Make cookies like a Greek! Use olive oil instead of butter and bake the most flavorful and healthiest cookies that will be your new obsession. Flavored with orange juice and cinnamon and topped with sesame seeds, these authentic Greek olive oil cookies (ladokouloura in Greek) are going to be as crunchy as you like, as spiced as they should be, and extra delicious.
WHY SHOULD I MAKE THESE OLIVE OIL COOKIES?
Like the majority of my recipes, these cookies are considered a traditional Greek recipe. Hence they follow the Mediterranean Greek way of eating combined with Orthodox religious practices.
To begin with, note down that they are 100% vegan. Greeks love making them during periods of Lent which are quite a few. We are talking about more or less 200 days of fasting yearly! 200 days of vegan food (although seafood and fish may be allowed on rare occasions). Fasting is one of the main reasons that Greek cuisine contains a huge variety of vegetable dishes along with egg-free and dairy-free treats.
Furthermore, Greek cuisine is well-known for its use of fresh, seasonal, high-quality ingredients and the total focus on a healthful, balanced way of eating. The most valuable and essential ingredient is olive oil. Greeks have been using olive oil in their cooking and baking in abundance for thousands of years, and there is no doubt about its numerous health benefits. The olive oil adds a unique taste and texture to Mediterranean food that amazes even either the worst peaky-eaters or demanding foodies.
Consequently, whether enjoyed on a special occasion or as a daily treat, Ladokouloura is a delicious and healthy way to incorporate olive oil into your diet.
THE HISTORY BEHIND THE RECIPE
We should not forget the social and cultural elements behind a recipe. Every traditional Greek dish, dessert, or treat has got a historical background or at least an exciting story to tell. Not interested in story-telling but you only need to make these cookies? No problem! Jump to Recipe
The rest keep reading!
In Greece, we usually make these olive oil cookies as a pre-Easter, pre-Christmas treat.
Even today, it’s quite common for families and neighbors to come together for baking gatherings, especially in villages throughout Greece. These gatherings are important social events and an excellent way for people to connect and honor their cultural heritage (gossip included of course).
Even though these baking gatherings are just for the fun of it, they can be quite labor-intensive. The amounts are huge and the dough is usually mixed by hand. Not to mention that other treats like pies, bread, and pastries are prepared along with the cookies.
The cookies are usually placed in outdoor ovens to bake, filling the air with the delicious scent of fresh-baked goods. While the cookies bake people share stories, laugh and even sing. As you can already see, baking is just an excuse to enjoy the warmth of your people and the community’s spirit. The baked goods are shared and less-privileged families are supported.
The traditional method of making Greek olive oil cookies has been passed down from generation to generation, with families and bakers using their own unique variations.
Nowadays, modern cooks use different types of flour, such as almond flour, while others add ingredients, such as cinnamon or orange zest.
Recently, I stumbled upon olive oil cookies with chocolate chips. Not exactly a traditional version but why not? The recipe is so versatile that you can add almost everything!
Apart from olive oil, the star of the recipe, you will use:
All-purpose flour: The most common and simple type of flour is unbleached all-purpose flour. From here on, you can choose the type that is appropriate to your own needs.
Olive oil: Any kind of olive oil works for the recipe. But maybe it’d be wiser to keep the EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) in the bottle and use it raw for salads or boiled greens. A lighter-flavored olive oil will blend beautifully with the orange flavor and the outcome will be milder.
Granulated sugar: For this recipe, I use either honey or granulated sugar. I avoid other substitutions and I definitely prefer honey for baking and for my sweet tooth. Remember that the Mediterranean way of eating is all about real whole food in its purest form. That’s why I prefer honey, especially raw honey. It comes straight from the honeycomb and it is filtered not heated.
So, If you use honey, replace 1 cup of granulated sugar with 1/2 to 2/3 cups of honey.
Orange: Orange juice and zest are essential because combined with olive oil they provide the perfect aromatic flavor. Keep in mind that we need freshly squeezed juice. Fresher ingredients, better cookies!
Spices: I keep it simple and use only ground cinnamon which is the best spice for this recipe. You can use a pinch of ground clove and ground nutmeg which will give extra spiciness. My kids disagree so I skip them.
Baking powder and baking soda: They help the cookies rise.
Brandy/cognac: Any brand will do.
