Can’t get enough of your local Greek restaurant’s baklava? This tutorial is all you need to make the BEST baklava at home! This baklava recipe is made of perfectly flaky phyllo dough with a delicious nut mixture of walnuts, pistachios and hazelnut, then finished with a homemade honey simple syrup. Baklava is easier to make than most people think, and I have just a few tips that make all the difference. Be sure to check out the step-by-step photos and the video for how to make baklava below.
When you grow up eating baklava at every gathering, you become a bit of a baklava snob–at least I did. And while making baklava from scratch may seem like a bit of a labor of love, the steps are easy and predictable, and the end result is so worth it. I’m only talking about the best baklava you’ll ever try, and a few tips make all the difference!
What qualifies for the “best” baklava?
To me, it starts with perfectly crisp, yet appropriately honeyed layers of phyllo. And, just as important the filling! Many baklava recipes out there skimp on the filling, so you bite on a piece and it’s just empty pastry with barley any nuts (not what you want in a baklava.) A good baklava filling like we have here has just the right amount of nuts– I like a mix of walnuts, pistachios, and hazelnut–a little sugar, and generous pinch of cinnamon!
Important tips for Making the BEST 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 dough. I shared a couple tips on that with my spanakopita recipe, but let’s go over those again in addition to a couple more baklava-specific tips that will ensure you make the BEST baklava ever:
1. Thaw your phyllo dough properly, too much moisture will make the dough sticky and hard to manage. When thawing, do not remove the phyllo (fillo) from the package, place it in the fridge 12-14 hours until ready to use.
2. Unless you are able to work quickly, before you begin to assemble the baklava, place the thawed phyllo sheets in between two clean and slightly damp kitchen towels. This helps the phyllo sheets remain lenient so they won’t tear or break too much.
3. Prepare your honey syrup ahead so that it’s ready to pour on the hot, freshly-baked baklava. This way, the hot baklava layers will absorb as much of the syrup as possible and you’ll have perfectly honeyed baklava. You have enough time to make it while the baklava is baking, but be sure you take it off heat and set it in a cool place (syrup needs to be cool, while the baklava is hot when it receives it)
4. Baklava is even better when it’s made ahead, it’s even better the next day when it’s had a chance to completely soak in all the honey syrup. Let it cool completely before covering.
Step-by-Step for this Baklava Recipe
Heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
1. Prepare the filling. Combine the chopped nuts in a bowl (you could have the nuts chopped in a food processor, but be sure not to chop them too finely as you want some texture still.) Add sugar, cinnamon, and ground cloves. Mix.
2. Measure phyllo sheets against your baking pan (13″x 9″x 12″ non-glass baking pan like this one.) Trim slightly so you don’t have too much excess. Remember, place the phyllo sheets between two clean and slightly damp kitchen cloths.
3. Brush baking pan with melted butter (or a mixture of butter and olive oil if you like). Lay the first sheet or two of phyllo to line the pan. Brush with butter. Fold in excess at the edges and press in the corners and sides of the pan. Continue layering the phyllo sheets (couple sheets at a time) and buttering each layer until you have used up about 1/3 of the phyllo dough package.
4. Now, spread about 1/2 of the nut mixture on top.
4. Layer another 1/3 of the phyllo dough following the same process as before and buttering each layer appropriately. Spread the remaining nuts on top, then top with the rest of the phyllo sheets following the very same process. When you reach the last layer, if you need to, trim any excess with a pair of scissors.
5. Brush the very top layer of phyllo with butter. Cut diagonal lines about 1/2 inch deep to form diamond shapes (do not cut all the way through).
6. Now, bake for 45 minutes (it may help to place the baklava on a lower rack, but if you have a good oven, middle rack is fine.) Check the baklava at about 30 minutes through baking as some ovens are too strong. You want the baklava to be golden brown and crispy on top.
