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Captured by The Recipe Hunters in Lebanon

Kaak bi Halib Recipe, milk cookie recipe, Lebanon

Kaak bi Halib are also known as Lebanese milk cookies. They are traditionally made from milk, flour, and spices. Most notable of the spices is mahlab, which is an aromatic spice derived from the ground pits of cherry seeds. These sweet bun cookies come out of the oven soft and billowy. They serve as the perfect addition to a cup of coffee or tea. Kaak bi Halib are customarily eaten during easter time. We spent the day with Zeinab as she took us to the village of Kherbet Qanafar on the darb el karam Food Trail. We met up with the lovely Lina Haddad, who is known throughout the village for her traditional cooking. LIna taught us her special recipe for the kaak bi halib. Enjoy!!

Part 1:

  • 1 ½ cups of milk

  • 1 ¾  cups Sugar (320 g)

  • 1 ½ Tbsp of lard, crisco, or butter (if using butter, the cookies will harden after a few days)

Part 2:

  • 4 cups (510 g) of white flour

  • ¾  Cup (125 g ) Semolina flour - finely ground

  • 1 tsp Mahleb (ground sour cherry pits)

  • ¾  tsp yeast

  • ½  tsp vanilla

  • ¾  tsp baking powder

  • ½  tsp ground nutmeg (¼ of a nutmeg ground)

  • 1  tsp Orange Blossom Water

Part 3:

  • 1 cup of sesame seeds

  • Vegetable oil

  • 1 Tbsp Sugar

Baking Equiptment:

  • Large Mixing Bowl

  • Whisk

  • Cookie Sheetd

  • Lebanese Cookie Mold (see pictures - optional)


Makes 24 small cookies                                               Prep time: 20 minutes Rise time: 1 hour                                                          Bake time: ~16 minutes

Part 1:


  1. Add the milk to a pot and heat over medium flame. Add the sugar and whisk it into the milk until it dissolves.

  2. Once the milk begins to boil, turn off the heat, add the butter, and whisk. Leave on the stove and move onto part 2.

Part 2:


  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the ingredients from part 2, except for the orange blossom water, and mix.

  2. Mix in half of the milk using your hands or a wooden spoon. Once the milk is fully absorbed, add the other half of the milk and mix until it is fully absorbed into the dry ingredients, creating one homogenous mixture.

  3. Add one shot of hot water and the rosewater to the cookie dough and begin kneading the dough with your hands.

  4. Made with Love Tip: Whenever your hands get too sticky run your hands under warm water and continue to knead until the ingredients are evenly distributed and the dough is sticky and elastic.  

  5. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and knead it into the dough so that it becomes less sticky. Knead by folding the dough on top of itself and pressing down on it. Scrape any excess dough from the sides and form the dough into one big mound at the base of the bowl. If you want to follow tradition, make a cross using your hands in the dough for good luck.

  6. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the dough, cover with a cloth, and leave it in a warm place to rise for an hour. If it is wintertime and cold in your home, wrap it in some blankets while it rises.

Part 3:

Forming and baking the Cookies

  1. Once dough doubles in size (approx. 1 hour) and has a hollow sound when you tap on it, fire up your old-school, wood fired oven or preheat your oven to 400° F (204° C).

  2. Spread 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil over a cookie sheet

  3. Add 1 cup of sesame seeds & 4 tablespoons of sugar into a dish and mix around with your hands until evenly distributed.

  4. Smother your hands with vegetable oil and smother the lebanese cookie with vegetable oil.

  5. Form the dough into balls that are a little bigger than ping pong balls and then flatten the balls on the sesame sugar mix, so that one side is covered in sugar and sesame seeds.

  6. Take the flattened cookie and press it sesame sugar side down onto the Lebanese cookie mold, repeat for all cookies. (If you do not have a cookie mold skip to step 7)

  7. Place the cookies one inch apart on a cookie sheet, with the sesame sugar sides facing up. Made with Love Tip: Lina says that her cookies come out best when she places them on top of the wood fired stove as it is heating up.

  8. Place the cookies in the oven for approx. 8 min. and then rotate the tray for and bake for another 8 min or until the bottoms of the cookies are golden brown.

Enjoy Lina's Kaak bi halib cookies Made with Love!



Kaak bi Halib Recipe

Captured by The Recipe Hunters: Leila Elamine & Anthony Morano

Recorded by The Recipe Hunters:

Leila Elamine & Anthony Morano

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