I’m about to bombard you with pictures, so let’s just get this out of the way.

How To Make Baklava I howsweeteats.com

Sold yet?

Here’s the deal: I’ve wanted to make baklava for YEARS. As a firm believer of the nuts-stink-in-desserts camp, this flaky treat has always made the cut. In fact, I’m pretty sure that for the first like, 15 years of eating this, I didn’t even know it was nuts. I just thought it was some sort of delicious, caramely heaven thing.

No one in my family ever made it, but a few of my mom’s friends would graciously gift us some around the holidays and I would often hog it all to myself, saving one last piece for my mom. I figured it was impossible to make.

I knew I wanted to put a tiny bit of my own spin on the flavor, so I added cardamom and vanilla beans. Freaky.

How To Make Baklava I howsweeteats.com

I also used mostly pecans, then almonds and pistachios. Pistachios are funny. They are green.

Here’s a bowl of nuts.

How To Make Baklava I howsweeteats.com

Um, let’s talk about how I often do things wrong. Like, everyday. I used salted pistachios. Dude… totally okay. I was nervous, but not nervous enough to go buy a bag of unshelled pistachios and then spend a few hours of my life shelling a pound of them. I’d rather paint my nails. So… I had salted pistachios on hand and I used them. They rocked.

Tyler Florence’s (yes, we are BBF’s now) recipe called for a sh*tton of nuts. I am not even kidding. This recipe would be incredibly affordable if not for the raw, unsalted nuts that cost an arm and a leg. I didn’t read the reviews online before chopping mine up (uh, I mean, why would I do something smart like that?), but you could easily get away with about half of the called-for amount. More on this later.


I also used vanilla beans!

How To Make Baklava I howsweeteats.com

I love spending my life’s savings on food related items.

I chopped everything in my trusty lil’ food processor, including adding the vanilla beans in spurts so they’d be somewhat evenly distributed.

How To Make Baklava I howsweeteats.com

I was afraid that I ended up chopping the nuts too fine, but again… I wasn’t afraid enough to have patience and press pulse 42 times while chopping. Regardless, they ended up being perfect for me.

Oh. Oh oh oh! Something else I did?

How To Make Baklava I howsweeteats.com


I know. Wasn’t sure you heard me the first time. This isn’t necessary, but butter is quite a precious (read: expensive) commodity around here and I figured I’d start with two sticks as opposed to the four that the recipe called for.

Maybe I’ve been abducted by aliens.

How To Make Baklava I howsweeteats.com

Oooooh and another thing? Remember when I made croissants? And before that, how I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why croissants were supposedly soooo unhealthy? Then I rolled a pound of butter into between the dough? Well. This is sort of like that.

There is (almost) a pound of butter in this pan. I freaking love it.

Also like the croissants, I figured that this would be quite a challenge. Turns out it wasn’t very challenging at all, just time consuming. I ended up using my 9×13 Calphalon pan, after Tyler’s recipe (see? BFF’s fo’ life.) suggested refrigerating the layers for 30 minutes before baking. I didn’t need anything shattering in my oven, so this worked great.

First up – you brush the entire bare pan with melted butter. Then, you layer 8 sheets of phyllo dough, each brushed with melted butter, like above and below.

How To Make Baklava I howsweeteats.com

Now would be a good time to talk about the phyllo.

Hmmmm. Me? No patience? Yes. You know this. It would probably be wise to read the instructions first. I opened both packages and hurriedly “unrolled” them to let them thaw. Then I ended up with a giant, flakey mess. Eventually (and four boxes later) I learned to be patience and let them completely thaw, and I did follow the directions by placing a slightly damp towel over top. Even though I did all of that, let me just say that almost every single one of my sheets ended up ripping one way or another in this process, no matter how gentle I was. Moral of the story? Keep going anyway.


Since I had all of those nuts, I knew that two layers (as the recipe suggested) just wasn’t going to suffice. I didn’t want super thick nut layers (that’s what she said?) and I didn’t want to waste the nuts, even though I was already angry because sitting in that food processor up there may as well have been a new pair of shoes. So I did four layers of nuts.

How To Make Baklava I howsweeteats.com

Here’s how it went: 8 sheets of phyllo -> 1 layer of nuts -> 4 sheets of phyllo -> 1 layer of nuts -> 4 sheets of phyllo -> 1 layer of nuts -> 4 sheets of phyllo -> 1 layer of nuts -> 8 sheets of phyllo. With EVERY SINGLE LAYER BRUSHED WITH BUTTER.

