Melomakarona are soft, oval-shaped Greek cookies scented with orange and cinnamon, drenched in honey syrup and covered with crushed walnuts. Yes, they are irressitable! This recipe makes 60 cookies; they keep well so that you can enjoy them for a while or gift them to family and friends.

This post is brought to you in partnership with California Walnuts. All opinions are my own.

Melomakarona Greek Cookies with walnuts

How about a different kind of cookie this holiday season?! Something that's a cross between your favorite soft cookie and honey-rich baklava!

Yes, there is such a thing and they are called Melomakarona!

If you visit Greece between Christmas and New Year's day, you are bound to try some of these cinnamon-scented honey cookies covered with loads of crushed walnuts.

The good news is, these cookies are easy to make at home and the ingredients are familiar and readily available.

This melomakarona recipe makes 60 cookies that will keep well, so you'll have plenty to share!

What are Melomakarona cookies?

Some call them finikia and others call them melomakarona, pronounced "melow-ma-kah-rona", and they are the quintessential Christmas cookies of Greece.

The name itself, melomakarona, is a combination of the two words: “meli”, which means honey and “makarona," which comes from the ancient word “makaria," meaning blessed.

Melomakarona cookies are soft cake-like cookies that are scented with orange and cinnamon, soaked in honey syrup and covered with crushed walnuts.

There are many versions of these popular Greek cookies. But traditionally, they are butter-free, eggless cookies so that those who follow the Orthodox Christian fast (no dairy or eggs) are able to enjoy them.

Let's walk through what you'll need to make these cookies.

Melomakarona cookies ona platter with walnuts and an orange to the side

Melmokarona ingredients

There are three components to this recipe: the syrup, the cookie dough and the crushed walnut topping. You may already have the ingredients you need right in your pantry! Here they are:

  • For the syrup: Sugar, water, 1 orange (any kind), cinnamon stick, and honey, which is stirred off-heat at the very end.
  • For the cookie dough:  Extra virgin olive oil, brandy, orange juice, orange zest, sugar, ground cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg, all-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda.
  • For the walnut topping: ¾ to 1 cup walnut halves. You'll want to measure the walnuts first, then finely chop them using a knife or put them in a zip-top bag and lightly crush them with a kitchen mallet.

A bit about walnuts in this recipe

I'm all about using walnuts for savory dishes like my stuffed chicken breast, in a fun dip like muhammara, and in all sorts of baked goodies--especially holiday cookies!

Lucky for us, there is no shortage of quality walnuts here in the Unites States--thanks to the fertile soils of California's central valley! That's why I buy California walnuts in bulk and store them in the freezer in a tight-lid container; they will last for months and I get to use them as needed. (Here is more about California Walnuts).

In this Greek honey and walnut cookies recipe, you will use at least ¾ cup of walnut halves becuase they are not just a good-looking garnish here. Walnuts add texture and a welcomed nutty flavor that is essential in a good melomakarona recipe.

How to make melomakarona: Step-by-Step

(print-friendly recipe with ingredient list below)

  • Make the syrup
    You'll need a medium saucepan. Combine 1 ½ cup of water with 1 cup sugar, 1 zested orange (cut in half), and 1 cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil until the sugar dissovles (about 5 minutes or so over medium-high heat).
    Remove from heat and stir in the honey then set the syrup aside to cool completely.
    TIP: It's important to give the syrup time to cool completely. As it sits, flavors will further develop. Also, the fresh warm cookies (straight from the oven) will better absorb the hot syrup and that's what we want!

    Honey Syrup
  • Make the dough
    You'll need two bowls. In a large bowl, combine the extra virgin olive oil, brandy (if using), orange juice, orange zest and 1 cup sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well.
    In another bowl, sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and baking soda).
    Now, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl of wet ingredients, while continously stirring with a wooden spoon.
    Once all the dry ingredients have been added, knead the dough. You want the dough to be smooth, but do not overwork it.

    Greek cookies dough
  • Shape the melomakarona
    Prepare 1 or 2 large sheet pans and line them with parchment paper. Now begin to shape the cookies. Use a measuring spoon and scoop up about 1 ½ tablespoons of the cookie dough and shape it between your palms into an oval shape (like a small egg). Lightly pat to flatten a little bit (it should not be too flat) and set on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat, forming the cookies until you have used up all the dough. Line the cookies about ½ inch apart in the sheet pans.

