Sticky, crunchy, nutty, sweet this Baklava recipe is a Middle Eastern dessert that’s unique and so delicious! It doesn’t require any special skills or utensils and anyone can make it. Follow the step-by-step photo tutorial and make some today!
Looking for other recipes using phyllo dough sheets? Check this delicious savory spinach and feta stuffed pockets called Spanakopita.
I have made this recipe many ways and have now honed down on my favorite version. I will share it with you today. This is not a complicated dessert but it does take some time. Armed with the best tips and tricks you’ll become a baklava pro in no time.
What is Baklava?
It’s a Middle Eastern phyllo dessert specialty that originated in Turkey, but is now popular all over the world, and especially in Greece. In fact, you will often find some type of baklava dessert at most Mediterranean restaurants and delis. The phyllo desserts come in different shapes, layered, rolled, and with different types of nuts which are all equally delicious. No wonder it is popular in so many countries all over the world.
Baklava is made with layers of flaky phyllo pastry that are brushed with butter, then sprinkled with nuts, rolled or layered and baked, and finally drenched in spiced honey syrup.
I love to make my baklava recipe shaped into rolls because the bite-sized pieces are easier to hold and serve as they do not fall apart or lose the filling when serving or eating.
How to make Baklava?
The process is simple, yet each step is important. For layered baklava each phyllo dough sheet is buttered. The butter is what will make each paper-thin layer crispy once baked. Then, these buttered sheets are layered with nuts in a baking dish. Before baking baklava, it needs to be cut into serving-sized pieces.
While baklava is baking the syrup can be prepared by combining sugar, water, honey, and a bit of lemon juice. This syrup is then poured over hot, out of the oven baklava and since it’s already cut into pieces the syrup can go between each layer and sweeten and slightly soften the crispy, brittle layers of phyllo dough sheets. A couple of hours later once the syrup is well absorbed, the baklava is ready for serving.
For rolled baklava, the idea is the same, only this time a couple of buttered sheets are sprinkled with walnuts and rolled around a dowel. These rolls are then baked the same way layered baklava is. I hope you enjoy this baklava recipe as much as we do!
Scroll all the way down for a detailed recipe card.
Baklava recipe Ingredients :
- Phyllo dough sheets – find them in the frozen section of the store.
- Butter or ghee – it is best to use ghee or clarified butter for these baklava rolls as using just regular butter can make the solids in the butter burn when the baklava is baking. In a pinch, melted butter is fine.
- Ground walnuts – start with regular walnuts that you can either finely chop or grind in the food processor by pulsing until a fine mixture with some larger pieces are formed.
- Sugar – used in both the nut mixture and the syrup it sweetens this phyllo dessert.
- Ground cinnamon – adds a beautiful hint of spice without overpowering.
- Lemon – the acidity of the lemon cuts through the sweetness of the syrup, balancing out the flavors, only about 1 tbsp is used for the syrup.
- Honey – not only does it flavor the syrup with its beautiful honey flavor, but it also deepens the color of the syrup.
- Wooden rod or a dowel – longer than the phyllo sheet
Make the Baklava Rolls:
- Thaw the phyllo dough in the fridge.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over low-medium heat collecting any foam or solids that float to the top until the butter is yellow and clear.
- Mix chopped nuts, cinnamon, and sugar in a bowl.
- Brush with butter: unroll the phyllo sheets into a flat stack. Drizzle a small amount of butter all over the top phyllo sheet. Now, lightly brush all over leaving about 2 inches of dough closest to you uncoated.
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of nuts to the middle of the sheet in a 2-3 inch thick band.
- Roll: Set the dowel (or anything else that is longer than the phyllo sheet) on the unbuttered end and roll the dough loosely leaving the roll at the opposite end.
- Butter the next sheet with a light coating of butter again and roll it over the first rolled sheet with nuts.
- Scrunch up: Place your hands on two opposite ends of the roll and push them towards the center, until about the width of the baking sheet ~9″.
- Remove the dowel and place the roll into the baking pan.
- Repeat until all phyllo dough is used.
- Brush the tops of unbaked baklava rolls with the remaining butter.
- Trim off both ends of the rolls, without removing them from the pan (these will make great samples, later)
- Cut into pieces: Now, cut down the middle of the rolls and again down the middle of both cut sides to form 4 equal rows.
