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This Ghraybeh Shortbread Cookies recipe post is sponsored by Cortas, although the content represents my own personal opinion and experience using the product.
Made with only three ingredients for the base, Ghraybeh (also called ghorayba or graybeh) is a popular Middle Eastern shortbread cookie with a smooth and buttery texture, and delicate, sweet flavor. I’m giving the recipe some flare by adding Cortas Rose Water in the batter, and topping it off with a dollop of Cortas Apricot Jam.
Ingredients & substitutions
- All purpose flour: Don’t substitute with cake flour, gluten free flour or self-rising flour. All purpose gives the cookies the best texture without them becoming too soft with cake flour or too crumbly with self-rising flour.
- Butter: Use unsalted softened butter, but make sure it is not melted. Salted butter will throw off the taste. You can substitute with ghee, but do not melt it.
- Powdered sugar: The light consistency of powdered or confectioners sugar is best for mixing with the butter to create a buttercream frosting. You won’t get the right texture if you use granulated sugar. And you would get too much moisture and the wrong color on the cookies if you use brown sugar.
- Cortas Rose Water: While this is not part of the traditional recipe, try adding just a teaspoon of rose water to the butter and powdered sugar for a quintessential Middle Eastern flavor. I use Cortas because it’s pure and natural without any chemicals. It’s actually made by steeping rose petals with water to get that distinctive aromatic flavor that’s not too overpowering. Cortas is actually the industry standard for their flower-based products!
- Toppings: While it’s traditional to add pistachios in the middle, you can also try this version with jam. Apricots are widely grown in Lebanon where Cortas products are produced. Their Apricot Jam is made with 100% Lebanese apricots, which are freshly harvested in their peak season.
How to make Ghraybeh
- Place the butter and powdered in a bowl.
- Cream together with a hand or stand mixer and mix in the rose water.
- Add in the flour and combine. It helps to use your hands for mixing.
- Chill the dough to solidify the butter.
- Roll the dough into balls and make an indent in the center of each one.
- Fill the indent with jam and bake.
Tips for making the recipe well
- Be careful not to over mix the dough after adding the flour. You want to make sure there are no flour streaks and that you can form a dough ball with your fingers easily without seeing cracks. But, if you overmix, it can dry out the texture.
- Chill the dough for an hour before forming the dough balls. This will help them hold better together so they are not crumbly to the touch. This also allows the cookies to maintain their shape and not spread too much in the oven.
- Make sure the ghraybeh doesn’t brown in the oven. After baking in the oven, the cookie with lightly expand, but the color essentially stays the same and may look underbaked.
- Don’t skip the cooling process. Allow them to cool in the baking sheet. This will help them retain their structure since the cookies have a very delicate consistency.
- Shape them into a log. Instead of making small dough balls, you can also form the ghraybeh cookie batter into a long long and then slice it into 24 pieces.
Frequently asked questions
Since these cookies are eggless, they will last longer than traditional cookies made with eggs. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Yes, these are great to make in advance and store in the freezer until ready to bake. Shape the cookies and place on a baking sheet. When frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer safe bag or container for up to one month. When ready to bake, there’s no need to thaw. Just bake as directed and add an additional 2-3 minutes of baking time.
I love to make these with apricot jam because I find that its flavor works so well with the delicate flavor of the rose water. However, you can use any jam that’s your favorite. Strawberry works great, as does blueberry or raspberry.
These Ghraybeh shortbread cookies are such a delicious treat and they are so perfect to enjoy during Ramadan and for the Eid. Simple to make and so yummy, I’m sure they will become a family favorite!
More Middle Eastern desserts:
- Lebanese Baklava
- Lebanese Kanafa
- Stuffed Dates
- Sesame Tahini Cookies
- Almond Milk Rice Pudding
- Sfouf (Turmeric Cake)
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- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl of a stand mixer or using an electric hand mixer, cream together the softened butter and powdered sugar. Add the rose water and beat until dissolved.
- Add the flour, one cup at a time, and use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to mix until well combined. You may want to use your hands because the dough can feel crumbly. Chill the dough in the fridge for one hour.
- Divide the dough into 1 ½ tablespoon-sized balls using a spring-loaded scoop or your hands. Makes 20-24 balls.
- Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet, arranging them so they’re about 2 inches apart.
- Use your thumb to make an indent in the center of the cookie and add about half a teaspoon of the jam inside.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies are firm, slightly expanded and the bottoms are lightly golden.
- Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.