Freshly baked koulouri on a stand in Greece

Koulouri Thessalonikis recipe: Greece's breakfast bagels

Koulouri are an iconic Greek snack and a staple of the country's second city, Thessaloniki. That said, they are easy to buy from bakeries or street vendors around the country. They look like slim bagels, and are delicious by themselves or served with a topping (feta and tomatoes are a popular local topping).

If you go on a Greek food tour while you're in the country, koulouri will definitely be on the menu. A Byzantine favourite, versions of koulouri are also widely available throughout the former Ottoman Empire - just ask for simit when you're in Istanbul.

They are also incredibly easy to make yourself - and just as delicious! If you've ever considered making your own, here's a recipe to get you started.


  • 150g bread flour
  • 350g all-purpose flour
  • 280ml warm water
  • 16g yeast
  • 8g salt
  • 35g sugar


  • 500ml water
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar
  • 200g sesame seeds


  1. 1
    Dissolve the yeast in the warm water (be sure the water isn't too hot as that could kill the yeast). Leave for 5-7 minutes until the mixture starts to bubble.
  2. 2
    Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl (use a mixer bowl if you have one). If mixing by hand, make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.
  3. 3
    Add the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients. If using a mixer, use the dough hook attachment and knead at a medium speed for 5-10 minutes. Otherwise, knead by hand until a soft, stretchy dough forms. It should be easy to handle.
  4. 4
    Oil a large bowl and put the dough inside. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave for around 90 minutes to proof. The dough should double in size.
  5. 5
    Preheat the oven to 200°C fan bake.
  6. 6
    Dissolve the sugar in a bowl of hot water. Place the sesame seeds in a second bowl.
  7. 7
    Divide the dough into 10 equal portions (roughly around 80g each). Use your hands to roll the dough into long, thin, sausage-like shapes. Join the ends together with olive oil to form a hoop (you can twist the dough before joining the ends if you like).
  8. 8
    Dip each hoop into the syrup mixture, then coat in sesame seeds. Then place on a baking tray. You should be able to fit five koulouri on a standard baking tray, depending how large you make them.
  9. 9
    Bake for 15-20 minutes. If you want a very crispy crust, pour a cupful of water into a baking pan at the bottom of the oven after you put them in.
  10. 10
    Brush the koulouri with melted butter while they're still warm. Serve with feta cheese and tomatoes.

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Roxanne de Bruyn

Author - Roxanne de Bruyn

Roxanne is the founder and editor of Faraway Worlds. She is a freelance writer and guidebook author and has written for several travel publications, including Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor and The Culture Trip. With a background in communications, she has studied ancient history, comparative religion and international development, and has a particular interest in sustainable tourism.

Originally from South Africa, Roxanne has travelled widely and loves learning the stories of the places she visits. She enjoys cooking, dance and yoga, and usually travels with her husband and young son. She is based in New Zealand.

Last Updated 16 December 2023

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