How to Make Baklava

Baklava is a traditional Mediterranean dessert.You have probably bought it or tasted it, but have you ever tried making it? It's best fresh.


  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 wedge lemon
  • One pound phyllo (also spelled "filo") dough
  • 1 1/2 pounds of real butter (not unsalted)
  • 8-9 cups of walnuts, chopped coarsely and mixed with a little ground cinnamon and sugar
  • Whole cloves


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    Make the syrup a day ahead, so it will be room temperature the day you bake the baklava. You should pour cool syrup over the hot baklava. Simmer the sugar, water, cinnamon and lemon for 30 minutes. Pour it into a jar and let it sit overnight.
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    Melt the butter over low heat and keep it warm throughout the process. Use a pastry brush to grease the bottom and sides of the pan.
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    Brush each sheet of phyllo with butter just before you add it to the pan. This is what makes the phyllo come out crispy and flaky.
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    Lay 6 or 7 sheets of the buttered phyllo on the bottom of the pan. On the 7th sheet, sprinkle the sweetened, not too finely chopped nuts. Sprinkle generously, but don't overdo it.
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    Lay two more sheets of buttered phyllo over the nuts. Sprinkle another layer of nuts. Keep going in this way, nuts, phyllo, more nuts.
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    When you're out of nuts, top with a final 6-7 more sheets of buttered phyllo, and no more nuts on top.
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    Heat the butter very warm and drizzle a little more over the entire pan.
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    Before baking, cut the baklava into triangles. Cut first into squares or rectangles, then cut across them diagonally. Insert a clove into each triangle to help hold it together.
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    Bake in a 325ºF oven for about 30-35 minutes, until slightly browned. Be careful not to burn it.
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    Take it out of the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes, then pour the syrup over the whole thing. Try to cover the whole top, but if it is too much syrup, don’t use it all. If you use these measurements, for the syrup, you can probably use all of it.
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  • Some baklava recipes use honey for part of the syrup.
  • Purchase the phyllo. It takes a lot of skill and table space to make it and roll it that thin.
  • The syrup may be made just prior to making the baklava; however, it should be kept in the freezer to cool while the baklava is being prepared. Make sure to put towels under the pan before placing the hot pan on the freezer racks and check the pan a couple times to ensure the syrup does not harden. When the hot baklava comes out of the oven, immediately pour the cooled syrup over each crevice and scored section of baklava. The more syrup, the easier the baklava is to handle too, especially when each scored crevice is soaked in it. You may want to double the syrup recipe.
  • Best results with the filling will be with cinnamon, walnut, and sugar only.Butter every other sheet of phyllo, to make the rise of the pastry look authentic.
  • You may prefer not to sweeten the nuts with sugar, since the syrup is very sweet. You may also want to try variation in the coarseness of the nuts. Some older people prefer the nuts almost ground; others prefer the nuts almost whole---make two pans!
  • If you aren't eating this immediately or you would like to make it in advance, cover the whole, unbaked pan with plastic, as airtight as possible, and freeze it. Store the syrup separately. Allow extra baking time.
  • To save on calories, you may use a butter spray on each layer but the baklava will not be as rich or hold together as well.
  • Baklava is attractive and a bit neater to eat if served in a small, foil cupcake liner.
  • Leftover baklava that is already baked is still good to eat, but the phyllo does not stay flaky.
  • Eat baklava with your fingers, but have napkins nearby and a plate underneath.
  • Some recipes omit the cinnamon and use 2 tablespoon (29.6 ml) lemon juice and 1 tsp orange oil to flavor the syrup.
  • Pronounce phyllo as FY-loh and baklava as bah-kl ah-VAH.
  • Some authentic recipes call for rose water in the sweeten honey sauce.


  • Allow plenty of time for preparation and cleanup, especially if you are new at handling phyllo. This recipe will take some practice and patience to master, but it is well worth it.
  • Knives are sharp. Always use a sharp knife as dull knives make the worst cuts
  • Ovens and the things just coming out of them are hot.

Things You'll Need

  • A pastry brush
  • A baking pan, ideally one the same size as the phyllo. 17" x 9" is a good size.

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Pastries