Greek Recipes

Greek and Cypriot recipes

Lenten Sugared Shortbread Cookies with Almonds

Kourabiethes Nistisimoi

In Greek: κουραμπιέδες νηστίσιμες, pronounced koo-rahm-bee-YEH-thes nee-STEE-see-mes

Adapting recipes to meet Greek dietary restrictions during Lent and other periods of “fasting” (as they are called in Greek) doesn’t mean giving up taste and texture. And it doesn’t mean not eating delicious foods. Kourabiethes, sugared shortbread cookies, are favorites at the holidays made with butter and eggs, and this dairy-free version is a lovely alternative.

Lenten Sugared Shortbread Cookies with Almonds

Lenten Sugared Shortbread Cookies with Almonds

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of brandy (or water)
  • 2 cups of vegetable margarine at room temperature
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 8 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 pound of unsalted toasted almonds, whole or chopped into large pieces
  • ———-
  • rose water (optional)
  • confectioner’s sugar (about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds)


Dissolve the baking soda in the brandy (or water).

Using an electric mixer, cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and the baking soda mixture. Add flour a little at a time, and knead (pastry hooks or by hand) until smooth and malleable. Add almonds.

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

Form the cookies into small rounded circles or roll out pieces of dough to the thickness you want (not less than 1/2 inch) and use a cookie cutter.

Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 20-30 minutes but check at 20 minutes because these do not brown the way other cookies might. (Take out a cookie and test to make sure it’s cooked through). Watch carefully at the end of the end of baking time to prevent burning.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with rose water, and sift confectioner’s sugar over them. Generously dust a serving platter with confectioner’s sugar, place the sugared cookies in layers, sifting more sugar over each layer (no more than 2-3 layers to a platter).

Yield: Depending on the size of the cookies, this yields about 40 kourabiethes cookies.

Note: The rose water is optional. They can be dusted with sugar as is.

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