My family's secret baklava recipe combines layers of honey-soaked crisp phyllo pastry and a cinnamon-scented nut mixture with pistachios, walnuts, and hazelnut. Baklava is the perfect make-ahead dessert because it's even better the next day!

New to making baklava from scratch? This easy step-by-step tutorial and expert tips will help you make the BEST honey baklava every single time! Be sure to also watch the video below. 

Two pieces of Greek baklava with pistachio pieces sprinkled on top

When you grow up eating baklava at every gathering, you become a bit of a baklava snob--at least I did.

To me, nothing rivals homemade baklava. The texture of crisp, flaky phyllo pastry. The crunchy filling. And the warm honey syrup. It is all I want in a dessert.

Making honey baklava at home may seem like a big undertaking but trust me, it's easier than you think. This fool-proof recipe will have you making Greek baklava like a pro!

And it's the perfect make-ahead dessert, so you never have to rush the process! 

What is Baklava? 

Baklava is a sweet dessert made of layers of flaky phyllo pastry filled with crushed nuts and sweetened with honey syrup.

What is traditional baklava made of? 

Traditional Turkish baklava, also known as fistikli baklava or pistachio baklava is typically made of phyllo dough, finely crushed pistachios, butter, and a simple syrup made of sugar, water, and lemon juice.

You'll find many variations of this beautiful dessert from Middle Eastern baklava, where the  simple syrup is scented with rosewater, to Greek baklava with walnuts and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon within.

This recipe leans toward Greek baklava, although with my own very nutty Egyptian twist (it's all in the nut mixture).

Can you use other nuts?

Pistachios or walnuts are the most commonly used nuts. But you don't have to use just one or the other. I love to use a combination of nuts and plenty of them! My favorite thing about this version of  Greek baklava is that it uses a mixture of three different nuts--pistachios, walnuts, and hazelnuts-- along with cinnamon, pinch of ground cloves, and a sprinkle of sugar.

The nuts are chopped, but to get the perfect bite, don't grind them too finely. This baklava recipe is a bit on the nutty side and no one is ever mad about it! But you can totally make this recipe your own and change the nut mixture to your liking.

Let's take a look at what all goes in baklava recipe from scratch...

Greek honey baklava pieces in pan

Baklava Ingredients

When making this baklava recipe, it helps to think of the ingredients list in three different components:

  1. Phyllo pastry- find frozen phyllo dough in the freezer section next to things like pie crust.
  2. Nut mixture- pistachios, walnuts, hazelnut, sugar, ground cinnamon, pinch of ground cloves. You can change the nut mixture according to what you have. For example, you can use just walnuts or pistachios, but be sure to have enough of whichever nut you use. And if you're not a fan of cinnamon, you can omit that.
  3. Honey syrup- water, sugar, honey, and lemon juice. To infuse the syrup with more flavor, I add two more completely optional items, orange extract and whole cloves.

How to Make Baklava: Step-by-Step

My guide for how to make baklava

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. 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 (cloves are optional here); stir to mix. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer for about 25 minutes. Remove syrup from heat. Add lemon juice. Remove the whole cloves and let the syrup cool completely (it will thicken a little bit).

  3. Make the Nut Mixture

    In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, add the pistachios, walnut, and hazelnuts. Pulse a few times to chop. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add sugar, cinnamon, and ground cloves. Mix well to combine. Baklava nut mixture

  4. Prepare the Phyllo Pastry

    Carefully unroll the thawed phyllo pastry and place the sheets in between two clean kitchen towels. This will help keep the phyllo from breaking while you work.

  5. Assemble the First Few Layers of Baklava

    Prepare a 9”x 13”x 2” baking pan. Brush the interior of the baking pan with some of the melted butter.
    To assemble the baklava, take one sheet of phyllo and place it in the pan (for this size pan, I typically fold my phyllo sheet in half, and it fits perfectly. You can also do a bit of trimming using a pair of kitchen shears). Brush the top of the phyllo sheet with the melted butter.

    Repeat this process a few more times until you have used up about ⅓ of the phyllo pastry, each layer being brushed with the melted butter.

    First few sheets of phyllo dough assembled in the baking dish

  6. Distribute some of the Nut Mixture

    Now, distribute about ½ of the nut mixture evenly over the top layer of phyllo.
    A bit of the nut mixture distributed over phyllo

  7. Continue Assembling the Baklava

    Continue assembling the baklava, one sheet of phyllo pastry at a time using another ⅓ of the phyllo. Again, brush each layer with a bit of the melted butter.

