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Kourabiedes by Parliaros

Kourabiedes by Parliaros

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These Kourabiedes by Parliaros are Greek Christmas cookies, similar to shortbread cookies which are flavoured with rum and real vanilla pod and filled with toasted almonds and pistachios.

There are many recipes for kourabiedes but the main ingredient which gives this traditional Greek cookie its taste is the Greek ewe’s and goat milk butter.

However, if you cannot find Greek sheep’s butter you can also make them with any other butter you usually use.

I have made kourabiedes quite different this year after watching a Greek cooking show by Stelios Parliaros, a famous Greek pastry chef.

I mixed in some pistachios as well and used real vanilla pod, added rum and they were fantastic.    If you want a more traditional recipe, see my last year’s post here.

The only difference I made to his recipe was to use a vanilla pod and add pistachios in half of them.

To make these cookies, I start by roasting the almonds (with skin on) and the pistachios so that they cool before using them.  You can roast them ahead but I usually do this when preheating the oven.

I roasted them separately in two tins as pistachios need about 8 minutes and the almonds around 15 minutes, stirring them a couple of times.

roasting nuts image

I used the Paddle Beater Attachment and I beat the butter with icing sugar for almost half an hour, until the mixture was light and fluffy.

Paddle Beater Attachment FOR KENWOOD CHEF Mixer images

The traditional flavour for kourabiedes is vanilla.  To flavour them, I used a real vanilla bean.  Vanilla beans are quite expensive, so feel free to substitute them with either vanillin or vanilla essence.

How to use a vanilla bean

To cut open the vanilla bean, use the tip of a sharp knife and cut along the bean.

Using the knife to scrape the seeds and this is what to use.

The seeds of one vanilla bean are equivallent to about 3 teaspoons of vanilla extract, depening of the size of the bean.

Once split open, the seeds must be used, as these cannot be stored.  However, if a recipe calls for one teaspoon of vanilla extract, just cut 1/3 of the bean and then split open just this piece.

Wrap the remaining piece in cling film and store in the refrigerator.

Do not discard the used part.  You can put it in a jar and fill it with sugar.  Leave it there for about a month so that the sugar is flavoured and then use this sugar in your desserts.

scraping vanilla bean image

Next step is to combine all the dry ingredients.  Put the flour in a bowl and add the baking powder, salt and vanilla seeds and mix.

Lower mixer speed and then add the flour mixture until incorporated.

Captain Morgan's rum image

Usually an alcoholic drink is added to kourabiedes.  Parliaros chose to use rum, which I happened to have at home.  The traditional alcohol used is brandy or you can use any other liqueur.

cookie dough image

After the addition of the rum, stop the mixture to check the cookie dough.  Test it with your fingers.  It should be a soft dough which does not stick to your fingers.

When the nuts cool, coarsely pound them with a pestle and mortar or in a food processor.  You can mix them all in the mixture if you like but I prefered to use them separately to make two different kinds.

collage cookie dough with nuts image

I divided the dough in two parts and in most of the dough I added the almonds and in the remaining the pistachios.

To distinguish them, I made the ones with the almonds round and baked them on a baking tin lined with parchment paper.

Round kourabiedes with almonds

The ones with the pistachios I gave them a crescent shape, which is more traditional.

Crescent shaped kourabiedes with pistachios image

Be careful not to make them too big as they will expand when baked.  Make them about the size of a walnut and space them  3 – 4 cm (about an inch or more) apart.

collage baked kourabiedes

Bake them for 20 – 30 minutes, depending on their size and your oven.

Let them cool and turn them oven.  Sieve some icing sugar and them turn them over.  Sieve more sugar on top and place them in a platter.

Sieving icing sugar image

Leftover icing sugar can be reused by sieving it again.

Kourabiedes image

Wishing you all Happy Holidays!

Kourabiedes by Parliaros image

Kourabiedes by Parliaros

Yield: 40
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

These Kourabiedes by Parliaros are Greek Christmas cookies, similar to shortbread cookies which are flavoured with real vanilla pod, filled with toasted almonds and pistachios and when baked they are coated in icing sugar.


