Ma’amoul ~ Date-filled Eid Pastries

August 26th, 2011

Ma’amoul are delicate little stuffed pastries that are served all over the Arab world for Eid and Easter. They have several fillings—dates, walnuts or pistachios—and they come in a variety of shapes. Sometimes they are made with semolina, sometimes flour.

I use a special wooden mold to shape my ma’amoul. Round, shallow molds are for dates, while oval and deeper molds are for nuts. If you don’t have a mold, you can shape the ma’amoul in your hand with the tines of a fork.

Meanwhile, many Arab women use little decorative pinchers to create intricate designs in their ma’amoul.

 These pastries are all about the dates. Use the best quality dates you can get. I use these large dark-colored dates from the Gulf.

Below is our family recipe that I have made for Eid-al-fitr and Eid-al-adha for the past 15 years.



Makes about 36 pastries

1 kg (2 lbs.) high-quality dates (or less)

2½ c flour

½ lb. (two sticks or 227 g) unsalted butter

1 Tablespoon rose water

4 Tablespoons milk

Sifted confectioner’s sugar for dusting the pastries



1. Remove pits from dates. Take a walnut-sized amount of dates and roll into a ball. When forming each ball, double check there are no pits. All of this handling should make the dates malleable and easy to shape. If the dates are sticking to your hands, rub your hands with a little butter. If your dates are dry and stiff, coarsely chop the 1 kg of pitted dates and put them in a saucepan with ½ cup water. Stir over medium heat for a few minutes until the dates soften. Roll the dates into 36 walnut-sized balls. (There may be leftover dates.)

2. To prepare the dough, begin by sifting the flour into a large mixing bowl. Work the butter into the flour with your hands or a pastry blender. Add rose water, followed by milk. Work the dough until it is soft and easy to shape.

3. Divide dough into four equal parts. Roll the dough into 36 balls. (Each quarter should make about nine balls of dough.) The dough balls should be about the same size as the date balls—the size of a small walnut.

4. Fill the dough balls with dates. First, flatten a ball of dough with your thumb and make a hollow. Press a date ball into the hollow. Pinch the dough back over the date filling, making a ball shape. Do this with all 36 balls.


5. Next press the filled dough balls one by one into the ma’amoul mold. To snap the dough out of the mold, tap the tip of the mold against the edge of the counter with a firm quick movement. With the other hand, catch the ma’amoul and place it on an un-greased cookie sheet. Dust some flour inside the mold if it’s sticking. Don’t worry about imperfections. They will be covered up by the confectioner’s sugar.

6. If you do not have a mold, flatten the balls slightly and decorate the sides and tops by using a fork.

7. Bake in a preheated slow oven (350°F, gas mark 3) for 15 to 20 minutes. Baking ma’amoul is a delicate operation and requires attention. The bottom-side of the ma’amoul will be slightly browned, but the tops should appear soft and uncooked. If the pastry tops become brown, they will become hard and their taste will be spoiled. Upon cooling, the pastries will become firm.

8. Cool ma’amoul on a cooling rack. When they are cold, dust confectioner’s sugar over them. They keep for at least a week in a tightly closed tin.

On Eid morning in the Arab world, it’s the custom to go visiting family, neighbors and friends. The host typically offers coffee and date- or nut- filled pastry, served up with some witty conversation. Some people may visit a dozen homes on Eid, stuffing themselves with coffee, sweets and the latest gossip.

If you’d like to try another variation, I also have a recipe for Nut-filled Ma’amoul.

Question: What sweet do you serve on Eid? How do you make your ma’amoul?

  1. Tasqeen Akoo
    August 26th, 2011 at 02:42 | #1

    I don’t usually make Ma’amoul, but I just have to say, your pics are WOW! It makes it seem so much simpler, I’m going to give it a try.

  2. Holly S. Warah
    Holly S. Warah
    August 27th, 2011 at 00:33 | #2

    @Tasqeen Akoo Thanks for the kind words. I hope you enjoy making them. Have a wonderful Eid, Tasqeen & thank you for stopping by!!

  3. August 27th, 2011 at 04:07 | #3

    You actually make these?! I am so impressed!!! I love them and want a whole collection of those little cookie shapers. Last summer I tried to tell my husband to get them from Morocco but he couldn’t figure out what I was talking about – next month I’ll buy them myself!

