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My Favorite Christmas Cookie EVER: Recipe for Kifli

Here’s my recipe for kifli cookies because kiflis are my absolute favorite cookie recipe. (Pronounced keeflee)

My Favorite Christmas Cookie Ever: Kifli

A pound of butter.

A pound of walnuts (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!).

A whole Tablespoon of almond extract.

Some recipes are just made for the elitism of the once-a-year Christmas cookie.

With their rich, palate-pleasing flavor and complex, multi-step process, these kifli cookies are decadent from beginning to end. They’re at the opposite end of the “fancy” scale from whole wheat chocolate chip cookies, and believe me, they don’t even need chocolate! 😉

They are my ultimate favorite Christmas cookie and the reason I have white flour in my house this season. My mother made kifli every year that I can remember, and as they crumble on my tongue, memories of childhood come vividly to mind.

Kifli Cookies for Christmas

Kifli cookies also might just be perfect for soaking grains, if I ever get bold enough to experiment and risk ruining a perfectly good nutrient-deficient cookie. I like the compromise of the pound of butter for healthy saturated fats, the four whole pastured eggs, the pound of properly soaked and dehydrated walnuts, and the relatively low sugar content that would be easily adaptable to a natural sugar. I did try half whole wheat pastry flour last year, and they turned out ok!

There are a lot of steps to this kifli recipe, but at least I can tell you that it’s possible to make the dough on a Saturday, the filling on a Sunday and the cookies on a Tuesday…and a Thursday. They’re flexible enough for children to interrupt, and they have some really fun elements just perfect for pint-sized helpers. (Over the years, I’ve even taught my oldest to separate eggs! You can see that in our special Healthy Snacks videos.)

Kifli Christmas cookies
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My Favorite Christmas Cookie Ever: Kifli

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 3 reviews
  • Author: Katie Kimball
  • Prep Time: 90 mins
  • Cook Time: 24 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 54 mins
  • Yield: 5 dozen 1x
  • Category: dessert


Units Scale

ship kroger


  1. Dough:
  2. Use a pastry blender or stand mixer to cut the butter into the flour.
  3. In another bowl, blend the egg yolks, water and white vinegar. (Be sure to reserve the egg whites for the filling.)
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and mix only until it holds together. The key to a flaky pastry is light handling. The more you move the dough, the tougher it will become.
  5. Refrigerate. (The dough will hold overnight if you need it to wait.)
  6. Filling:
  7. Whip the 4 egg whites into a meringue (I use my stand mixer).
  8. Add the cream of tartar, sugar, and almond extract.
  9. Mix well.
  10. Fold in the ground walnuts (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!). (I use my food processor to grind them fairly finely.)
  11. Note: If you kept the dough overnight, keep the egg whites in the fridge too, but mix up the filling when you’re ready to bake. Let the dough sit at room temp 30 minutes if it was chilled overnight.
  12. Building the Cookies:
  13. Divide both the dough and filling into 8 equal sections.
  14. Roll one piece of dough at a time on a lightly powdered sugared surface into a huge circle. This, by the way, can end up adding a decent amount of powdered sugar to the dough, which allows you to cut down on the sugar in the filling. If you use flour to roll, do NOT cut down the sugar in the filling.
  15. Spread with one part of the filling. Cut into ~12 equal wedges.
  16. Roll from edge to center.
  17. Bake on a cookie sheet 22-26 minutes at 350 degrees F.
  18. Hint: Bake two trays at a time by baking for 12 minutes, then switching top and bottom rack for 12 more.
  19. Sprinkle with powdered sugar (through a metal sieve) while cooling on racks.


I find that it’s most efficient to bake one pan on the uppermost rack, one on the very bottom, and switch them halfway through.

They freeze great! Just don’t freeze in bags because they will fall apart. Stiff boxes.