- Bake for about 40 minutes or until the tops are an even golden color.
Honey Syrup for the best baklava recipe
- Meanwhile, prepare the syrup: combine all ingredients for the syrup and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes and remove off the heat to cool.
- Cover with syrup: After the baklava rolls are baked, remove them from the oven and pour the syrup all over the baklava.
- Allow to sit for several hours, then serve this best baklava recipe out there.
Tips for success:
- Do not roll the rolls too tight as you’re wrapping them around the dowel. Wrapping too tight will make it difficult to remove the baklava off the dowel and not allow the syrup to go between the layers properly after baking.
- The walnuts can be lightly roasted before using for the recipe, this will give it a pleasant aroma. To roast, the walnuts spread walnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 300F.
- Nut mixture – this baklava recipe uses only walnuts. If you would like, you can make it with walnuts and pistachios by replacing half of the walnuts called in this recipe with pistachios.
How to store baklava?
Store at room temperature for 3-7 days covered, or refrigerate for up to 2 weeks in an air-tight container.
Baklava Recipe - the best honey baklava
Baklava recipe is made of thin layers of buttered phyllo sheets layered with walnuts, rolled, and baked until golden. Finally, baklava is drenched in a delicious spiced honey syrup.
Ingredients for the Baklava Rolls
Thaw the phyllo dough in the fridge if starting from frozen.
Grind nuts: Pulse walnuts in the food processor or finely chop until fine pieces form.
Make nut mixture: In a medium bowl combine the 2 cups ground walnuts, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tsp of cinnamon until well mixed . Set aside.
Clarify butter: Melt 1 cup butter in a saucepan over medium heat skimming off the foam as it rises to the top until bright yellow in color, clear with no milk solids. Regular melted butter can also be used without clarifying it first, but the milk solids in the butter can make the baking of layers uneven.
Make the syrup:
Combine 2/3 cup water with 1 ¼ cups sugar, 1 tbsp lemon juice, and 1/4 cup honey in a small sauce and bring to a simmer. Simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes. Remove off the heat and allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 350F, with the baking rack centered.
Brush the inside of one 9"x13" baking pan with butter, set aside.
How to make the baklava rolls
Unroll the phyllo dough sheets and set on a clean work surface, short side closest to you.
Butter 1 sheet: Work fast, as the sheets dry out quickly. Using a pastry brush, dip it in the butter, then drizzle whatever the brush picked up all over the phyllo sheet. Brush the butter all over the sheet except for 1-2 inches closest to you.
Add walnuts: add 2-3 tablespoons of walnuts to the buttered sheet in a 2-3 inch thick band in the center or sprinkle evenly over the sheet.
Roll: Set a 1/2 inch dowel on end closest to you and roll the sheet with ground nuts around it. Leave the rolled sheet at the opposite end to yourself.
Butter 2nd sheet & roll: Now butter the second sheet with a light coating of butter and roll it around the dowel with the first sheet once again.
Scrunch it: Place hands on the opposite ends of the roll and push the two ends towards the center, scrunching the roll to about 9 inches to fit inside the prepared pan.
Slide the shaped roll off the dowel into the greased pan.
Each roll should have 1 sheet with nuts, 1 sheet without. Repeat this process with the rest of the dough and nut mixture.
How to cut Baklava
Brush the tops of the rolls with the remaining butter.
Trim ends: Make two cuts "trimming" the ruffled sides of the baklava, but do not remove the ruffled tips of the rolls.
Cut into small pieces: Now cut vertically down the center, making two rows. Next, cut each row down the center again, giving you four equal rows.
Bake the Baklava Rolls:
Bake in a preheated to 350F oven for about 30 minutes or until the tops and bottoms are lightly golden. If the tops get golden too fast, loosely cover with foil until the bottoms are golden as well.
Tip: Baking in a glass or porcelan dish can take longer, than baking in a metal baking dish. Go by the recommended color, not the timing.
Drizzle with syrup - As soon as the baked baklava is out of the oven, pour the syrup over the baklava rolls. Now, leave to cool for 2-3 hours to allow the syrup to be absorbed by the baklava.
How to store baklava
Store at room temperature for up to 3-7 days. Or refrigerate in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks.
Note: to make the rolls larger, roll 2 sheets with nuts and then 2 sheets with plain butter, instead of 1 of each.