  4. Holly S. Warah
    Holly S. Warah
    August 27th, 2011 at 09:19 | #4

    @Amanda It took multiple attempts to get them right. Because I had never seen anyone make them, and because no cookbook explained them well (back then), it was like cracking a secret code…. I’m sure you’ll have fun in Morocco, gathering all sorts of culinary gadgets. I imagine you’ll be making these next Eid al-Adha. Meanwhile, wishing you a happy Eid-al-fitr!

  5. August 27th, 2011 at 13:11 | #5

    Oh Holly what pretty pictures and an amazing effort! In Egypt the Eid cookies are called kahk. They look like ma’moul but the dough is lighter and we fill them with Turkish delight, nuts, dates or a paste made from honey and butter called ‘agamiya. Making Kahk is a social activity where women get together and make several humungous cookies sheets full. They are usually taken to the baker’s oven as they are too large to fit into home ovens. I love the Turkish Delight filing!! I tried to make them once and failed miserably so I will buy some from an Egyptian shop nearby and will post some images. They look like Ma’moul but taste a little different.

  6. Holly S. Warah
    Holly S. Warah
    August 27th, 2011 at 23:20 | #6

    @Soha Thanks for sharing the Eid kahk traditions from Egypt. I’m always interested in these variations and the social customs surrounding them. I think many Arabic dishes are intricate and time-consuming. However, when preparing these dishes with others, it can be a wonderful activity. BTW, the Turkish Delight filling sounds delicous!

  7. August 28th, 2011 at 18:47 | #7

    I LOVE your pictures, Holly! They remind me of what your kitchen counters look like and I know those are your actual hands that I miss seeing in real life.
    I remember the first gorgeous tin of ma’moul you brought over to our pink villa around midnight on the eve of Eid al-Fitr 2009! The words that I managed to get out of my mouth between bites were “luscious” and “light” … they were soooo good! You gave me the printed copy of your recipe and made it seem so simple. I tried making them myself the following Eid al-Adha, and lo and behold, it was a complete success!! Your instructions and recipe were brilliantly precise and easy to follow. I dare say that I will be attempting to make them in the next couple of days for Eid al-Fitr here in Seattle. I also neglected to bring along any of my molds, so I will have to attempt to shape them old-school, by hand. This batch of ma’moul will be a personal reward and I’ll consider sharing some of them as a random act of kindness 😉
    The beautiful photography should definitely persuade anybody to try to make these deliciously luscious, yet somehow light, cookies themselves!
    Eid Mubarak to you and yours … I am so sorry that I won’t be there for the Eid holidays with you this week! 😉

  8. Emily
    August 28th, 2011 at 22:58 | #8

    Holly, I really enjoy your blog. It is well organized and written. Thanks for posting this maamoul recipe. I have always wanted to try making them myself, but have been intimidated by the skill of all the older arab ladies I see making them. Your recipe and instructions make it seem doable. Thanks again, I really admire what a fabulous job you have done making your blog appealing and interesting. Love, Emily

  9. Holly S. Warah
    Holly S. Warah
    August 30th, 2011 at 21:58 | #9

    @Sariya Thank you so much for the sweet comment. I’m am touched by your words & impressed that you attemped this recipe! Missing you this Eid, Sariya.

  10. Holly S. Warah
    Holly S. Warah
    August 30th, 2011 at 22:02 | #10

    @Emily Thank you for your kind words about the blog, Emily. It means a lot. I’m learning as I go along. I hope you try the ma’amoul. This recipe may be a bit different that what the older ladies make. (They probably add semolina.) If the older ladies advise you to do it differently, you can always say, “Oh, this is American ma’amoul.”

  11. Kathy
    December 24th, 2011 at 17:08 | #11

    Dear Holly, What a lovely presentation and easy to follow recipe. My question is when pastachios or walnuts are used, are they added to the dates or are they a separate cookie? Do you have a recipe for those? And where can you buy the wooden molds? Thank you. My mom used to make a cookie she called Snowballs with flour, sugar, vanilla flavoring, butter and walnuts that were rolled into balls, baked and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Similar.

