Greek honey cookies, or melomakarona, are a soft, delightfully sweet, egg-shaped cookie. Make this recipe for the best Greek Christmas cookies!
There are some amazing foods in Greek cuisine, especially for holiday celebrations.
Foods like fried squash patties (kolokithokeftedes), flaming saganaki cheese, and feta salad are all fantastic holiday appetizers in Greece.
For dinner, traditional favorites include soutzoukakia meatballs, and a layered pasta dish called pasticcio. For dessert, Greek baklava or baklava rolls (saragli) are a must.
If you happen to visit Greece in December, be sure to stop by a local bakery. You’ll have an opportunity to taste what could very well be the best Greek cookies ever! The baked honey-sweetened treat is perfect for a platter of Christmas cookies!
Cuisine: Mediterranean / Greek
The word melomakarona is a combination of two Greek words; meli, which means honey, and makarona, from the ancient word, makaria, which means blessed.
Greek honey cookies, melomakaron, melomakariona, finikia
baked or fried
Difficulty: Medium 🥄🥄
Egg-shaped Greek honey cookies, either baked or fried, covered in flavored sugar syrup. Often garnished on top with crushed nuts.
Melomakarona vs Finikia
Both of these Greek honey cookies have nearly identical ingredients. Although the names are interchangeable, the difference truly lies in the way they’re cooked. Melomakarona cookies are always baked, while finikia are sometimes fried.
This recipe is for the baked version of the Greek cookies.
Ingredient notes for Greek honey cookies
There are two components to this recipe; the sugar syrup and the dough.
The syrup provides the melomakarona with flavor and moisture, which creates a soft, craveable cookie. Traditional flavorings are clove, cinnamon, and orange.
- Semolina flour- This coarse, pale yellow flour is made from durum wheat, the product used to make pasta and couscous.
Semolina flour is very high in protein, so it's also a good product to use in cakes and cookies.
Be sure to buy fine grain semolina flour. There other grind is coarse, which is great for pasta, but gives cookies a rougher texture.
Unless you bake a lot of melomakarona cookies, you'll likely have some semolina flour left over.
You could use it to make a Middle Eastern date-filled semolina cookie called maamoul. They're also fantastic for a Christmas cookie platter!
- Nuts- An optional ingredient, crushed nuts add a nice crunch factor to the tops of each cookie. I use crushed walnuts. Peanuts and pecans are good options, too.
You'll need to start by making the sugar syrup first. The reason is, the syrup must be cool to properly soak into the warm cookies.
It doesn't have to be completely cold, but be sure it's at least room temperature. By the time you've made the dough and baked your first batch of the honey cookies, the syrup should be ready to use.
🏃♀️In a hurry?
Feel free to chill the syrup in the fridge while preparing the melomakarona dough.
Shaping the dough
It's very important not to work the melomakarona dough too much, because this can lead to tough cookies. You want them to have soft, melt-in-your-mouth consistency.
Start by scooping out a walnut-sized piece of dough. This is roughly 2 tablespoons, or 1 ounce.
Using your hands, gently form the cookie dough into an egg shape. Next, use the tines of a fork to poke holes in the top of each of the honey cookies.
- Only poke the tines half way down through the dough. The syrup will soak in and help the cookies become moist and tender inside.
- Sticky dough
Your melomakarona dough should not be overly dry, so a bit of stickiness is to be expected.
If it sticks to your hands too much, you can lightly flour your hands before you shape the dough, but avoid doing this if possible.
If the Greek honey cookies are baked (not fried) and made with the ingredients shown in this recipe, each one will have approximately 161 calories.
With the sugar syrup on the cookies, they do not freeze well. If you'd like to freeze melomakarona cookies, you can do it prior to dipping them. However, you'll need to warm them back up before adding the syrup.
Greek Honey Cookies (Melomakarona)
- 1 ¼ cups water
- 2 ¾ cups sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 orange cut in half
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup semolina fine
- 4 ⅓ cups all purpose flour
- ½ tablespoon baking powder
- ⅓ cup orange juice
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ⅓ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅓ teaspoon ground clove
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ tablespoon baking soda
- ⅓ cup water
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoon honey
- 2 oranges zest
- 1 ½ cups walnuts chopped
- In a saucepan add all the ingredients for the syrup (excluding the honey) and bring to a boil. Cook until sugar has dissolved, 3-4 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir in honey, then set aside to cool completely.
- In a bowl whisk together semolina, flour and baking powder. Set aside
- In a larger bowl, add the orange juice, sugar, spices, and vanilla, then stir to combine. Whisk in baking soda until it dissolves and starts to foam, then whisk in water, oil, orange zest and honey to combine.
- Add the bowl of dry ingredients to the wet. Knead the dough using your hands until combined and the dough is smooth and slightly sticky. Do not overwork the dough.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 4 large baking trays with parchment paper. Prepare a wire rack over a rimmed baking pan. Set aside.
- Take a walnut sized piece of dough (approx. 2 tablespoon or 1 ounce) and with your hands, form it into a smooth, oval egg shape. Place cookie dough on the baking tray and press slightly on top to flatten. Using the tines of a fork, pierce 2 times on top of cookie, stopping about half way through the dough. Repeat this step with the remaining dough.
- Bake honey cookies in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the melomakarona are lightly browned. Remove from oven and use a spatula to transfer cookies to prepared wire rack. Remove cloves and cinnamon sticks from syrup, then immediately pour the syrup over the cookies to absorb the syrup. Alternatively, dip tops of each cookie by hand in the syrup for 10 seconds, then return them to wire rack. Sprinkle warm cookies with optional chopped walnuts, if desired.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.