Then, as Tyler (my love… darn this relationship is moving fast) suggested, I dumped the remaining butter over top. He’s my kind of guy. I also followed his instructions and threw the whole pan in the fridge for exactly 30 minutes, then brought it out and cut it before baking.

How To Make Baklava I howsweeteats.com

What’s that? You think my slices may look nice?

Uh. Look again.

How To Make Baklava I howsweeteats.com

Not so nice.

But guess what? It didn’t even matter! I baked it for exactly 42 minutes, rotating the pan once in between.

The recipe called for removing a piece (that was awesome. I ate it.), tipping the pan to the side and draining the butter. Uh, come again? I am not ever going to “drain the butter.” But whatever. Luckily, there was no butter to drain, which reinforces my decision to use less than the recipe called for. I ended up with 2 3/4 sticks rather than four. Go me.

How To Make Baklava I howsweeteats.com

While the baklava was baking, I made a honey vanilla bean syrup. Holy smokes. I wanted to drink this.

Just check out those vanilla beans.

How To Make Baklava I howsweeteats.com

The millisecond this comes out of the oven, you dump the syrup all over the top.


How To Make Baklava I howsweeteats.com

Then you’re supposed to let it “sit for several hours.” Ha! What a freaking joke.

Just do what I did: make it in the late afternoon, then let it sit overnight. However, during the time it is “sitting,” pick off about 17 flakey layers from the top.  Works like a charm.

How To Make Baklava I howsweeteats.com

In all seriousness, I did do that, but letting it sit overnight was key. It was so easy to slice and remove from the pan.

Plus… check out those layers.

How To Make Baklava I howsweeteats.com

But you know all things are better with chocolate…

How To Make Baklava I howsweeteats.com

Haaaallllp me.

How To Make Baklava I howsweeteats.com


How To Make Baklava

Yield: makes one 9 x 13 pan, about 40-50 pieces depending on how you cut it


16 ounces of unsalted pecans, roasted
8 ounces of unsalted almonds, roasted
8 ounces of salted pistachios, roasted (if using unsalted, add about 1/4 teaspoon salt to nut mixture)
2 whole vanilla beans, scraped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 pound of phyllo dough
2 3/4 sticks (about 1 1/3 cups or 22 tablespoons(!)) of unsalted butter, melted

honey vanilla bean simple syrup
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
2 cinnamon sticks


Thaw phyllo dough according to directions on package, then unroll. Once thawed, cover with a slightly damp towel to keep pliable.

Combine nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, adding the contents of the vanilla bean in two or three separate pulses. Once chopped, add nuts to a large bowl and combine with brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and cloves, then thoroughly mix.

Melt butter on the stovetop or in the microwave. Using a pastry brush, brush an entire 9x 13 pan with melted butter. Layer 8 sheets of phyllo dough – each one painted with melted butter – in the baking dish. Be very patient and gentle with the dough, and if it begins to rip, just try to push it into place. After layer 8, spread 1/4 of the nut mixture evenly over the dough. At this point, I wasn’t sure how the next sheet of phyllo would stick to the nuts, so I took my pastry brush and drizzled a bit of butter over the nuts. This helps!

After the first layer of nuts, layer 4 sheets of phyllo on top – each one brushed with melted butter. Repeat this 3 more times: 1 layer of nuts, 4 sheets of phyllo, 1 layer of nuts, 4 sheets of phyllo, then a fourth layer of nuts. After that layer, add 8 sheets of phyllo on top (instead of just 4) like you did in the beginning, brushing each with melted butter. If there is any butter left, pour it over top. Stick the whole pan in the fridge and refrigerate for 30 minutes. As soon as you stick it in the fridge, preheat the oven.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove baklava from fridge and using a sharp knife, cut as desired. I set my pan down horizontally, then made four cuts from left to right. I then started in a corner and cut diagonals. Once cut, place pan in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. As soon as you place it in the oven, make your syrup below.

If the top of the baklava gets to brown, tent it with aluminum foil. When finished baking, remove from oven and gently cut out a corner piece. Tilt the pan and if there is any butter laying, drain it. While the baklava is hot, evenly pour the syrup over top. Let set (ideally overnight, covered with aluminum foil once cool) before cutting and serving.

