLK: Adds richness and moisture to the dough.
  • BAKING SODA: Just a little for leavening - no baking powder in this recipe
  • BRANDY/COGNAC or OUZO: Choose either one. These do not add alcohol or boozy flavor but simply flavors these like vanilla flavors anything

As you can see these are made with pretty simple ingredients. Because butter shines in shortbread cookies including these, it’s always best to use the highest quality butter that you can find or use. It will add to the flavour and texture of the dough.

Kourabiethes Ingredients

There are a few other flavour add ins that are optional or that can be swapped for other flavours. Here they are:

  • Almonds can be substituted for other nuts like pecans, or walnuts, or many opt to leaving them out if they are allergic - they make wonderful vanilla shortbread cookies too
  • Vanilla extract can be substituted with almond extract giving these almond cookies even more delicious almond flavour. You can also do a combo of the both to make up the same amount - I like doing 1 tsp vanilla and ½ tsp almond
  • You can make these Gluten Free by using a good quality gluten free 1-1 flour. If I am doing that I will also add in a few tbsps or up to a ¼ cup of ground almonds in for extra texture and flavour.
  • For a dairy free version you could replace the butter with a good vegan butter or plant based butter.
  • You can either use brandy or cognac to add to the signature flavour of these tasty Greek cookies
  • The icing sugar is one of the signature features of the cookie recipe. Feel free to reduce the amount used. I grew up having these with ample amounts of it but I know others prefer just a very light dusting on there’s. You decide how you like them.
  • Many recipes call for lighty brushing or spraying the baked cookies with a little rose water or orange blossom water right out the oven for extra flavor. I usually do not do this but feel free to if you would like too


How To Make Kourabiedes

They are extremely easy and quick to make- there are just a few steps involved and some critical tips to making them with the perfect αφράτο - light, fluffy melt in your mouth texture with a crisp exterior. Here is a breakdown of the simple steps (full instructions in recipe card below).

  1. TOAST cool and chop your slivered almonds
  2. SIFT flour and the powdered sugar - to keep things light and fluffy
  3. CREAM the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt - CRITICAL STEP - cream for up to 10 minutes to get the best texture in your kourabiedes - the butter should become white and creamy and fluffy like whipped cream.
  4. BEAT in the yolk followed by the brandy, baking soda, nutmeg if using and 2 tablespoon of the flour
  5. BEAT in the flour and the almonds alternating a little of each at a time - switch to using a spatula to fold in the remaining bit of flour or you can use your hands to knead it in gently. If the dough is too sticky (a little sticky is fine but if you can’t even grab it without it sticking all over your fingers) you can fold in or knead a little flour 1 tablespoon at a time just until its not overly sticky.
  6. SCOOP and SHAPE dough and place on prepared baking sheet
  7. BAKE until edges are lightly golden and cookies are fragrant
  8. COOL in pan on cooling rack
  9. TOSS COOKIES in powdered sugar and sift more on top to coat as much as desired.

Kourabiethes Step By Step Directions

Kourabiethes Step By Step Directions

The key to making the very BEST kourabiedes no matter what recipe you make is ensuring that you beat the butter and sugar until its very light and fluffy - like I mean a good 8-10 minutes until it almost resembles whip cream. This will help ensure that your cookies are αφρατα / afrata or light and fluffy and crumbly and melt in your mouth good. You also don’t want to over work or over mix the dough. I like to incorporate the last bit of flour in the recipe either mixing it in with my hands or folding it in with the spatula. The rest is super easy and pretty no fail.


They smell so fragrant while baking, your nose will tell you when they are just about done baking too - you don’t want to over bake them though so I would recommend checking in on them during the last 5 minutes of baking as everyone’s oven is different. You want to see the tops of them crackle a bit - they will puff up and develop little crags when they are close to being done and will be golden. After that some recipes call for brushing them lightly or spraying them lightly with orange blossom water or rose water but that is optional. As soon as they are cool enough to to handle they go in for their first powdered sugar dip then they get dusted with more and placed on a rack to cool completely. I love to dust them a little more before serving just for good measure. Enjoy wisely - meaning never sneeze cough or laugh while they are in or near your mouth. I love mine with a nice hot cup of not too sweet Turkish coffee - but feel free to have them with anything you enjoy your cookies with.


