Go Back
+ servings
Knafeh garnished with crushed pistachios on a black metal platter.
Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Kunafa Recipe

Kunafa is the ultimate Middle Eastern dessert. A luscious, crunchy, and buttery shredded fillo (phyllo) enclosing the most creamy silky milk pudding and drizzled with fragrant simple syrup.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Middle East
Diet: Halal
Servings: 15 pieces
Calories: 348.4kcal
Author: Amira

Ingredients

For the syrup

  • 2 cup granulated sugar.
  • 1 1/4 cup water.
  • 1/4 cup honey.
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice.

For flavoring the syrup:

  • 1 Tablespoon orange blossom water
  • OR
  • 1 Tablespoon rose water.
  • OR
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.Note1

For the cream filling (Ashta) :

  • 2 cups whole fat milk.
  • 3-4 Tablespoons corn starch. Note2
  • 8 oz sweet cheese optional. Note2

For the knafeh:

  • 1 lb pound knafeh Note3
  • 1 cup ghee

Instructions

Make the Syrup:

  • In a saucepan over medium-high heat add sugar, water, honey and your flavors, stir to combine.
  • Bring to a boil then add the lemon juice. Turn heat down to low and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Turn heat off and let it cool completely and come to room temperature. Note4

Make the filling:

  • In a saucepan whisk together cold milk and cornstarch until dissolved.
  • Place on your stovetop on medium, keep stirring the mixture until it bubbles and thickens.
  • Take off heat, let it cool completely, or pour the mixture in a bowl and cover directly with plastic wrap. Note4

Make the knafeh:

  • In a microwave-safe bowl or in a small saucepan melt ghee and let it cool so you can handle.
  • Take one half of the thawed knafeh and pulse in your food processor. Make sure not to turn it into powder.
  • Place shredded knafeh in a bowl and proceed with the other half.
  • Pour 3/4 of the melted ghee over the knafeh and massage with your hands to spread the ghee evenly.
  • Preheat your oven to 350F.
  • Brush a 10” round pan with some of the melted ghee. Note5
  • Place half the knafeh on the pan pressing hard with another plate or a measuring cup to spread evenly along the bottom and the sides.
  • Pour the pudding mixture topping it with the grated cheese if using.
  • Spread the filling evenly leaving about half an inch from the sides.
  • Top with the remaining half of the knafeh, spread evenly pressing lightly with your fingertips.
  • Pour the remaining ghee evenly on top.
  • Bake in the middle rack for 30 minutes until sides turn brown then move it up to brown the top for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Pour cooled syrup over while hot and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  • If you want invert on a serving platter and garnish with crushed pistachios.Note6

Notes

  • Flavoring the syrup is optional also the amount is optional, these are just my suggestions. More or less depending on your taste.
  • I’ve found that if you are using only milk pudding as a filling then it is better to make it thicker so use 4 tablespoons otherwise use 3 tablespoons.
  • Place the frozen Knafeh in the refrigerator the night before and let it thaw.
  •  It might help if you make the syrup and the pudding the day before so you are not in a hurry to cool both down.
  •  You may also use a 9.5” pie pan or a 13x9 pan. If you want to double the recipe for a crowd use a half sheet pan like Nordic. I highly recommend it.
  • When inverting the knafeh sometimes some of the knafeh is stuck to the pan, do not worry. Scrape them out then place them back over your kunafa plate, no-one will ever notice anything.
  • I was asked if you can buy the phyllo dough and use a knife to finely shred them. Unfortunately although Kunafa is called shredded phyllo dough, you cannot buy normal phyllo and shred them yourself. I will try to make the dough on the blog soon.
  • My mom always shredded her knafeh while it is frozen, this works great for many people. I have found that letting the knafeh thaw and using the food processor is easier.
  • It is common practice in the Levant area to color the knafeh. Knafeh coloring can be found in Middle Eastern stores. I did not grow up to a colored knafeh threads so this is up to you.
  • Make ahead tips: make the syrup and the milk pudding, let them cool down then refrigerate. Pudding can keep up in the fridge for 5 days and syrup for months. Just make sure to cover the pudding directly with plastic wrap so it will not develop a skin. Refrigerate until you are ready to use it.
  • Unbaked knafeh freezes very well. So make it, freeze it then when you want to serve it, let it thaw and then proceed with the recipe.
  • Although kunafa is best when freshly baked, leftovers can stay in your fridge for the next day but you will notice that the pudding layer is being absorbed by the kunafa. Reheat in the oven and do not microwave.
Please check the nutrition disclaimer policy.

Nutrition

Calories: 348.4kcal | Carbohydrates: 45.1g | Protein: 2.7g | Saturated Fat: 10.2g | Cholesterol: 35.3mg | Sodium: 144.2mg | Fiber: 0.6g | Sugar: 32.9g