Sesame seeds: Use a generous amount of sesame to coat your cookies. The combo orange-olive oil-sesame is irresistible.
THE RECIPE: STEP BY STEP
Dissolve the baking powder in orange juice.
Mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon, and ground clove and nutmeg (both optional). Mix sugar or honey with the rest of the ingredients (olive oil, orange juice, brandy/cognac, orange zest) and whisk until it dissolves.
Gradually incorporate the flour mix and use a baking spatula to stir gently.
In the end, if the dough is too thick, you can use your hands. We need a smooth, lightly sticky dough. No need to overwork the dough but just mix well and incorporate the flour. Otherwise, the cookies will be hard.
The secret to the perfect ladokouloura is to use as less flour as you can. That’s how they will be lighter and softer. So, the dough should be sticky but not too sticky to shape the cookies. Additionally, the cookies should keep their shape and not melt on the baking sheet. Fluffy cookies are the best, isn’t it?
To test whether your dough is ready, make the first cookie. Wait a couple of minutes to see if the first cookie keeps its form and then proceed with the rest of the dough. If the first cookie melts, then you need to add a little more flour to the dough.
If the dough is too sticky to handle, apply some olive oil to your hands. That way, you will have better control of the dough.
Use your hands to take a small piece of the dough and shape it into a ball (the size of a walnut).
Roll the dough ball into a log. If you want crunchy cookies, make thin logs. Otherwise, make them thicker. I make one sheet with bigger and softer cookies and another one with thinner and crunchier ones. This way everyone is happy.
Then, shape it into a round, as shown in the photos.
Dip the cookie into a bowl with sesame seeds. Coat it thoroughly.
Place the shaped cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave about 1 inch (2,50cm) space between them and bake for 20 minutes or until they are golden on top and golden brown at the bottom. Remove from oven and let them cool for 10 minutes.
MY OLIVE OIL COOKIES ARE READY! NOW, WHAT?
Give them 10-15 minutes to cool down and eat them while they are out-of-the-oven fresh. Then, make a Greek coffee and dip 2-3 or more in the coffee. It’s paradise!!!
Keep them in an airtight food container at room temperature for up to 20 days.
Then, go ahead and make more Greek treats that are as delicious as the cookies you’ve just made. Traditional cookies like these koulourakia that we make for Easter or these vegan skaltsounia, kourambiedes (butter cookies) and melomakarona (honey cookies) that we make for Christmas.
Excellent treats to make all year round. I especially like to make melomakarona (honey cookies) as a school treat and snack.
If you have already made my Authentic Greek Olive Oil Cookies, I would be super grateful to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #30daysofgreekfood and Facebook with @30daysofgreekfood! Above all, I absolutely love your feedback. This is a huge motivation for me and it keeps 30daysofgreekfood’s kitchen alive. Thank you so much!!!
Authentic Greek olive oil cookies
- 1 cup (250ml) olive oil
- 1 cup (200g) sugar or 1/2 cup honey
- 5 cups (680g) all-purpose four
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup (250ml) orange juice, fresh
- ¼ cup (60ml) brandy or cognac
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- A pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground clove (optional)
- Zest from 1 orange
- 1½ cups sesame seeds
- Preheat your oven to 338°F (170°C).
- Dissolve baking soda in orange juice.
- Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon (clove, nutmeg if used), and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the sugar (or honey), olive oil, vanilla extract, orange juice, zest, and brandy/cognac. Whisk until the sugar/honey dissolves.
- Gradually add the flour mixture to the olive oil mixture. Use a baking spatula to stir gently.
- When the dough is too thick, use your hands to make a smooth, lightly sticky dough. Don't overwork the dough.
- If the dough is too sticky to handle, apply some olive oil to your hands. That way, you will have better control of the dough.
- Take a small piece of the dough. Shape it into a ball (the size of a walnut).
- Roll the dough ball into a log/cord. If you want crunchy cookies, make thinner logs/cords. Shape them into a round. If the first cookie melts, add more flour.
- Dip the round cookie into the sesame seeds and coat it thoroughly. Place it on the baking sheet leaving about 1 inch (2cm) of space between them. Repeat for the rest of the dough.
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until they are golden on top and golden brown at the bottom. Remove from oven and let them cool for 15 minutes before serving.