Desserts + Sweets Recipe Index

Maamoul: Date and Semolina Cookies

Today I’m happy to share one of my all time favorite Arabic treats: maamoul. Beautifully patterned, crumbly semolina cookies filled with sweet dates. They’re quite often served as part of a traditional Easter meal… so why am I including them in this month’s feature of my favorite Ramadan foods? Because maamoul are an absolutely signature dessert/teatime snack throughout the Middle East, and though we were lucky to snack on them throughout the year, they always remind me of the sweet ending to iftar with family. So… not only are they delicious, they’re equal opportunity. What’s not to love? 
My cousin Mona has earned the crown of Homemade Maamoul Queen in our family. She and her husband have, in my not-so-humble opinion, perfected the recipe. But I was on a mission to make these ASAP, and since Mona is a busy lady and 14 hours behind, I did a quick search online and landed on Fouad’s recipe at The Food Blog. He’s Lebanese and based in Sydney, and has a blog full of fantastic Middle Eastern delights and photos to match.
Well, his recipe did not disappoint. It’s a labor of love (30 minutes of kneading a rough dough by hand!) but totally worth the effort. I’ve filled mine with date paste, which you can buy at most Middle Eastern stores (or, says Fouad, make at home by blitzing 2c dates with 1/2c butter in the food processor). Alternatively, maamoul are filled with ground pistachios or walnuts, always mixed with orange blossom and rose waters, cinnamon and butter. They can also be molded into a variety of shapes and sizes — the molds can be purchased at Middle Eastern stores as well, and I recommend the wooden ones over plastic, as they’re far more durable.
I encourage you to try this unique Arabic cookie. Few things come close to the nostalgia and delight that comes from eating them, crispy on the outside, melty and floral inside, just out of the oven. Look out for round 2 of these with walnuts and my dear Mona’s recipe, coming soon.


From Fouad’s (@thefoodblog) maamoul recipe. Originally makes 30 – I halved this recipe.

900g coarse semolina
250g fine semolina
450g good quality butter at room temperature
125ml rosewater (maward)
30ml orange blossom water (mazaher)
1/2 cup milk
Date paste (or alternative fillings listed above)
Using your hands, knead the coarse and fine semolinas together with the butter until combined. Gradually add the rosewater, then the orange blossom water, kneading until well incorporated. Knead for 30 minutes (I did this by hand, as the dough was too crumby to come together in my mixer). Wrap in plastic wrap, and rest 12 hours or overnight.
After resting, knead the dough one more time, this time wetting your fingertips with the milk and kneading through to moisten the dough until all the milk has been added. Preheat oven to 220C / 425 F.
Now, prepare a mise-en-place to assemble the cookies. Create small teaspoon-sized balls of date paste, and an equal number of balls of dough. Fold a tea towel in half, then half again (to absorb the impact of removing the cookie from the mold).
Hold the dough in your palm, and make a hole in the center, pressing the “sides” out to even thickness. Place the date paste in the center and close the dough around it. Continue until all dough is used.
Press the maamoul into the cookie mold, enough to take shape of the cutout. Invert the mold and strike the tip against the tea towel to release the maamoul. Continue until all cookies are formed, then place on a lined baking sheet, and bake 15-20 minutes until very light golden brown (too brown and they’ll dry out). Perfect served alongside a strong Arabic coffee.
Audio pairing: Nima Gorji, “Arabic Groove”

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  • Reply Maureen 31/03/2016 at 1:25 am

    Hello Yasmeen,
    The recipe that Fouad posted used 150g of fina semolina and 550g of butter? Is your recipe another version but loosely based on Fouad’s?
    Thank you.

  • Reply 29 Traditional Easter Recipes From Around The World 11/04/2015 at 7:44 pm

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  • Reply Lebanese 22/03/2015 at 4:14 am

    I agree with Yasmeen. People should have the right to self-determination and self-association. I am Lebanese and consider myself to be a Phoenician decedent. But others may feel differently, and they should be able to.

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  • Reply Nicole 09/04/2014 at 12:45 am

    Hi Yasmeen,
    A few questions:
    – Can the kneeding be done in a stand mixer?
    – Have you tried using other types of flour?

  • Reply Arroz com Lentilhas e Cebola Frita (Mjadra) | Panela Dela 08/12/2013 at 6:44 am

    […] Eu e a Mirna ficamos amigas e trocamos muitas receitas ao longo dos dois anos que fiquei por lá. O amor pela comida e por um bom café rendeu muitas tardes com aroma de essência de rosas e gostinho de snoubar (pinholes) torrados, e a doçura dos herist lauz, atayef e os meus preferidos, os delicadíssimos mahmol. […]

  • Reply Bissan 14/10/2013 at 3:36 pm

    Hi Yasmeen,

    With Eid coming around the corner, I thought I would check out a ma’amoul recipe from my favourite recipe website! I will be attempting this tomorrow, God willing, but I’m just curious as to whether you were able to sneak in some time with your busy cousin Mona and get her ma’amoul recipe. If so, it would me much appreciated if you could share it with us 🙂 On a separate note, I would like to say that as a Palestinian I’m very proud of you for having such amazing cooking skills and sharing it with the world!

    Thanks again and Happy Eid!

    Bissan (your Palestinian fan that is currently residing in Canada)

    • Reply Yasmeen 15/03/2014 at 2:57 pm

      Hi Bissan, I have no idea how it is only now that I am seeing this beautiful comment. Thank you so much for your support – I’m glad I can represent Palestine 🙂

      As Easter is coming up, I have contacted Mona and have her recipe in hand, ready to go. A new maamoul post will be coming up shortly. Thank you again and I am so sorry for this ridiculously late reply!

