If you love pasta soaked in sugar-based syrup, Kunafa is a beautiful recipe for you. The dessert is layers of pastry with cheese and nuts soaked in sweetened syrup. The moist texture of this dish will allure you and your family members.

    What is Kunafa?

    The Kunafa, also known as Kanafeh or Knafeh, is a popular dessert in the Middle East and commonly eaten in the Arab world.

    It is popularly consumed during the Muslim Ramadan period. However, it is a nice dessert one can consume at any time of the year.

    Kataifi dough is also used in various other desserts like baklava, and you can typically find it in the frozen section of your local middle eastern shop.

    Origin of Kunafa

    The origin of this sweet treat is in the Middle East, especially in Egypt, the Levant, and Libya. Kunafa is the best representative for sweet courses in Palestinian cuisine. You will find Libyans make this treat a lot during the Ramadan months.

    Kunafa has tons of variants because each country has a different way to shape, flavor, and even cook the cake. However, baking the cake in the oven is one of the most typical ways to create Kunafa’s authentic flavor.

    Kunafa Recipe

    Here is what you will need;

    • Kataifi dough: You can buy packets specifically labeled kataifi dough. Alternatively, look for shredded phyllo dough strands.
    • Ghee: you can use ghee or unsalted butter.
    • Sugar syrup: I recommend using a ratio of 2:1 sugar to water.
    • Mozzarella: Kunafa is traditionally made with a “sweet cheese” or Nabulsi/Akkawi.
    • Pistachios: (optional) you can use raw or roasted pistachio kernels (crushed/chopped) to top the kunafa.

    You can garnish the dessert with pistachios, cinnamon, or powdered sugar, and enjoy it with tea. The Kunafa is a highly nutritious dessert.

    Make your simple syrup and set it aside to cool. For the Kunafa, start by either grating or chopping up the cheese into small cubes. Then mix it with the can of thick cream and set aside.

    Next, prepare your kataifi dough. If it is frozen, make sure that you thaw it overnight in the fridge, and take it out an hour or so before you plan to use it. Open the packaging and break it up using your hand and place it in a food processor. Whizz it a few times until it’s finely shredded.

    If you don’t have a food processor, you can also shred it with your hand. Pour the melted butter on top and use your hands to massage the butter into every strand of dough. Make sure you fully saturate it and incorporate it well! This will ensure it gets extra crispy.

    Next, brush your pan with some of the melted butter and pack it with half of the kataifi dough. I used a 9-inch pan for this recipe; you can use a slightly larger pan and your kunafa will just be less thick, which is fine. Use the back of a cup to pack in the dough and bring it up along the sides so it forms an edge. Then, spoon in the cheese and cream mixture and evenly spread it out.

    Finally, spread over the rest of the kataifi dough to cover the cheese completely and press it down lightly. Bake it in a preheated oven at 350F for about 40-50 minutes, until the edges and top are deeply golden. To serve, flip it over onto a serving platter, drizzle with simple syrup and garnish with crushed pistachios.

    How is Kunafa served?

    Kunafa is typically served either on its baking sheet or flipped onto a serving platter, with lots of simple syrup drizzled on top and garnished with pistachios.

    It is also served with extra syrup on the side for those who like it, extra sweet. You cut them up into smaller square or triangular slices and serve them on individual platters.

    Storage & Reheating

    In case of any leftovers, simply transfer them to an airtight vessel and keep them in your refrigerator. It should last for 3-4 days in there. When you are ready to consume your dessert, simply reheat it.

    Kunafa / kunafe is super crunchy and best the day it is made. But you can store it in the fridge for up to 4 days.

    You can reheat kunafa in the preheated oven to 180 C/ 356 F for 10-15 minutes or until hot. Alternatively, you can microwave it for 30 seconds just before serving.

    If you want something to satisfy your sweet tooth, you must try this Kunafa recipe. It is an iconic, devilishly delicious dessert. Enjoy!

    Kunafa recipe

    If you want something to satisfy your sweet tooth, you must try this Kunafa recipe. It is an iconic, devilishly delicious Middle Eastern dessert, made with shredded Kataifi, creamy filling and soaked in condensed milk.
    Total Time 45 minutes
    Course Dessert
    Cuisine Middle Eastern
    Servings 4


    • Condensed milk- ½ can 400 gm
    • Full fat milk-¾ cup
    • Heavy cream- 1 ¾ cup
    • Sugar- 1 ½ tbsp.
    • Cornstarch -2 tbsp.
    • Semi-frozen Kunafa dough shredded phyllo pastry- 250 gm or 0.5 lbs
    • Unsalted butter/ Ghee melted, room temperature-½ cup


    • Preheat your oven to 180 C/ 356 F with the rack on the bottom of the oven.
    • Kunafa crust. Coat your 22 cm/ 9 inch baking tray with some butter/ghee.
    • Shred semi-frozen kunafa dough into 1.5 inch/ 4 cm long pieces over a large bowl. Add the remaining butter and mix with kunafa shreds to coat evenly. Transfer half of the dough to the tray and press firmly ,lining sides of the tray so it will hold the cream filling and prevent it from burning.
    • Making cream filling. In a medium saucepan heat milk and heavy cream; then add sugar and cornstarch and whisk until completely dissolved over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil until the mixture thickens. Remove from the stove and pour over the crust, spread with a spatula.
    • Top with the remaining kunafa shreds evenly and bake 30-40 minutes or until golden.
    • Remove kunafa from the oven and pour condensed milk, covering the entire surface. You might not need the whole can.
    • Garnish with ground pistachio.
    • Allow kunafa rest for 10-15 min to absorb the condensed milk.
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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