I know what you are about to do. You are going to scroll on down to that recipe, see how long it is and immediately abort the mission and just buy some baklava at the store. STOP. DON’T DO IT.
When I tell you that homemade baklava is SO much better than anything you can buy, I’m not joking. And when you take a quick glance at those instructions, don’t be panicked. Because so many folks felt intimidated to make their own for the first time, included are some extremely detailed instructions and tips.
You’ll feel like I am on your shoulder reading them to you… in a non-creepy way, of course.
BEST Baklava Recipe
Yes, I just called it the best, but no, I won’t claim it as “THE” best. And I’ll tell you why, because clearly I am not Greek and everyone has their own definition of best.
But I did live in Greektown for a number of years (I realize this alone does not qualify me) and through that time I got to know the owners of all the Greek joints. I tried their house baklava, talked to them at the bar about their families and family recipes. And in the end, I mashed up all of their tips, tricks and ingredients to one master recipe for baklava. Research makes the dream work.
So to all my Greek baklava purists, those who have a family story to tell and also want to tell me how this is not an authentic baklava recipe, I welcome you to leave your comments below. I do really want to hear them!
With layers of flaky phyllo pastry, a sweet honey syrup and nut layers that are perfectly spiced, this honey baklava is the perfect sweet treat for special occasions and simple dinners alike.
Why You’ll Love This Baklava Recipe
Flaky layers of pastry layered with chopped nuts and a sweet honey syrup, what’s not to love!
- Light and flaky – With lots of layers of flaky phyllo dough, this is a dessert that you don’t have to feel guilty for indulging in because it’s so light.
- Perfectly sweet – Made with a sweet and flavorful honey syrup, the perfect sweetness carries through all of the layers.
- Perfect for gifting – Because baklava is a labor of love, it’s a gift that would be appreciated by anyone!
Ingredients for Baklava Recipe
There are basically three main components to any baklava: the baklava itself which consists of layers of phyllo dough with filling in between, the honey sauce (almost like a simple syrup) that you pour over it, and then the crunchy walnut topping on top.
Here is what you will need:
- Phyllo dough – Those delectably flaky layers that you love so much about hot baklava? That’s thanks to the phyllo layers.
- Unsalted butter – I always prefer using unsalted butter when baking or cooking. This way I can control the amount of salt added. With the nuts in this recipe, we actually don’t need any salt at all.
- Walnuts and pecans – The pecan and walnut mixture gives the perfect texture and also a nutty flavor this classic baklava recipe. Having two different nuts just adds to the flavor. You can just use one if you want.
- Cinnamon and nutmeg – My favorite thing (ok ONE of my favorite things) about good baklava is the warm flavors. The combination of cinnamon and nutmeg five the sugary spiced nut mixture the best flavor.
- Sugar – Although the sweet syrup is sweet from the honey, we do need a little sugar as well. White granulated sugar works best here.
- Lemon juice – Lemon juice adds a little acidity to our syrup and breaks up all of the sweet.
- Vanilla – To complement the warm flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg, vanilla is used to bring everything together.
- Honey – The sweet honey syrup that soaks into the whole thing is what makes this such a delicious dessert.
How to Make Baklava
Take a deep breath and know this… and this is the most important part of making baklava: IT IS OKAY IF ONE OF YOUR PHYLLO DOUGH SHEETS TEARS. Do not panic.
- You will first need to start by thawing the phyllo dough. Just follow the package instructions for this, and make sure you thaw both rolls (most packages have two rolls packaged separately.
- Next, trim all of the dough to 9×13 to fit into your baking dish. For most boxes this simply means cutting it in half to two 10×13 sheets. It is okay if the sides curl up a little.
- Cover sheets with with a damp towel to keep them from drying out. Next, make the topping…
Making the Honey Topping
Now onto the honey syrup.
- Combine the sugar, honey, lemon juice, vanilla and water into a small saucepan. Bring that to a low simmer, allowing the sugar to dissolve without burning. Make sure to stir continuously.
- After the sugar is fully dissolved, reduce to the lowest heat possible and allow to simmer for five more minutes without stirring at all. Then remove from the heat and allow to cool at room temperature.
And then the filling…
The last big piece..
- First you need to pulse the walnuts and pecans in a food processor until they are finely chopped. If you don’t have a food processor, you can certainly do this by hand. But it is significantly easier in a food processor, as it only takes about 10-15 pulses.
- Next, combine those chopped nuts with the ground cinnamon and nutmeg. And that’s it! This will make up that crunchy filling we all know and love.
And now put it all together…
Assembling the Baklava
Place 10 phyllo sheets into a greased baking pan one at a time, brushing each sheet with melted butter. This is the bottom layer. This is a little time consuming and don’t be worried if the sheets tear. After they are all assembled and cut, no one will know.
Top the first layer of 10 sheets with ¾ cup of the nut mixture (about 1/5). Then top with 5 more sheets of phyllo dough. Repeat this 4 more times ending with another 10 sheets of phyllo dough as the top layer. Make sure to baste with butter between each layer of phyllo dough.