To make syrup: Combine all ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and let cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Before drizzling, remove cinnamon stick.

[lightly adapted from tyler florence]

How To Make Baklava I howsweeteats.com

Now all of you get over here now since I seriously HAVE AN ENTIRE PAN OF BAKLAVA ON MY COUNTER!!

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247 Responses to “How To Make Baklava.”

  1. #
    Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen — November 30, 2011 @ 8:00 am

    Okay. Promise me if you get wind of my impending death that you will come to my side and feed me this until I am ushered into Glory. I’m pretty sure that’s how I want to go.


  2. #
    Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga — November 30, 2011 @ 8:02 am

    Omg this is too good.

    I love love love baklava. It’s one of my fave foods ever! I have never made it and probably never will…but you do give me hope that I should just try it.

    The phyllo dough is easy enough and the nuts are easy…and the Honey Vanilla Bean Syrup = I just want to drink that!

    You outdid yourself!!

    And I use the same brand of Cinnamon, TJs nutmeg, and McCormick Cloves…Same exact brands.


  3. #
    Kathryn — November 30, 2011 @ 8:06 am

    I’ve always thought that baklava was one of those really complicated mythical dishes that it’s impossible to make at home but this. looks. awesome.


  4. #
    Becki's Whole Life — November 30, 2011 @ 8:06 am

    Oh my Baklava. We had some last month at Epcot and Jim and I both said we needed to make it soon. Yours looks absolutely amazing…..gonna try this over the holidays. It looks like your butter reduction was just fine:-)


  5. #
    Julie H. of Spinach and Sprinkles — November 30, 2011 @ 8:07 am

    Geeze, that is a lot of nuts! ….Then again- 40 to 50 pieces—–of goodness! :)


  6. #
    Ami @ parsnipsandpears — November 30, 2011 @ 8:10 am

    omg this looks sooooooo good! I <3 baklava


  7. #
    Maria — November 30, 2011 @ 8:10 am

    I was always intimidated by baklava too! Now I might take a stab at it when I have the time of course. Like you, I have a problem with patience while making delicious things haha. Awesome job!


  8. #
    Katie @ Peace Love and Oats — November 30, 2011 @ 8:11 am

    your baklava looks great! I learned how to make it in High School when a girl’s mom (who was middle eastern, not sure what country she was from) had our Culture and Cuisine english class over to her house and showed us how!


  9. #
    Erica — November 30, 2011 @ 8:11 am

    I’ve totally always wanted to try making this! Looks absolutely perfect! Why are nuts so darn expensive? Ridiculousness- I only buy them in bulk for my granolas. WFs prices on the little bags of nuts shoot me through the roof. Another gorgeous dessert Ms. thing


  10. #
    Clare — November 30, 2011 @ 8:13 am

    you are my hero.


  11. #
    Rachel @ Mommygetsmoving — November 30, 2011 @ 8:16 am

    I thought it was crazy hard to make!!! This might need to be made for Christmas. I shall tell everyone it was a two day process and extremely hard to do:)


  12. #
    Gen — November 30, 2011 @ 8:17 am

    Yuuuum!!!!! Baklava is one of my dad’s faaavorite treats! :D


  13. #
    Jennifer@Peanut Butter and Peppers — November 30, 2011 @ 8:19 am

    I never had baklava, but it looks good! I like all the ingredients, so I should give this a try. Is Phyllo dough easy to work with? I tend to not understand how much to use, I end up ripping it, getting irritated and throwing it out! lol


  14. #
    katie @KatieDid — November 30, 2011 @ 8:21 am

    Sounds a bit complicated but more than worth it judging by the pictures. I loveeee sticky baklava and how it gets stuck in your teeth.


  15. #
    Aimee @ ShugarySweets — November 30, 2011 @ 8:21 am

    Crikeys that’s a lot of baklava. You make it look so easy. I have such a love/hate relationship with phyllo, I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one. It turned out beautiful, may have to save this one for a future family gathering!


  16. #
    Bev Weidner — November 30, 2011 @ 8:26 am

    Holy freaking crap. Did you belt out some giddy chirps when you looked at your final dish? If not, I just belted them out for you.

    that is some seriously GORGEOUS baklava.

    me = stunned.


