Baklava

Baklava is a layered filo pastry dessert popular in countries that were part of the Ottoman Empire.

Lastest Updated January 6, 2024
Verified by A-Z Cuisines Team
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Fact: Greek-style baklava usually has 33 layers of filo pastry dough representing the years of Christ’s life.

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Basic Information

Baklava: Basic Information

Pronunciation

/bɑːkləˈvɑː/
/bɑːkləvɑː/
/bəˈklɑːvə/
/bahk-lah-vuh/

Alternative Name(s)

Baqlāwa, pakhlava, baclava, baklawa

Dish Type

Cakes and pastries, desserts, snacks

Course

Dessert

Mealtime

Anytime

Popular Variations

  1. Sütlü Nuriye
  2. Şöbiyet
  3. Gaziantep Baklava
  4. Güllaç
  5. Fıstıklı Baklava
  6. Kestaneli Baklava
  7. Vişneli Baklava
  8. Saragli
  9. Persian Baklava
  10. Paklava (Armenian Baklava)
  11. Baku Pakhlava
  12. Ganja Pakhlava
  13. Guba Pakhlava
  14. Sheki Pakhlava (Or Sheki Halva)
  15. Ružice
  16. Uzbek Pakhlava
  17. Faisaliah
  18. Basma
  19. Bakalawa bil Jibne
  20. Bukaj Baklava
  21. Taj al Malek
  22. Asabi
  23. Asawer
  24. Baklawa (Algerian baklava)
Origin and Region

Baklava: Origin and Region

Origin

Ottoman Empire (modern-day Turkey and North Africa)

Continent’s Region

  • West Asia
  • North Africa
  • Southern Europe

Country’s Region

Nationwide Origin

Associated Region

Unspecified
Ingredients and Preparation

Baklava: Ingredients and Preparation

Main Ingredients

Filo pastry, nuts, butter, and sugar syrup or honey

Main Cooking Method

Baking

Preparation Process

Layering the filo pastry sheets, filling them with chopped nuts, baking, and soaking in sugar syrup or honey
A Deep Dive

Baklava: A Deep Dive

Cultural Significance

Baklava is the top-tier dessert in Ottoman cuisine and an essential sweet for Ramadan and weddings

Taste

Sweet

Texture

Flaky and crunchy

Aroma

Sweet and fragrant, depending on the flavorings

Color

Golden brown

Serving Style

  • Cut into squares, diamonds, or rectangles
  • Served on its own or with accompaniments

Serving Temperature

Cold, room temperature, warm

Accompaniment

  • Extra nuts, tea, Arabic coffee, fresh fruits, Ramadan desserts
  • In Turkey: Kaymak (clotted cream), ice cream

Occasions

Festivals, weddings, birthdays

Seasons

Year-round

Special Diets

Vegetarian

Calories

306 calories, according to data of Nutritionix for 1 piece (76 grams) of baklava

Popularity

  • West Asia and Central Asia: Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan
  • Southern Europe: Greece, Bosnia, Romania
  • North Africa and East Africa: Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Somalia

Popular Similar Dishes

  1. Strudel
  2. Mille-feuille
  3. Sfogliatelle
  4. Kadayif

Popular Dining Area

Local households, restaurants, bakeries

Baklava is a famous layered dessert of Ottoman origin, with filo (or phyllo) dough, nuts, and honey or syrup as the main ingredients. There are many variations of baklava around the world.

Baklava Infographic

Countries famous for making this dessert include Turkey, Greece, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, among many others. Baklava is considered one of Turkey’s national dishes.

Continue reading to discover fascinating facts about baklava. I will introduce you to its regional variations, main ingredients, flavor profile, how to store baklava, the pros and cons of the desserts, common queries about baklava, and similar desserts.

Key Points

  • Baklava is a layered filo pastry dessert with roots in Ottoman cuisine.
  • There are many baklava variations.
  • Filo dough, different types of nuts, and honey or sugar syrup are the main ingredients of baklava.
  • Baklava is rich and sweet; its price can vary depending on the region and preparation.
  • People enjoy baklava on special occasions and religious festivals, especially during Ramadan and Christmas.
  • You can store baklava at room temperature for two weeks with the right method.
  • November 17th is the National Baklava Day in the US.

Baklava Images

What Is the Origin of Baklava?

Baklava dates back to the 8th century BC when ancient Assyrians created a dish of flatbreads filled with nuts.

But its modern version emerged in the royal kitchens of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, based on borrowings from ancient Roman, Arab, or Central Asian pastries.

