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Baklava – Simple Greek Dessert

Baklava combines citrus, cinnamon, honey soaked layers of flaky crispy phyllo pastry with spiced nuts. It is the perfect sweet treat to finish off a meal.

baklava in a baking dish

Greek Baklava Recipe

I’m a huge baklava fan. Nuts and honey and flaky pastry, and what’s not love about the hint of citrus flavor which offsets the sweetness and compliments the cinnamon. It’s truly delicious!

Did I mention, it’s a great make ahead dessert that’s perfect for the holidays or special occasions, so you never have to rush. You might think baklava is difficult to make since it looks quite fancy and impressive with all those flaky layers, however, you will be pleasantly surprised it’s actually simple!

Greek baklava plated on a pink plate and wood board

The Best Greek Baklava Recipe

If I had to name some of my favorite desserts of all time, baklava would be on my list for sure! The texture of crisp, flaky phyllo pastry, the crunchy nut filling, not to mention the warm honey syrup… it’s all I want in a dessert.

Making Baklava at home sounds like a lot of work, but trust me, it’s much easier than you think. This fail proof recipe will have you making Greek Baklava like a pro!

Yes, the instructions might look intimidating and long, but honestly, it’s just making a simple syrup, then layering a package of thawed phyllo pastry with butter and chopped nuts, then baking it! Having said that, let’s get started!

What is in Baklava?

ingredients to make baklava
  • Phyllo Pastry – the secret to the crispy flaky layers in baklava. To make baklava 36 layers of phyllo pastry are layered with melted butter and nuts. I love making baklava because it looks so impressive and like I spent hours making a fancy pastry, but really all you have to do is layer and layer phyllo pastry!

  • Honey, Sugar and Water – the base of the sweet syrup that is poured over the baked honey
  • Cinnamon Stick, Cloves, Lemon Peel, Orange Peel – the aromatics that flavor the syrup. While making the syrup the whole house will smell like Christmas!

  • Butter – to keep the phyllo pastry flaky and crispy, melted butter is spread between each sheet of pastry
  • Pistachios and Walnuts – baklava is versatile so you can use your favorite nuts but a mix of pistachios and walnuts is a traditional filling and my personal favorite

  • Cinnamon – to add an additional punch of flavor to the nuts, ground cinnamon is mixed with the crushed nuts for an aromatic filling

How to Make Greek Baklava

Full printable recipe at bottom of page

making syrup for baklava

Prepare the Syrup

1 In a medium sized saucepan on medium heat combine the water and sugar. Stirring occasionally until sugar is fully dissolved.

2 Add the honey, orange peel, lemon peel, and whole cloves. Stir and bring to a boil.

3 Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 25 minutes.

4 Remove syrup from heat and let cool to room temperature.

5 Remove the whole cloves, cinnamon stick and peels.

making baklava

Assemble

6 In a large mixing bowl stir together the finely chopped pistachios, walnuts and cinnamon. Mix until evenly combined.

7 Preheat oven to 350°F.

8 Prepare a 9”x 13”x 2” baking pan by brushing the interior with melted butter.

9The phyllo pastry sheets will be long rectangular sheets. Carefully slice all of the sheets in half to create two smaller rectangular pieces that will fit in your 9”x13” pan.

10 Take one sheet of pastry and place it in the pan. Brush the top of the pastry with melted butter. Repeat this process 8 more times with each layer being brushed with the melted butter.

11 Then add a thin layer of the nut mixture evenly over the top layer of phyllo.

12 Place another sheet of pastry on top of the nuts and brush with melted butter.

13 After cutting the 18 sheets of phyllo pastry in half you will have 36 sheets. Repeat this layering process to have: base 8 layers of pastry, nuts, 5 layers of pastry, nuts, 5 layers of pastry, nuts, 5 layers of pastry, nuts, 5 layers of pastry, nuts, and finally the top layer which will be 8 layers of pastry. Note: brush butter on top of each piece of pastry with butter during the layering process.

14 Once all layers have been completed, brush the very top sheet of pastry with butter.

steps for cutting baklava

Slice

15 Once the top layer has been brushed with butter using a sharp knife, carefully cut the pastry down the center lengthwise to create 2 sections.