    Dough shaped into oval cookies on sheet pan

    Using a fork, lightly go in the center of each cookie and make a crosshatch pattern. The cookies should flatten a tiny bit more in the center (but you should not push so hard the cookies become too flat).

    crosshatch pattern applied to cookies with a fork
  • Bake in a heated oven at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes.
    The cookies should have a very slight golden color, they should not brown.

    baked melomakarona cookies on sheet pan
  • Drench the melomakarona cookies in the cool syrup
    Now, as soon as you take the cookies out of the oven, place a few cookies at a time in the saucepan of cooled syrup and turn them around for a few seconds until they have absorbed some of the syrup. Set the drenched cookies on a tray or flat dish (it helps to use a slotted spoon to transfer the cookies out of the syrup).

    melomakarona cookies in syrup
  • Add the crushed walnuts.
    Top each cookie with a generous pinch of the chopped walnuts and then pat the walnuts lighty so they will stick to the cookies.

    Walnuts added to the cookies

How long will these Greek cookies keep?

I asked this question in a Greek recipe exchange group I belong to, and learned that every Greek in the group makes an even larger batch than my 60 cookies! The good news is, these honey cookies will last a good couple of weeks (some keep them longer) if properly stored.

Store melomakarona in an air-tight container at room temperature. And to prevent the layers of cookies from sticking together, it helps to place sheets of wax paper in between the cookies.

A stack of melomakarona cookies with walnuts on a platter on a platter

More Mediterranean dessert recipes to try:

Browse our collection of Greek recipes or find all Mediterranean recipes.  

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4.78 from 50 votes

Melomakarona Recipe

Suzy Karadsheh
A stack of melomakarona cookies with walnuts on a platter on a platter
Melomakarona are soft, oval-shaped Greek cookies scented with orange and cinnamon, drenched in honey syrup and covered with crushed walnuts. Yes, they are irressitable! This recipe makes 60 cookies; they keep well so that you can enjoy them for a while or gift them to family and friends.
Prep – 30 mins
Cook – 20 mins
Cuisine:
Greek
Serves – 60 cookies
Course:
Dessert

Ingredients
  

For the syrup

  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 orange, zested and cut in half
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup honey (I used Greek honey)

For the cookies

  • 2 cups extra virgin olive oil (or 1 cup extra virgin olive oil and 1 cup grape seed oil)
  • ½ cup brandy
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 7 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup to 1 cup walnut halves, finely chopped (chop the walnuts after measuring)

Instructions
 

  • Make the syrup. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar, orange, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil over medium-high for 5 minutes or until the sugar dissolves completely. Remove from heat and stir in the honey. Set the syrup aside to cool completely (do not remove the cinnamon or orange until you are ready to use the syrup).
  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the EVOO, brandy, orange juice, orange zest, 1 cup sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix.
  • In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda.
  • Slowly, add the dry flour mixture to the wet olive oil mixture (I added ⅓ of the flour at a time), while mixing with a wooden spoon. Once all the flour has been added, use your hands to knead the dough until smooth (do not overwork the dough).
  • Prepare a large sheetpan (or two) and line with parchment paper.
  • Take about 1 ½ tablespoons of the cookie dough and shape it between your palms into an oval shape (like a small egg). Lightly flatten (do not flatten too much) and set on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat, forming the cookies until you have used up all the dough. Line the cookies in the sheet pan, making sure to leave about ½ inch between them.
  • In the center of each cookie, lightly press the tines of a fork in a crosshatch pattern. The cookies should flatten a tiny bit in the center (but you should not push so hard the cookies become too flat).
  • Bake on the center rack of your heated oven for 20 to 25 minutes; the cookies should be golden in color but they should not brown too much.
  • Remove the orange and cinnamon stick from the syrup.
  • As soon as you take the cookies out of the oven, put them in the cold syrup, flipping them around for about 20 to 30 seconds or so (you will need to do this in batches, making sure that all the cookies are able to absorb enough syrup).
  • With a slotted spoon, remove the cookies from the syrup and arrange them on a tray or directly on your serving dish. Sprinkle each cookie with a generous pinch of the chopped walnuts (pat the walnuts lightly so they will stick to the cookies).

Notes

  • Storage: Store melomakarona in an air-tight container at room temperature. And to prevent the layers of cookies from sticking together, it helps to place sheets of wax paper in between the cookies. 
  • Visit Our Shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients. 

