In this paper, we present a novel Gabor wavelet based Kernel Entropy Component Analysis (KECA) method by integrating the Gabor wavelet transformation (GWT) of facial images with the KECA method for enhanced face recognition performance. Firstly, from the Gabor wavelet transformed images the most important discriminative desirable facial features characterized by spatial frequency, spatial locality and orientation selectivity to cope with the variations due to illumination and facial expression changes were derived. After that KECA, relating to the Renyi entropy is extended to include cosine kernel function. The KECA with the cosine kernels is then applied on the extracted most important discriminating feature vectors of facial images to obtain only those real kernel ECA eigenvectors that are associated with eigenvalues having positive entropy contribution. Finally, these real KECA features are used for image classification using the L1, L2 distance measures; the Mahalanobis distance measure and the cosine similarity measure. The feasibility of the Gabor based KECA method with the cosine kernel has been successfully tested on both frontal and pose-angled face recognition, using datasets from the ORL, FRAV2D and the FERET database.