Breakfast and Brunch, Desserts, Palestinian Cuisine

Authentic Palestinian Knafeh

Authentic Palestinian Kunafa with a cheesy center garnishes with pistachios.

A stretch of savory cheese nestled within layers of crispy crunch of golden shredded phyllo dough, drizzled with a sweet simple syrup-the Authentic Palestinian Knafeh never fails to tantalize your taste buds!

Also known as Knafeh Nabulsiyeh, Palestinian Knafeh is a delightful dessert option, perfect for any occasion, even as a sweet breakfast treat. In its authentic form, it has a top and bottom crust made with shredded phyllo or kataifi dough. Its center is filled with a combination of ackawi, Nabulsi, and mozzarella cheese.

If those ingredients do not scream traditionally delicious, then nothing does! So, what are you waiting for? Give it a try!


Authentic Palestinian Kunafa with pistachios on top.
Doesn’t get cheesier than this!


Why Knafeh Nabulsiyeh?

Knafeh is believed to be originated from Nablus, a city in Palestine between the 10th and 15th centuries. However, other sources argue that it came from Egypt. Nonetheless, Nablus currently holds the Guinness World Record for the largest Knafeh which was 74 meters long and 1.05 meters wide. Knafeh Nabulsiyeh is still one of the most popular and beloved of the different knafeh recipes.


Authentic Palestinian Kunafa with a cheesy center garnished with pistachios.
So much tradition in that final color!

The Significance of Knafeh Across the Middle East

Knafeh is a staple in the Middle East, especially in the Levant and Egypt. It is also enjoyed in Balkan countries, though it’s a little bit different from the authentic, Palestinian recipe.

Besides being a great breakfast choice, Knafeh is also served as a dessert and on special occasions such as weddings, graduations, and eid. It is a must during the holy month of Ramadan as a suhoor or even as a dessert after iftar.



A piece of an authentic Palestinian Knafeh garnished with pistachios.
Get your spoons out.

Ingredients for Authentic Palestinian Knafeh


How to Make Authentic Palestinian Knafeh



Tips for the Best Authentic Palestinian Knafeh

If your cheese comes in a tub of water brine, it needs to be soaked in water for a minimum of 6 hours, with water being changed every hour. Otherwise, it’ll be too salty.

You can substitute Panela cheese for Nabulsi cheese or you can use sweet cheese as well if you like. If you have baladi cheese (like Arz brand) it can be used instead of Nabulsi as well.

Keep an eye on it while it’s baking so as to not brown or burn the cheese.

Prepare the simple syrup in advance to allow it to cool before serving.

Break up the phyllo or kataifi dough in a food processor to save time.


Storage Tips


An authentic Palestinian Kunafa topped with pistachios.
Perfect for occasions that bring families together.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make the simple syrup or Qater?

This syrup is super easy and lucky for you, I have a full recipe for it so click here to check it out.

What are some non-traditional ways to enjoy knafeh?

Knafeh is a delightful and traditional dessert beloved by many. However, there are also some easy and non-traditional ways to enjoy this delectable treat, such as Knafeh Pancakes, Knafeh Cheesecake, and Easy No Bake Knafeh Cups.

Can Knafeh be made ahead of time?

Yes, in fact, Knafeh can be baked straight out of the freezer. But make sure to add 10-15 minutes to the baking time.


A piece of an authentic Palestinian Knafeh garnished with pistachios.
The perfect holiday treat!

Must-Try Desserts:

Knafeh Cheesecake

Easy No Bake Knafeh Cups

Layali Lubnan (Lebanese Nights Dessert)

Aish El Saraya Dessert

Halawat el Jibn (Sweet Cheese Rolls)

Middle Eastern Rice Pudding (Riz Bi Haleeb)

Palestinian Sesame Tea Cookies

Hilbeh | Fenugreek Cake

Sahlab Dessert Recipe

Rich White Hot Chocolate Recipe



An authentic Palestinian Kunafa topped with pistachios.

Authentic Palestinian Knafeh

Fatimah
A delightful and authentic Middle Eastern treat, featuring a cheesy center sandwiched between layers of golden, crunchy knafeh dough, all topped with a fragrant drizzle of simple syrup. Go ahead, give it a try, and you will thank me later!
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine Middle Eastern, Palestinian
Servings 10
Calories 527 kcal

Ingredients
  

Dough

  • pounds shredded knafeh dough (shredded phyllo dough or kataifi dough) (about 1 ¼ packages)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • cup ghee
  • ½ tablespoon powdered color for shredded dough

For the Pan

  • tablespoons ghee
  • teaspoons coloring powder

Cheese Mixture

  • pounds Nabulsi cheese (without black seeds)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 pound ackawi cheese
  • 16 ounces fresh mozzarella