    Distribute the remaining ½ of the nut mixture evenly over the top layer of phyllo.

    Finish the remaining ⅓ of the phyllo pastry following the same process, laying one folded sheet at a time and brushing each layer with melted butter.

    Brush the very top sheet of phyllo with butter.

  8. Cut the Baklava into Pieces

    Using a good sharp knife, cut the pastry into diamond shaped pieces (anywhere from 24 to 36 pieces) about ½-inch deep. (See the video to see exactly how I cut baklava) Baklava cut into pieces before baking

  9. Bake:

    Place the baklava dish on the middle rack of your heated oven. Bake anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes or until the top of the baklava turns 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).

  10. Pour Syrup. Let COOL. Garnish:

    As soon as you remove the baklava from the oven, pour the cooled syrup all over the hot baklava. Make sure you disribute the syrup evenly.
    Let the baklava cool completely (it's best if you leave it for several hours, or at least 1 hour, to allow the flaky phyll.o layers to absorb the honey syrup completely).
    Cut through the pieces you marked earlier. And if you like, garnish with a little sprinkle of pistachio before serving. Baklava with honey syrup and crushed pistachio garnish

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 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 phyllo sticky and hard to manage.  Do not remove the phyllo (fillo) from the package, place it in the fridge 12-14 hours until ready to use.
  2. Place the phyllo pastry sheets between two clean towels while you work.  Unless you are able to work quickly, before you begin to assemble the baklava, place the thawed phyllo sheets in between two clean kitchen towels. This helps the phyllo sheets remain lenient so they won't tear or break too much.
  3. Prepare your honey syrup ahead. It's important that the honey syrup is cool when it hits the freshly-baked hot 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 the syrup while the baklava is baking, but be sure you take it off heat and set it in a cool place.
  4. Chop the nuts well, but don't grind them too finely into a paste or powder. Obviously you don't want the nuts nestled in the baklava to be too big or make it hard to bite on the beautiful pastry. But be sure not to grind the nuts too finely that you end up with dust for your filling. You want to still be able to taste the nuts and enjoy their texture.
  5. Cut the assembled baklava into pieces before baking. So important, before you bake it, use a sharp knife to cut the pastry into pieces (I cut my baklava into larger diamond shaped pieces.  You can usually get about 24 up to 36 pieces depending on their size). Why cut it before you bake it? Because once phyllo pastry is baked, it's super crunchy and if you try to cut through it then, it'll break into a mess.
  6. Make your baklava one night in advance!  Hooray for the perfect make-ahead dessert! Baklava is even better the next day when it's had a chance to completely soak in the honey syrup. You can store it covered at room temperature for one night. Be sure it is completely cooled before you cover it (so important)

How to keep baklava from getting soggy?

Remember my one tip about hot baklava and cool syrup? This is also the key to keep your honey baklava from getting soggy. The hot flaky phyllo will properly absorb the cooled syrup while remaining crispy.

If the syrup was also hot, or if the syrup and baklava were both cool, the syrup will kind of collect in a bit of a pool and will not be absorbed properly. This will cause the beautiful pastry you worked so hard on to get soggy.

How to store baklava?

The good news is baklava is one of the few desserts you can make a few days ahead. It will keep well for up to 2 weeks stored in an air-tight glass container at room temperature or in the fridge.

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 store it in small batches so you don't have to thaw out the entire pan when you need a treat. Thaw in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for a few hours.

Watch the video to make it:

 

Craving more phyllo recipes? Try apple strudel, Spanakopita, or this savory meat pie!

For all recipes, visit us here. Check out our Mediterranean diet recipes. 

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Two pieces of Greek baklava with pistachio pieces sprinkled on top

Baklava Recipe- How to Make Baklava


  • Author: Suzy Karadsheh
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 24 pieces 1x

Description

My family’s secret baklava recipe combines layers of honey-soaked crisp phyllo pastry and a cinnamon-scented nut mixture with pistachios, walnuts, and hazelnut. Baklava is the perfect make-ahead dessert because it’s even better the next day!

Be sure to read through for tips and watch the video to make it. 


Ingredients

Scale

For the Baklava and Nut Filling

  • 6 oz shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 6 oz walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 6 oz hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon ground cinnamon (start with less if you're not sure)
  • large pinch of ground cloves
  • 16-oz package phyllo dough, thawed
  • 1 ½ to 2 sticks of unsalted butter (up to 16 tbsp), melted

For the Honey Syrup

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp orange extract (optional)
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 lemon, juice of

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

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 if using, 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.

