Classic Greek Baklava

This Classic Greek Baklava features layers of flaky dough
filled with ground nuts and honey.

Traditional Greek Baklava | Spicedblog.com

I had no idea how spoiled I was back when I lived in Atlanta.  No matter what it was you were looking for, someone in Atlanta sold it.  I could find crawfish and tasso for my favorite south Louisiana recipes.  I literally could find every ingredient imaginable at one of the many specialty food markets around town.  Speaking of specialty foods, we had access to one of the most amazing farmer’s markets ever down there.  (This is the same market where my wife and I went on our first date.)  This isn’t a normal farmer’s market with individual merchants setting up tables.  Rather it’s a giant (and I mean giant) warehouse of nearly every food imaginable.  I picked up powdered lime peel last time we visited Atlanta.  I still don’t know what to do with it, but that’s beside the point.  What I wouldn’t give to have a farmer’s market like that here in upstate New York!

Traditional Greek Baklava | Spicedblog.comSo what does this amazing farmer’s market have to do with Classic Greek Baklava?  Well, in addition to selling all sorts of ethnic food ingredients, this place also had a bakery with treats from around the world.  Whenever my wife and I would make a farmer’s market run, a large piece of baklava would almost always appear in our cart.  Baklava is definitely one of my favorite guilty treats…I mean, how can you not love a flaky pastry that is filled with nuts and honey?  It’s seriously delicious…and seriously addicting!

Traditional Greek Baklava | Spicedblog.comBaklava certainly has the reputation of being a difficult dessert to make.  In all honesty, it’s really not that bad.  It does require a bit of prep work, but it’s totally worth it to create this impressive treat!  Here’s a couple of tips that hopefully make this recipe easier.

  • Don’t waste your time looking for shelled, unsalted pistachios.  (1/2 pound of unshelled pistachios = ~4.5 ounces of shelled pistachios.) I went to at least 5 stores before I bought the unshelled version from the bulk section at my local market.  The 15 minutes it’ll take to shell them is much less than hunting all over town for the shelled version.  Just make sure you grab the unsalted ones!  Update: Diamond Nuts now sells pre-shelled, unsalted pistachios!!
  • Phyllo dough will dry out in just a couple of minutes if you leave it uncovered.  I lay out the stack of phyllo dough on a large cutting board and then keep a damp paper towel on top of the stack.  If you’ve never used phyllo (or filo) dough, it’s crazy thin.  Don’t worry if it tears or rips a little bit when you make the layers.  It’ll get covered up by another layer and you’ll never see it.  Phyllo dough can be found in the frozen section at your local market…just keep in mind that it needs to thaw in the fridge for 24 hours before using it.
  • The nuts should be fairly finely ground.  I’ve left them too big before, and while it doesn’t ruin the baklava, it’s better to have finer ground nuts.  Not saying you want powdered nuts here…they should still have some texture.  Just not large chunks either.  I use a small food processor and grind each type of nut separately since walnuts, pistachios, and almonds all have very different textures.
  • Finally, make sure to have all of your ingredients in place before you start.  Have your finely ground nuts in a bowl mixed with the spices.  Have your buttered dish front and center.  Have your phyllo dough (covered with the damp cloth) right next to that.  And finally have your melted butter and brush ready to go.  The prep is the hardest part here…once you have that done, it probably only takes about 15 minutes to make the layers.
  • Baklava is best when made the day before you want to serve it.  The honey mixture takes a few hours to soak into the baklava.  In a pinch, you could let it sit for about 4 hours and probably be ok, but the day before is the best option.

Traditional Greek Baklava | Spicedblog.com

Classic Greek Baklava

This Classic Greek Baklava features layers of flaky dough filled with ground nuts and honey.
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Resting Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 9 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 24 servings
Calories: 228kcal

Ingredients

For the Baklava

  • 16 oz. phyllo dough, thawed (see note)
  • 1 pound almonds walnuts and/or pistachios
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 sticks 1 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