16 Then cut each section down the center again. You will be left with 4 long sections.

17 Then, on an angle slice the pastry into diamond pieces (depending on how far apart you space the cuts, you will get 24 diamond shaped pieces of baklava or up to 36 pieces of baklava. Note: do not cut the pieces too small or the will be too difficult to eat and pick up).

Bake

18 Place the baking dish on the middle rack of your preheated oven. Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes or until the top of the baklava is golden brown. (Note: since ovens vary, be sure to check your baklava half-way through baking).

baklava baked

Pour Syrup over the Baked Baklava

19 As soon as you remove the baklava from the oven, pour the cooled syrup all over the hot baklava. You will hear the baklava crackle as it absorbs the syrup.

pouring syrup on baklava

20 Allow the baklava to sit at room temperature for a few hours before serving or for at least 1 hour. Use a knife or spatula to cut through the pieces again just to loosen the pieces and ensure the phyllo is cut all the way through.

Serve with a garnish of chopped pistachios and/or walnuts. Enjoy!

baklava in a baking dish

Tips for Making Greek Baklava

There are a couple of things that intimidate people when it comes to making baklava. One for sure is how to work with paper-thin phyllo pastry. Here are some tips that will ensure you make the BEST baklava:

Thaw your Phyllo Dough Properly

Thaw phyllo dough by package instructions. This is best done overnight in the fridge, then place it on the counter for 1 hour before starting your recipe to bring it to room temperature. I like to leave mine on the counter while I prepare the syrup.

Keep Phyllo Pastry Between Towels

Place the phyllo pastry sheets between two clean lightly damp towels while you assemble the baklava. This helps the phyllo sheets remain soft enough so they won’t tear or break while lifting them. If they do tear while assembling don’t worry! Once everything is assembled and baked you don’t notice any tears and they don’t impact the baking or final result. Just try to ensure a smooth, non broken or torn piece is used as the top layer for a smooth finish on top.

Prepare Syrup First

It’s important that the honey syrup is cool when it hits the freshly baked hot baklava. The hot baklava layers will absorb as much of the syrup as possible and you’ll have perfectly syrupy baklava.

Slice Before Baking!

This is a must. Why cut it before it’s baked? Once phyllo pastry is baked, it’s super crunchy and if you try to cut it at that time it will just break and crumble.

Bake a Day in Advance

Baklava is even better the next day when it’s had a chance to soak in the honey syrup. You can store it covered at room temperature after baking and serve it the next day. Be sure it is completely cooled before you cover it or it will steam and become soggy! This is a great option as this dessert is somewhat time consuming with all the layers so make it a day in advance.

Greek baklava plated on a pink plate and wood board

Looking for More Make Ahead Sweets?

Try some of my favorite make ahead desserts. These can all be made a day in advance so you have less cooking the day of serving!

Enjoy!

– Sab

Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, may earn me a small commission.

baklava in a baking dish

Greek Baklava

Baklava combines citrus, cinnamon, honey soaked layers of flaky crispy phyllo pastry with spiced nuts. It is the perfect sweet treat to finish off a meal. I’m a huge baklava fan. Nuts and honey and flaky pastry, and what’s not love about the hint of citrus flavor which offsets the sweetness and compliments the cinnamon. It’s truly delicious! Did I mention, it’s a great make ahead dessert that’s perfect for the holidays or special occasions, so you never have to rush. You might think baklava is difficult to make since it looks quite fancy and impressive with all those flaky layers, however, you will be pleasantly surprised it's actually simple!
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Greek
Servings 36 Pieces
Calories 237 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 16 oz phyllo pastry, thawed by package instructions, 18 sheets
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 cup pistachios, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, ground

Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves, optional
  • 1 strip orange peel
  • 1 strip lemon peel