      • Reply Rimonda 14/04/2017 at 10:37 am

        Hi there,
        I would also love to try your updated recipe.

  • Reply Anise 08/04/2013 at 8:51 am

    I’ve been looking for a recipe for orange blossom water and this looks delicious! Where did you find the cookie mold?!

  • Reply Maureen 01/04/2013 at 2:47 am

    I’ve got the recipe to go with the hot chocolate now 🙂

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  • Reply Paula @ Vintage Kitchen Notes 23/05/2012 at 11:54 pm

    I hadn´t seen these in a long time and I love them! I don´t even mind that I don´t have the wooden mold, I will make them anyway.

  • Reply Sara 27/04/2012 at 6:36 pm

    Wow, these do look delicious but I can’t believe 30 minutes of kneading!  I can imagine the wooden molds would make for a lovely collection as well.

  • Reply Yasmeen 15/04/2012 at 12:50 am

    Hi Antony, thanks for your suggestion. My family is Palestinian and Lebanese, and we consider ourselves Arab (as opposed to Phoenician). My cousin Mona, the resident maamoul expert in our family, gets her dates directly from her uncle in Saida.

    I appreciate that each person or family feels differently, but this recipe is reflective of how we see ourselves in our own family.

  • Reply Antony66 12/04/2012 at 7:17 pm

    these are not “Arabic cookie “. These are “Lebanese cookie” made for Easter celebration, and they call them “Maamoul”. And my suggestion is to never call a Lebanese an “Arab”,  he feel very insulted.

  • Reply Martin @PhotoLifeSite 13/09/2011 at 9:08 am


  • Reply Tanvi@SinfullySpicy 15/08/2011 at 5:54 am

    Oh my…those are just my kind of cookies..Love dates to the Tee..I cant wait to try these.Thanks so so much for sharing!

  • Reply Shells 14/08/2011 at 3:45 am

    Hi, Your blog looks great. Have you ever this food blog which is based in Perth? Michelle (flying e-courser too)

  • Reply driftwoodandroses 13/08/2011 at 11:58 pm

    These look delicious! Love recipes that use rosewater. Your blog is gorgeous and so inspiring! Nel (flying e-course) x

  • Reply Mehwish 13/08/2011 at 6:07 pm

    oh I love these! I used to these a lot when I lived in Saudi Arabia.
    I nevr thought of making ’em. Thank u for the recipe 🙂

  • Reply Joanne 13/08/2011 at 9:49 am

    I adore dates and the thought of all that delicious date filling…makes me want to bake a batch of these immediately!

  • Reply Angela Brian 13/08/2011 at 5:49 am

    well goodness.

    those look amazing!

    oh. wow. your pictures are beautiful!

    i. am. loving. your. blog!


    brians {and bryn} in bethel

  • Reply sarah nicole 12/08/2011 at 10:33 pm

    These look so beautiful and sound so delicious!



  • Reply Nuha 12/08/2011 at 3:54 pm

    we always make maamoul the night before eid.. it can be a long process, but i absolutely love sitting around with my mom sisters ( and friends!) to make these

  • Reply Adrian (Food Rehab) 12/08/2011 at 6:00 am

    I’ve never had these before- I’ve seen it at a few shops along Sydney Road, but am always distracted by baklava and end up getting a box of that instead!

  • Reply Jennifer (Delicieux) 12/08/2011 at 2:28 am

    Such gorgeous cookies, and it definitely looks like your labour of love paid off. I’ve never had maamoul before, but the flavour combinations sound fantastic.

  • Reply Luv'n Spoonfuls 11/08/2011 at 11:47 pm

    OH, these look SO lovely! Now I need the special cookie press (like I need any excuse at all to run down to my favorite ethnic market) 😉 What a great recipe to share with all of us…

  • Reply Annapet 11/08/2011 at 11:20 pm

    What beautiful cookies! Which reminds me, I have to get a mold [or two].

    You just inspired me to write a cultural post. Thanks!

  • Reply Yasmeen 11/08/2011 at 9:33 pm

    Thanks guys! I appreciate your support in interest in my heritage cuisine. My favorite posts of yours are the cultural ones too, no doubt.

    Lauren — this recipe IS almost shortbready. It’s not crumbly as sand, like some of them are (and I love them like that too). It’s actually a nice change.

  • Reply PFx 11/08/2011 at 3:07 pm

    Looks like a crumbly side of goodness! I’m quite intrigued by your middle-eastern treats, I’m hungry for more Yasmeen! I reckon it’s the new hip thing after Japanese cuisine.

  • Reply leaf (the indolent cook) 11/08/2011 at 1:43 pm

    Gorgeous cookies… looking forward to Round 2! 🙂

  • Reply Candace 11/08/2011 at 12:33 pm

    What a beautiful cookie, Yasmeen! I absolutely love dates so I can only imagine how wonderful they must taste. Your photos of them are fantastic! Thank you for sharing them!

  • Reply Lauren aka Ms Baklover 11/08/2011 at 12:23 pm

    Yay maamoul! You know, these have never been a favourite of mine (only had the huge ones wrapped in wax paper stacked on counter of baklava shops and they always seem too dry) but the pic is gorgeous. The recipe seems almost shortbread-y!

    Ramadan Mubarak!

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