Make Ahead

Melomakarona (Greek Honey-Spice Cookies)

December 15, 2012
1 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Cook time 2 hours
  • Makes about 60 cookies
Author Notes

I first had these cookies a few years ago at a Christmas celebration with my fiancé's family. They're not too sweet and the sweetness you do taste is honey, mixed with spice and citrus. The texture is fun, too–slightly sandy cookies topped with crunchy walnuts. I look forward to them all year.

Until last week, I was calling these "the Greek honey cookies," but they have a real name: melomakarona. They're a traditional Greek holiday cookie and they're often made with semolina, and a lot of recipes call for olive oil. The recipe my fiancé's cousin, Lisa, graciously shared with me doesn't call for either of those things, but I think they could easily be substituted in (for a more sandy texture, try replacing some of the AP flour with semolina). More importantly, even without those ingredients, these cookies are still my favorite holiday treat around.

Having received these cookies in the mail, I can tell you that they do, in fact, keep for weeks. I also think they get even better with time.

The recipe below is slightly adapted from cousin Lisa's recipe. —Kristy Mucci

What You'll Need
  • Cookies
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Finely crushed walnuts, for topping the cookies
  • Honey Syrup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, spices, baking soda and baking powder.
  2. Beat the butter until it is light in color and fluffy, about 10 minutes in a stand mixer. Add the sugar and continue mixing for about 5 more minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and orange juice together. Add to the butter mixture and make sure it is thoroughly incorporated.
  4. Add dry ingredients in 3 parts, mixing after each addition, then add the teaspoon of honey. Mix just until a soft dough forms. Chill dough 30 minutes to 1 hour before shaping.
  5. Shape the dough into small ovals and flatten a little on the cookie sheet. These cookies do spread a little, so be sure to leave enough room in between. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, or until they are lightly golden brown.
  6. Meanwhile, heat the syrup ingredients over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool.
  7. When cookies are cool enough to handle, dip into syrup on both sides for about 10-15 seconds. Gently press freshly-dipped cookies top side down onto crushed walnuts, then place on wax paper top side up. Let dry completely before you store.
  8. NOTES FROM COUSIN LISA: Cookies should be stored in an air tight container and can be kept fresh for several weeks if properly stored. Cookies can be baked and frozen until ready to dip into syrup and ground walnuts, just bring them to room temperature before dipping. Be sure to cool dipped cookies before storing to prevent them from becoming soggy.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Rivka
  • Jen0315
  • Amanda Li
    Amanda Li
  • Sophia R
    Sophia R

11 Reviews

Rivka August 1, 2014
lovely recipe. a couple notes for others who might have wondered: the cookie sheet doesn't need to be lined or greased - the cookies don't stick. I placed the cookies 2 inches apart and they had plenty of room to expand.
alexandra.cook December 15, 2013
The original greek recipe uses olive oil (instead of butter) and no eggs (therefore suitable for the pre-Christmas lent observed by some people in Greece) and they do keep very well until after New Year's day.
Still this version of the recipe (primarily due to the boiled syrup which "seals" the cookies) should keep well. Remember to cover your cookie trays with saran wrap; moisture from the environment can make them soggy if left uncovered. Under a cake bell on a cake plater: that's how I keep mine visible and protected.
jackie December 15, 2013
Do these keep well stored? Can I make these now 12/15 and serve for Christmas? Merry Christmas all
bkmmtl December 8, 2013
Made them today and stuck an almond in the top rather that walnuts. They were a hit!
Jen0315 December 7, 2013
Huh... so this is what the singer of Passion Pit eats during the holidays!
alexandra.cook January 3, 2013
You can sub oil for butter; the way to "whip it up" like butter by fridging (do not freeze). Put the oil in a glass bottle (i.e. old fashioned single serving soda), chill for 2-3 hours. Seal tighly and holding with a towel (don't want to get it warm and liquid) shake well for 1-15 mins. It will be cloudy and fluffy enough to whip in the recipe. This is how they used to do it in old times in greece before technology introduced food processors. I've only done it once (I prefer to tone my arms in the gym!) :)
Amanda L. January 3, 2013
wow that's incredible! thanks for the info alexandra!
Amanda L. January 3, 2013
Made these for a holiday party and subbed out 1/2 cup of the flour with semolina, and used crushed almonds. They were soooo good! The OJ was a nice touch to the cookies. It might be fun to try freezing/fridging some olive oil and subbing out some of the butter - wonder if that will cream as well as butter.
Sophia R. December 28, 2012
My sister made these the other day and the were so so so good - the entire family loved them and devoured these sticky spicy cookies in a blink. Am already bookmarking the recipe to make these myself once I have come down from m holiday-induced sugar high and have a craving for cookies again!
abbygayle December 22, 2012
Made these today using spelt flour. They are excellent. My greek husband approves and says they are the real deal. Great recipe. Now I need to scrub the honey off all the surfaces of my kitchen.
alexandra.cook December 19, 2012
I always enjoy finding "new twists" for ooold ooold recipes! This is definitely the "cookie" version of a traditional Xmas sweet in Greece. Butter and eggs are not supposed to go in this recipe, as it is intended to remain "vegan" (hence the olive oil) since a lot of greeks (still today) fast from animal foodstuff anywhere from 40 to 7 days prior to Xmas.
To keep them from getting soggy they can be arranged on decorative platters and covered tightly with plastic wrap.

P.S. Love, love, love your blog! 'following it for a few months now.
Happy Holidays