Maamoul is a shortbread-like cookie typically filled with date paste, pistachios, or walnuts. You may also know it as Ka3ek, Ma3moul, or Ka3ek El Eid. In this blog post, I will share the buttery cookie dough and date filling recipe, which is the most iconic and traditional. These are necessary during Middle Eastern holidays like Ramadan, Eid, and Easter. Although somewhat time-consuming to prepare, they are a true treat that is just as delicious as beautiful.
These are known to be intricately designed cookies that melt in your mouth. Often, a different design per filling so you can set the cookie apart without biting into it. There are tongs to help create the designs, as well as many styles of molds. You can read more about that below. And these are almost always topped with a heavy dusting of powdered sugar too.
Why try this Easy Maamoul recipe:
Something unique about this maamoul recipe that sets it apart from most others is that my cookie dough recipe has no semolina. To me, this yields a more desired cookie texture, but not only that, it saves you time as well. Most semolina-based maamoul recipes must rest for hours or overnight before using the cookie dough. You can immediately use the dough to stuff and bake in my recipe. Making it a more seamless process!
My mom has been making this recipe for most of my life, and I believe it to be the best maamoul. It was always a fun team effort to make batches of these cookies with all the delicious fillings. You can easily have a maamoul party! I love maamoul so much that I even created a cake around the flavors of the beloved date cookie-check out my maamoul cake. Feel free to read the blogpost to learn how to make maamoul before checking out the recipe card. There is always helpful information that will help you with the process!
How to make my Date Maamoul recipe:
- Prepare the filling. I like to do this first so the cookies are ready to stuff when the dough is made. The fillings can also be made ahead of time. Often, I prep the date paste filling and even shape them into small round balls, so it is as simple as stuffing it in the cookie dough the next day. They are also easier to work with when the date paste is stiffer and not as soft.
- Prepare the cookie dough. The cookie dough batter needs flour, butter, powdered sugar, maamoul cookie spice, ground anise, milk powder, water, and mahlab & mastic (optional but recommended). Most of these ingredients can be found at your local Middle Eastern store. The key is getting the right consistency, making it pliable to stuff and design. *Maamoul spices may also be labeled at the Arab store as Kaek or Cookie spice.
- Stuff the cookies. To this, take a piece of cookie dough (about 1 tbsp), make a well into the dough (shape it like a mushroom cap) and add a small spoonful of nut filling or a prepared date ball. Fold the cookie dough around the stuffing and shape it like a ball using both palms.
- Design the cookies. There are different ways to go about decorating the cookies. There are many molds out there, whether on Amazon or at the Arab store; you will find wooden maamoul moulds or plastic push molds with all these beautiful designs. You can also pick up small tongs and design the cookie by pinching the dough. See the photos and video tutorials below to see how I do this best. I find tongs to be the best way to go as far as maintaining the design after the cookie is baked, and I like getting creative with them.
The Most popular Maamoul Fillings:
- Date Paste: You can buy or make your date paste. I purchased mine-you can find it at your local Arab store. I prefer Ziyad Brand Baking Date Paste. For this recipe, you will need 3 of the 13 oz packages. However, you can also make your own, take pits from the Medjool dates and place them in a bowl of warm water for several minutes. Then, once softened, add the dates to a heavy-duty food processor to blend them into a paste. To the date paste, I add ground anise and ground cinnamon-this is a must!
- Nuts: Typically, ground pistachio or walnut mixed with simple syrup for sweetness, a hint of cinnamon, and orange blossom water.
Be sure to check out my Maamoul video below! For the best viewing experience, watch the video in full-screen mode!
Check out these other traditional Middle Eastern desserts:
Rate & Review the recipe
I cannot wait for you to try this maamoul cookie recipe. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below if you try it. Please leave a rating too; it would mean a lot. Feel free to ask any questions; I will do my best to reply. Send your remakes to my Instagram page for a chance to be featured. I also love to see your creations! Thank you so much.
- 6 cups All-purpose Flour
- 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
- 1/4 cup Milk Powder ex: Nido or carnation
- 2.5 tbsp Ma'amoul spice also known as Cookie Spice or Kaek spice at the Arab store.
- 2 tbsp Ground Anise
- 2 tsp Ground Mahlab
- 1/2 tsp Ground Mastic
- 3 cups Semi-melted unsalted Butter (I use Crisco butter flavor) *microwave for 1 min 20 sec for desired consistency
- 1 cup Water start at using 3/4 cup and gradually add as needed.
- 36oz Baking Date Paste
- 1.5 tbsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1 tbsp Ground Anise
- 1 tbsp Butter, room temp. I use the same Crisco butter flavor here as I did with the dough
- Powdered sugar, to your prefrence
- In a small bowl, combine the date paste with the ground anise, cinnamon, and room temperature butter. You can prep the date paste into tsp size balls and set aside. These are ready at this point to be placed in the cookie dough. * You can make the date balls the night before and keep in the fridge for the next day.
- In a large bowl, combine all the flour, powdered sugar, milk powder, cookie spice, ground mahlab and mastic, ground anise, and stir together.
- To this, add the semi-melted butter. Gently start mixing with your hands rubbing the ingredients between your palms rather than kneading the dough.
- Then, add the water to the dough. Start with 1/2 a cup and mix as you did above and add the remaining 1/2 cup of water and mix with your hands. The dough should be soft and pliable to work with and not crumbly. If necessary, add a spoon of water at a time and make sure all the components are well combined. Keep the dough covered with a towel so it does not dry as you work.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Grab about a tbsp of the dough and shape it into a mini bowl in the palm of your hands. Insert the date ball into this well and wrap the dough around the date to cover it entirely. Flatten the ball and shape into a round cookie. Insert a mini dowel or back of a clean new pen in the center to create a little hole. Use clippers/tongs to decorate the edges and top of the cookie. * Please see photos and video for a visual if needed.
- Place the cookies onto the baking sheet and bake for about 15-18 minutes until lightly browned on the bottom. Then, broil the top for about a minute until it has some color but keep an eye on them as to not burn.
- Once cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar and store in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks.