Ready to baklava good time? Indulge in the flaky layers of our vegan Persian Baklava dripping with rosewater syrup and topped with pistachios.
Each layer of crispy, golden pastry is delicately layered with a nutty mixture of ground pistachios, cinnamon, and a hint of cardamom. As you sink your teeth into the flaky texture, you'll be hit with the sweet, floral notes of the rosewater syrup, elevating your senses to the zeta-level where you dance at a disco party with talking dogs who wear hats.
Grab your baking pan and let’s get this baby into the oven!
- 🥰Why you are going to adore the ever-loving heck outta this recipe
- 🎥Learn how to make vegan baklava perfectly in a fun online cooking class!
- 🧈Some of the notable ingredients for making baklava
- 📖A Flaky and Fabulous Guide to Making Perfectly Plant-Based Baklava Every Time
- 🤯Baklava variations and tweaks
- 👩🔬Take these tips from a vegan baklava mad scientist!
- 🍽️Serving Ideas
- ❗️Important tip
- ✌️You might really wanna make these too.
- Vegan Persian Baklava with Rosewater Syrup and Pistachios
🥰Why you are going to adore the ever-loving heck outta this recipe
- For a fancy-feeling dessert, this is effortless to make. It’s a great project for beginners or to make with your kids.
- This recipe is packed with pistachios, which, face it, you don’t eat enough of! They are packed with protein, healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, potassium, thiamine, B6, and phosphorus. If you don’t know what any of that stuff is, suffice it to say, it’s all stuff that is great for ya!
- If stored properly, baklava stays good for weeks! You can be set with teatime treats without much effort.
🎥Learn how to make vegan baklava perfectly in a fun online cooking class!
I taught a falafel and vegan meze cooking class that featured this rosewater baklava recipe as a dessert. Watch and learn, or cook along with me!
🧈Some of the notable ingredients for making baklava
Phyllo dough: Phyllo dough (sometimes spelled fillo dough)is a thin, unleavened pastry that is commonly used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. It is made by rolling out very thin layers of dough and stacking them on top of each other. Almost no one in their right mind makes phyllo dough from scratch. It is available frozen in most supermarkets. By default, it is usually vegan, but it’s always a good idea to check the ingredients when buying anything premade.
Pistachios: Packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fats, these little green gems are a surefire way to “shell” out some delicious nutrition. For this recipe, get unsalted shelled pistachios. You can also substitute them with walnuts, which are another popular option for baklava making.
Vegan butter: Vegan butter is a plant-based alternative to traditional butter that is made without any animal products. It is typically made from oils like coconut, olive, or sunflower oil, along with other ingredients like soy or plant-based emulsifiers. The vegan butter that is available in block form is handier to work with than the plastic tubs of margarine are, because the paper wrappers are marked with measurement indications.
Rose water: Rose water is made by steeping rose petals in water. It has been used for centuries in Middle Eastern, Indian, and Mediterranean cuisines as a flavoring for desserts. Rose water is also used in body care products, so when selecting/ordering rose water, make sure it is food-grade and safe for consumption.
See the recipe card at the bottom of this page for the complete list of ingredients and their quantities.
📖A Flaky and Fabulous Guide to Making Perfectly Plant-Based Baklava Every Time
You wanna see how this tray of golden, flaky heaven gets made? I will grab you by the hand and walk you up the baklava success mountain! Or you can follow along with the easy-to-print recipe card towards the bottom of this page.
In a saucepan, combine sugar, water, maple syrup, rose water, vanilla, and salt. Heat the mixture on a high flame until it boils, then turn off the flame and let it cool to room temperature.
Add the pistachios (or walnuts if you are using them instead), cinnamon, and cardamom to a food processor fitted with an S blade.
Process the nuts and spices for about 60 seconds until coarsely ground. Set aside ¼ cup of the ground pistachios for garnishing the baklava with after it is baked.