    Again, thank you, and Happy Holidays!

  12. Holly S. Warah
    Holly S. Warah
    December 25th, 2011 at 04:05 | #12

    @Kathy Hi Kathy, Thanks for stopping by. The walnut, pistachio & date ma’moul are all separate cookies. I have never seen the fillings mixed. If you go to the Recipes Page at the top of this site, you’ll find a list of recipes, including the nut-filled ma’amoul. The molds for these cookies are from the Middle East. However, you can also find the mold in the US at little Middle Eastern grocery stores. It’s a specialty item so it may take some time to find. Thanks for the comment & happy holidays to you, too!!

  13. Amanda
    January 24th, 2012 at 12:57 | #13

    I tried making these once and the dough kept falling apart and my cookies kept getting bigger and bigger until they were basically the size of small pies, haha. I’m going to try your recipe and see if it works better. =) (my hubby still liked my huge mamool! lol)

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      January 25th, 2012 at 20:15 | #14

      Honestly, the first time I tried to make ma’amoul, it was a total disaster. They weren’t even edible! I had eaten ma’amoul at this Palestinian woman’s house and asked her for her recipe. She was not the ideal person to ask, as her English wasn’t that great, her measurements were vague and I think she was reluctant to reveal her baking “secrets.” Needless to say, the cookies were a mess & then I was determined to crack this nut, if you know what I mean. Honestly, it’s much easier to work with an all-flour dough, as it’s just like pie dough. However, you may get some “advice” from others to add semolina…. It depends on personal preference. The good thing is that your husband liked your first attempt. That is what counts. The next Eid is seven months away. 🙂

  14. Amanda
    January 26th, 2012 at 01:31 | #15


  15. Mike
    April 22nd, 2012 at 20:21 | #16

    where can i buy the wood molds

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      April 22nd, 2012 at 20:43 | #17

      Hi Mike, If you live in a large city, you can try tracking down an Arabic grocery store or a Middle Eastern shop–they might have it or tell you where to get one. Alternatively, you can buy them online. Below is a link to one place that sells them. Thanks for the question & have fun!

  16. Alyssa
    August 16th, 2012 at 09:24 | #18

    Holly, your pictures are so warm and wonderful! I would really like to try this with my kids. My son has become a big fan of dates lately. I think I’ll have to try to find the molds that you used, very pretty!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      August 17th, 2012 at 00:16 | #19

      HI Alyssa, Thanks for the kind words. I wish you luck finding the molds. Apparently many of them come from Syria & they are not so readily availabe anymore… Happy Eid to you and your family.

  17. ana
    August 17th, 2012 at 18:37 | #20

    Thanks Holly they look great! at first I thought they were made from semolina (smeed) so I’m impressed they are flour only. I was not planing on making any but will try to make a batch 2nite as if Eid comes 2morrow I’ll have some to serve.

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      August 18th, 2012 at 01:35 | #21

      Hi Ana, thanks for the comment. Tell me how they turn out & Happy Eid to you!!

  18. Saba
    August 17th, 2012 at 22:46 | #22

    Good Job.. but why do you use regular flour rather than Samolina..?

    And what about the spices usually used (mahlab, etc.) ? Just curious if it tastes the same without that because I don’t know where to get that spice here in Canada.. 🙂

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      August 18th, 2012 at 01:31 | #23

      HI Saba,
      Thanks for stopping by. I never had much luck with the semolina ma’amoul. They are so delicate, they fell apart on me. Years ago I saw a recipe in Caudia Roden’s Book of Middle Eastern Food. That ma’amoul recipe had only flour and it worked for me. Plus, it seemed just like I was working with American pie dough, which felt familiar, so I stuck with that method. I think it’s a matter of personal preference & what you are used to….. BTW, I have never used mahlab, but I will check it out. I flavor mine with rose water only (& cinnamon with the walnut filling)… I wish you the best with your Eid baking. Even if you can’t find exactly the right ingredients, it’s still great to keep the traditions going & you may discover a new taste. Eid Mubarak! …. P.S. I just checked the link you sent on mahlab. I will definitely watch for this & do some research on it. I’m so curious. Thanks for telling me about it. 🙂

