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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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Nothing held my mom back in the kitchen and this Classic Greek Baklava was one of the most delicious, memorable treats she made for our family! Layered with filo, nuts and an orange flower water flavored syrup, it’s unforgettable!

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 Greek Baklava Recipe will become a new favorite dessert!

Classic Greek Baklava stacked on a small white plate

My Mom’s Classic Greek Baklava

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 baklavas 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

Greek 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, baklava.

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 Greek baklava recipe tastes as wonderful as this version made with love by my mother.

Once you get the hang of working with filo (or fillo or phyllo), you’ll be adding traditional Greek dishes like spanakopita, tiropita to your menu! I’ve also had my eye on these No Bake White Chocolate Cheesecake Phyllo Bites as well as this Spinach Feta Quiche with Flakey Phyllo Crust. Plus, you must check out my Dessert Recipes and Bar Cookie Recipes for more inspiration!

Overhead view of a slice of Classic Greek Baklava slice on a white plate

Tips for Working with Filo  or Phyllo Dough

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.

  • 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.

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

You May Need:

13 by 9 by 2-1/4-Inch Baking Pan
Orange Blossom Water

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Gretchen's Classic Greek Baklava

Gretchen's 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.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 559 Total Fat: 49g Saturated Fat: 10g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 37g Cholesterol: 20mg Sodium: 80mg Carbohydrates: 27g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 11g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 9g


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