For Garnish

  • several Tbsp of whole cloves

Instructions

  • Butter a 9x13 baking dish and preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Using a small food processor, pulse each of the types of nuts until finely chopped.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the chopped nuts, sugar, cinnamon, and ground cloves; stir well and set aside.
  • Unroll the phyllo dough and trim edges with scissors so that it matches the size of the baking dish (if necessary). (Note: While working, keep dough covered with a damp towel or cloth to prevent it from drying out.)
  • Place 4 sheets of phyllo in dish; brush top sheet with melted butter. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of chopped nuts evenly on top. Add 3 more sheets of phyllo; brush the top sheet with melted butter. Top with 1/3 cup of chopped nuts. Repeat process until all phyllo and nuts have been used, reserving 8 sheets of phyllo for the top.
  • Place 4 sheets of phyllo on top and brush top sheet with melted butter. Place the remaining 4 sheets of phyllo on top and brush top with remaining butter.
  • Before baking, use a sharp knife to cut the baklava into 3" by 3" squares. Next, make a diagonal cut in each square to create two triangles from each square. Insert a whole clove into the center of each triangle.
  • Bake at 350°F for 45-50 minutes, or until top is golden and crispy to the touch.
  • While the baklava is baking, combine the sugar with 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Stir well and bring to a boil. Add the honey, vanilla, and lemon juice; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Once baklava has baked, remove from oven and pour honey mixture on top. Let baklava cool and then cover with plastic wrap for several hours or overnight.

Notes

Phyllo (or filo) dough can usually be found in the freezer section at your local market. Keep in mind that it will need to thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using…so plan ahead!

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29 Comments

  1. Are you referring to the Dekalb Farmers Market? If so I would so love to hang out with your wife there next time yall are in Atlanta! That place is a mecca of exotic and economically priced foods! If not – which one is it?

    Yes, I admit, I am one of those peeps that never attempted making baklava due to it’s complexity – Most store bought ones look so greasy – but yours looks perfect and sounds easier to make than I thought.

    1. Yes, I am definitely referring to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market, Shashi!! We totally have to hang out next time we’re in Atlanta! (We had a trip planned for this summer, but it got switched to Nashville b/c my sister had a baby…yay!)

      As long as you have all of your ingredients prepped and laid out in front of you, it’s really not that hard to make baklava. The hardest part is just getting organized and making the chopped nut mixture before you get started. So yummy!!

  2. We love to get baklava when we can… but I have never made it before. I had to chuckle about the shelled vs unshelled pistachios. I have had a couple of trips where I spend too much time looking for something, that I realized wasn’t that important. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I totally feel your pain with hunting down random ingredients, Laura! I just went hunting for key limes yesterday. I figured they’d be impossible to find in upstate NY, but I actually found them at just the 2nd store I went to. Go figure!

  3. I know the spoiled feeling…Minneapolis had every specialty food I wanted. But Upstate really does not. But I guess that’s good because we are forced to create it ourselves. This looks just amazing David!!

    PS: I think got a glimpse of baby you on your sister’s blog the other day and I forgot to tell you. Oh and I also forgot to tell you that I had no idea you were related until a few weeks ago. Freaking small interwebs world.

    1. Oh man…can I tell how much I’ve thought about starting an awesome specialty foods market up here? Something like Atlanta or it sounds like Minneapolis, too. Oh well…it just means I’ll take an extra suitcase whenever I travel. 🙂

      And P.S. It is indeed a small interwebs world! Courtney just had a baby, and we’re set to go down to visit her in another month or so. So flippin’ excited!

  4. Oh my WORD! Is it possible to marry someone when you’re already married, cuz if that’s possible, I totally want to do it. Oh wait… I don’t believe in polygamy. Crap… I think my husband and I will just move in next door to you, m’kay? I NEED this baklava in my life! Oh, and I need your friendship there, too! Yeah… it’s all about the friendship….and the baklava 😉

    1. Hahaha! I’m totally down to have a blog friend living next door! That way we can commiserate together when pictures don’t turn out exactly like they do in our minds. Oh yeah, and we’ll have someone to help eat all of the yummy food, too! The guy down the street is selling his house…shall I let him know you’re interested? 🙂

      1. Oh YES! Besides the commiseration, there’s the ability to share food props and expensive photo equipment! See, it’s all perfectly reasonable 🙂
        Would you please ask that guy down the street if I could pay for his house in baked goods?

  5. Mmm, my grandmother and mom make amazing baklava so this brings me wonderful memories. 🙂 They haven’t made it in years so maybe it’s time for me to pick up the torch. I’m craving it now!!! Lovely job. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Tina! You totally need to pick up the torch and make some delicious baklava…I love it so much!! Have a great weekend!

  6. I love baklava… it’s so freaking good. I guess just another reason why I need to move upstate hahahaha… except that we have a bunch of farms and stuff like that out here on NY dude. And the city has a pretty awesome farmer’s market. Maybe you need to move closer to me! Hahaha

    1. I see what you’re doing here, Chris! I’m tempted to move down there for the farmer’s market alone. But I’ll just keep making my ice cream and baklava up here…and trying to find someone to give extras to. You don’t know anyone do you?