Baklava eventually became popular in Ottoman cuisine and was introduced to many regions under imperial rule.

Therefore, various countries that are former Ottoman territories enjoy baklava, such as Israel, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Egypt. Even countries that didn’t experience Ottoman rule, such as Romania and Somalia, also love it.

Today, the layered filo pastry dessert is a must-have food offering for weddings, birthdays, and religious holidays in many countries, especially Christmas and Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.

Given its widespread popularity, baklava comes in countless variations that cater to various preferences.

What Are the Most Popular Baklava Variations?

Below are 24 well-known baklava variations in countries famous for the layered filo pastry dessert:

While diverse in culinary influences, those baklava variations are usually made from the same ingredients.

What is Baklava Made of?

Classic baklava uses the following 3 ingredients:

IngredientsCharacteristics
Filo DoughPaper-thin unleavened dough sheets stacked upon each other

Usually brushed with butter or vegetable oil to

Varies in the number of layers from place to place

Can be replaced with puff pastry, tortillas, or crepes
NutsCommon choices: pistachios, walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts

Chopped and sweetened to fill between the filo sheets

Can be substituted with seeds, dried fruits, or cereals
Sugar Syrup or HoneyTypically scented with lemon juice or aromatics like cardamom, rose water, and orange blossom water

Combining these ingredients together to make sweet and crunchy baklava is an elegant art.

How to Make Baklava?

The preparation of baklava involves the 4 steps below:

  • Step 1: Making the syrup
    Mix honey or a mixture of sugar and water with lemon juice and aromatics, such as flavored water, to create scented syrup. Some versions use both sugar and honey.
  • Step 2: Making the filling
    Combine chopped nuts, sugar, and spices together for the filling.
  • Step 3: Assembling the baklava
    Layer the filo pastry sheets in a baking pan, with one or many layers of chopped nuts between them. Cut the baklava into pieces of the desired shape before baking it.
  • Step 4: Completing the baklava
    Finally, pour syrup over the filo pastry dessert and garnish it with extra nuts.

The process facilitates the harmonious blend of those premium ingredients into the fantastic flavor profile of baklava.

Why Is Baklava So Popular?

Baklava boasts a wonderful taste thanks to its premium ingredients. The Ottoman-origin dessert has the sweetness of honey, the nutty richness of nuts, and the fragrant notes from the flavorings.

In addition, the flaky and crunchy filo dough contributes to a pleasant mouthfeel.

Because those ingredients are rather costly, and baklava requires a lot of time and work, the layered filo pastry dessert is slightly expensive. Let’s learn how to make your baklava experience count, such as its best accompaniments.

What to Serve with Baklava?

Baklava goes well with the following 5 options:

Extra Nuts

Extra nuts:

Traditional accompaniments for baklava.

Arabic Tea And Coffee

Beverages:

Arabic tea and coffee.

Kaymak Cream

Kaymak (clotted cream) or ice cream:

Popular in Turkey.

Baklava Cheesecake

Fresh fruits:

Healthy accompaniments.

Baklava And Coffee

Ramadan desserts:

Such as halva, knafeh, Turkish delight, or kataifi. Baklava is sometimes served with these desserts at Iftar, the evening fast-breaking meal during Ramadan.

To experience all the joy baklava can give, learning how to store it correctly is of great importance.

How to Store Baklava Properly?

The best method of preserving baklava is to wrap it in waxed or parchment paper and put it in an airtight container.

While baklava doesn’t need refrigerating, putting it in the fridge prolongs the storage time. However, baklava will lose its crispiness and become chewier in that case.

The storage time of baklava is as follows:

  • At room temperature: two weeks.
  • In the fridge: two weeks to 1 month.
  • In the freezer: 4 – 6 months.

To warm the filo pastry dessert, thaw it in the fridge for 6 hours or more, then heat it up in the oven or microwave.

Whether freshly baked or rewarmed, baklava is always an addictive treat that makes you come back for more. Therefore, keep in mind the nutritional profile of baklava to help moderate your consumption.

What Are the Health Benefits of Baklava?

Baklava is filled with nuts rich in protein and healthy fats, which can protect against chronic diseases like stroke and heart attack.

In addition, since baklava contains a large amount of sugar and carbs, it is a calorie-rich food that gives a quick energy boost, making it ideal for Ramadan, especially after a day of fasting.

However, whether baklava is good for health or not depends on the individual intake. Having a small or medium-sized serving of baklava will give many health benefits, but overeating will lead to excess calories, resulting in obesity and other health concerns.