Instructions
 

  • Start by shredding the knafeh dough. You can use the food processor like I did to make this process easier. The dough should be in short strands, not powder-like.
  • Transfer the shredded dough to a bowl and add the iconic orange powder coloring.
  • Pour the ghee and butter and mix them into the dough with your hands. Make sure to rub them into the strands so they are well-coated with the butter and ghee. Set them aside.
  • Spread the ghee and food coloring into the pan evenly.
  • Take about ¾ of the knafeh dough and spread it evenly across the pan. With the palms of your hands, press down firmly to ensure the dough sticks to the pan.
  • Shred your fresh mozzarella smaller and cut up the ackawi and Nabulsi cheese into smaller pieces.
  • Add the ackawi and Nabulsi cheese into the pan over the dough, with the shredded mozzarella sandwiched between them.
  • Add the layer of fresh mozzarella on top as the file layer in the center of the knafeh.
  • Top with the remaining knafeh dough evenly over the cheese layer across the pan.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake 450 F for 20 minutes, or until cheese bubbles.
  • Remove it from the oven, run a knife along the edges to loosen the knafeh. Flip it into a larger or same size pan.
  • Return it into the oven for about 5 minutes.
  • Serve in individual pieces topped with ater (simple syrup) and garnished with crushed pistachios.

Notes

1. If your cheese comes in a tub of water brine, it needs to be soaked in water for a minimum of 6 hours, with water being changed every hour. Otherwise, it’ll be too salty.
2. You can substitute Panela cheese for Nabulsi cheese.
3. You can add sweet cheese as well if you like.
4. If you have baladi cheese (like Arz brand) it can be used instead of Nabulsi as well.

Nutrition

Calories: 527kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 24gFat: 48gSaturated Fat: 32gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 147mgSodium: 1263mgPotassium: 46mgSugar: 1gVitamin A: 1345IUCalcium: 629mgIron: 1mg
Keyword cheese mix, knafeh, Palestinian, phyllo dough
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

18 thoughts on “Authentic Palestinian Knafeh

  1. Sam Seed says:

    Is the a substitute for the ackawi cheese and the nabulsi cheese. They’re hard to get hold of here if not impossible

    1. Fatimah says:

      Hello- If you have any plain Mexican cheese (panela/Queso fresco) those work. Check my cheese making reel on instagram for how to make your own cheese that works too!

  2. Amoolie says:

    Salam Fatimah
    I love your posts and all your receipts.
    Can you leave tell me what size pan to use for this recipe?
    Much appreciated x
    Regards
    Amoolie

    1. Fatimah says:

      Salam! Glad you’re enjoying them. This is a cookie sheet!

  3. Mariam says:

    5 stars
    Tried this today- and omg was this is so freaking amazing!!!

  4. Mayas says:

    5 stars
    this knafeh is better than any other ive tried. I love ackawi and nabulsi in it!!

  5. Ola says:

    5 stars
    Had this over the weekend and its the best knafeh i have tried!!! Thank you

  6. Yasmeen says:

    5 stars
    Just made this knafeh recipe and it turned our delicious! A MUST try!

  7. Yara ❤️ says:

    5 stars
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. ❤️ I have been looking to make this for habibi for a while and was finding it difficult to understand most recipes shared online to understanding the perfect cheese combo.. You made it so easy and it was so helpful to watch the process as well via video on your Instagram! I followed the recipe exactly and it was perfect. The stretch was perfect. 🙏🏻

  8. Ghadeer says:

    5 stars
    Made this with the shawerma and went into a food coma. Too good!

  9. Sara says:

    5 stars
    My fav recipe all the time ❤️معتمديتها الطريقة بتشهي 👏

  10. Mysoon Hammad says:

    5 stars
    OMG! I always have my own traditional way of making knafeh, but love FalasteeniFoodie’s recipe so I thought I would give this a try and I am so glad I did. This recipe was easy to follow and the end results were phenomenal. The clean flip and the taste was just like I got a slice from a bakery. This is a must try recipe that will not disappoint.

    1. Fatimah says:

      So glad you loved it!

  11. Kylin Al bataineh says:

    5 stars
    I’ve been craving knafeh and your recipe was perfect! Easy to follow and my husband even said one of the best he’s tried!

  12. Kylin Al bataineh says:

    5 stars
    I’ve been craving knafeh and your recipe was perfect! Easy to follow and my husband even said one of the best he’s tried! I haven’t tried making this until I stumbled upon this recipe. The pictures don’t do justice!

  13. Layali says:

    5 stars
    Really delicious recipe! The texture was just right and everyone enjoyed it! Thank you!

  14. Brielle says:

    what size pan is used?

    1. Fatimah says:

      hello, i mention that I use the baking sheet (also known as a half sheet)

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