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I would recommend reading on to see the photos of the step by step kifli recipe, even though the pics are from 2009, my first year of blogging – and it shows. 😉 

My Favorite Christmas Cookie Ever: Kifli

Make the Kifli Cookie Filling

not quite a meringue yet for kifli recipe

This was my first meringue ever! You could probably do this with a whisk by hand, but it was super fun (and a whole lot easier) to watch in my KitchenAid mixer with the whisk attachment. This is not quite finished:

kifli cookie meringue

See the peaks stand up by themselves in the shot below? Now you have a meringue! Mix in the sugar and almond flavoring. Any recipe that asks for a whole Tablespoon of almond extract will really turn a kitchen visitor into a real baker!

Grind the walnuts rather finely in a food processor or blender and fold them into the mixture. Be sure to lean in and inhale the filling; if you ate this bowl up, you’d be satisfied (sweet tooth and all!) for two days.

How to Roll the Kifli Cookie Dough

To help yourself keep enough filling for each round of dough, cut the dough into 8 more-or-less equal chunks, and divide the filling into 8 sections as well:

My Favorite Christmas Cookie Ever: Kifli

I don’t know why I couldn’t wait until all 8 sections were cut before taking a photo!

Kifli recipe filling

If the dough and/or filling has been chilled, give it an hour to warm up to make it easier to work with. Note: I recommend saving egg whites in the fridge but making the filling when you’re ready for it so the meringue doesn’t lose whatever lift it’s adding to the recipe.

my little helper rolling out the dough for the kifli recipe

Roll out one section of dough on a powdered sugared surface until it is quite thin, about a 14-16” circle. This dough is more forgiving than pie crust and doesn’t break as easily. If you do make a hole, it will get rolled into the cookie anyway, so don’t fret! A French style rolling pin is our favorite.

Spread filling evenly and thinly onto the entire circle. I found the easiest way to do this is to put little plops all over the circle of dough rather than one big plop in the middle, especially if your filling has been chilled.

kifli recipe dough and filling

Using a pizza cutter or butter knife, cut the circle into ~12 equal pieces, like a pizza or a pie for the kiflis:

My Favorite Christmas Cookie Ever are Kiflis
Kifli cookies
My Favorite Christmas Cookie Ever: Kifli
My Favorite Christmas Cookie Ever: Kifli
Kifli cookie recipe rolling
finished kifli cookies

Roll each kifli cookie from the wide portion to the skinny center:Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees 22-26 minutes. You can place the kifli cookies very close together, unlike drop cookies. I find that it’s most efficient to bake one pan on the uppermost rack, one on the very bottom, and switch them halfway through.Then you get to make them even better by doing this:

sprinkling powdered sugar on kifli Christmas cookies

Put powdered sugar in a metal or other fine mesh strainer. Generously dust the cookies as they cool on racks.

Christmas Cook Favorites: Real Food Adjustments

How I Made Kiflis Less Bad for Us

All butter: The original recipe calls for half margarine, half butter. I’m guessing that the original original recipe from long ago probably used all butter, and when butter went out of fashion someone changed it to incorporate the trendier “healthy” margarine. I’d also be willing to bet that it just wasn’t nearly as good or flaky if 100% margarine was used, so they compromised and went half and half. I took it all the way back to the real thing.

Kifli Cookies recipe for Christmas

Crispy nuts: I used soaked and dehydrated walnuts instead of raw, so that the phytates are reduced.

Sweetener: We’ve tried up to 1/3 sucanat (1/2 cup) and still delicious. Because so much sweet can end up getting in the dough by rolling out with powdered sugar, you might be able to cut out 1/4 or 1/2 cup BUT if you roll out with flour or don’t have children helping sprinkle the sugar, I would not recommend reducing the sugar. One year I did add a bit of honey into some of them and it tasted great. Depending on how much honey taste you enjoy, you might be able to substitute a half cup of honey for ¾ cup sugar, maybe more.

Half whole wheat: Trying half whole wheat pastry flour still worked (phew!) and I might even try 100%…I honestly couldn’t even tell they were half whole wheat, although I wonder if they’d be harder to roll out. If you need a special holiday gluten-free cookie, try these super cute peppermint twist cookies!

favorite Christmas cookie chocolate peppermint twist
What’s your favorite Christmas cookie “I don’t care” indulgence during the holidays or special occasion?

