This is my all-time favorite Christmas cookie recipe. I came up with this recipe to replace the powdered-sugar coated pecan cookies that my grandmother used to make.


  • 1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar + 2 tbsp, plus lots more for sprinkling on cookies
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp pure orange extract (optional)
  • 1 scant tsp salt
  • 5-6 cups of all-purpose flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a standing mixer beat softened butter until very light and fluffy.
  2. Add powdered sugar, egg yolk, vanilla and orange extract if using, beating thoroughly after each addition.
  3. Add flour a little at a time until soft dough is formed that can be handled easily
  4. Taking about a teaspoonful at a time, (I use a small ice-cream scoop) roll into a small ball.
  5. Place on a non-stick cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar while still hot. When cookies are cool, roll them in powdered sugar again.

My recipe is based on a Greek butter cookie called "Kourambiethes", a cookie that has the same shape and powdered sugar finish as Grandma's pecan cookies--except without the nuts. It's very unusual for a Greek cookie to be nut-free, so these are a find!

I skip the spirits usually called for in the recipe to make these more palatable to children, but if you like, add a tablespoon and a half of brandy or ouzo to the dough. Also note that the dough of these cookies is not overly sweet-the sweetness comes from the powdered sugar coating, so be generous!

Jenny Kales is the mother of two girls, one with severe nut allergies. She writes about her experiences at The Nut-Free Mom blog, where you can find more allergy-friendly recipes.

Contact Jenny at

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