  7. This is one of my top favorite recipes, from the buttery phyllo dough, to the crunchy filling…….all pure heaven!!! I agree about gorgeous farmers markets, you can find ANYTHING there, and all local! Your recipe is gorgeous! Take care, Terra

    1. Hah! Thanks, Mike! I’ll definitely drop a piece in the mail to you. Don’t get mad if I happen to take a bite out of it on the way to the post office, though!

  8. I do have a passion for Baklava, you have perfected it!
    A great recipe which I’m certainly going to try…
    Many thanks for posting all these gorgeous dishes, I look forward to many others.
    Regards,
    Odelle Smith. ( U.K.)

    1. Thank you so much, Odelle! Your words are too kind. 🙂 This Baklava recipe is one of my favorites…and I really hope you enjoy it! 🙂 Thank you so much for commenting!

  9. I was scrolling your site and find this recipe for Baklava! Do you know how much I love baklava?! One of my all time favourite desserts and I´ve never made it… and NOW I have a recipe!! Whoohoo!!

    1. Hey there, Johlene! Oh man, you made it back to one of my all-time favorite recipes on here. Kudos to you, my friend! 🙂 Wait. You’ve NEVER made baklava? Ok, you need to do that ASAP. Like today. I love, love, love this recipe…I actually just made a batch over the holidays for a party with the neighbors. Baklava takes a bit of time (to rest overnight) and it’s a little bit expensive due to the phyllo dough and nuts…but it’s SO worth it! If you end up making this recipe, let me know what you think!

  10. I just LOVE Baklava! We were on a 4 week holiday in Greece doing some Island hopping, and my favorite was baklava!
    The whole idea of being in a different country, is eating the local foods and experience their way of living, otherwise you should stay home as what is the use eating the same foods you eat at home…
    The best way to experience this is to go where the tourists don’t go and into the countryside, there you experience the REAL traditional cooking!

    To get back on track…nowhere have I have tasted better baklava than in Greece…and bought myself a book in Milos called “Cooking to Share”, “Greek recipes from my family to yours” by Alexandra Stratou.
    This is a gem of a book if you like Greek food!!!

    Their baklava is basically the same, but they use olive oil instead of butter, coat each layer of pastry with oil and sprinkle each layer with nut mixture.
    The pastry they put in single layers as well, not three.
    On the top they put 4 layers each coated with olive oil, then before putting it in the oven, they heat 6 tablespoons of olive oil to point before smoking, and pour it on the top layer.
    The Greeks just love their olive oil, lime and honey!
    Recipes are only guidelines,,,add an remove as you please…
    I will make a combination of these two recipes and see what comes out…you never know….

    1. Hey there, Jan! 4 weeks of island hopping in Greece sounds pretty darned amazing to me! My wife and I just got back from a 10-day trip down the Rhine River in Germany…and it was amazing. I totally agree with you about eating the foods of the area! I mean how often are you going to be in a small town in Germany or Greece or wherever? Every day, we would wander several blocks away from the tourist section (where all menus were in English) to the more local part of town. And we ate some amazing food that way!!

      So I’ll have to go check out that book that you mentioned. I love Greek food! Bakalava is definitely a favorite around here, too, and we’ve made this recipe a number of times. It’s a keeper for sure! I hope you enjoy this one, and I hope it reminds you of your vacation in Greece! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such a thoughtful comment. Cheers, my friend!

      1. Hi!
        Renting a small car in Greece is cheap, with unlimited mileage, just as long as you bring it back at the fuel level you took it…
        The islands are only THAT big, so no chance you’ll put on much mileage on the clock anyways…and rent a Suzuki 4×4…you’ll be glad you did as most islands are steep and following the gravel roads brings you to the best places not known to tourists!

        Just found the book online for you: https://www.maltbyandgreek.com/products/cooking-to-share-by-alexandra-stratou
        She also wrote another called Cooking with Loula.

        Hope you enjoy and will most definitely try your baklava!

        1. Hey Jan! We did the same with renting a car when we went to Scotland a few years ago. It was a bit of an adjustment with the driver’s seat on the right side as well as driving on the left side of the road…but we figured it out! Plus, it was the only way to see some of the really amazing Scottish countryside. I’ll keep your tips in mind for when we make it over to the Greek islands one day! 🙂 And thanks for the book link. It looks like it’s currently not available, but I bet I can find it somewhere online. Enjoy that baklava, my friend!

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