Greek Recipes

Greek and Cypriot recipes

Koulourakia Christouyennon: Christmas Sesame Cookie Rings

In Greek: κουλουράκια Χριστουγέννων, pronounced koo-loo-RAHK-yahkhree-stoo-YEH-non

These wreath-shaped yeast sesame cookie rings are made once a year in certain areas of the Greek island of Crete: at Christmas. The cookies are made with the traditional Christmas tastes of cinnamon, cloves, and orange, and they contain no dairy products or eggs.

Christmas Cookie Rings with Sesame

Christmas Cookie Rings with Sesame

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 1/2 cup of lukewarm water
  • 1 envelope of dry yeast (1 3/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons of brandy
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • about 6 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/4 pound (3/4 cup) white untoasted sesame seeds


Sprinkle yeast into the warm water and stir to dissolve.

In a non-metal mixing bowl, stir together olive oil and sugar to combine well. Stir in orange juice, brandy, cinnamon, cloves, and warm water (with yeast). Beat for several minutes on medium-high to combine.

Slowly beat in 4 cups of flour.

When the flour is mixed in, add more until the dough is stiff. Start kneading with hands (in the bowl). Knead for 10-15 minutes, until the dough is malleable and doesn’t split, adding more flour if needed. The dough will be oily.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

Take a piece of dough the size of an unshelled walnut (about a handful) and squeeze it in your fist to form a dense ball. Roll out into a cigar shape (fatter in the middle, tapered at the ends), about 6 inches long. Form into a ring shape with about a 1/2 inch hole in the center  and dip one side in sesame seeds. Place on cookie sheet with the sesame seed side up.

Bake on nonstick or very lightly oiled cookie sheets at 350°F (175°C) for 15-20 minutes, until they turn a nice deep gold color. Cool completely before serving.

Yield: about 4 dozen sesame cookie rings

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