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Katerina's Kouzina

Koulouri Thessalonikis

When I was in elementary school, the koulouras, or ‘koulouri man’, came around the yard during breaks. He and his brother had a bakery at Synikismos, the Poros neighborhood that extends north from the small canal separating the town. Their bakery had a wood-burning oven so they arrived at the bakery long before dawn to stoke the fire and prepare the starter, or prozymi, for the bread.

Bread rings

By daybreak, the trays of koulouri – individual bread rings with crispy crusts generously covered with sesame seeds – were done. The smell of fresh-baked bread teased our senses. Dressed in a fresh-white baker’s coat, the koulouras stood outside the school with a box of koulouri which we bought with the 20 lepta, and in later years drachma coin, which our mothers had pressed into our hands as we left our homes.

In summer, when school was out, the koulouras in his white baker’s coat strolled through Poros town selling his bread rings to Greek and foreign tourists.

It wasn’t until many years later that I learned that our humble school snack was also very healthful as it’s encrusted in high-quality sesame and has no added fats. Yet it’s tasty – kids love it! – as well as big suited for Greek Lent and vegetarian.

Iconic Greek snack

The koulouri dates back to the Byzantine Empire and was associated mainly with the cities of Constantinople and Thessaloniki. Indeed, koulouri sellers in Constantinople harked their wares as “Thessaloniki koulouri” as did sellers in Athens many, many years later. The name stuck and the Thessaloniki koulouri became the iconic Greek snack.

Making koulouri

Prepare the dough, divide it into 10 pieces and roll them into balls.

Get the sesame seeds.

Knead each ball into a sausage shape, carefully dip them into the sugar water and then into the sesame seeds. Gently turn ends towards each other to form a circle or koulouri. The rings should be roughly the same size.

Place koulouri on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Don’t the koulouri look yummy? Enjoy making them!

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2 cups of bread flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 Tbs honey
1 tsp (8 gr.) dry yeast
1 cup (250 ml.) tepid water

For the coating

2 cups water
3 Tbs sugar
2 cups sesame seeds


1. Dilute the honey with the tepid water (room temperature) and when completely combined, stir in the yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes for it foam.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours and salt, stirring together for a couple of minutes. Stir in the yeast mixture then beat well for 7 or 8 minutes until a soft dough forms; it should be elastic and easily lift from the bowl.
3. Lightly grease the sides of a bowl. Transfer dough, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 30-90 minutes. The dough should rise to about double. Heat your oven to 200C.
4. Prepare coating: dissolve sugar in 2 cups water. Spread sesame seeds in a shallow pan.
5. Lightly grease kitchen counter or other work surface. Place dough on surface and divide into 10 pieces. Roll pieces into balls.
6. Knead each ball into a sausage shape, then gently turn ends towards each other to form a circle or koulouri. The rings should be roughly the same size.
7. Carefully dip each ring into the sugar water and then into the sesame seeds. Place koulouri on a baking sheet lined with paper and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. (For deeper flavor and softer texture, add 2 tablespoons tahini to the dough.)
8. Serving idea: try with feta and tomatoes. Yum!

Servings : 10 Koulouri Thessalonikis
Ready in : 130 Minutes
Recipe Type : Vegetarian

4 Reviews Found

Greta Veranes - 2019/12/29 at 21:52

Excited to try this! Is is possible to make as a slightly sweeter desert type snack? I was wondering if I would ruin it by increasing the honey quantity.
Thank you!

Sophie - 2020/05/06 at 08:33

Greta, there are several types of koulouri, I had them with a tehini/honey filling as well when I was in Greece.

Katerina - 2020/05/25 at 07:58

Hi Sophie, yes so many recipes and now the koulouri has a big come back and it is so popular again. There are the versions with feta cheese or olives to . Yummy!

CC - 2020/05/17 at 17:40

Great looking recipe! However I tried this today and it turned out very tasty, but only because I added 1 additional cup of white bread flour to the mixture. Is there a mistake in the proportions? Adding 1 cup white flour + 1 cup whole wheat flour to the water/yeast/honey mixture produced a liquid, not a dough, so I think 3 cups flour in total are required?

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