Today I'm sharing my favorite recipe for homemade baklava! While this Greek recipe may appear complicated (and it is time consuming) it's actually quite simple to make. If this is your first time making baklava, I recommend watching my video before you begin.
Semisweet or dark chocolatefor drizzling (optional)
Combine nuts, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in the basin of a food processor⁵ and pulse until nuts are finely chopped (about eight 1-second pulses). Set aside.
Brush melted butter evenly over the bottom and up the sides of a metal 9x13” baking dish⁶ (see note). Run a clean kitchen towel under water and thoroughly wring it out so it is still damp but not dripping. Remove the phyllo from the packaging and lay it on a clean workspace, then lay the damp towel overtop. It is important to re-cover the phyllo with this towel each time you take a sheet or it will dry out.
Lay one sheet of phyllo onto the bottom of your pan, trim any excess (I use a paring knife). I have found the easiest way to transfer the thin, fragile phyllo is to carefully roll it up, move it to the pan and line up the edges, then carefully unroll. Most packages of Phyllo have a few more sheets than you actually need in case you accidentally tear some! Brush the surface of the phyllo all over with melted butter.
Layer another sheet of phyllo over the first and lightly brush all over with butter. Repeat until you have 10 buttered sheets.
Sprinkle approximately ¾ cup of the nut mixture (or one fourth of the mixture) evenly over the phyllo.
Lay a sheet of phyllo over top and brush with melted butter, repeat until you have a layer of 5 buttered sheets (see note for final layout of phyllo and nuts).
Evenly sprinkle another ¾ cup of the nut mixture, then add another 5 buttered phyllo sheets, then another ¾ cup of the mixture, 5 more buttered sheets, ¾ of the mixture, and then finally 10 buttered phyllo sheets. Be sure to brush the top with butter as well.
Place the pan in the freezer for 20 minutes. While it chills, preheat the oven to 325F (160C).
Remove the baklava from the freezer and using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shaped pieces. I usually do 5 cuts straight down and 13 cuts diagonally for diamonds. Sprinkle a few drops of cold water over the surface to keep the phyllo from curling and bake on 325F (160C) for 60-75 minutes or longer, until baklava is golden brown on top.
Syrup (prepare while baklava is in oven)
While baklava is baking, prepare the syrup by combining water, sugar, lemon slice and juice, cinnamon stick, and clove in a small saucepan and bringing to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in honey and vanilla extract. Allow mixture to cool while baklava finishes baking.
Once baklava has finished cooking, remove the clove, cinnamon stick, and lemon slice from the syrup then immediately pour evenly over baklava.
Allow baklava to cool uncovered at room temperature for at least 4-6 hours (preferably overnight) before enjoying.
Phyllo is sometimes also called "Filo" and at my grocery store it is sold in the frozen section near the ice cream and Cool Whip.
Nuts. Pistachios, walnuts, and pecans are all great choices. Pistachios are most traditional (and possibly most expensive) and walnuts are my personal preference.
Sugar. Traditional baklava uses white granulated sugar. You may use this but I prefer the slight extra depth of flavor the molasses in brown sugar adds.
Butter. I usually need 2-3 sticks. Start by melting 2 and have one on standby in case you need more.
Food Processor: If you don’t have a food processor you may just finely chop the nuts and stir them together with the sugar, cinnamon, and salt until well-combined.
Baking pan. I recommend using a pan that is at least 2" deep. Do not use a foil/disposable pan, as it will be shredded when you slice the Baklava and when you pour the syrup it will fall right through, leaving you with a mess!
Layers: The layers look like this:
10 sheets, nut mixture
5 sheets, nut mixture
5 sheets, nut mixture
5 sheets, nut mixture
While baklava isn’t difficult to make, it is time consuming to unroll, brush, and layer so many sheets of phyllo! Storing. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. I prefer not to refrigerate as it makes the baklava lose its crispness. You may tightly wrap and freeze for several months (thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving).