Who doesn't love this Mediterranean/Middle Eastern treasure? Vegan baklava is actually extremely simple to make with store-bought phyllo dough! Step-by-step video instructions are available.
Turks enjoy this delicacy year-round, but during the three-day holiday at the end of Ramadan, we go crazy on baklava. The tradition is to pay a visit to your family members, friends, and neighbors one by one where each host serves you desserts and beverages. Often homemade baklava and tea or Turkish coffee. No wonder why the holiday itself is quite literally called Candy Holiday (Şeker Bayramı)! It is akin to trick or treating for adults, on adult steroids.
However, to be frank, homemade baklavas are never quite the same as those made by professional baklava bakers. The main reason for that is the dough. At least in Turkey, baklava dough is different than regular phyllo dough—it is even thinner, and almost always has eggs, resulting in a richer dough as well as less gluten formation.
Therefore, the dough used in the real thing is extremely difficult to work with, and baklava masters manage to use up to 70+ of them to make a fantastic tray of authentic baklava that line the bakery windows!
This doesn't mean homemade baklava can't be good, though. It can in fact be so, so much better than good! Give this recipe a chance to prove itself to you. 🙂
Is Baklava Vegan?
The baklava you find at regular bakeries of Greece and Turkey is likely not vegan since many recipes use eggs and dairy milk in the dough as well as butter between the layers. Furthermore, many Greek versions also include honey as a sweetener.
In any case, it's always worth asking if you're unsure! I've come across accidentally vegan baklava at regular Turkish bakeries before.
What is the Difference Between Greek and Turkish Baklava?
Not much! A few key differences are that Greek varieties tend to include honey and spices more often than Turkish varieties do. These spices are usually cinnamon and cloves, and sometimes cardamom.
Both Greek and Turkish baklava usually has citrus juice or peel in the syrup. Feel free to modify the recipe by adding spices! I personally love the simpler version the most.
The Best Baklava Filling: Walnuts vs. Pistachio
Well, which do you like more? Walnuts are more popular in Turkey, but that may simply be due to the higher cost of good-quality pistachios. I've even seen some varieties where they mix the two. The best way is to try both and find out for yourself! I'm partial to walnut baklava, but will never say no to a piece of the pistachio variety.
No need to limit ourselves to walnuts or pistachio, either. Some also add hazelnuts to their filling; and "Nutella baklava" is a thing, where you smear the chocolate sauce onto the hazelnut filling.
Want to elevate it even further? Try filling or topping the baklava with clotted cream—that's actually called şöbiyet. It's the richest dessert I can think of.
Whatever you choose, in the end, please don't make a milkshake from baklava. My eyes bled watching that Munchies episode where Action Bronson visited Milk Bar with a gift of homemade baklava made by his Albanian relatives, and Christina Tosi chucked it into a Vitamix. How dare she? On second thought... maybe she's a genius.
Ingredients to Make Vegan Baklava
For the Baklava:
- 1 lb, 21 sheets of phyllo dough (~450grams, 42 half sheets)
- 2 cups of walnuts or pistachios, finely crushed
- 1 ⅛ cup plant-based butter (2 sticks)
For the Syrup:
- 1 ¾ cups of sugar*
- 1.5 cups of water
- juice of 1 lemon
*You can substitute the sugar with 2 cups of erythritol (per original recipe) or 3 cups of thinned out date syrup.
*I like my baklava not overly sweet— but if you want a more traditional, super-sweet dessert, double the amount of syrup.
How to Manage Phyllo Dough
Many are intimidated by the delicate nature of phyllo; I was also in this camp up until I was taught the right method of managing it. The key to minimizing their brittleness is to keep them moist.
Begin by thawing the phyllo in the refrigerator overnight. Right before you take it out of the refrigerator, spray two clean dishtowels with water. You can keep the phyllo between these slightly moist towels and keep it from drying out. Make sure to check and respray with water every 5-7 minutes to make sure there's enough moisture. Don't go overboard with the water or they may stick together.
At the end of the day, remember that phyllo is indeed delicate, and don't worry if it tears. The taste will not be affected by that. Just make sure to have a few sheets that aren't torn for the topmost layer. All the other layers are quite forgiving.
How to Make Baklava
- To make the syrup, mix the sugar and water, then juice the lemon in a saucepan. Boil the syrup, then reduce heat to a simmer until it thickens. Set aside to let cool.
- In a separate saucepan, melt the plant butter and brush some of it onto a rectangular baking tray.
- Layer two sheets of phyllo onto the pan, and generously brush the top with butter. You may have to cut the store-bought phyllo in half depending on the size of your baking tray to make them fit (mine was 9 x 13 in).
- Layer two more sheets of phyllo and brush the top with butter. Continue until half the phyllo sheets are layered. At this halfway point, add the walnut or pistachio filling.
- Onto the filling, layer the rest of the phyllo sheets and butter (two sheets, brush; two sheets, brush).
- Cut the layers all the way into squares, rectangles, or diamonds and pour over the leftover butter.
- Bake at 325°F for 45 minutes. If it still doesn't have a golden brown color, increase the temperature to 375°F and bake until they do.
- When it's baked, immediately pour in the cooled down syrup, and set aside the baklava, uncovered, to cool for at least a few hours before digging in.
- Do not store baklava in the refrigerator—it will get soggy and you will lose all the crispiness we worked for. Instead, you can store it at room temperature for up to a week.
Watch how to make it step-by-step in this video, baklava recipe starts at 2:39:
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you make this recipe! Afiyet olsun (bon appetite)!Print