Melomakarona Recipe: Best Greek Christmas Cookies To Delight In

This article has links to products and services we recommend, which we may make a commission from.

This melomakarona recipe is for one of the most beloved Greek Christmas cookies. Soft and oval-shaped, these cookies with orange and cinnamon flavors are drenched in a honey syrup and covered with walnuts. Addictive, these melt-in-your-mouth cookies are irresistible. 

Authentic Food Quest Page_Break

What are Melomakorona Greek Christmas Cookies?

Melomakarona Greek Christmas Cookies Recipe by Authentic Food Quest
Delectable Melomakarona Greek Christmas cookies

Melomakarona cookies are one of the most iconic Greek Christmas sweets. They are ever present in Greek homes and can make a fantastic addition to your Christmas table.

When we first tasted these melomakarona Greek honey cookies, we could not get over how sweet and crumbly they were. We absolutely loved them.

These Greek Christmas cookies are soaked in honey syrup, topped with walnuts and are an authentic Greek delicacy.

Pronounced mel-low-ma-KA-row-na, these Greek Christmas honey cookies are quick to bake, fun to make and highly addictive.

This melomakarona recipe has no dairy or eggs. It is vegan, though it does include honey. This traditional recipe makes 40 cookies, plenty for everyone. 

Go ahead and make these traditional Christmas cookies. Bring a taste of Greek Christmas to your holiday table this season.

Melomakarona History

Melomakarona Cookies at the Bakery in Chania Crete by Authentic Food Quest
Melomakarona cookies at a local bakery in Chania, Crete

Melomakarona cookies have a long history with roots in ancient Greece. Although modern melomakarona cookies are a festive treat, their history is rooted in conflict and mourning. 

The word melomakarona is a combination of the meli, meaning honey and makaria, a piece of bread offered at funerals. 

The makaria bread used by the ancient Greeks was similar to the shape of the modern melomakarona. 

In later periods, during the Byzantine Empire, the makaria were soaked in honey, and the name can literally be translated as honey biscuits. 

Over the years, melomakarona cookies became a popular cookie eaten during the Christmas season.

RELATED: Why Thyme Honey From Crete is one of the Best in The World

Discovering Greek Cookies – Melomakarona or μελομακάρονα

Claire and Rosemary eating Melomakarona by Authentic Food Quest
Claire and Rosemary savoring home made melomakarona cookies from our Airbnb host

Since arriving in Greece, we see melomakarona cookies in bakeries all over Crete and particularly where we are staying in Chania.

Every time we walk into a bakery we see an enormous pile of these delectable Christmas honey cookies on display. Not surprisingly, the quantities increased as we moved into the December month.

Greeks are known for their incredible generosity and hospitality. After buying bread or pastries, while paying for our purchases, the bakery staff always give us some melomakarona cookies. 

Getting the free honey cookies is something we experience almost every single time we visit a bakery. 

After eating many melomakarona Greek Christmas cookies, we were tempted to make them ourselves. When we asked our Airbnb host about the ingredients, she spontaneously gave us her family’s traditional melomakarona recipe. 

This was perfect as we wanted a tried and true traditional melomakarona Greek Christmas cookie recipe. 

Before Greece, the first time we had these Greek Christmas honey cookies was in Chicago. 

Artopolis Bakery, in the heart of Greektown, Chicago is famous for having some of the best Greek pastries in the city.

WATCH AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST VIDEO – Greektown Chicago Tour with Greek Foods  & Wine Tasting

How to Make Traditional Melomakarona Cookies at Home

Ingredients for Melomakarona Recipe by Authentic Food Quest
Ingredients for the melomakarona recipe

The best melomakarona honey cookies are crispy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. They are incredibly delicious and quite addictive. 

Every Greek household has their own family recipe. While the ingredients can be altered, the one thing that remains constant is the use of high quality Greek products.

For this recipe, use Greek ingredients and especially Greek extra virgin olive oil for authentic tastes of these honey cookies.

