Baklava is perfectly golden crispy layers of phyllo and crunchy nuts with warm cinnamon, all topped with a delicious honey syrup. This is one dessert that will have everyone coming back for seconds, thirds, and maybe even fourths! 🙊
Ok, let’s be real; there are a lot of steps in this recipe. It is, without a doubt, a labor of love. But! If you love baking, you will love this recipe. But there’s something soothing about creating layer after layer of golden, crunchy goodness. And it doesn’t require any incredibly technical skills, so don’t be afraid to try it.
Plus, everyone always adores this dessert! It is a tried-and-true crowd-pleaser. So maybe don’t make it for your annual family get-together, unless you don’t mind making it every year! 😜
What is Baklava?
Baklava is a sweet dessert you may have tried at your local Mediterranean restaurant. It is made with layers of phyllo pastry, a paper-thin dough, and filled with coarsely ground nuts. Finally, it’s doused with a honey syrup resulting in a dessert that is crisp, crunchy, tender, and moist all at the same time. Believe you me; it’s delicious! 🤤
- Nuts – I use walnuts and pistachios in my baklava recipe to give it plenty of flavor and crunch. However, pecans and almonds are excellent.
- Phyllo – An unleavened pastry dough that is ultra-thin (like paper) and results in some of the flakiest pastries you’ll ever try.
- Butter – Butter creates flaky layers of pastry and adds a rich buttery flavor. Unfortunately, oil or margarine doesn’t do the same job. If you need a dairy-free recipe, you can use it, but it won’t taste the same.
- Honey Syrup – You’ll make your own honey syrup in this recipe using honey, water, sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon juice.
How to Make Baklava
- Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the milk solids and butterfat separate. (Photo 1)
- Separate – Remove the pan from heat, then let the butter settle for about 10 minutes. Carefully skim the foam from the butter’s surface with a spoon. Then slowly pour the clear butterfat into a bowl, leaving the milk solids in the saucepan.
Make the Syrup
- Dissolve the Sugar – In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium heat, occasionally stirring, until sugar dissolves. Then, add honey, salt, and vanilla. When the syrup starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 20-25 minutes until slightly thickened. (Photo 2)
- Cool – Remove the syrup from the heat and let it cool for about 10 minutes before adding the lemon juice.
- Transfer to a measuring or pouring cup and set aside to cool completely before using.
Prepare the Pistachios
- Pulse pistachios and walnut in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl, then add cinnamon and mix until thoroughly combined. (Photo 3)
Assemble the Baklava
- Prepare the Pan – Brush a 13×9-inch baking pan with clarified butter. Unwrap and unfold the phyllo on a large cutting board and smooth it out with your hands to flatten it. (Photo 4)
- Adjust the Size – Adjust the size of the phyllo by cutting off excess to fit perfectly into the pan. Cover the phyllo with plastic wrap, then top with a damp kitchen towel to prevent the dough from drying and breaking while you work.
- Layer the Phyllo – Place one sheet of phyllo in the bottom of the prepared pan, brushing the top with melted butter until completely coated. Layer nine more sheets of phyllo into the pan, brushing each sheet with more butter for a total of 10 phyllo layers.
- Add Nuts – Top the dough with one cup of the ground nut mixture and spread evenly over the phyllo. Layer six more sheets of phyllo into the pan, brushing each layer with more melted butter, then top with another cup of nuts. (Photo 5)
- Repeat with six more phyllo sheets, butter, and the remaining cup of pistachios and walnut.
- Final Stretch – Using the best ten phyllo sheets, layer them into the pan, brushing each layer, except the final layer, with more melted butter. Then working from the center outward, compress the layers and gently press out any air pockets with the palm of your hand.
- Cut the Diamonds – Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava into about 24 diamonds by making four vertical cuts and about six diagonal cuts. You can get up to 36 smaller diamonds depending on the size of the pan. (Photo 6)
- Brush the top of the baklava with the remaining melted butter.
Bake and Serve
- Bake until golden and crisp, about 90 to 100 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
- Pour the Syrup – Remove the baklava from the oven, and immediately pour the cooled syrup over cut lines until only about ¼ cup remains. Drizzle the remaining syrup over the surface. (Photo 7)
- Garnish each piece with a pinch of ground pistachios.
- Cool baklava to room temperature for about 2 hours, then cover with foil and let stand at least 8 hours before serving. Cut through the earlier marked pieces and serve. (Photo 8)
- Adjust the nut mixture however you like. Some people like to add hazelnuts or other nuts; others leave out the cinnamon or add cloves, nutmeg, or ginger. You do you here; this part is totally customizable.
- You can also customize your honey syrup. Feel free to add orange blossom water or rose water for a little extra burst of flavor. You can also use orange juice instead of lemon juice if you want. 🍊 And if you aren’t a honey fan, you can leave out the honey and just use sugar instead.
Tips and Tricks
- Once cooled, baklava can be served, but flavor and texture improve if left to stand for at least 8 hours.
- Thaw the phyllo overnight (in the fridge) to give it time to come down to a warmer temperature before working with it. If you try to use it right away, the phyllo dough will break apart.
- Don’t grind your nuts too fine for this recipe. Coarsely chopped nuts give baklava the perfect bite.