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Servings: 24-27 cookies
Prep Time: 20 mins
Bake Time: 50 mins
Total Time: 70 mins


  • 1 cup blanched slivered almonds, toasted and chopped
  • 250 g (2 sticks + 2 tbsp) unsalted butter (softened at room temperature)
  • 125 g (approx. 1 cup) icing sugar, sifted, plus 3-4 cups extra for dusting
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract (or you could also use almond extract)
  • 2 tablespoons brandy/cognac or ouzo
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
  • 300 g (approx. 2 cups) all purpose flour, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking trays. baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Place softened butter, sifted sugar, vanilla and salt in a large bowl of a stand mixer/free-standing mixer (you can also use a hand mixer too) and beat with whisk attachment on low until incorporated then increase to Med/high and mix until very fluffy and creamy - it should almost look as fluffy as whipped cream. This can take up to 10-12 minutes.
  3. Beat in the egg yolk
  4. In a small cup mix the brandy with the baking soda and add to the butter sugar mixture along with the pinch of nutmeg if using along with 1-2 tbsp of the flour which will help the butter better absorb the brandy mixture.
  5. Switch out the whisk attachment to the paddle attachment (scraping off batter from whisk). Turn mixer to low and alternate adding and mixing in the flour ½ cup at a time with the chopped almonds. Stop mixing when you have only ½ cup of flour left. Then mix in remaining ½ cup by hand or fold in with a spatula just until incorporated. The dough will be a little sticky and that is normal. If you find the batter too sticky feel free to fold in a little bit of flour 1 tablespoon at a time.
  6. Portion out the dough using a small 2’ (5 cm) 1 tablespoon cookie scoop, scooping out 1 heaping tablespoon of dough. Roll approx 1 tablespoon of the mixture into balls, then shape each one into a traditional crescent shape or leave them in balls. (you could also flatten dough onto clean surface and cut them with a star cutter or any shape cutter you like.)
  7. Place shaped cookie dough on the lined baking tray 1 inch apart and bake for approx 18-20 minutes, or until lightly golden and surface of them is starting to get crackly. You will be able to smell them when they are done.
  8. Remove and allow to cool 5 min in pan on cooling rack.
  9. Add 2/3 of the remaining icing sugar to a deep tray or pan approx 2 cups. Place cookies in the icing sugar tray and gently roll them in the sugar then sift remaining sugar over them.
  10. Then transfer them to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Cooled cookies keep up to 14 days in a sealed container.

Recipe Notes

  • For extra flavour as soon as the cookies come out of the oven you can very lightly brush or lightly spray them with orange blossom water or rose water. Continue with the step 9 after that.

Storing Kourabiethes

  • Once the cookies are cooled and coated in confectioner’s sugar for the second time, they should be stored in an airtight container. These are good for about 10-14 days, but will last even longer in the freezer. I like to store them in my glass trifle dish which has a lid but any sealed container works. It’s a good idea to place them into cookie liners or muffin liners so it’s easier to grab each cookie and for storing them.

Freezing Kourabiethes

  • If you are planning on freezing these cookies after they are baked, then you should freeze them after you’ve coated the cookies in confectioner’s sugar the FIRST time, and in a single layer on a sheet pan. Then once frozen, you can transfer the cookies into freezer bags and store them for up to 2 months in the freezer. To thaw them, leave the cookies out at room temp., and once thawed out, dust them generously in the second layer of confectioner’s sugar before serving.
  • Alternatively, you can portion the cookie dough into balls, and leave as is or shape into crescents and freeze the raw cookie dough balls or crescents instead. Again, freeze them in a single layer on a sheet pan first to flash freeze them, then transfer frozen cookie dough balls into freezer bags. And when you’re ready to bake, you can place the cookie dough balls/crescents on prepared pans and bake them straight from frozen. They may need an extra couple of minutes of baking time - monitor them closely while baking.
  • If freezing the whole portions of dough, make sure to wrap it really well and it freezes very well – up to three months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then allow to come to room temperature and continue with step 6.
  • Can I use shortening with the butter? Yes you definitely can. My mom always used half butter and half vegetable shortening or crisco. Adding Shortening to baked goods does help the texture get nice and light and fluffy. So feel free to use 1 stick shortening and 1 stick butter - I make these with all butter or half and half depending on what I might have on hand at the time.