Traditional Baklava Recipe

4.91 from 11 votes
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This Baklava recipe is prepared with buttery and flaky sheets of phyllo dough layered with walnuts and topped with a sweet, lemony, simple syrup.

Slices of baklava on a baking sheet


 

Baklava, with its flaky, gooey sweetness, seems to be a universal favorite. Its combination of flavors and textures, especially the contrast between the crisp phyllo sheets and the syrupy walnuts, is simply irresistible. This particular recipe has a special place in my heart, having been a family treasure for generations. Growing up in Macedonia, baklava was a staple at every family gathering. Making this Baklava involves using 40 sheets of phyllo dough, but don’t let that number intimidate you. Layering these airy, crisp sheets with syrup and nuts is easier than it sounds.

What is Baklava?

Baklava is a dessert prepared with layers of thin phyllo sheets topped with a mix of nuts, sugar, and spices – it’s like the lasagna of the dessert world! Once assembled, these layers are generously soaked in either honey syrup or simple syrup, which infuses into the baklava overnight for maximum texture and flavor.

A slice of homemade baklava on a spatula

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • For the Simple Syrup: water, sugar, and lemon juice
  • For the Baklava: chopped walnuts, granulated sugar, lemon zest, ground cinnamon, unsalted butter, and phyllo dough.

How to Make Baklava

  1. Make the syrup. Combine the water, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved. Continue to simmer for 5 more minutes. Set aside and let the syrup cool down completely.
  2. Prep. Preheat the oven to 325˚F and brush the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan with some of the melted butter.
  3. Make the nut filling. In a large bowl, combine the chopped walnuts, sugar, lemon zest, and cinnamon and set it aside.
  4. Assemble. Unroll the phyllo sheets. As you work with the phyllo sheets, keep the unused stack covered with a damp paper towel so they don’t dry out while you’re working. You can also use plastic wrap to cover the stack. Arrange 10 layers of phyllo sheets into the baking pan, one sheet at a time, brushing each sheet with melted butter before adding the next. Sprinkle ¾ cups of the walnut mixture over the phyllo.
  5. Continue to layer 5 more phyllo sheets, brushing each sheet with butter before adding the next. Sprinkle with a layer of ¾ cup nut mixture. Repeat this 4 times.
  6. Finish the baklava with a layer of 10 phyllo sheets and brush the top with more butter.
  7. Cut. Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You can cut it into 4 long rows and then cut diagonally to make diamond shapes or straight across to make square shapes.
  • Bake. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until the top is golden. Remove it from the oven and pour the cooled syrup evenly over the Baklava.
  • Cool and serve. Let the baklava cool completely in a dry and cool place. For best results, let it sit overnight before serving.

The Order Of The Baklava Layers

That’s a lot of layers to keep track of – here’s a quick reference you can use as a guide while assembling the layers:

  • 10 phyllo sheets brushed with butter, then sprinkle with 3/4 cup of the nut mixture
  • 5 phyllo sheets brushed with butter, then 3/4 cup of the nut mixture
  • 5 phyllo sheets brushed with butter, then 3/4 cup of the nut mixture
  • 5 phyllo sheets brushed with butter, then 3/4 cup of the nut mixture
  • 5 phyllo sheets brushed with butter, then 3/4 cup of the nut mixture
  • 10 phyllo sheets with butter, then brush the top with melted butter
Slices of homemade baklava in a baking dish

Recipe Tips And Variations

  • Do not thaw your phyllo dough on the counter top. Instead, allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight. This will make it easier to work with.
  • Don’t let the phyllo dry out. When you’re working with the phyllo dough sheets, keep your stack covered with a damp paper towel or tea towel so they don’t dry out while you’re working.
  • Be generous with the butter! Make sure you brush each sheet of phyllo dough with melted butter. This is not the place to skimp.
  • Let the baklava rest overnight at room temperature. This allows the syrup to soak into and soften the layers.
  • Use different nuts. Some of my other favorite nuts to mix in with the walnuts (or without walnuts) are pistachios and macadamia nuts.
  • Add-Ins: I’m a big fan of mixing coconut flakes into my filling. I also like dried fruits, like raisins and cranberries.

How to Store

  • Keep it in an airtight container at room temperature. It will stay fresh and delicious for about 10 to 14 days.
  • To freeze, you can assemble the Baklava ahead of time – don’t bake it – and keep it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Just cover it in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. When ready, place it on the kitchen counter to thaw and then bake as directed.

