Palestinian Knafeh

The Sweetheart of the Middle East.


I still remember our trips to my homeland Palestine year after year. There were special places my parents would always make sure that we visited on every single trip. Jafar Sweets, a very famous Knafeh place in Jerusalem, Palestine is still one of my favorite places in Palestine that was always a must during our travels. I can still taste Jafar’s Knafeh, the shredded fillo/phyllo dough stuffed with cheese and soaked in sweet sugar-based syrup. Knafeh, also pronounced as Kunafah, is an iconic dessert across all the Levantine countries! Making Knafeh always reminds me of my trips as a child with my family. My entire family is Knafeh lovers! Every time I make Knafeh, I tell my children the stories from the memories I have about Jafar Sweets.


Learn how to make a delicious tray of Knafeh by watching my recipe video on my YouTube Channel, where I teach my eldest daughter how to make Knafeh! Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more recipes!





Palestinian Knafeh
KNAFEH. The Sweetheart of the Middle East
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
  1. 1 package of shredded fillo/phyllo dough
  2. 1 pound of Mozzarella cheese
  3. 1 pound of Ricotta cheese*
  4. 2 tsp Kunafa pastry coloring
  5. 3 tablespoons of butter
  6. ¼ cup pistachios
Sweet Syrup
  1. 3 cups of sugar
  2. 2 cups of water
  3. 2tbs lemon juice
  1. Break up the phyllo dough into thin pieces.**
  2. Melt the butter and then rub it into the phyllo dough and make sure that the butter reaches all the dough.
  3. Add the Kunafa pastry coloring over the phyllo dough and make sure to rub it in so that it reaches all parts of the dough.
  4. Shred the Mozzarella cheese and mix it with the Ricotta cheese.
  5. Spread 1/3 of the phyllo dough on the bottom of the tray, making sure the tray is covered.
  6. Spread the cheese over the dough and cover the entire tray; the easiest method is to make patties out of the cheese and cover the tray completely.
  7. Spread the rest of the phyllo dough over the cheese, making sure the cheese is entirely covered.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 375º F.
  9. Place the Knafeh tray on the middle rack and bake for 30 minutes.
  10. In a medium sized saucepan on high heat, combine your sugar and water. Continue stirring until the syrup boils. Once it boils, turn down the heat to low and add 2tbs of lemon juice. Keep stirring until the sugar completely dissolves. The syrup should be transparent.
  11. After the Knafeh is done baking, remove pan from oven. Pour the hot syrup over the Knafeh while it's hot, making sure to evenly coat the dessert.
  12. Garnish with pistachios.
  13. Let it cool and enjoy!
  1. * In the Middle East, it is preferred to use sweet cheese, but I have found that ricotta cheese adds a distinct and flavorful taste to the Knafeh.
  2. ** To save time, you can place the fillo/phyllo dough in a food processor to break it up instead of doing it by hand.
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20 comments for “Palestinian Knafeh

  1. Louise
    June 21, 2016 at 10:52 am

    I just returned from Palestine, and had Knafeh for the first time. I took one bite and couldn’t stop eating it. It turned into my lunch that day, and have been craving it ever since. I can’t wait to try and make it myself. Thank you.

    • nireiqat
      June 26, 2016 at 1:25 am

      I love that your first experience eating Knafeh was in Palestine! I hope that you do make it and enjoy it! =]

    • Lourdes
      September 25, 2018 at 10:09 am

      I almost ate the entire pan. So delicious. Thank you. I’m making it again.

      • Noha
        April 7, 2019 at 9:19 pm

        Hi Lourdes! Great! I love that you tried my Knafeh recipe! I hope you enjoy more of my desserts. 🙂

  2. Shireen
    July 13, 2016 at 12:56 am

    Love to make it but could you please specify amounts as a package of filo in Europe might not be the same as in the US?.

    • nireiqat
      July 17, 2016 at 11:32 pm

      Hello Shireen. 🙂 I used a 16oz package of fillo dough, which is 454 grams. 500 grams of fillo is fine.

  3. Shireen
    July 13, 2016 at 3:50 am

    I made it with 500 grams of filo, it was, operative word “was”as it was devoured very fast, truly delicious. I wish you and the beautiful people of Palestine peace and their rightful homeland..

    • nireiqat
      July 17, 2016 at 11:30 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe Shireen. 🙂 Thank you for your kind words. They mean so much to me.

  4. Ahmed
    August 9, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    Salam Khalti, I was googling knafeh recipes and your website came up! I can’t wait to try it. And I owe you a phone call. How big is the tray that you used?

    • nireiqat
      August 11, 2016 at 8:03 pm

      Salaam habibi Ahmed,
      That’s wonderful! I used a 14in round pan. Come visit us and I will make you the best knafeh!

  5. Maggie
    November 8, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    Is it okay to use a 9 inch round pan? will it bake the same?

    Thank you xx

    • nireiqat
      November 21, 2016 at 9:40 pm

      Hello Maggie!

      Yes, you can use a 9 inch pan, but you’ll need to cut the recipe in half.
      Enjoy! 🙂

  6. Don
    December 5, 2016 at 9:12 am

    I have never had the Pleasure of tasting this delightful yummieness, but I have Many MANY Palestinian Friends and have seen this tasty treat posted to their Walls on
    Fb / Instagram / Twitter , and my mouth has been watering ever since..
    Thank You for sharing this ,for All of Us to Try!!

    • nireiqat
      January 2, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      You are very welcome! I hope that you will have the chance to make this knafeh recipe yourself and/or try it from your Palestinian friends. Thank you for your support. 🙂

  7. Celina Knippling
    January 28, 2017 at 6:10 am

    Does it work if you make the syrup with honey instead of sugar? I dream about the orange blossom-honey desserts from my favorite restaurant (alas, now 2,500 miles away from where I live), and was wondering if anyone thinks a honey/orange blossom syrup would work with the filo and cheese tastes.

    • nireiqat
      February 15, 2017 at 7:05 pm

      Hello! It is traditional to use sugar for the syrup on Knafeh. I have personally not tried to use honey or an orange blossom syrup. If you use it, I would love to know how it turns out. However, it will definitely not taste like original Knafeh.

  8. Janine
    April 24, 2017 at 9:23 am

    Salaam wali kum. My husband and I just returned from two weeks in the Mideast. The best meal we had was in Palestine and I have been dreaming of knafeh ever since. I was so excited to find your recipe and want to thank you for sharing it. Shukrun.

    • nireiqat
      May 2, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      WaAlaikum Asalaam Janine! I am so happy to hear that! And I am happy to know that you enjoyed finding my knafeh recipe. It was my pleasure to share it. 🙂 Thank you for all your support. Afwan!

  9. Daisy
    July 9, 2017 at 11:27 am

    Hi, can you please tell me how the recipe would change if I used a block of sweet cheese from a middle eastern market. Is ricotta cheese still used as well? Do I have to unsalt the cheese? Any help is appreciated, Thank you

    • nireiqat
      November 6, 2017 at 8:59 pm

      Hello Daisy,

      I prefer the taste of the sweet cheese and mozzarella combination. You can use either sweet cheese or ricotta when making knafeh. Whichever cheese you choose should be combined with mozzarella. The cheese does not need to be unsalted.

      Try out the recipe and let know how it turns out. 🙂

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