  17. #
    chelsey @ clean eating chelsey — November 30, 2011 @ 8:26 am

    That is so ridiculous. I can’t even tell you how much I love you. I bet if I were Greek I would love you more. Baklava is Greek right? I think the only way I know that is from a Full House episode. I am so cultured.


  18. #
    Tali Simon @ More Quiche, Please — November 30, 2011 @ 8:28 am

    LOVE the last photo. Drizzling chocolate was a great move. Maybe I’ll try this one day…when the price of nuts goes down.


  19. #
    Katrina — November 30, 2011 @ 8:31 am

    I’ve been wanting to know how to make this forever it seems! Thank you so much!!


  20. #
    Julia M. — November 30, 2011 @ 8:34 am

    Oh man….this is like my all time favourite dessert. I have lots of friends that are married to Greek people and I look forward to eating tasty greek desserts when we visit them. Maybe I’ll try to make these…they look sooooo good!!


  21. #
    AJ — November 30, 2011 @ 8:36 am

    Yummmm! I studied abroad in Greece, and the baklava (and readily available feta and olive oil) put about 10 pounds of Greek love on my butt. Totally worth it.

    In Greece they actually use a simple syrup, not honey syrup, and often stud each piece with a clove. I took a cooking class there and we made all sorts of goodies. I’d happily travel to you to re-create them all.


    • AJ — November 30th, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

      I forgot – they also add a little flour to the nut mixture. Not sure why, but it works!


  22. #
    Julie @ Table for Two — November 30, 2011 @ 8:37 am

    Woah, love this. Your photos depict the deliciousness so well! I need to try this someday..but nuts are so expensive! Lol, maybe Costco has cheaper nuts..


  23. #
    Kim in MD — November 30, 2011 @ 8:39 am

    AMAZING! I’m on my way to help you finish these up…be there in a few hours! ;-)


    • Jessica — November 30th, 2011 @ 9:18 am

      I wish!! :)


  24. #
    Lora @cakeduchess — November 30, 2011 @ 8:40 am

    I adore baklava. Yours looks incredible! I hope you had a nice holiday. xo


  25. #
    Celestine — November 30, 2011 @ 8:41 am

    Holy cow! Great job in taming the phyllo. Amazing!


  26. #
    Christina @ This Woman Cooks! — November 30, 2011 @ 8:42 am

    Best post ever.


  27. #
    Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit — November 30, 2011 @ 8:45 am

    oh my gosh… I couldn’t have that stuff just sitting around! Definitely a treat I’d share with the neighbors ASAP!


  28. #
    Ryan — November 30, 2011 @ 8:45 am

    I need this in my life. Like right now. This will be added to my Christmas treats list!


  29. #
    Heather (Heather's Dish) — November 30, 2011 @ 8:48 am

    good Lord.

    i love you.


  30. #
    Kelly — November 30, 2011 @ 8:49 am

    You are cracking me up! I honestly haven’t ever tasted baklava. I see it around at the holidays a lot but I always end up eating twice my body weight in pie.


  31. #
    Rebecca — November 30, 2011 @ 8:51 am

    Really, the week after Thanskgiving? Be still my clogging heart! This is absolutely over the top incredible. And I love you for it.


  32. #
    Vicky @ Recipe Adaptors — November 30, 2011 @ 8:53 am

    I’m still in shock about you reducing the amount of butter.

    I would have expected you to either double it, or at least get a pan full of brown butter in there somewhere.

    (PS Yesterday I found myself creating recipes with brown butter even though I have never tasted it, all thanks to your influence….. ;-) )


  33. #
    Lauren at Keep It Sweet — November 30, 2011 @ 8:53 am

    I’ve always been skeptical of baklava because of the nuts, but you pretty much swayed me!


  34. #
    Emily — November 30, 2011 @ 8:53 am

    I may or may not have just drooled onto the man next to me on the train. I wish I was kidding.


  35. #
    Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray — November 30, 2011 @ 8:54 am

    GORGEOUS! I love baklava! But, can you just make some and send it my way? Please? :)
    Love the changes you made to the recipe. Way to go!


  36. #
    Marty — November 30, 2011 @ 8:56 am

    I am a huge fan of baklava and attempted it twice a while back. I found having a friend to butter and sprinkle while the other lays the phyllo is extremely helpful. Yours look beautiful!


  37. #
    Kellie @ Blackboard Kitchen — November 30, 2011 @ 8:57 am

    I’ve never had baklava. It always looks so crusty and mysterious. This, however, looks a-mazing. I have about 8 lbs. of leftover butter in my fridge from Thanksgiving. This just might be a match made in heaven.