  • 300 grams Greek Ewe's and Goat milk butter
  • 110 grams icing sugar
  • 1/3 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 30 ml black rum
  • 600 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 100 grams almonds with the skin on, roasted
  • 40 grams pistachios, roasted
  • 200 grams icing sugar, for coating them


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius and toast the pistachios for 8 minutes and the almonds for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool and coarsely pound them.
  2. Attach the paddle beater to your mixer and beat the butter and sugar on high speed, until light and fluffy.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla seeds. Lower mixer speed and add the dry ingredients, mixing until incorporated.
  4. Add the rum and mix for another minute until it is absorbed.
  5. Finally add the nuts and mix again.
  6. Line a baking tin with parchment paper and shape kourabiedes in whatever shape you like. 
  7. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes, depending on your oven.
  8. Let them cool and turn them over. Sieve some icing sugar to coat them and turn them over. Sieve some more sugar on top.
  9. Put them in a platter and sieve the leftover sugar on top.
  10. Store them in an airtight container to keep them crunchy.
Nutrition Information
Yield 40 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 115Total Fat 3gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 2mgSodium 39mgCarbohydrates 20gFiber 1gSugar 8gProtein 3g

"These values are automatically calculated and offered for guidance only. Their accuracy is not guaranteed."

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Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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George Theodoridis

Wednesday 25th of September 2013

Hi, Ivy! I've been meaning to write to you a million times since the last time we spoke back in '08, I think.

Anyhow to jiggle your memory, you have mentioned my thinking about recipes and cuisine in your Lamb braised in milk recipe...

This time I'm writing to ask you about eggs in this recipe. It fascinates me that some recipes include them and others (like yours and Parliaros') don't!

I have scoured my recipe books (many are greek, others are aglo) and the internet and I keep seeing this eggy phenomenon. Some suggest one egg yoke, others two, others again the complete egg! What's the story with this ingredient? I can accommodate all sorts of variations to a recipe but eggs terrify me if I don't know what purpose they serve here and what happens when they are either included or excluded. Could you help me with this question please? I've just been given the command to make about 100! I've done this before but was always tentative about the eggs. What do you suggest?

Enormous thanks in advance. George


Wednesday 25th of September 2013

Hi George, It's wonderful to hear from you again after so many years. There are many reasons why eggs are added in a recipe. It could be for extra moisture, as a levening agent or as a binder. In kourabiedes I have made them, both with and without eggs. Adding egg tends to make a cookie more cake-like so no egg means a crunchier and thinner cookie (because it will spread more), in general. The white part of the egg has a drying and leavening effect wheareas the yolk has fat and so produces a richer cookie. So adding the extra egg yolk adds a richer and more tender texture to Kourabiedes. I prefer the ones without eggs.

Morfoula Anna

Thursday 16th of December 2010

Ivy these kourabiethes sound fantastic , my friend put pistachios in their shortbread type biscuits and they are lovely, I will try your recipe , I'm not sure where to buy the sheeps butter from , would it be from a deli ?


Thursday 16th of December 2010

Morfoula, I see from your e-mail that you are from Australia. Is there a Greek community where you live? Greek stores may have some. Australia has a lot of sheep, so there is bound to be some ewe's butter, may be as you say in a deli shop. Now, if you don't find any use cow's milk butter. They will not be the same but still delicious.


Wednesday 24th of December 2008

I love pistachios too... first time I baked kourabiedes, I don't have some of the ingredients and never tasted actual kourabiedes before. In the end I added in homemade vanilla extract and brandy. It tasted wonderful and was the first to finished compared to other cookies... I think my next cookie test-drive will be the Cyprus version but I don't have orange flower water... so I guessed I have to use Rose water instead.


Wednesday 24th of December 2008


more great photos and cookies! I need to make some of these cookies for xmas, I am slacking this year :)

Lubna Karim

Tuesday 23rd of December 2008

Oh wow looks gr8. Awesome festive cookies.

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