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4.91 from 11 votes

Easy Baklava Recipe

You’re going to love my family’s Traditional Baklava Recipe! Flaky sheets of phyllo dough layered with walnuts and topped with a sweet, lemony simple syrup.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 30 pieces

Ingredients 

For the Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the Baklava

  • 4 cups walnuts,, finely chopped
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter,, melted
  • 16 ounces phyllo dough (about 40 pieces),, thawed according to directions on the package
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Instructions 

For the Simple Syrup

  • Combine water, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Set the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a simmer; simmer, occasionally stirring, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Continue to simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat; set aside and let cool down completely.

For the Baklava

  • Preheat oven to 325˚F.
  • In a large bowl combine chopped walnuts, sugar, lemon zest, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • Brush the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan with melted butter. Unroll the phyllo sheets; as you work with them, keep the stack covered with a damp paper towel so they don’t dry out while you’re working. You can also use plastic wrap to cover the stack.
  • Arrange 10 layers of phyllo sheets into the prepared baking pan, one sheet at a time, brushing each sheet with butter before adding the next. So, layer 1 sheet, brush with butter, then layer the next, brush with butter, and so on.
  • After buttering the tenth phyllo sheet, sprinkle about ¾ cup of the walnut mixture over the phyllo. Continue to layer 5 more phyllo sheets, brushing each sheet with butter before adding the next.
    Then, sprinkle with a layer of ¾ cup walnut mixture. Repeat this 4 more times. Finish the baklava with a layer of 10 phyllo sheets and brush the top with more butter.
  • Cut the baklava into diamond or square shapes; cut through the baklava and down to the bottom of the pan using a sharp knife.
    You can cut it vertically into 4 long rows and then cut diagonally to make diamond shapes or cut straight across to make square shapes.
  • Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until the top of the Baklava is golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and pour the cooled syrup evenly over the entire Baklava.
  • Let the Baklava cool completely in a dry and cool place. For best results, let Baklava sit overnight.

Notes

Here is a quick reference you can use as a guide while assembling the baklava layers:
  • 10 phyllo sheets with butter, then 3/4 cup of the nut mixture
  • 5 phyllo sheets with butter, then 3/4 cup of the nut mixture
  • 5 phyllo sheets with butter, then 3/4 cup of the nut mixture
  • 5 phyllo sheets with butter, then 3/4 cup of the nut mixture
  • 5 phyllo sheets with butter, then 3/4 cup of the nut mixture
  • 10 phyllo sheets with butter, then 3/4 cup of the nut mixture
Tips for Success:
  • Do not thaw your phyllo dough on the countertop. Instead, allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight. This will make it easier to work with.
  • Don’t let the phyllo dry out. When working with the phyllo dough sheets, keep your stack covered with a damp paper towel or tea towel so they don’t dry out while you’re working.
  • Be generous with the butter! Make sure you brush each sheet of phyllo dough with butter. This is not the place to skimp.
  • If your phyllo sheets are too large for the pan you are using, use a sharp knife to cut them so they will fit in your pan.
  • Let your baklava sit overnight at room temperature. This allows the syrup to soak into and soften the layers.

Nutrition

Calories: 253kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 128mg | Potassium: 82mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 192IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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27 Comments

  1. Glenda says:

    I love baklava but I can’t have nuts! I am allergic.
    Is there a no nuts version?

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      Hi!
      You can use dried fruits, if you like. Chopped dried apricots, cranberries, raisins… Some people use sesame seeds to add a bit of crunch.
      Are you also allergic to coconuts? If not, I have this recipe for Coconut Baklava: https://diethood.com/coconut-baklava/ You would need to leave out the walnuts.

  2. Cinderella says:

    This wasn’t hard to make and it tastes delightful! My husband was a bit skeptical because he really likes honey, but he put it in the top three! What I really loved was the sizzling bubbles when I added the syrup to the top 😁

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      I am very happy you enjoyed it!! Thank YOU! 🙂

  3. Rick says:

    The origins are Roman (placenta) taken then by Greeks and Turks. Greeks use mostly walnuts and Turks pistachios. There is one more ingredient that to me is essential: cloves! I like to add a small amount (1-2 tsp ground) to the filling.

  4. Cathy says:

    I’ve been looking for a good baklava recipe…. thank you!

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      I hope you enjoy it! Thank YOU! 🙂