  38. #
    Krystal — November 30, 2011 @ 9:01 am

    You make me wish I didn’t have a severe allergy to tree nuts, LOL! That looks incredible :D
    Now I’m brainstorming a way to make this with something other than nuts… oodles of chocolate chips perhaps? Hmm, I’ll figure something out!


    • Jessica — November 30th, 2011 @ 9:16 am

      Ooooh yes, this would not be good for you then. I’m not sure what you could sub.


  39. #
    Abby Flynt — November 30, 2011 @ 9:01 am

    You do know that I live in Pittsburgh and that you are going to end up with my on your doorstep if you make such statements right?


  40. #
    Allison — November 30, 2011 @ 9:02 am

    My husband LOVES LOVES LOVES baklava so I guess I need to put this on my to make list!


  41. #
    Hilliary @Happily Ever Healthy — November 30, 2011 @ 9:05 am

    I love Baklava, and have always been so scared to make it! I feel like its so hard! I think I need to get over the fear and just make it!


  42. #
    Dana — November 30, 2011 @ 9:07 am

    Baklava is on my Christmas baking list too! I may be stealing the vanilla bean idea from you… and the syrup recipe, too. Your baklava looks amazing! I love the vanilla bean flecks and chocolate drizzle!


    • Jessica — November 30th, 2011 @ 9:15 am

      Do it! The vanilla is so delicious.


  43. #
    Nisrene — November 30, 2011 @ 9:09 am

    From a Lebanese girl I have to say that pan looks like one I’d find in the homeland..minus the chocolate…but what do they know about making things yummier? I LOVE the idea of adding delicious melted chocolate on top. Also, I have an obsession with baklava, I literally dieee for someone to come back from Lebanon to bring me a TUB…no joke…huge tub filled to the rim of these bite size drops of goodness. Yes, I request bite size because it always makes me feel better when I stand at the counter and eat 10 of them within a matter of minutes that they’re bite size so it’s really not a big deal. You are braver than I am for making this recipe, 25 years of stuffing my face and I have been way too chicken to attempt my own.


    • Jessica — November 30th, 2011 @ 9:15 am

      Ah! Thank you so much!


  44. #
    Jane — November 30, 2011 @ 9:11 am

    Back when I was 12, I did a school project on Greece and as part of the project, my Mum and I made a baklava to serve to the class as part of my presentation. I remember having a few 12-year-old drama queen tantrums about buttering all those filo pastry layers, but my Mum made me finish. The end result was worth it, because it tasted amazing and I’ve loved baklava ever since. Seeing this has made me immediately crave a slice…or five. Think I’ve got to make it again, as long as I don’t revert to my 12-year-old drama queen self at the sight of filo…


    • Jessica — November 30th, 2011 @ 9:15 am

      Oh I definitely remember my own drama queen moments. Yikes.


  45. #
    Lisa — November 30, 2011 @ 9:13 am

    that looks heavenly!!!!!! I never even had baklava so I have no ida what it tastes like….but it looks friggen amazing! :)


  46. #
    Sally @ Spontaneous Hausfrau — November 30, 2011 @ 9:13 am

    This turned out so beautifully! I am very impressed – I also like the step-by-step tips on the process. You demystify the process that way :)


  47. #
    marty — November 30, 2011 @ 9:15 am

    Love baklava! I’ve tackled it twice (love with chocolate drizzle) but did so with a friend. It’s such a help to have one person butter and sprinkle while the other takes on the phyllo dough. So worth the work though, impressive looking and so unique in flavor.


  48. #
    Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat — November 30, 2011 @ 9:16 am

    I also thought this would be super hard to make but you’ve proven me wrong! So… will you and Tyler be having a 10-tiered baklava cake at your wedding?


    • Jessica — November 30th, 2011 @ 9:18 am

      Oooh decisions decisions.


  49. #
    megan @ whatmegansmaking — November 30, 2011 @ 9:28 am

    umm…wow. you are my hero. first croissants and now baklava?? My mom was just saying that I should learn how to make this stuff and I said, no, that’s too difficult. Thanks, now I look lazy.


  50. #
    Lauren — November 30, 2011 @ 9:29 am

    I have never had a desire to eat baklava and now it is all I want.


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