This is the pattern:
- 10 phyllo sheets
- 3/4 cup nuts
- 5 phyllo sheets
- 3/4 cup nuts
- 5 phyllo sheets
- 3/4 cup nuts
- 5 phyllo sheets
- 3/4 cup nuts
- 5 phyllo sheets
- 3/4 cup nuts
- 10 buttered phyllo sheets
And finally you cut it… yes, before you bake it!
How to Cut Baklava
The trick to perfect baklava is to cut it before you bake it rather than waiting until after. If you cut it after, the pastry will crumble and you’ll lose half of it to the process. Cut baklava into 1 ½ inch strips, then cut diagonally to form diamond shapes.
- Once you’ve cut it, bake it until the top is golden brown. If it looks to be browning too fast, cover the top loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil.
- Then remove the baked baklava and pour the honey topping over it while it’s still hot. It will seep into all the nooks and crannies. Then top with remaining chopped walnuts while still tacky.
- You can brush the top with it too if it gets too thick to pour well. If the pastry is still hot, it will help it to sink down in.
- Let baklava cool completely, uncovered and at room temperature for a minimum of 4 hours, but maximum of 12 before serving.
- After honey topping has set, top with a light sprinkle of fleur de sel, which is totally optional. I find salt brings out the rest of the flavors.
Of course, there are plenty of ways you can make this Greek baklava recipe your own. Here are some suggestions:
- Pistachio baklava – Instead of using walnuts and pecans, try using pistachios instead. The flavor will be slightly different, but no less delicious.
- Flavor – Instead of or in addition to the honey, try using something floral like rose water, or citrusy like orange blossom water.
- Pastry – I’ve seen some recipes that use puff pastry instead of a sheet of phyllo dough. It will be less flaky and more doughy I would imagine.
Storage and Freezing
How to Store Baklava
Store your baklava covered at room temperature in an airtight container. If you are making ahead of time, top with a damp (NOT WET) tea towel to keep it moist. Baklava is best served within 1-2 days of baking.
Can You Freeze Baklava?
However, you can freeze baklava for up to 3 months by tightly wrapping the dish in several layers of plastic wrap and placing into the freezer. To thaw, sit it at room temperature for several hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
Check the section above, but usually it’s made with flaky pastry, honey, nuts, cinnamon and several other ingredients.
A Greek baklava is traditionally made with walnuts, while Turkish baklava is made with pistachios.
A traditional recipe is made with both sugar and honey. This homemade baklava recipe also uses both.
More Pastry Recipes
Honey Nut Baklava
- ¼ cup walnuts , chopped
- Sprinkle of fleur de sel
- Thaw the phyllo dough by package instructions, you’ll need both rolls as most packages have two rolls separately packaged.
- Lightly spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
- Unfold the sheet to a 20×26 size and cut in half making 2 9(ish)x13 portions. You can trim one stack at a time (or less) then cover with a damp towel to keep from drying out.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, honey, lemon juice, vanilla and water. Bring the mixture to a low simmer over medium heat while continually stirring. The trick is allowing the sugar to dissolve without burning. If it hasn’t dissolved, but it getting super thick, add 1 tablespoon of water.
- After it dissolves, reduce to the lowest heat possible and allow to simmer for 15 minutes without stirring at all.
- Remove the mixture from the heat, set aside and let honey sauce cool. Keep at room temperature until ready to pour. It should thicken and be like syrup.
Assemble the Baklava:
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Pulse the walnuts and pecans in a food processor until finely chopped. Alternately, you can do this by hand, but in a food processor it only takes about 10-15 pulses.
- Combine the chopped nuts with ground cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Place 10 phyllo sheets into baking pan one at a time, brushing each sheet with melted butter. This is a little time consuming and don’t be worried if the sheets tear. After they are all assembled and cut, no one will know. Keep remaining phyllo covered with a damp towel to prevent drying.
- Top the first layer with ¾ cup nut mixture (about a fifth of the mixture). Top with 5 sheets phyllo dough. Repeat this 4 more times ending with another 10 sheets of phyllo dough on top, making sure to baste with butter between each layer of phyllo dough. The end result is:10 phyllo sheets, 3/4 cup nuts 5 phyllo sheets, 3/4 cup nuts 5 phyllo sheets, 3/4 cup nuts 5 phyllo sheets, 3/4 cup nuts 5 phyllo sheets, 3/4 cup nuts 10 buttered phyllo sheets.
- The trick to perfect baklava is to cut it before you bake it rather than waiting until after. If you cut it after, the pastry will crumble and you’ll lose half of it to the process. Cut the baklava into 1 ½ inch strips, then cut diagonally to form diamond shapes.
- Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. If it looks to be browning too fast, cover the top loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil.
- Remove the baklava from the oven and pour honey topping over while still hot. It will seep into all the nooks and crannies. Then top with remaining chopped walnuts while still tacky.
- Let the baklava cool completely, uncovered and at room temperature for a minimum of 4 hours, but maximum of 12 before serving.
- After the honey topping has set, top with a light sprinkle of fleur de sel, which is optional. I find salt brings out the rest of the flavors.
- Store covered at room temperature. If making ahead, top with a damp (NOT WET) tea towel to keep moist. Baklava is best served within 1-2 days of baking.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings!