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Overhead view of Classic Greek Baklava cut into diamond shapes in a glass 9x13-inch pan

Classic Greek Baklava

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Layered with filo, nuts, and an orange flower water flavored syrup, once you taste this Classic Greek Baklava, you’ll never forget this heavenly dessert! Nothing held my mom back in the kitchen and this baklava dessert was one of the most delicious, memorable treats she made for our family!

If you’ve never baked with filo, fillo or phyllo dough, scroll down and read my tips for working with these extremely thin pastry sheets. Once mastered, this Baklava Recipe will become a new favorite dessert!

Diamonds of Baklava Recipe stacked on a small white plate

Greek Baklava Recipe

I was blessed to spend most of my childhood in a small, Midwest university town. Basically, Ames, Iowa, was in the middle of nowhere, but the college brought many benefits. We’d attend the symphony, theater and football games. So what if all the key players were university students! My parents became friends with folks from all over the world and with that, we were exposed to new cuisines.

After chatting with my Greek friend, Eleni, I learned that a Baklava Recipe can vary depending on the family and area it is made. Many have honey, cloves, cinnamon and bread crumbs. My mother’s classic Greek Baklava is lacking all of those ingredients, but she did reassure me that sugar syrup and orange blossom water were also traditional. I will try adding her suggestions of breadcrumbs and cinnamon to my next filling.

Overhead view of Classic Greek Baklava cut into diamond shapes in a glass 9x13-inch pan

Easy Baklava Recipe

Down the street lived the Adamantios family, and Marcia and my mom became fast friends. Through this friendship, my mom acquired recipes for Greek lemon soup, moussaka, and, our favorite, this baklava dessert.

Thanks to an international grocery store on campus, we had access to filo dough, quite exotic for Iowa in the 1970’s! I remember painting melted butter over the thin, fragile pastry sheets with my mom at my side. No other baklava recipe tastes as wonderful as this version made with love by my mother. Keep reading and I’ll share how to make baklava at home! 

Filo Dough Recipes

What if Filo? Filo or phyllo dough is a paper-thin pastry that is used in Mediterranean cuisine.  Due to its thin nature, filo dries out quickly and becomes extremely fragile when exposed to air. Therefore, extra care is needed when you’re using filo in your baking like with this classic Greek baklava recipe, börek, spanakopita, strudel, tiropita, and more! Once you’ve worked with filo, you’ll find this is truly an easy baklava recipe!

Here are a few tips for working with Filo Dough:

  • Filo dough is usually found in your grocer’s freezer case. Follow the instructions on the box for defrosting. A slow overnight defrosting in the refrigerator is usually the best option.
  • Do not remove the filo from the plastic wrapping until all your other ingredients are prepped and ready to go.
  • PRO-Tip: When you’re ready to start layering, remove the filo from its packaging, unroll, and place it on a clean work surface. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap, then a damp towel.
  • Work quickly, uncovering the filo just to remove a sheet. Make sure to cover it again as soon as possible.
  • Brush your pastry with oil or melted butter as directed in your recipe. Since the exterior edges are more likely to dry out first, brush around the perimeter first. Using a soft pastry brush will minimize any tearing.
  • Don’t worry too much if you have sheets tear. I use these in the middle of my baklava. No one will be the wiser as there most likely are intact layers above and below.
  • Wrap any leftovers well and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Overhead view of a slice of Classic Greek Baklava slice on a white plate

What Is Baklava?

Baklava is a sweet dessert pastry made of layers of filo dough, nuts, and a sweet syrup to hold it all together. The nuts, syrup, and flavorings vary depending on the baker.

What is the Origin of Baklava?

Baklava hails from the Middle East and the Mediterranean including the Levant, South Caucasus, Southeast Europe (Greece), Maghreb, and Central Asia. The Ottoman Empire is considered baklava’s place of origin.

Baklava Ingredients:

  • Filo or phyllo dough is a given. If you’re not familiar with filo, it is a paper-thin pastry dough that is buttered and layered to make flaky layers for desserts, appetizers, and entrees.
  • Nuts are not optional either, but the variety can vary. My recipe uses walnuts, but pistachios and even hazelnuts or almonds are utilized.
  • A sugar syrup is needed to help the dessert come together. Often made with honey, the Turkish versions tend to leave that out. I do, too. Mine is flavored with orange flower (or orange blossom) water for a subtle, but distinctive taste I adore.
  • Butter (or olive oil) to brush between the filo layers.

Close up on the insides of a slices of Classic Greek Baklava

How Do You Make Baklava?

Baklava is not a difficult recipe, once you know a few tricks. First, get all your ingredients ready. Nuts should be chopped, filo defrosted and in the refrigerator, and damp towel ready to cover the filo while you’re layering. The sugar syrup should be made and chilled before you start your assembly. Here’s how to make baklava:

  • Melt the butter and grease your baking pan with a pastry brush.
  • Mix together the nuts and sugar and set aside.
  • Open your filo and cover with the plastic or parchment from the box, then a damp towel to keep the pastry from getting dry and brittle.
  • Layer half the filo dough, brushing each layer with butter, into the prepared pan. 
  • After the first half of the filo is in the pan, spread the nut mixture over the surface.
  • Continue layering and buttering the rest of the filo over the nuts.
  • Cut the baklava on the diagonal in one direction, then the other to form lozenge (or thin rhombus) shapes, then bake as directed.
  • As soon as the baklava comes out of the oven, evenly pour over the cold sugar syrup. Let the baklava cool to room temperature, then dig in!

More Recipes with Nuts You’ll Love:

This recipe was originally shared in May 2016. The text was updated in 2020.

Gretchen's Baklava - My mom's baklava with layers of buttery filo & a walnut filling doused with orange blossom water kissed sugar syrup

Classic Greek Baklava

A traditional Greek dessert that you can now make at home!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Yield 24 servings



  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
  • 1 pound filo dough


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 6-8 ounces chopped walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


  1. Make syrup by dissolving sugar in water and simmer till thick enough to coat a spoon, then add lemon and orange blossom water and simmer 2 more minutes. Cool to room temperature in the refrigerator.
  2. Brush a 9 x 13 pan with butter. Place half of filo in the pan, one sheet at a time, brushing each layer with butter. Keep the filo covered with a damp towel while brushing the layers to prevent it from drying out. Don't worry if it tears, though, it will still look and taste fine. Mix nuts and sugar and spread over the filo layers. Cover with remaining filo, brushing each layer with butter as before.
  3. Cut diagonally into lozenge shapes. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes, then increase temperature to 450º for 15 minutes or less till puffed and golden.
  4. Remove from oven and quickly pour cold syrup over baklava. Cool.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 559Total Fat: 49gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 37gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 80mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 4gSugar: 11gProtein: 9g


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48 comments on “Classic Greek Baklava”

  1. Dear Liz, what a lovley tribute to your mother, your childhood and lots of fabulous food memories. And what a wonderful recipe to treasure and pass onto the next generation. Baklava is quite the treat and every once in a while I will indulge. I have never attempted to bake one myself though, as this dessert is abundant available around here at Middle-Eastern store. But it has been one of my baking projects for the longest time.
    Have a nice Sunday,

  2. Love the story. Love the baklava…and the recipe! Thank you for making the Greek dessert accessible.

  3. College towns are the best! They can be small but the university brings diversity, which is wonderful. Your mom’s baklava looks absolutely perfect, Liz! I really don’t see how it could be improved by cinnamon or bread crumbs. What a beautiful tribute to your mother as well!

  4. I love baklava, have never tried to make it at home though!

  5. I remember making baklava with my mum as a child as well – I think it’s almost a bonding experience! Looks delicious.

  6. Small college towns have SO much to offer. Your childhood sounds wonderful 🙂 And so does this baklava.

  7. Beautiful post. I’ve never made baklava, but I must now that I’ve seen this. It looks very very eatable. I think I should eat some lunch.

  8. Great tale and love baklava…and moussaka. When I was a kid my dad’s partner was Greek. Sometimes his wife made a Greek dinner for us, I remember her baklava so well.

  9. I can well imagine the wonderful, comforting thoughts that this delicious treat conjures up for you Liz, I want to try this recipe just because of how you describe it with such love and affection. I have only made baklava a couple of times (once with my own phyllo) but never in a sheet like this. I love it. We will be hosting our 30th wedding anniversary party in a few weeks and this would be a gorgeous dessert to have. I will put it on my list for sure (cue JT to roll his eyes as the list is already out of control!!!

  10. I have such a weakness for baklava. Yours looks incredible. I would love to hear more about your childhood as well – it sounds very interesting.