So phyllo comes already cut in 9X13 size, and some is twice as wide as that. Iff you have the larger half sheet-pan size phyllo, cut it in half into two short rectangles. Grease a quarter sheet size baking pan or 9X13 baking dish with melted vegan butter.
Layer two sheets of phyllo dough on the bottom of the pan, brush with vegan butter, and repeat the process until there are 8 sheets on the bottom.
Sprinkle ⅓ of the ground pistachios over the phyllo base, then layer two sheets of phyllo on top, brush with vegan butter, and add another ⅓ of the ground pistachios. Repeat until all the filling is used up. Add the final sheets of phyllo dough to the top, brushing every two layers with vegan butter.
Butter the top sheet of phyllo well. Cut the baklava into 6X4 rows (either square or diamond shaped) with a sharp knife, making sure to cut through to the bottom with every cut.
Bake the baklava in the oven for 30-35 minutes until it becomes golden brown and crisp.
While the baklava is piping hot and just freshly removed from the oven, pour the sugar syrup over it.
Use a sharp knife to recut the baklava and ensure the syrup penetrates all the layers.
While still hot and sticky, sprinkle each piece with ground pistachios and dried rose petals. Let the baklava cool to room temperature before serving.
🤯Baklava variations and tweaks
Here are a couple good twists you can try out with this recipe:
- Refined sugar free- You can substitute the sugar for an equal amount of coconut sugar in this recipe if you are looking to avoid cane sugar. I have made it that way a bunch and it works out great!
- Walnut filling- In Turkey, Greece, Syria, and Lebanon, walnuts are almost as popular as pistachios for making baklava. Simply substitute an equal amount of raw walnut pieces in place of the pistachios.
- Gluten-Free Vegan Baklava- Yes. This is real life! It’s not going to be 100% the same, but my recommendation is to use gluten-free vegan puff pastry dough for this hack. Use two layers of puff pastry dough on the bottom of the pan, with vegan butter brushed in between. Then use a single layer of puff pastry between each of the 3 layers of pistachio filling. Another two layers on top with butter brushed in between. You will probably need to use 2 packages of gluten-free vegan puff pastry dough to make the same number of servings as you would from one package of phyllo dough.
- Instead of vegan butter- Many regions traditionally make baklava with olive oil instead of butter. So if you would like to make it with that instead, it's absolutely no problem. I suggest adding a ¼ teaspoon of salt to the rosewater syrup to make up for the slight difference in flavor.
- Agave nectar 'stedda maple- If you don't have maple syrup, you can use agave syrup in its place. It is a little sweeter than maple syrup, so I would recommend cutting back on the sugar in the syrup by 1 ½ teaspoons.
👩🔬Take these tips from a vegan baklava mad scientist!
If you live in or near New Jersey, you probably already know and love Naciye Ferhat Emren, who runs The Baklava Lady, a vegan Turkish cafe in Englishtown NJ. If you don’t know her, well, she’s a freaking gem, and a nice reason to think about moving to NJ!
She’s someone I really admire for creating a vegan business with personality and an authentic vibe.
Here’s how Naciye got into making vegan baklava:
“I grew up enjoying delicious Turkish/Middle Eastern foods. Both my Anne (mom) and Baba (dad) were excellent cooks. I also had a lot of aunts and uncles that were excellent cooks/bakers. My Anne made such delicious baklava. I was always watching and paying attention and wanting to help with whatever they were preparing.
After going vegan over 10 years ago, I tested and tested over and over again until I found the perfect ingredients for my baklava.
I needed it to taste exactly like the way it did when I wasn’t vegan and I achieved that after so many tries. My point is, don’t give up on recipe testing. Don’t stop until your recipe is perfected. There is always a way.”
Naciye churns out massive amounts of extraordinary vegan baklava (as one would expect with a name like the Baklava Lady). So I thought it would be nice for you to hear some tips from her to help you in your baklava adventures.
Any interesting variations or tweaks you would recommend?