Nutrition

Calories: 189.8kcalCarbohydrates: 24.2gProtein: 2.1gFat: 9.3gSaturated Fat: 1.2gSodium: 33.5mgPotassium: 40.8mgFiber: 0.7gVitamin A: 9IUVitamin C: 2.3mgCalcium: 15.6mgIron: 0.9mg
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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. These sounds so delicious. I want to try them to bring to a friend's house for Christmas. He and his father are Greek and the theme of the Christmas celebration is Greek food. CAN THESE BE FROZEN? Thanks

    1. Fun! I know that some people freeze them, but I never have. I find that these will actually last a good couple of weeks if stored in an air-tight container at room temperature. And to prevent the layers of cookies from sticking together, it helps to place sheets of wax paper in between the cookies.

  2. 5 stars
    I went to a Greek deli and had one of these for the first time yesterday and went online and found your recipe it was at the top of the list. I had no idea how these were made I thought there was ginger or molasses, it’s great to see all the ingredients. I will be making these ASAP! And it’s not even the holidays.

  3. 5 stars
    Dear Suzy,

    This recipe turned excellent, thanks so much. As an egg- and butter-free recipe, it was amazing. I mixed the crushed walnut and some almond inside the batter, and after cooking, soaked them in that delicious unique syrup (unique because of that whole orange!!). So flavorful and a most importantly a keeper! THANKS AGAIN 🌷🌷🌷

  4. 5 stars
    Loved trying out this recipe!! It turned out amazing and everyone at home loved it. It came really well and was happy with the result at the first attempt. I always am lookout for vegetarian recipes on your site. Thank you for providing us wonderful recipes in such detailed way.

  5. Heyyyyy mak-a-rona. Do I have to use alcohol or would omitting it change the whole flavor of the cookie? They look divine:)

    1. LOL! You don't have to use alcohol... it will taste a bit different, but you can omit the brandy and try more orange juice.

  6. 2 stars
    Hi Suzy,

    I am a huge fan of your but these cookies didn’t work for me. Why is the honey not sticky? I used one cup as per your recipe. The flavor was kinda bland. And I baked the cookies for 20 minutes. How do I know when it is done? Your recipe calls for 20 to 25 minutes. So I am not sure if the cookies were done at 20 minutes. I would like to try again so please advise.

    Thanks.

  7. 5 stars
    I made these today and they are aaaaaamazing! Beautifully moist orange spice cookies that melt in your mouth 😋😋😋
    I didn’t have enough walnuts so I mixed in pecans, and I drizzled each cookie with remaining syrup after I sprinkled the nuts which made the nuts stay in place. I will be making these again! 😋😋😋

  8. I made these and they are so easy to make. I love the syrup. I heat mine in the microwave for 10 seconds then drizzle more of the leftover syrup on. Absoltely yummy 😋

  9. These are in the oven right now. From the flavor of the dough, I'm thinking these might be terrific half dipped in dark chocolate. What do you think?

  10. 5 stars
    My kids and I made these this evening and wow! The flavors that come bursting at you with each bite are delicious! Definitely a fan!

  11. 5 stars
    I made these today and wow, they are tasty! Now, I've never had them before so I have no idea if they turned out right. I used light tasting EVOO. Do you think that would have made a big difference in flavor?
    Also, I jumped ahead when making the syrup and added the honey before boiling. When soaking the cookies, they seemed to get the syrup and stickiness ok. How thick is the syrup supposed to be? Mine was pretty thin.
    And, I made 81 cookies from this recipe which surprised me. I usually get fewer cookies from a recipe and not more! No complaints though!!

    1. I think a light tasting evoo is a great choice here. As for the syrup... it is generally not super thick. So glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  12. The brandy makes up 1/2 cup of the dough ingredients, but at one point you note "if using." How should we compensate for NOT using the 1/2 cup of brandy in the dough? It seems that will through off the consistency...

  13. 5 stars
    Made these yesterday and they were given a big thumbs up by my family. My dough was very oily but I assume that is how it should be with the quantity of olive oil in the recipe, and they turned out just fine. I will be making again.

      1. Tried these for the first time today and they are delicious! The house also smells amazing. I warmed some bourbon and used some of the leftover syrup to make a hot old fashioned with a thin slice of the orange! We had trouble getting the walnuts to stick. Any tips?

      2. You win the award for best use of left over syrup, for sure!! I'm not sure what to tell you about the walnuts. Maybe chop them a tad bit finer??