Lebanese Knafeh Recipe, A Lebanese Dessert

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Lebanese Knafeh Recipe

You all know I’m from Syria and part of my family is Lebanese so we’ve got the whole Middle Eastern food-making down. While we love American, Italian, and any other food out there, we have a special place in our hearts for Middle Eastern food, namely Syrian and Lebanese food. This Lebanese dessert is called knafe.


What is Knafeh?

Knafeh, pronounced ka-na-fe (yes, the one time where the k is not silent) hasn’t quite reached stardom yet unlike its counterpart baklava which seems to be EVERYWHERE today. But trust me, knafeh is equally delicious and lucky for you, can be made at home. To sum it up, it’s a layered dessert with shredded filo dough (aka kataifi), cheese and this amazing syrup made with orange blossom water. I love orange blossom water and if you can get your hands on the stuff, you’ll understand why. Traditionally, we serve knafeh with Arabic coffee – they go hand in hand and it is a great way to finish off a meal. If you buy knafeh from a bakery or dessert store, it will usually come drowned in syrup. Arabs love sweets and especially syrupy desserts. While they all taste amazing, sometimes it can get too sweet (this is why bitter Arabic coffee comes in handy). So when you’re making knafeh at home, you can tailor how much syrup your dessert gets according to your preferences.

How to make knafeh?

Making knafeh is pretty easy as I mentioned above. You do need to shop at your local Lebanese grocery store to buy a few key ingredients like kataifi and orange blossom water. However, once you find them, you’ll see that the rest of the steps are simple and doable. Basically you will mix the kataifi with butter and use that as a base for the Lebanese dessert. Then you’ll spread ricotta cheese over top. We use a different cheese in the Middle East but ricotta does the job adequately. Then you top the ricotta with the remaining kataifi, add some crushed pistachios and then top with a syrup. Really basic steps. Knafeh is best served warm.

|| Other Lebanese desserts you may be interested in: Muhallabia and Ghraybeh

Lebanese Knafeh Recipe

Lebanese Knafeh Recipe



1 16oz package of Kataifi (shredded filo dough)*
32 oz ricotta cheese
2 sticks melted butter
1/4 c ground pistachios
2 c sugar
1 c water
1 T lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine kataifi with melted butter making sure they are fully incorporated together. Press half of mixture into a 9×13 dish (or one equivalent in volume) and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and spread ricotta cheese evenly over top. Top with remaining kataifi/butter mixture, pressing evenly across baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes.
While dish is baking, heat sugar and water together until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes or until thick, coating the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and add orange blossom water and lemon juice. Take care that water does not get into syrup.
Once the kataifi is finished baking, remove from oven and pour syrup evenly across dish. Allow to settle for 1-2 minutes. Slice knafeh into squares, top with a sprinkle of pistachios and serve warm.
*You can find kataifi at your local Middle Eastern grocery store

Lebanese Knafeh Recipe


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  1. February 4, 2016 / 4:45 pm

    This looks so good, Grace! I’ve actually never heard of this dish, but I love anything with filo dough. Congrats on your new opportunity! That is so exciting, and I can’t think of anyone better to teach cooking skills than you!

  2. February 5, 2016 / 3:29 am

    I’ve never heard of this desert, but it looks delish! Being Greek, I’m familiar with baklava (although I’ve never made it). Will check out your class ~ sounds like fun !!


  3. February 5, 2016 / 4:51 pm

    Watched your videos and I thought they were quite good! I found the introduction video really interesting as I’m not familiar with Syrian or even Lebanese cuisine or culture. I really want to make the layered ‘cake’, but will need to half the recipe for the spouse and myself. I have a bunt pan, but if I cut the recipe in half, I hope a cake pan will work as well.

    Next stop .. Food Network 😉


    • February 5, 2016 / 7:13 pm

      Thanks Monica! You’re so sweet. And thanks for reviewing them. I think a cake pan would work just as well! If you have a mini bundt cake pan, that would be adorable. Let me know how it goes 😉