This sweet and nutty homemade Greek Baklava is a timeless dessert that combines layers of flaky phyllo dough, a fragrant walnut-cinnamon filling, and a luscious honey syrup. It’s a Mediterranean classic that’s surprisingly easy to master!
I’m a huge baklava fan and using store-bought phyllo dough makes this recipe a breeze. Try your hand at other homemade pastry recipes with my Homemade Toaster Strudels, Blueberry Danish and Puff Pastry Apple Turnovers.
Why This Recipe Works
- Flavorful. This baklava greek dessert is so flavorful thanks to infusing the syrup with orange and cinnamon!
- Crispy and golden. With detailed instructions on layering and buttering the phyllo dough, this recipe ensures your homemade baklava will come out perfectly crispy, golden brown, and irresistibly flaky.
- Perfect make-ahead dessert. You can prepare this Greek Baklava ahead of time and let it soak in the syrup for hours or overnight, making it a convenient dessert for gatherings and special occasions.
- Holiday season favorite. This easy greek baklava recipe always ends up making it onto our dessert tables during the holiday season. It’s a delicious dessert and a traditional recipe to make any time of year — but especially during Christmas time!
- Water: The water will form the base for the syrup mixture that is poured on top of the Greek baklava to soak.
- Sugar: The granulated syrup will help provide a thick syrup texture.
- Honey: The honey adds that delicious honey flavor so easily associated with delicious baklava!
- Cinnamon Stick: The syrup is cooked with the cinnamon stick to infuse the mixture with cinnamon flavor, without getting the flecks of cinnamon (that you would get if you were to use ground cinnamon).
- Fresh Orange: The fresh orange peel isn’t super strong, but it does infuse the baklava syrup with a subtle citrus flavor.
- Walnuts: Be sure to toast then finely grind the walnuts. The ground nuts will be used to make the filling.
- Butter: The melted butter is very lightly brushed between certain layers of the phyllo dough. Carefully read the instructions to know when NOT to brush. Also, be sure to LIGHTLY brush. Too much butter will make soggy baklava.
- Package Phyllo Dough: Use gentle fingers with the phyllo sheets so you don’t get any breaking. You also want the phyllo layers to be thawed, not frozen.
- Make the baklava syrup. Add 1 cup water, 1 cup granulated sugar, 3/4 cup honey, 1 cinnamon stick, and 1 orange peel strip to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, reduce to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the sweet syrup from heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Prepare the walnut mixture. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. To a medium bowl, add 1 pound toasted walnuts (finely ground), 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp ground cloves. Mix to combine.
- Prepare the pan. Using a party brush, brush melted butter on the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch pan. Unroll the phyllo dough and trim to fit your pan, if needed. Use a damp paper towel or cloth and cover the phyllo dough to prevent drying out.
- Begin layering the Greek baklava. Place 1 sheet of phyllo dough on the bottom of the pan. Brush lightly with melted butter. Repeat until you have 8 layers.
- Add walnut mixture. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the walnut mixture on top. Top with 2 sheets of phyllo dough (no butter in between those 2 sheets), brush with butter, then add another 3 tablespoons on top. Add another 2 layers (no butter in between those 2 sheets), lightly butter the top, then top with another 3 tablespoons walnut mixture. Continue until you have 8 layers of phyllo left.
- Top with 8 layers of buttered phyllo. Top the greek baklava with 8 sheets of phyllo, lightly brushed with butter in between each. Brush the top layer with a thin layer of butter.
- Cut the greek baklava. Using a sharp knife, trim any pieces of phyllo that are hanging over. Cut the greek baklava into diamond or triangle shapes, being sure to not cut all the way down to the bottom of the pan. Leave about a half inch left uncut. This will keep the sauce from pooling at the bottom.
- Bake the baklava. Bake the baklava at 350ºF for 50 minutes. The baklava is done when you hav layers of crispy golden brown phyllo.