Make the Nut Mixture: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, add the pistachios, walnut, and hazelnuts. Pulse a few times to chop. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add sugar, cinnamon, and ground cloves. Mix well to combine.

Prepare the Phyllo Pastry: Unroll the thawed phyllo pastry and place the sheets in between two clean kitchen towels. This will help keep the phyllo from breaking while you work.

Assemble the Baklava: Prepare a 9”x 13”x 2” baking pan. Brush the interior of the baking pan with some of the melted butter. To assemble the baklava, take one sheet of phyllo and place it in the pan (for this size pan, I typically fold my phyllo sheet in half, and it fits perfectly. You can also do a bit of trimming using a pair of kitchen shears). Brush the top of the phyllo sheet with the melted butter.

Repeat this process a few more times until you have used up about ⅓ of the phyllo pastry, each layer being brushed with the melted butter.

Now, distribute about ½ of the nut mixture evenly over the top layer of phyllo.

Continue assembling the baklava, one sheet of phyllo pastry at a time using another ⅓ of the phyllo. Again, brush each layer with a bit of the melted butter.

Distribute the remaining ½ of the nut mixture evenly over the top layer of phyllo.

Finish the remaining ⅓ of the phyllo pastry following the same process, laying one folded sheet at a time and brushing each layer with melted butter. Brush the very top sheet of phyllo with butter.

Cut the Baklava Pastry Into Pieces: Using a sharp knife, cut the pastry into 24 diamond shaped pieces (you can get up to 36 smaller pieces). (Review the tutorial above to see how I cut baklava).

Bake: Place the baking dish on the middle rack of your heated oven. Bake anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes or until the top of the baklava turns 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).

Pour Syrup Over Hot Baklava: As soon as you remove the baklava from the oven, pour the cooled syrup all over the hot baklava.

Cool Completely: Allow baklava to sit for a few hours before serving or for at least 1 hour. Cut through the earlier marked pieces. Serve with a garnish of chopped pistachios, if you like.

Notes

  • Cook's Tip: Before you begin thaw the baklava pastry package in the fridge overnight (review package instructions). Take it out of the fridge 1 hour before you start.
  • Cook's Tip: To save time, while the syrup is simmering begin to assemble the baklava. 
  • Let Baklava Sit a While Before Serving: Make sure baklava sits cools completely before serving. Baklava is even better the next day when it's had time to absorb the syrup.
  • Storage and Freezer Instructions: Be sure baklava is compeletly cool before storing. Cover it very well and store it at room temperature the first night, if you like. To store for a longer period, transfer the baklava to airtight glass containers and leave at room temperature or in the fridge for a few days or freeze for later use. Thaw frozen baked baklava in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
  • Visit our online shop for quality Mediterranean ingredients including extra virgin olive oils and spices
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean

Keywords: Baklava, how to make baklava, honey baklava, Greek baklava

This post first appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2014 and has been recently updated with new media and information for readers' benefit. Enjoy!

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. I've always been intimidated by phyllo but the detail in the instructions made handling it easy! Amazing baklava, just like I've had in Greece. Now I can't wait to make tiro- and spanakopita --thanks for sharing your phyllo expertise!

  2. Hi! This recipe sounds perfect, but before i try it I have a question - can you please tell me the amout of butter in oz?

  3. Thank you for helping me learn how to make such amazing baklava! Everyone in my family loved this and it's really not hard! Thanks again!

    1. I guess I should add for those reading through that I have followed the directions exactly the past 3 times (did not edit anything or stray from the recipe), and it's always a hit.

  4. These past weekend, me and by husband had been eating commercially produced Baklava. I am toying with the idea of the difficulty in making it. Your video and recipe looked very satisfying . I just need to find big sized phyllo in our local supermarkets.
    I just made Sicilia cannoli shells yesterday for my guests to be served in a few days.
    I am planning to buy bags of nuts and jars honey from my upcoming Sicilian vacation, to make the lots Baklava in the future.
    Thank you for the inspiration Suzy. I am glad to have found your website.

    1. Hi Roielyn, I am so glad you found my site too! There is truly nothing better than homemade bakalava! I'm glad this tutorial is helpful. Can't wait for you to give it a try.

  5. I couldn't wait for it to cool and tasted it right away. Desperately hoping that lemon mellows out as it cools. Otherwise, it tastes great. I will cut way back on the lemon juice next time..