Garnish

  • Additional chopped pistachios and walnuts

Instructions
 

  • In a medium sized saucepan on medium heat combine the water and sugar. Stirring occasionally until sugar is fully dissolved.
  • Add the honey, orange peel, lemon peel, and whole cloves. Stir and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 25 minutes.
  • Remove syrup from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  • Remove the whole cloves, cinnamon stick and peels.
  • In a large mixing bowl stir together the finely chopped pistachios, walnuts and cinnamon. Mix until evenly combined.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Prepare a 9”x 13”x 2” baking pan by brushing the interior with melted butter.
  • The phyllo pastry sheets will be long rectangular sheets. Carefully slice all of the sheets in half to create two smaller rectangular pieces that will fit in your 9”x13” pan.
  • Take one sheet of pastry and place it in the pan. Brush the top of the pastry with melted butter. Repeat this process 8 more times with each layer being brushed with the melted butter.
  • Then add a thin layer of the nut mixture evenly over the top layer of phyllo.
  • Place another sheet of pastry on top of the nuts and brush with melted butter.
  • After cutting the 18 sheets of phyllo pastry in half you will have 36 sheets. Repeat this layering process to have: base 8 layers of pastry, nuts, 5 layers of pastry, nuts, 5 layers of pastry, nuts, 5 layers of pastry, nuts, 5 layers of pastry, nuts, and finally the top layer which will be 8 layers of pastry. Note: brush butter on top of each piece of pastry with butter during the layering process.
  • Once all layers have been completed, brush the very top sheet of pastry with butter.
  • Once the top layer has been brushed with butter using a sharp knife, carefully cut the pastry down the centre lengthwise to create 2 sections.
  • Then cut each section down the centre again. You will be left with 4 long sections.
  • Then, on an angle slice the pastry into diamond pieces (depending on how far apart you space the cuts, you will get 24 diamond shaped pieces of baklava or up to 36 pieces of baklava. Note: do not cut the pieces too small or the will be too difficult to eat and pick up).
  • Place the baking dish on the middle rack of your preheated oven. Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes or until the top of the baklava is golden brown. (Note: since ovens vary, be sure to check your baklava half-way through baking).
  • As soon as you remove the baklava from the oven, pour the cooled syrup all over the hot baklava. You will hear the baklava crackle as it absorbs the syrup.
  • Allow the baklava to sit at room temperature for a few hours before serving or for at least 1 hour. Use a knife or spatula to cut through the pieces again just to loosen the pieces and ensure the phyllo is cut all the way through.
  • Serve with a garnish of chopped pistachios and/or walnuts. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

Important Tips
There are a couple of things that intimidate people when it comes to making baklava. One for sure is how to work with paper-thin phyllo pastry. Here are some tips that will ensure you make the BEST baklava:
1. Thaw your phyllo dough properly. Thaw phyllo dough by package instructions. This is best done overnight in the fridge, then place it on the counter for 1 hour before starting your recipe to bring it to room temperature. I like to leave mine on the counter while I prepare the syrup.
2. Place the phyllo pastry sheets between two clean lightly damp towels while you assemble the baklava. This helps the phyllo sheets remain soft enough so they won’t tear or break while lifting them. If they do tear while assembling don’t worry! Once everything is assembled and baked you don’t notice any tears and they don’t impact the baking or final result. Just try to ensure a smooth, non broken or torn piece is used as the top layer for a smooth finish on top.
3. Prepare your honey syrup ahead of time. It’s important that the honey syrup is cool when it hits the freshly baked hot baklava. The hot baklava layers will absorb as much of the syrup as possible and you’ll have perfectly syrupy baklava.
4. Cut the assembled baklava into pieces before baking! This is a must. Why cut it before it’s baked? Once phyllo pastry is baked, it’s super crunchy and if you try to cut it at that time it will just break and crumble.
5. Make your baklava one day in advance. Baklava is even better the next day when it’s had a chance to soak in the honey syrup. You can store it covered at room temperature after baking and serve it the next day. Be sure it is completely cooled before you cover it or it will steam and become soggy! This is a great option as this dessert is somewhat time consuming with all the layers so make it a day in advance.
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NUTRITION

Calories: 237kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 3gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 63mgPotassium: 116mgFiber: 1gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 266IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 20mgIron: 1mg
This nutrition information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. See our full nutrition disclosure here.

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Recipe Rating




Karin

Monday 10th of January 2022

This baklava recipe is amazing!! Made it the other day and everyone in my family loved it!!

fedbysab

Monday 10th of January 2022

Hi Karin, thank you for your feedback! I am so glad to hear you and your family enjoyed the recipe. This is one of my favorite desserts.