  11. A very nice tribute Liz! I’ll bet your Bakalva is amazing. I see lots of other tempting goodies in the list too:@)

  12. Baklava is one of those things that seems so intimidating to make that I have never thought about attempting it before. Loving participating in #SundaySupper. So much inspiration from the great recipes that are shared each week.

  13. I’m probably one of the biggest fans of walnuts and have them almost every day with my breakfast or lunch! Your recipe seems really nice and quite easy to follow. Mniam! Mniam!

  14. Gosh, Mother’s Day is near! I wish my mom could bake too. Have a wonderful week, my dear! xoxo

  15. Your baklava looks amazing – actually everything you do is stunning. I guess that’s why I love your blog so much!!!!

  16. Lizzy what amazing look your baklava Im impressed ! Is something I never have doing !
    My dad in law loved. Not only greek arabian love baklava too.
    Look stunning dear Lizzy!!

  17. Nothing tastes as good as a dish made with love. This baklava sounds wonderful. I don’t think I’ve ever had it made with orange flower water.

  18. Your baklava looks beautiful – you can practically taste those buttery layers of filo just by looking at it.

  19. Looks amazing! I will break down and eat baklava – we have a fascinating Greek store here that makes it usually with honey!! So your gift for cooking and baking comes through the blood line from your mother. 🙂

  20. My neighbors are Greek and this baklava looks like it would pass any taste test with them! Gorgeous!

  21. How fortunate you were to be surrounded by culture and arts. This baklava, though different from what I’m used to, sounds amazing.

  22. First of all, your pictures have me drooling! This looks wonderful, I have never made baklava!

  23. What a great recipe Liz! It looks AMAZING!

  24. looooove baklava. I have to make this

  25. I love baklava and the best part of this recipe is that it was your mom’s <3 so special!

  26. I had never heard of Baklava until I moved to St. Louis. YUM upon first bite. I’ve never even attempted to make it either. But it is such a classic Greek treat! I’m sure your mother’s recipe is divine!

  27. wow this looks bakery perfect!

  28. Where do you find orange blossom water? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that! Can you make it?

    • Ann, I have found it at gourmet food stores as well as Middle Eastern/global markets. I left an Amazon link on the post b/c I had a heck of a time finding it the last time! I don’t think you can make it as it has a very subtle, unique flavor!

  29. I love how you cut it into diamonds – so pretty!

  30. This reminds me a bit of the nut rolls my aunt used to make around Christmas time. Love that flaky filo and sweet walnut mixture.

  31. Beautifully made! I have to try this now!

  32. I am a sucker for Baklava! This looks so tasty!

  33. Such a classic dessert and this is a great version!

  34. I LOVE Baklava!  I’ve always been afraid to make it myself but I’m definitely going to try this recipe soon!

  35. Thanks for the delicious recipe! This was such an impressive dessert that everyone raved over!

  36. I am obsessed with this baklava! I love recipes with a history attached, I swear they even taste better!

  37. Yum! What a great recipe! This is delicious, and full of flavor.

  38. Your tips for working with the dough are really helpful. That kiss of orange sounds amazing!

  39. Everyone at my house was really impressed! It was so good!

  40. I grew up eating Baklava, this looks just like my moms!

  41. I love baklava! There is so much rich history behind it but it truly is an ancient classic dessert! You nailed the flavor on this one!

  42. Your baklava looks beautiful! MY hubby and I love eating baklava. I am going to have to try your recipe.

  43. I’ve never made Baklava, and I’m inspired to now. The way you present it, It seems like a great baking project. My grandmother was from Ames Iowa. 🙂 ~Valentina

  44. Oh boy ! My waist will get bigger; I started to think how lovely it would be to start doing something to get back to shape after corona carbs therapy but with your baklava, no way. Even more, I thank you for this one hahahahahahaha

  45. Love baklava for its unique, buttery, rich, and nutty flavour! To me, cinnamon and honey are essential parts of it, and I also like an addition of either orange blossom or even rose water. I haven’t made baklava for a while though – need to fix that soon!

  46. Outstanding recipe! Takes some of the mystery of out a dish that looks difficult to make. It certainly is to eat — kinda messy. But Baklava is so good, any pain in making or eating is SO worth it! 🙂

  47. Mouth is watering just imagining biting into a delicious slice of your baklava. Geez, wonder how many slice of phyllo dough are in a pound? Load of delicious melt in your mouth layers.

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