  6. Absolutely loved this! The directions were easy to follow, and it turned out great! This is now my to-go recipe for baklava. Thank you!

  7. I made a few adjustments but it was divine. I subbed out hazelnuts for mild almonds. Loved the specifically numbered directions. I followed them to a "T". My family thought it was amazing!

    1. Tamara, that is so awesome to hear!!! My family loves this, and I am glad yours did as well. Hope you try other recipes here soon!

      1. So you used a rational combi for this? You'll want to adjust the bake time significantly!

      2. Yes for sure something told me aftwr 15 min start checking. Everyone loved it i added to cups of disorono to syrup mix omg smells like bliss thanx for the recipe.quick question if need to refridgerate can you heat back up in oven to crisp it up or not a good idea. Im the pastry chef for the Birchwood inn st pete florida no schooling just do what i do and apperently well.im a well rounded chef but love the padtry hours and no stress till holidays lol. Ill be in touch for ideas and mentoring if you dont mind.i want to do an americana baklava apple pie and a srawberry shortcake one also any thoughts

    1. Erin, by now, you have my e-mail response...but for the sake of others here. Bakalva is even better the next day as the syrup settles in. So it's better to make it in advance, cover tightly and leave it at room temperature. If you're storing it for longer than one night, you might refrigerate it then.

  8. I made this recipe and I have one comment, I think you should reduce the temperature when you cook it. I cooked the baklava at 350 F. and it was slightly burned after 40 minutes. Maybe your supposed to preheat the oven to 350, but reduce the heat when you put it in, or just cook at 350 for a shorter period of time. What would you suggest.

    It still turned out yummy, except for that one thing. I love the healthy ingredients!!

    1. Deb, thank you for sharing! So a few thoughts that might be helpful. First, as you know, oven strengths do vary. Yours sounds like a pretty effective oven, so I would start watching at the 30-minute mark. Essentially, you are looking for a nice golden brown color, once you achieve that, you can take your baklava out and test with a tooth pick. But another thing is the size of the actual metal pan you use. Even though phyllo sheets are larger, the ideal pan size for a well-layered baklava is a 13x9x2-inch, when I have used larger pans, my baklava did not turn out the same...it cooked faster, to be sure. Thirdly, you can absolutely start baking at 350 for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 300 and bake for another 15 minutes, check and see if it needs more time in the oven. Hope this all makes sense. If you try it again, I'd be eager to hear how it goes.

  9. I made this last night for a dinner party dessert & it got rave reviews. One friend said it was the best baklava she's ever had! Pretty good since it was my first baklava baking experience. I didn't have a 13x16 pan so I made it in a 13x9 & it worked just fine. I served it fresh out of the oven with vanilla bean icecream & a drizzle of chocolate ganache. Will definitely make again; thank you for the recipe!

    1. Hilary, that is wonderful to hear! Thank you for taking the time to share. Hope you find a few more recipes to try!

  10. thank you very much for teaching me how to make nice paklava as I have tried a few times but it wasn't really nice. I am baking it tomorrow for Eid please wish me luck. many thanks.

  11. Looks divine! Want to make this for Eid this week!! I know many people aren't a fan of orange so does one have to put the orange extract? Love your blog...making your paella next weekend!! x

    1. Mishka, happy Eid! You do not have to use the orange extract. Some people flavor the syrup with a couple of drops of lemon juice or even a cinnamon stick. Enjoy! And thank you so much for taking the time to stop in and share.

    1. Hi Huma. Thanks for your comment. I have not attempted to make the phyllo dough itself as it is available cheaply at most grocery stores. But perhaps some day! 🙂

  12. These look wonderful! I've never made Baklava before, phyllo dough just looks way too intimidating to me... but one day I will conquer my fear! :o)

    1. Trang, you crack me up! You've made things that are tougher than baklava. Give it a try, I know you can do it! Hugs.

  13. I haven't made baklava in ages. There's just two of us and that's a big pan of goodness. I think I'll make some and freeze what we don't eat during the holidays. 🙂

  14. Baklava is my ultimate sweet weakness.. I have so memory delicious childhood memories of it! Thanks for reminding me how delicious it is Suzy, I definitely am inspired to make a batch!

    1. Food is so powerful in bringing happy memories to mind. Thanks for the sweet comment, Thalia. Glad to see you here, friend. Hugs.

  15. Yes, this post is amazing! One of my all-time favor desserts. Can never go wrong making it. I love the pictures to. And the hazelnuts?! fantastic! I'm going to add them next time I make this.