  • All-purpose flour
  • Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Baking Soda
  • Baking Powder
  • Greek Brandy like Metaxa 
  • Honey – Greek Cretan honey recommended
  • Cinnamon powder 
  • Ground cloves
  • Crushed walnuts
  • Freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Sugar
  • Water

Use Greek or Cretan Olive Oil

Terra Creta Olive Oil for Melomakarona Recipe
Cretan olive oil is best for the melomakarona recipe

Olive oil has been a part of Greek history for millenia and it is believed to have first been cultivated in Crete. 

Considered liquid gold, olive oil is one of the foundations of the famous Cretan diet. Cretan olive oil is used extensively in cooking, including in this melomakarona recipe. 

To make these Greek Christmas honey cookies, our local friends recommended the use of Cretan olive oil.

Terra Creta extra virgin olive oil from Crete is a winner of many awards and one of the best in the country. You can find it on Amazon and use it in your melomakarona recipe.

READ MORE: Cooking With Olive Oil – Tips from Top Producer in Crete

Choose Greek or Cretan Honey

Cretan Honey for melomakarona recipe by Authentic Food Quest
Cretan honey considered amongst the best in the world

The Greeks have used honey as a sweetener since antiquity and it is at the center of Greek gastronomy.

Like olive oil, Cretan honey is a flagship product from the island. Cretan honey is used in baking instead of sugar in a variety of mouth-watering syrupy sweets.  

This Greek Christmas cookies recipe calls for one cup of honey. If you can, use Cretan honey for the best flavors.

READ MORE: Why Thyme Honey From Crete is One of The Best In The World

Melomakarona Recipe Tips

Can I Substitute Brandy with Something Else?

Traditionally, melomakarona honey cookies are made with a few tablespoons of cognac or brandy. 

When we asked our Airbnb host what she recommended, she gave us Raki to use instead. Raki is a spirit similar to the Italian grappa. In Crete, Raki is also called Tsikoudia. 

For the Cretans, Raki represents hospitality and it is a symbol of Cretan culture.  Outside of Crete and Greece, it is difficult to find Raki. 

One popular substitute is Metaxa, the famous Greek brandy. You can find Metaxa available worldwide.

If you want to make non-alcoholic cookies you can use more orange juice instead of brandy.

How Long Can I Keep Greek Melomakarona Cookie?

These Greek Christmas honey cookies will last up to three weeks if properly stored. In fact, the flavors of the cookies get better over time.

With no dairy or eggs used, these vegan cookies can last for several weeks.

Store the melomakarona cookies in an air-tight container at room temperature. And to prevent the layers of cookies from sticking together, it helps to place sheets of wax paper in between the cookies.

Melomakarona Greek Honey Cookies – Step by Step Instructions

One of the easiest ways to make these delightful Greek cookies is to separate the ingredients by use. 

Place all the syrup ingredients together. And, create separate piles for the dry and wet ingredients. This will make it easier, once you get started.

Start by Making the Syrup

In a medium-sized saucepan combine 1 cup of water with 1 cup honey and 1 cup of sugar. 

Over medium heat, bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves.

Let the honey syrup mixture cool so that it is better absorbed by the fresh-out-of-the-oven melomakarona cookies.

The Cookie Dough

When mixing the wet and dry ingredients, do not overwork the dough and simply knead using your hands.

Keep kneading the dough until all the ingredients are well incorporated.  If the dough is too sticky, you can add a little extra flour.

Make sure the dough is smooth and not overworked.

Shape The Melomakarona Greek Honey Cookies

Layer a large baking tray with parchment paper and start shaping the melomakarona honey cookies. 

Pinch a small scoop of cookie dough slightly larger than the size of your thumb. Using the palms of your hands, mold the dough into oval or oblong shapes,  making them all similar.

Press on the cookies gently to flatten the dough slightly. Keep making the cookies until you use up all the dough.

On the baking sheet, line up the cookies about ½ inch apart.

Then, using a fork, make a criss-cross pattern on each cookie. This is mostly decorative but it also helps the walnuts stick.