Other Sorta Healthy Desserts

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

30 thoughts on “My Favorite Christmas Cookie EVER: Recipe for Kifli”

  1. 4 Ways to Yummy

    I am pretty positive my mother made these cookies and they were my favorite as well, along with a cookie similar to Russian tea cakes. I love nuts! I am nutty! The cookie is not very sweet but should folks find it needs to be sweeter, a dusting of powdered sugar *when cookie is cooled) will help and looks very pretty. The one thing I remember about this cookie is it doesnt store so well because the filling gets hard. Am I correct? Otherwise, perfection! Happy Holidays!

    1. Big yes to the dusting of powdered sugar! You’re correct, they’re not super sweet, which I think is perfect. 😉 In this one, the filling stays very soft actually – they store great on the counter for a few weeks and also freeze/thaw wonderfully. There must have been some slight difference in how the filling came together between your mother’s and this version. Glad you asked! 🙂 Katie

  2. Hi Katie, I am new to your Blog but I am enjoying it a lot. I am into Kefir Milk, Kefir Cream Cheese, Bone Broth, Kombucha, Blackstrap Molasses, Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother in it and Fermenting Foods like making chutney with Peppadews.
    Have a Blessed Christmas and DV see you in 2016.
    Regards Frances from a blistering, hot, scorching South Africa

  3. Pingback: Have Yourself a Healthy Christmas Goodie | Shesourceful

  4. I read thru all of the posts, does anyone have any input on using Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free flour?
    I have Celiac and I have missed these cookies so much!!!

    1. Susan,
      I wish I knew more, but I can only guess ( so I will) – it doesn’t seem like the gluten would be a necessary part of this recipe, so I would think it’s worth a try – especially if you know if the GF AP flour works okay in a pie crust or pastry. If you would, LMK, because I miss these cookies too since we are “low gluten” in our house!! 🙂 Katie

  5. I’ve done sourdough recipes with eggs in them, left it all on the counter with no issues. If you are using pastured eggs I don’t think there should be any problem soaking everything together.

  6. We have made Kifli with whole wheat flour (1/2 white and 1/2 whole wheat) for the past few years. Teeny-tiny bit less caloric-nutritional guilt.

  7. Stacie@HobbitDoor

    This was my first introduction to Kifle. Made a batch today and love them! I have two Christmas parties to bring things to this weekend. This makes so many it’s perfect. Thank you!!!

  8. Jennifer via Facebook

    My grandfather made these, but rolled flat and topped with meringue and nuts. Not traditional, but much faster than crescents

  9. Oh, I love Kifle. The family I nannied for in college introduced me to them. I have never seen them anywhere else so I was so excited to see them here. We do them slightly different. We use yeast in the dough. We have always used canned almond paste (this is my first year eating real food) but I will be making the walnut filling this year.

  10. My sister has made these for years. You’re the first place online I’ve ever seen the recipe besides her’s. She cuts 2-3″ squares of dough and puts a teaspoon into the center and folds it into a half triangle. It’s simpler yet and totally bite sized. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I used to be an avid grain soak-er and now I sprout and dehydrate my wheat to make things like cookies and tortillas. So that is the first thing I will try with this recipe. There is so much controversial information out there on soaking anyway, but I don’t know who can argue with sprouting.
    That being said this recipe looks very soaking friendly. I used to make soaked graham crackers all the time. I recommend that you start by creaming the butter then adding the water (or why not milk?) and the vinegar (I prefer whey for a more neutral flavor). Then slowly mix in the flour till it is all incorporated. Leave it on your counter 8-10 hours then add the beaten eggs. It might work, but I doubt the texture would be flaky so that takes me back to sprouted wheat flour because you could still keep the same process and get a flaky dough and it is even better for you and easier to digest than soaked wheat flour anyway.
    I noticed-no salt in the dough? I think i’ll try adding some-I like my food salted.
    Oh and on the filling I would use Rapadura/sucanant it will just give it a fuller flavor like brown sugar. I use it for every thing and I have gotten over the stronger flavor since it is unprocessed and has more vitamins and all that. When I make treats for my kids with sprouted flour and unprocessed sugar I don’t have to worry so much when they eat them. It is nice to have the peace of mind that they are eating something that is nourishing and delicious.