While baklava is baking, make the syrup. Make sure to set the syrup aside in a cool area so it is cool completely before you take the baklava out of the oven.
7. As soon as the baklava is out of the oven, pour the honey simple syrup on top evenly and let it sit for a few hours before serving (at least one hour before you cut into it at all.)
How Long will Homemade Bakalava Keep? How to Store Baklava?
The good news is baklava is one of the few desserts you can make a few days ahead. It keeps well for up to 2 weeks at room temperature, if stored in an airtight container. Personally, I move any leftover baklava to the fridge after a few days, but keeping it at room temperature does preserve it’s crispy texture better. You’ll know when your baklava is nearing the end of its life when it starts to dry out.
You can freeze already baked baklava for up to 4 months, if you like. It’s good to wrap it up in smaller batches, a few pieces together, so you don’t have to thaw out the entire pan when you need a treat. Wrap tightly in a few layers of plastic wrap and place in a zip-top freezer bag. Thaw in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
Watch the Video for How to Make Baklava:
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Homemade baklava with layers of perfectly crispy phyllo and a nut mixture of walnuts, pistachios and hazelnut nestled in between. Make the honey simple syrup while the baklava is baking, but be sure it is completely cool before pouring on hot-out-of-the-oven baklava. This ensures best taste. See more tips and step-by-step tutorial and video in the post!
- 6 oz shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
- 6 oz walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 6 oz hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
- large pinch of ground cloves
- 16-oz package phyllo dough, thawed
- 18 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 cup honey
- 1 tbsp orange extract
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 lemon, juice of
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Set aside 3-4 tbsp of chopped pistachios for garnish. Combine the remaining chopped nuts in a mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar, cinnamon, and ground cloves. Stir to mix.
- Unroll phyllo and measure briefly against a 13 “x 9″ x 2” baking pan. Trim a little of the phyllo to better fit your baking dish.
- Now spread the phyllo sheet on top of a damp towel, and cover with a second damp towel. This will help keep the phyllo dough from breaking while you work to assemble the baklava.
- Lightly brush the baking dish with a bit of the melted butter. Take one sheet or two of phyllo and line the baking pan with it, fold in any excess. Brush the phyllo with butter and gently press in the corners and sides of the baking pan.
- Lay another couple sheets on top, brush with butter, and press into the pan as you have done with the first couple sheets. Continue layering and buttering each layer until you have used up 1/3 of the phyllo package. Distribute half of the nut mixture evenly over the top sheet.
- Layer another 1/3 of the phyllo following the same process as before. Now distribute the remaining half of the nut mixture over the top layer.
- Layer the remaining phyllo sheets following the same process as before.
- If needed, trim off excess phyllo. Generously brush the very top layer of phyllo with butter.
- With a knife, cut diagonal lines, 1/2 inch deep, in the phyllo to make out 1 1/2 inch diamond pieces. Do not press the knife all the way down.
- Bake on a low rack for 45 mins to 1 hour, or until golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. IMPORTANT…Because ovens vary, be sure to check your baklava half way through baking.
- While the baklava is baking, make the honey syrup. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat stove-top, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Add the honey, orange extract, and whole cloves; stir to mix. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer for about 25 minutes. Remove syrup from heat and let cool to lukewarm. Add lemon juice. Remove the whole cloves.
- When ready, remove the baklava from the oven and immediately pour the cooled honey syrup to cover the entire hot baklava. Let set to completely absorb the syrup.
- A few hours later, cut the baklava carefully through the earlier marked pieces. Serve with a garnish of chopped pistachios.
- Recommended for this recipe: Cake Pan or Stoneware Baking Pan
- Before you begin assembling your baklava, place the thawed phyllo sheets in between two clean and slightly damp kitchen towels. This helps the phyllo sheets remain lenient so they won’t tear or break too much.
- IMPORTANT…Because ovens vary, be sure to check your baklava half way through baking.
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- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keywords: Baklava, How to Make Baklava