Dipping The Cookies Into The Honey Syrup

Once the melomakarona are ready, remove them from the oven and dip them into the cold syrup. Dip 2 or 3 cookies at a time, turning them over until they absorb the cold syrup, about 10 seconds.

Remove the cookies and place them on a second platter lined with a baking sheet. One tip is to sprinkle crushed walnuts on the bottom of the baking sheet first.

And then, top the cookies with another layer of crushed walnuts. You can also add a dusting of cinnamon.

Oven Baked Melomakarona Cookies and Presentation

Once all the cookies are topped with crushed walnuts, let them rest and cool down for about 30 minutes. 

In Greece, these melomakarona Christmas cookies are set out on big platters stacked up like a tower.

This pyramid style is beautiful and the traditional way of displaying them.

Greek honey cookies by Authentic Food Quest

Melomakarona Recipe

Yield: 40
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

This melomakarona recipe is for one the most beloved Greek christmas cookies. Soft and oval-shaped, these cookies with orange and cinnamon flavors are drenched in a honey syrup and covered with walnuts. Addictive, these melt-in-your mouth cookies are irresistible.

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

  • 3 ¾ cups of flour
  • ½  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 cup of high quality Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ cup of brandy
  • Zest of orange peel from 1 orange
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 medium lemon
  • ⅓  cup of sugar

For the Syrup

  • 1 cup of Greek Cretan honey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup of water

Toppings

  • ½ cup of chopped walnuts
  • Sprinkle a dusting of cinnamon

Instructions

For the Syrup

  1. Start by making the syrup. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the water, honey, and sugar.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium-high for 5 minutes or until the sugar dissolves completely.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

For the Cookies

  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and baking soda, ground cloves, and cinnamon together.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the extra virgin olive oil, orange juice, brandy, zest of orange, lemon juice, and sugar. Mix well.
  3. Slowly, add the dry flour mixture to the wet olive oil mixture. Using your hands, slowly knead the dough until all the flour has been added. Do not overwork the dough, but make sure the final mixture is soft and smooth. 
  4. Using your hands, pinch off a small amount of dough and shape the melomakarona into a small oval shape, slightly larger than your thumb.
  5. Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, keeping about ½ inch between them.
  6. Use a fork to create a criss-cross pattern on all the cookies.
  7. Bake in your heated oven for about 25 minutes, until they are crunchy and golden in color.
  8. As soon as you remove the cookies from the oven, soak them in the cold syrup for about 10 seconds, flipping them around. 
  9. Remove the cookies from the syrup and arrange them on a tray that is lined with extra crushed walnuts. Drizzle any extra syrup on the cookies.
  10. Sprinkle the cookies with crushed walnuts and you can also add a little dusting of ground cinnamon. 

Notes

  • Work the dough with your hands instead of using a mixer. The dough will be a bit greasy and that is expected with the olive oil.
  • To make melomakarona cookies of the same size, you can use a small ice cream scoop to portion out the dough for each cookie. Use your hands to make an oval shape, slightly larger than your thumb.
  • The cookies should be hot and the syrup cold when you soak them. Keep them only for about 10 seconds, flipping them over.
  • Store melomakarona in an air-tight container at room temperature. And the cookies can last for up to three weeks.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, Authentic Food Quest earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 40 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 160Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 29mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 15gProtein: 2g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information is generated by an online API and makes calculations based on serving sizes. These figures are only estimates and results may vary.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a Star Rating or simply share a photo on Instagram

When you make this recipe, take a pic and tag @authenticfoodquest on Instagram (Or hashtag #authenticfoodquest ). We’d love to see what you cook up. Don’t forget to give a Star Rating on the recipe and let us know your comments. 

35 comments

  1. This is the first time I’ve heard of melomakarona cookies but I’m already sure I’d love them! I especially like fruits in cookies (yes, including raisins) and I can’t wait to whip a batch of these!

    Reply
  2. I am new to cooking and yeah, I have limited knowledge of cooking and baking yet. I’d love to do so many recipes and I guess I need to line this up. Excited to be able to do a greek recipe for the first time.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Post a Comment

We love to hear from you, so tell us what you think.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.

Skip to Recipe