Naciye “Sütlu Baklava (milky/creamy baklava) is a delicious variation that I enjoy making and indulging in sometimes. Instead of using water for your syrup, use oat or soy milk. You can add rose water to the syrup and it goes perfectly with pistachios. So yum”
Do you have any ingredients, brands, or equipment you would recommend for home baklava makers?
Naciye-“The Fillo Factory is a good brand to use for baklava and is easy to find in stores such as Whole Foods, ShopRite, and your local Middle Eastern store.”
What can you share about Turkish baklava in particular that makes it special?
Naciye- "Turkish baklava is special and unique in flavor because we do not ever use honey in our baklava. Traditionally, Turkish baklava is made using a simple thick syrup which in my opinion is less sweet than others and is so much better.”
Anything else you would like to share about making baklava?
Naciye- “Don’t be afraid of handling the fillo dough. If it tears, use it anyway. Be sure to butter (using vegan butter or oil) each layer.”
Are there any essential cooking tips you could share that “make or break” perfect baklava?
Naciye- “The perfect baklava is flaky and a little crunchy. Using too much syrup will make it soggy. So go easy on the syrup.”
You folks reading this should note that this recipe is exactly like that. It’s not cloyingly sweet and doesn't have too much liquid in the syrup. I think you will find it works great out of the gate, with no modification.
Vegan baklava makes a wonderful partner in crime to good quality black tea in the afternoon as a pick-me-up. It is also the obvious dessert of choice for Turkish meals, including some of my faves: Şakşuka, Ezogelin Corbasi, Zeytinyağlı Kereviz Yemeği, and Acılı Ezme.
During my falafel cooking class where I made baklava, some people asked if I use parchment paper, and honey, as much as I swear by the stuff most of the time, I DO NOT in this case. The paper can easily blend in with the phyllo dough, and I don’t want to ever accidentally make someone eat paper. So this is a rare baking project where I make it right in the pan without a liner. I wouldn’t recommend using a silpat here either, as you will ruin it when you cut and portion the baklava.
Phyllo pastry dries out with remarkable speed due to being ultra-thin. To prevent the dough from becoming dry and brittle, I suggest placing it flat on a clean work surface and covering it with a slightly damp kitchen towel between uses. Despite the fact that you may only leave it unattended for brief periods, you will be amazed at how quickly it dries out if it is not protected in this manner.
Various nations lay claim to being the originator of baklava, similar to the debates over falafel, halvah, and many other dishes.
The origin of baklava is uncertain, but it is believed to have originated in the ancient Assyrian civilization, which spread throughout the Middle East and into the Mediterranean region. Another theory is that baklava may have been introduced to the region by the Ottoman Empire, which ruled much of the area for centuries.
The first recorded recipe for baklava is from a 10th-century Arabic cookbook called Kitab al-Tabikh (Book of Cookery). The recipe called for a simple dough made from flour, water, and vinegar, layered with chopped nuts, and sweetened with honey.
Baklava became a popular dessert throughout the Ottoman Empire, and variations of the recipe were created in different regions. In Greece, for example, the recipe often includes cinnamon and cloves, while in Turkey, it may be made with pistachios instead of walnuts.
Baklava is a delicate pastry that needs to be stored properly to maintain its texture and flavor. Here's how you can store baklava after making it:
Cool the baklava completely: Allow the baklava to cool down to room temperature before storing it. This prevents condensation from forming inside the container.
Store in an airtight container: Transfer the baklava to an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid. This helps prevent moisture from getting in and making the pastry soggy.
Store at room temperature: Baklava can be stored at room temperature for up to two weeks. However, if you live in a humid environment, it's best to store it in the refrigerator to prevent it from getting moldy.
Do not stack the baklava: Do not stack the baklava on top of each other as this can cause the pastries to stick together and lose their crispiness.
Recrisp the baklava: If you find that the baklava has lost some of its crispiness, you can reheat it in the oven at 350°F for 5-10 minutes. This will make the pastry crispy and fresh again and restore its texture.