On a related note, traditional baklava is neither vegan nor gluten-free, so people on vegan or gluten-free diets are unlikely to appreciate the Ottoman-origin dessert. Read on to discover more pros and cons of baklava.

Pros and Cons of Eating Baklava

Below is a complete list of the advantages and disadvantages of baklava:

Pros

  • Taste and Texture: Many people love the combination of crispy filo dough, sweet syrup, and rich nuts in baklava.
  • Festive Nature: Baklava is a traditional dessert for many joyous occasions, such as weddings and Ramadan. Enjoying baklava and partaking in the festivities will give you a wonderful cultural experience.
  • Variety: There are many variations of baklava, both traditional and modern, with different nuts, spices, and syrups used.
  • Energy Boost: Due to its high sugar and carb content, baklava provides a quick energy boost, which is highly useful after a day of hard labor or fasting during Ramadan.
  • Long Shelf Life: When stored properly, baklava lasts for a long time, even at room temperature.

Cons

  • Excessive Sweetness: The generous amount of syrup or honey used in baklava might make it too sweet for some people.
  • Calorie Count: Baklava is high in sugar and calories, which can discourage those watching their weight or sugar intake.
  • Dietary Restrictions: Because of its main ingredients, baklava isn’t suitable for people with nut allergies, celiac disease, or on a vegan diet.
  • Price: Baklava is rather expensive because of the high-quality ingredients and craftsmanship involved.
  • Messy Eating:The syrup or honey makes baklava quite sticky, which might not be to everyone’s liking.

Before wrapping up the examination of the pros and cons of baklava, I will address some frequently asked questions about the dessert for you.

Baklava FAQs

Whether to use hot or cold syrup for baklava depends on the temperature of the layered filo dessert: Hot syrup is best for cold baklava, and vice versa.

Yes, baklava syrup should have a thick consistency. In case your syrup is too watery, reduce it with heat or thicken it with cornstarch or gelatin.

Soggy baklava comes from the following reasons: insufficient amount of fat between the filo pastry sheets, underbaking, too much syrup or filling, and pouring syrup with the wrong temperature over the baklava.

Baklava originated in the Ottoman Empire, which included both Turkey and Greece. Today, baklava is popular in both countries, as well as many countries previously under Ottoman rule.

Greek baklava stands out from its Turkish counterparts in 3 aspects: filo dough and filling, syrup, and presentation.

Greek baklava typically has more layers of filo dough, uses many types of nuts and honey-mixed syrup, and is often cut into larger squares or rectangles.

Meanwhile, Turkish baklava boasts fewer layers of filo dough, features pistachios and scented syrup, and is frequently cut into small, diamond-shaped pieces.

Yes, baklava is safe for pregnant women, as long as they aren’t allergic to its ingredients and consume it in moderation.

Yes, well-known fusion dishes based on baklava include baklava cheesecake, baklava pull-apart bread, and baklava banana bundt cake.

No, traditional baklava doesn’t contain eggs, though some current recipes may incorporate egg yolks for added flavors.

No, there are no peanuts in traditional baklava.

Yes, gluten-free baklava can be made from gluten-free phyllo dough, which is available at specialty stores or health food stores.

Baklava is a crunchy filo pastry dessert, while Turkish delight is a soft treat made of sugar, gel of starch, and aromatic flavorings.

No, baklava and kataifi aren’t the same, although they share the same origin and are both made from filo dough. Kataifi consists of shredded filo dough rolled into a cylindrical shape, with nuts in the middle.

Baklava is consumed by people of many different faiths, such as Muslims, Christians, and Jews.

Adam Sam

Adam Sam

Senior Food and Drink Editor

Expertise

Food Writer & Recipe Developer, Recipe Tester, Bartender, Cooking-video Maker, Editor In Chief

Education

  • University of Gastronomic Sciences – Pollenzo (Italy) (MA Food Culture, Communication & Marketing)
  • Johnson & Wales University (US) (Baking and Pastry Arts)
  • Professional Bartender at HNAAu School (Vietnam, International Joint Training Program)

Adam Sam, an experienced food writer and recipe developer, is passionate about blending diverse culinary traditions, national dishes, and innovative beverages, showcasing his proficiency in both traditional and modern recipe testing.

As the Editor-in-Chief, he elevates culinary content from street food to fine dining, focusing on Western cuisine and types of drinks at azcuisines.com, and is professional in creating engaging cooking videos that simplify complex dishes and ingredients.

His passion for food is evident in his writing, where he uniquely merges various cultures, traditions, and contemporary trends, skillfully combining classic recipes with modern cooking methods.

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