Melomakarona: A Tradititional Greek Christmas Honey Cookies Recipe

 Melomakarona is the name of Greek honey cookies. This egg-shaped cookie, along with the kourabiedes, is a popular traditional dessert that Greeks prepare to celebrate Christmas. I still remember the delicious smell when my mother was making them when I was a kid. It was a clear sign that at last Christmas had arrived. For me, nothing screams more that Christmas has arrived like melomakarona!

There is a history behind these cookies. In more detail, melomakarona come from the ancient makaria which were cookies that ancient people used to eat during funerals. As time passed and the recipe evolved, people started dipping them into honey. The Greek word for honey is meli. Consequently, this led to melomakarona which means “meli” (honey) and makaria.

This authentic melomakarona recipe requires the following ingredients: olive oil, vegetable oil, freshly squeezed orange juice, cognac, sugar, cinnamon powder, clove powder, baking powder, baking soda, all-purpose flour, Greek honey, water, and crushed walnuts. As you make them once a year, try to use the best of materials! Moreover, for this recipe the standard measuring cups has been used, with a metric cup being 250 milliliters. 

This easy melomakarona recipe, which gives around 50 cookies, takes 1 h 10 min to prepare and 25-30 min to bake. The Greek word for melomakara is μελομακάρονα (plural) and μελαμακάρονο (singular).

Melomakarona Recipe

Melomakarona - Ingredients

  •  1 cup olive oil
  •  2 cups vegetable oil
  •  1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  •  3 tablespoons of cognac or whisky
  •  1 cup sugar
  •  1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  •  ½ teaspoon clove powder
  •  3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  •  7 cups all-purpose flour, divided

 For the syrup and garnish:

  •  1 cup Greek honey
  •  2 cups sugar
  •  3 cups water
  •  1 cup crushed walnuts
  •  cinnamon powder (sprinkle)
  •  clove powder (sprinkle)

Melomakarona - How to Make

  1. Start this traditional melomakarona recipe by taking a bowl and combining the olive and vegetable oils. 
  2. Blend with hand mixer starting on low speed and slowly working up to medium speed. 
  3. Slowly pour in the orange juice and cognac, and continue mixing. 
  4. Add in the sugar, cinnamon powder, clove powder, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix for a total of 10 minutes.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, start with 3 cups of flour, then pour in the oil mixture. 
  6. With the help of your hand mix all the ingredients. Gradually add additional 4 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. This will allow you to knead the melomakarona dough uniformly until it feels like bread dough. This process takes about 10 minutes.
  7. It may require a touch more flour, depending on how tight so trust your judgment. 
  8. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). 
  9. Grease a couple of baking sheets with vegetable oil or line with parchment paper. 
  10. Roll out the melomakarona with your fingers, shaping them into 3-inch long by 1½-inch wide cookies, and arrange them onto the greased baking trays. 
  11. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned and baked through. 
  12. Allow the melomakarona to cool properly before proceeding to coat with honey and nuts.
  13. To make the syrup, combine the honey, sugar, and water in a saucepan. 
  14. Stir while bringing to a boil, then cook on low heat for 5 minutes. 
  15. Skim the foam off the top. 
  16. Take a skimmer and fully immerse the melomakarona into the pan (about 5 to 6 cookies at a time) for about 2 minutes so the hot syrup thoroughly soaks through the cookies. 
  17. Remove the melomakarona from the pan, place them on a plate, and immediately garnish it with crushed walnuts, then cinnamon powder and clove powder. 
  18. Repeat with the remaining cookies.
  19. Allow the melomakarona to cool.

A secret to keep your melomakarona fresh for a long time of period is to cover them with a cling film wrap or to store them in an airtight container. Merry Christmas.