  19. September 4th, 2012 at 03:39 | #24

    My first ever ma’amoul and a complete success start to end:) All thanks to your foolproof recipe, clear instructions and step-by-step photographs! I got these very soft Jordanian dates from a local supermarket and couldn’t let the opportunity to try ma’amoul pass by. I made only half today, as I wasn’t sure non-dairy margarine (what I used is pretty much like butter) would live up to the expectation. And it did:) Tomorrow I’m making the full recipe. I didn’t have the mold, so I got creative. I used the caps from 2 very small bottles for the centre of ma’amoul and made the outside design like yours using a toothpick:) I thought with 1 and half dates per cookie they would be quite sweet, but they were just right, so I ended up eating more than half of them myself. I’m so looking forward to tomorrow… Thank you, Holly, for yet another masterpiece! Being a huge fan of nuts, I’m sure I’ll love the nut-filled ma’amoul too, it’s next on the list.

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      September 5th, 2012 at 21:28 | #25

      HI Adriana, Thank you so much for trying my recipe and telling me about it. It sounds like you found a resourceful way around the shaping of the ma’amoul. Very creative! And that’s great about the non-dairy margarine. I hope your next batch turns out well, too. As for the nuts, I think they are even easier than the date ma’amoul. Happy Baking 🙂

  20. Sonja Lung
    October 3rd, 2012 at 12:28 | #26

    They look so nice…..and delicious! Where can I buy the wooden moulds paddles for the cookies?

    kind regards from Africa

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      October 4th, 2012 at 23:42 | #27

      Hi Sonja, My best advice for you is to search online. There are websites that sell then. I suggest searching for “ma’amoul molds” & see what you discover. Good luck!

  21. January 3rd, 2013 at 08:45 | #28

    I’m really enjoying the theme/design of your web site. Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility problems? A handful of my blog visitors have complained about my blog not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Chrome. Do you have any advice to help fix this problem?

  22. sarah (nova scotia)
    August 15th, 2013 at 07:02 | #29

    I just made these for my persian boyfriend they turned out perfectly on the first try great reciepe! I love the site as well 🙂

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      August 17th, 2013 at 11:50 | #30

      HI Sarah, Thank you SO MUCH for your comment. Makes me happy to hear this. Thanks for reading. 🙂

  23. August 21st, 2013 at 23:40 | #31

    Salaam alaykum,
    My husband is Moroccan so the sweet I make for iftar is Shebakia. Having said that I also make ma’moul with dates. My recipe includes 1 cup of fine semolina flour in conjunction with the regular white flour. I also use orange blossom water instead of rose water.
    If you are careful not to overcook them , They come out soft and buttery and are delicious with Atay, Moroccan mint tea. I have a nice collection of tabi ( the ma’moul molds ) I have collected these past 28 years from Morocco, Tunisia and Lebanon. I am enjoying reading your blog . Shukran !
    With Salaamz,

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      September 5th, 2013 at 17:10 | #32

      Khalidjah, Thank you so much for reading & commenting. Your description sounds so delicious. You should be a food writer if you are not one already. 😉 I didn’t know the molds are called tabi. Good to know. I have a small collection of them & I would love to find more, but I can no longer find them in Dubai. Someone told me they come from Syria, and we won’t be seeing them from Syria for a looong time. Sad. Thanks again, Holly

  24. November 14th, 2013 at 11:30 | #33

    Delicious.. just love Maamoul ~ i have made some too 🙂 do visit my place when time permits Maamoul ~ date cookies that’s a recipe by my mom 🙂
    happy blogging do give me feedback!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      November 14th, 2013 at 15:42 | #34

      Thanks Monu for stopping by. Yes, I love ma’amoul, too. It’s one of my favorites!! Your recipe looks good. You have terrific cooking photos. Enjoy!

  25. Charlene Ishak
    April 17th, 2014 at 15:20 | #35

    Please help me I am after the decorative tweezers and live in Perth Western Australia do you have a website where I can order these have looked but unable to find, much obliged. Charlene

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      May 18th, 2014 at 09:18 | #36

      Hello Charlene,
      I think your best bet is trying to find them online.
      Good luck!

  26. May 9th, 2014 at 01:39 | #37

    It’s hard to comne bby well-informed people in this particular topic, however, you
    seem lioke you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

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