  12. I can’t wait to try these! My uncle passed down a recipe from his mom that is filled & rolled in similar fashion, but the dough is first brushed with melted butter, then sprinkled with ground chocolate, cinnamon & sugar. Talk about non-nutrient cookies! I like to think that using grass fed butter adds some sort of nutrition – it makes me feel a little better while stuffing my face with them 🙂

  13. My grandmother’s receipe is slightly different but I am sure equally delicious. Christmas would not be the same without them! I have to make several batches because people tend to get possessive with the ones I give them.

  14. My Hungarian grandmother made kifli every Christmas for us when I was growing up. She lived a few states away and sent them to us. I have her recipe and have been meaning to make some kifli for too many years. I want to make the time to bake some this year. The recipe that I have from her is a little different than this one (yeast in the dough), but I’m sure they are equally delicious. Oddly (for a child), I always loved my grandmother’s kifli because it wasn’t really sweet. It was a nice counterpoint to all the sweeter cookies and candies we had at Christmas. Thanks so much for triggering the wonderful memories of my grandmother by sharing this recipe!!

  15. just saw your link to these on the white flour post. I’m totally up for a new Christmas cookie recipe to try! I would sub almonds instead of walnuts – would probably work, right? 🙂

    1. Annie,
      Sounds very possible! Walnuts are so much softer than almonds, so I would just recommend making sure they’re quite finely ground so they can make that beautiful paste there.
      I’d love to hear if they work out well with almonds! Enjoy – Katie

      1. Hi, Katie – they worked great with almonds 🙂 Thanks for the recipe. They were a nice part of a cookie exchange at my husband’s school! I’m off to make your spelt take-along biscuits. I’m using white flour and lard instead of spelt and CO 😉 I guess I’m a big ingredient subber. Just haven’t brought myself to buy spelt yet. And the VCO is low in the jar – saving it for smoothies. Thanks for all your great recipes and work – waiting along with you for Christ’s coming – Advent blessings!!

  16. Meg @ Manic Mommy

    Those look delish!! I wish I had the time to make those! Wanna back some and send them my way? Haha – thanks for the share! I’m drooling and craving all things unhealthy now!
    .-= Meg @ Manic Mommy´s last blog ..Things I love Thursday – Smores =-.

  17. The Diaper Diaries

    They sound delicious. My hubby is allergic to nuts so we miss out on all the nut filled goodness at the holidays 🙂

  18. Millie@Real Food for Less Money

    Oh WOW. They look delicous. I’m wondering if maybe using sprouted flour might work better than soaking?
    .-= Millie@Real Food for Less Money´s last blog .. =-.

  19. I’m commenting because I want to know the answer to your soaking question. I have that on a lot of my baking items and I consider it eat time I bake. I’ve never thought about leaving the eggs in and that intrigues me…
    .-= Bonnie´s last blog ..Thoughts Teeth and Fear =-.

    1. Bonnie,
      Keep an eye out for soaking grains updates (like “is it even worth it?”) over the next few weeks here. I’m deep into research right now!
      🙂 Katie

  20. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of these before. They sure look good!

    Hope you’ll stop by and link up today at my Christmas Recipe Party!

  21. Those look pretty amazing but I don’t think I am up to making them! And I don’t soak grains. Maybe one day . . .
    .-= Brenda´s last blog ..Pumpkin Pie Cake/TMTT =-.

  22. Does this mean I don’t need to make Kifli this year? Guess that wouldn’t be fair to your brother.

    My recipe card called for all margarine. Who knows, the original may have called for all butter OR maybe lard.

  23. these look really good – I’ve just got started with Christmas cookie baking and this looks like a great new recipe to try.
    .-= Rhonda´s last blog ..PIe Fixes Everything….. =-.

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