Remember to store the baklava in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Properly stored baklava can last for up to two weeks, but I will be so shocked if you don't eat it all long before then! If that happens, you have wayyyyyy more self-control than me.
Believe it or not, baklava can be successfully frozen and thawed without ruining it, as long as it is stored properly. Here are some tips for freezing and thawing baklava:
Allow the baklava to cool completely before freezing it. If the baklava is still warm, it may create condensation in the packaging and become soggy.
Wrap the baklava tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn and protect it from odors.
Place the wrapped baklava in an airtight container or freezer bag, and label it with the date of freezing.
Store the baklava in the freezer for up to three months.
To thaw the baklava, remove it from the freezer and let it come to room temperature in the packaging. This should take about two hours.
Once the baklava has thawed, remove it from the packaging and reheat it in a 350°F (175°C) oven for 12-15 minutes, or until it is warmed through and crispy on top and around the edges.
It is important to note that while freezing and thawing baklava can preserve its flavor and texture, it may not be exactly the same as freshly made baklava. The rosewater syrup may be slightly absorbed into the phyllo dough layers, and the texture may be slightly softer. However, if you follow these tips, you can still enjoy delicious baklava even after it has been frozen and thawed.
✌️You might really wanna make these too.
These are some of my favey dishes to serve with Baklava:
❤️Love this recipe? It helps me out greatly if you leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟rating in the recipe card below and maybe even leave me a lovey-dovey comment too!
Vegan Persian Baklava with Rosewater Syrup and Pistachios
- 1 lb phyllo dough
- 1 cup sugar my preference is evaporated cane juice
- ⅔ cup water
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 1 ½ teaspoons rosewater
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup dried rose petals
- 1 lb. unsalted shelled pistachios about 3 ¼ cups
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¾ cup vegan butter room temperature
- Thaw phyllo dough to refrigerator temperature if it is frozen, by keeping it in the refrigerator for 12 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place the sugar, water, maple syrup, rosewater, vanilla, and salt into a saucepan and bring it up to a boil over a high flame. Once bubbling, turn off the flame under the pot and allow it to cool to room temperature.
- Place the pistachios, cinnamon, and cardamom into a food processor and grid for about 60 seconds to form a coarse meal. Do not process so long that the nuts start turning into nut butter. Take out ¼ cup of the ground pistachios and reserve them to the side to garnish the baklava with later.
- Roll out the phyllo dough and cut it down the middle to make two short rectangles.
- Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a ¼ sheet baking pan or 9X13 baking dish using a brush.
- Spread two sheets of phyllo dough out on the bottom of the baking pan, and brush with vegan butter. Repeat adding and buttering phyllo sheets, two at a time until there are 8 sheets on the bottom of the pan.
- Spread out ⅓ of the ground pistachios from the food processor evenly over the phyllo base. Add 2 sheets of phyllo on top of the ground nuts, butter them and then add another ⅓ of the ground pistachios. Continue like this until all of the filling is used up. Add the final sheets of phyllo dough to the top, buttering every two layers until all remaining phyllo sheets are used up.
- Butter the top sheet of phyllo well. It should look wet and shiny with melted butter.
- Cut the baklava into 6X4 rows, either into squares or diamond shapes with a very sharp knife. This should result in 24 servings. Make sure the knife cuts all the way through to the bottom with every cut.
- Place the baklava into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until crisp and golden brown.
- Remove the baklava from the oven, and pour the sugar syrup over it. While the syrup absorbs, use a sharp knife to carefully re-cut everywhere you had cut before it was baked. This step is important so that the syrup penetrates into all of the layers. If any syrup pools up in the corners, spoon it back over the top to evenly saturate the whole tray.
- While the baklava is still hot and sticky, sprinkle each piece with a little dash of ground pistachios and a couple of pieces of dried rose petals.
- Allow the baklava to cool to room temperature before serving.