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Crafting the Perfect Homemade Kunafa

posted on: Jan 31, 2024

Kunafa. Credit: Wiki Commons

By: Ziyan Qutub / Arab America Contributing Writer 


Kunafa, a revered Arab delicacy, entices taste buds with its divine blend of crispy phyllo dough, luscious cheese, and sweet syrup. Elevate your culinary skills by embarking on the journey of creating this delectable dessert in the comfort of your own kitchen. In just a few simple steps, you can unlock the secrets to making the perfect homemade kunafa.


Gathering the right ingredients is the first step towards your kunafa masterpiece. For the kunafa itself, you’ll need a package of shredded phyllo dough (kataifi) and a cup of melted unsalted butter. The cheesy filling calls for a delightful combination of two cups of shredded mozzarella and one cup of ricotta cheese. Lastly, the sugar syrup, which adds the finishing touch, requires sugar, water, lemon juice, and a teaspoon of rose water. Don’t forget some chopped pistachios or almonds for a garnish that enhances the aesthetics and adds a delightful crunch.

Step 1: Prepare the Kunafa Dough

Begin your kunafa adventure by preheating the oven to 350°F (175°C). Unwrap the shredded phyllo dough and separate the strands in a large bowl with care. The secret to a perfect kunafa lies in achieving an even texture, and to do so, drizzle the melted butter over the phyllo dough. Use your hands to ensure each strand is coated thoroughly.

Step 2: Create the Cheese Filling

Move on to crafting the heart of your kunafa – the cheese filling. Combine the shredded mozzarella and ricotta cheese in a bowl, ensuring a harmonious blend that will melt in your mouth with every bite.

Step 3: Assemble the Kunafa

With your ingredients prepared, it’s time to assemble the layers of flavor. Grease a baking dish or tray with butter. Press half of the buttered phyllo dough firmly into the bottom to create a solid foundation. Spread the cheese filling evenly over this base, creating a smooth layer that promises a decadent experience. Top the cheese with the remaining buttered phyllo dough, gently pressing to form the crowning layer.

Step 4: Bake to Golden Perfection

Place your kunafa creation in the preheated oven, and let it bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top achieves a golden brown, crispy perfection that hints at the delightful layers within.

Step 5: Prepare the Sugar Syrup:

While your kunafa is baking, turn your attention to the sugar syrup. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, water, and lemon juice. Stir until the sugar dissolves and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, or until it thickens slightly. If you desire an extra touch of fragrance, add a teaspoon of rose water.

Step 6: Pour the Syrup and Garnish:

Once the kunafa emerges from the oven, pour the cooled sugar syrup evenly over the hot pastry. This transformative step infuses sweetness and moisture, enhancing the overall experience. Sprinkle chopped pistachios or almonds on top, providing visual appeal and a satisfying crunch.

Step 7: Allow to Cool and Serve:

Resist the temptation to dive in immediately; let the kunafa cool for at least 15-20 minutes. This patience allows the flavors to meld and the pastry to set, ensuring a perfect slice every time.


Congratulations! You’ve successfully navigated the art of crafting homemade kunafa, turning your kitchen into a haven of Arab dessert mastery. Share this delightful treat with loved ones, paired with a cup of tea or coffee, and revel in the joy of creating a sweet masterpiece that tantalizes the senses.

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