There’s something special about a flakey piece of golden baklava, but I always thought it would be too tedious to make at home. This easy lebanese baklava is the recipe that’s made making homemade baklava a joy and comes out delicious every time!Jump to Recipe
What is baklava?
Traditional baklava is a middle eastern sweet treat made from layers of flakey phyllo pastry, filled with chopped nuts, and soaked in a sweet syrup or honey. Some common variations from the traditional include rose water, cardamom and chocolate. It can be served cold, room-temperature or re-warmed and is fully of different flavors and textures!
Here’s why you should make this easy baklava recipe:
Store-bought phyllo makes it easy to put this traditional baked good together. I’ve cut a few corners by not having to butter each and every layer either which saves so much time but still tastes delicious! My favorite thing about this easy recipe is that it’s great for both special occasions, or casual gatherings. This sweet dessert is a fan favorite around the holidays as well!
Ingredients you’ll need for my favorite version of baklava:
Simple syrup ingredients:
- Fresh lemon juice
- Fresh orange juice
For the baklava:
- Package of phyllo sheets: 1 pound box from the freezer section at the grocery store. Let them thaw before using.
- Brown sugar
- Clarified butter or ghee
How to make the best baklava:
- Make the simple syrup. This doesn’t take long and can be set aside to cool while you assemble and bake the baklava.
- Chop the nuts and sugar in a food processor. You want the nuts to be very small so that it creates an even filling for the baklava. I add the sugar in for this step too so that I don’t have to fuss with adding it later on.
- Cut the phyllo sheets to fit your pan. Make sure to lay a damp towel over the sheets you’re not working with so that they don’t dry up and crumble.
- Assemble the baklava. You want 25 sheets on the bottom, the nuts and sugar spread over that, then about 15 more sheets on top.
- Cut the baklava. The diamond shape is traditional but squares work just fine as well. I like good sized pieces so I stick to 4 cuts lengthwise and 6-7 crosswise. Using a sharp knife for this steps is very important. I’ve learned that using the point of the knife to cut all the way through is very helpful. If you don’t cut all the way through, it will be hard to separate the pieces of baklava once they are baked.
- Pour melted gee over the baklava. You can melt the gee by letting it run in the microwave for 30 second intervals. You want to be sure the gee reaches ever part of the baklava so that it gets crispy and golden in the oven!
- Bake until golden. This takes between 50-60 minutes but will vary depending on the oven.
- Pour over the simple syrup. You want to do this right when the baklava comes out of the oven. The hot pan allows the syrup to really soak into the baklava.
- For best results, allow to cool completely before serving. This is best enjoyed at room temperature so that the baklava has had its chance to fully absorb the syrup.
The nut mixture can vary depending on what kind of baklava you’re having but walnuts are what’s used in traditional greek baklava and pistachios are used in Turkish baklava. Both are delicious and I’ve even seen them used together but my personal favorite is just walnuts!
This isn’t a spot-on description but some main differences between the two are Greek baklava usually uses ingredients like honey, walnuts, and cinnamon. On the other hand, Turkish baklava uses a sugar syrup, pistachios, and lemon juice. This recipe is a lebanese baklava.
You definitely want to pre-cut the baklava before you bake it because the phyllo is super tender and breaks easily once it’s baked. If you don’t like the diamond pattern, feel free to just cut squares.
I could see how this can be easily confusing but no. They have some similarities and you can find them in the same section at the grocery store but they are not the same. While they are both flakey, phyllo is so thin it’s almost transparent. This becomes crisp and crunchy when baked while puff pastry is a little more doughy and thick, resulting in a heavier final product.
There could be a few reasons this is happening. First, make sure you are letting the frozen phyllo completely thaw on the counter before working with them. Since phyllo is so thin, it also dries up very quickly. It’s really important to keep a damp (not soaking wet) cloth or paper towel over the phyllo to keep it from frying out while you’re working on the other pieces.
I recommend covering the remaining pieces tightly in plastic wrap or placing them in an airtight container. You can let it sit at room temperature or set it in the fridge for up to a week.
- 1 small pot
- 1 9×11 baking pan
For the simple syrup:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- juice of half a lemon
- juice of half an orange
For the baklava:
- 1 lb box phyllo sheets thawed to room temperature
- 3 cups walnuts
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup clarified butter or ghee melted
- Add the sugar, water, lemon and orange juice to a small pot over medium to low heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer (about 5 minutes) to let the sugar completely dissolve. Set aside for later.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add the walnuts and sugar. Pulse until the walnuts are broken down into little pieces.
- Cut the phyllo sheets to fit your pan. You'll need to cut a few inches off the bottom as well as the side.
- Lay 25 sheets on the bottom of the baking dish. Then spread the nuts and sugar in a single layer over that. Lay the rest of the sheets on top (there should be about 15).
- Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava into diamonds. Diamond shapes are traditional but squares work just fine as well. I like good sized pieces so I stick to 4 cuts lengthwise and 6-7 crosswise.
- Pour the melted gee evenly over top of the whole thing.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden and crispy.
- Remove the pan from the oven and immediately pour the cooled syrup over the hot baklava. Let the baklava cool to room temperature (this takes about 2 hours) so that the syrup can full soak into the nuts and phyllo.