- Let the baklava cool completely before you wrap it in foil. If it’s still warm, it can generate condensation, which will make the pastry lose its beautiful crunch. 😭
Baklava is even better the day after you make it, so go ahead and make it a day or two beforehand if you want to. Baklava also freezes really well, and it can last for up to three months in the freezer, meaning you can literally make this dish weeks in advance if you want to. Just be sure to give your frozen baklava plenty of time to thaw out before serving.
Serving and Storage Instructions
Cooled syrup can be refrigerated for four days; just bring it back to room temperature before using it. Once cooled, baklava can be served right away, but flavor and texture improve if left to stand for at least 8 hours.
You can wrap baklava tightly in foil and keep it at room temperature or fridge for up to 10 days. You can also freeze baklava for later use—Thaw frozen baked baklava in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
First, don’t overdo it when brushing the butter. Coat each layer completely but don’t douse it. You should have just enough butter for each layer by following the recipe guidelines. Second, make sure your honey syrup is chilled when you pour it over the hot baklava. This is key to a crispy pastry! Third, don’t wrap or cover the baklava until it has cooled completely.
My vote is yes! Always cut the phyllo pastry all the way through before you bake it. This pastry is super crunchy once baked and tends to break into a million tiny pieces if you try cutting it afterward. Trust me, the voice of experience is talking. 😅 Plus cutting ahead of time allows the honey syrup to soak the pastry more thoroughly. Yum!
It’s generally agreed that modern baklava originated in Turkey and was later modified in Greece. This recipe pulls inspiration from baklava’s Greek and Turkish roots since traditional Greek baklava uses honey, walnuts, and cinnamon, and Turkish baklava features pistachios, lemon juice, and sugar syrup.
What Goes with Baklava
Fancy hot drinks go with baklava! Try this dessert with a chai latte, ginger tea, or even a pumpkin spice latte. Mmm. 😋
You could also pair this dessert with a Mediterranean main course, like chicken shawarma or Moroccan slow cooker chicken thighs.
More Decadent Dessert Recipes to Try
Don’t be intimidated by this recipe. It’s actually quite easy once you get the hang of it. What nuts do you plan on using? Give it a try, and let me know how it went for you in the comments section below. 😘
Watch How to Make It
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 1 hr 30 mins
Total: 2 hrs
Melt the butter slowly in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the milk solids have separated from the butterfat and collected on the bottom of the pan.
Remove the pan from heat, let the butter settle for 10 minutes, then carefully skim the foam from the surface with a spoon. Slowly pour the clear butterfat into a bowl, leaving all the milk solids behind in the saucepan.
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water, and place over medium heat, occasionally stirring, until sugar dissolves. Then add honey, salt, and vanilla.
Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20-25 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove the syrup from heat, let cool for about 10 minutes, and add lemon juice. Transfer to a measuring or pouring cup and set aside to cool completely before using.
Pulse pistachios and walnut in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl, then add cinnamon and mix until thoroughly combined and coarsely chopped.
Preheat the oven to 300℉/150℃.
Brush a 13×9-inch baking pan with clarified butter. Unwrap and unfold phyllo on a large cutting board and smooth out with hands to flatten. Using the pan as a guide, adjust the size of the phyllo by cutting off excess to fit perfectly into the pan.
Cover phyllo with plastic wrap, then top with a damp kitchen towel to prevent dough from drying and breaking while you work.
Place one sheet of phyllo in the bottom of the prepared pan and brush the top with the melted butter until completely coated. Layer 9 more phyllo sheets into the pan, brushing each sheet with more butter. You should now have a total of 10 layers of phyllo.
Top the dough with one cup of the ground nut mixture and spread evenly over the phyllo.
Layer 6 more sheets of phyllo into the pan, brushing each layer with more melted butter, then top with another cup of nuts. Repeat with six more phyllo sheets, butter, and the remaining cup of pistachios and walnut.
Layer the remaining ten phyllo sheets into the pan using the nicest, most intact sheets, brushing each layer, except the final layer, with more melted butter. Working from the center outward, use the palm of your hands to compress the layers and gently press out any air pockets.
Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava into about 24 diamonds: 4 cuts vertically and about 6 cuts diagonally. You can get up to 36 smaller diamonds depending on the size of the pan. Brush top of baklava with the remaining melted butter.
Bake the baklava until golden and crisp, about 90 to 100 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
Remove the baklava from oven, and immediately pour the cooled syrup over cut lines until about ¼ cup remains. Drizzle remaining syrup over the surface. Garnish center of each piece with pinch of ground pistachios.
Cool baklava to room temperature for about 2 hours, then cover with foil and let stand at least 8 hours before serving. Cut through the earlier marked pieces and serve.
Serving: 60g| Calories: 278kcal (14%)| Carbohydrates: 29g (10%)| Protein: 3g (6%)| Fat: 18g (28%)| Saturated Fat: 7g (44%)| Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g| Monounsaturated Fat: 6g| Trans Fat: 1g| Cholesterol: 24mg (8%)| Sodium: 18mg (1%)| Potassium: 170mg (5%)| Fiber: 2g (8%)| Sugar: 25g (28%)| Vitamin A: 335IU (7%)| Vitamin C: 7mg (8%)| Calcium: 27mg (3%)| Iron: 1mg (6%)