- Strain the syrup. While the yummy baklava is baking, strain the syrup mixture to remove the orange peel and cinnamon stick.
- Top with syrup. When the baklava is done, remove from the oven and immediately pour syrup on top of the baked baklava, letting it fall into all of the cracks and crevices and all over the top. Let sit to soak in for at least 4 hours or overnight. Just before serving, cut the slices to the bottom of the pan. Enjoy!
The phyllo dough can dry out so you’ll want to work quickly. Place a damp towel over the dough to keep things from drying out.
Don’t oversaturate every layer with butter. Just lightly brush it on to ensure flaky layers.
Don’t cut all the way through the baklava before baking! This will ensure that when the baklava is done and you’ve poured the syrup on, that things won’t pool at the bottom.
Instead, the syrup will soak into the middle of each piece of baklava.
Be sure to let the greek baklava sit for at least 4 hours to soak in.
Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing
Greek baklava is a great make-ahead dessert since you can let it soak overnight and then serve it the next day.
Store leftover baklava at room temperature loosely covered with a paper towel. The baklava will keep for up to 1 week. Store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
Storing it at room temperature will keep the crispy texture.
Freezing: To freeze baklava, wrap individual pieces in plastic wrap and place them in an airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before serving.
Yes, you can substitute walnuts with different kind of nuts, almonds or pistachios are the most popular, for more delicious variations of baklava.
You can often find phyllo dough in the freezer section of most supermarkets. If not, consider checking specialty or Mediterranean food stores.
Absolutely! Halve the ingredients and use a smaller baking dish for a smaller portion of delicious Greek Baklava. I recommend an 8×8-inch baking dish.
Use cool syrup on hot baklava. You don’t want to let the baklava sit or cool. Right when you take it out of the oven, pour on the cool syrup. This will help the phyllo absorb the syrup quickly, while retaining the crispy texture.
More Dessert Recipes
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup honey
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 strip orange peel
- 1 pound walnuts - toasted and finely ground
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 16 oz package phyllo dough - thawed
- 1 1/4 cups butter - melted (salted or unsalted butter is fine)
- Make the syrup: Combine water, sugar, honey, cinnamon stick, and orange peel in a small saucepan. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let syrup cool to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl mix the finely ground walnuts, ground cinnamon and cloves.
- Using a pastry brush, brush melted butter along the bottom and sides of a 9"x13” pan.
- Unroll the phyllo dough and trim (if needed) to fit your pan. (I trimmed the edges slightly). Dampen a cloth or paper towel and use this to cover the phyllo dough to prevent it from drying out.
- Place 1 sheet of phyllo dough in the pan, very lightly brush with melted butter. Continue doing this until you have 8 sheets layered. You don’t need to oversaturate with butter, just lightly brush it on.
- Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Then, top with 2 sheets of phyllo dough, brush butter over the dough, then add 3 tablespoons of nuts…. Layering as you go. The top layer portion should be 8 sheets deep (with only a very light brushing of butter between each sheet). Brush the top layer of phyllo with a thin layer of butter.
- Use a sharp knife to trim any pieces of phyllo dough that has crept up the sides of the pan. Then, cut the baklava into diamond or triangular shapes. When cutting, cut within a HALF inch of the bottom of the pan, so that when you pour the sauce over the baklava the sauce seeps into the layers but doesn’t pool at the bottom. (You will cut all the way thru after the whole thing has cooled completely).
- Place the baklava in the oven and bake for 50 minutes until golden and crisp.
- While the baklava is baking, strain the syrup to remove the cinnamon stick and orange peel.
- Remove the baklava from the oven and immediately pour the cooled sauce over the top, making sure to get the syrup into all of the cracks, crevices, and over the top surface. Let absorb for at least 4 hours or overnight. Before serving, use a sharp knife to cut the slices all the way to the bottom of the pan.
- Baklava can be stored at room temperature loosely covered with a paper towel. For long term storage….