Butter, honey, nuts, spices and thin crispy phyllo come together to create a rich, decadent dessert.  Baklava is relatively easy to make at home; it just takes time and patience when dealing with the phyllo, since it is paper-thin and oh so delicate.

I am a huge Cooks Illustrated fan.  I have made countless recipes and have had very few disappointments.  This is another one of their recipes that I think is just perfect.

Be sure to let the phyllo thaw out in the refrigerator overnight or leave it out 4 to 5 hours prior to assembling.



Adapted from Cooks Illustrated, March 2004


Sugar Syrup
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice from 1 lemon
3 strips lemon zest , removed in large strips with vegetable peeler
3 strips orange zest, removed in large strips with vegetable peeler
1 cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
1/8 teaspoon table salt
Nut Filling
8 ounces blanched slivered almonds
4 ounces walnuts
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
Pastry and Butter
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), clarified and cooled slightly
1 pound frozen phyllo , thawed


For the sugar syrup:

In a small saucepan combine syrup ingredients and bring to full boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally dissolve sugar. Transfer to 2-cup measuring cup and set aside to cool.  When cool, discard spices and zest.  Do ahead: can be made 4 days in advance and refrigerated.  Take out of the refrigerator when Baklava goes into the oven.


For the nut filling:

Pulse almonds in food processor until very finely chopped; transfer to medium bowl. Pulse walnuts in food processor until very finely chopped; transfer to bowl with almonds and mix together.  Reserve 1 tablespoon of nuts for garnish. Add spices and salt; mix well.


To assemble and bake:

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.  Brush 9×13” non-stick baking pan or 9×13” glass pan with butter. Unwrap on large cutting board; carefully smooth with hands to flatten.   If your phyllo is one large roll (~14×18”) cut in half, and then stack.  The brand of phyllo I used did not require cutting, and was already sized to my pan.  Cover with plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel.

Place one phyllo sheet in bottom of baking pan and brush until completely coated with butter. Repeat with 7 more phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter.

Sprinkle 1 cup of nuts over phyllo, and evenly distribute with hands. Cover nuts with phyllo sheet and dab with butter.  Repeat with 5 more phyllo sheets brushing each with butter. Repeat layering with another cup of nuts and 6 sheets phyllo sheets.  Distribute remaining nuts and finish with 8 to 10 sheets, using the best sheets for the top.  Gently use palms of hands to compress layers, from the center out, to eliminate any air pockets. Spoon 4 tablespoons of remaining butter on top layer and brush to cover all surface.  Use bread knife or other serrated knife in gentle sawing motion to cut baklava into desired shape.  I did diamonds.

Bake until golden, about 1 1/2 hours, rotating pan halfway through baking. Remove baklava from oven, and pour cooled syrup over cut lines reserving about 2 tablespoons for the tops. Sprinkle each piece with a pinch of reserved ground nuts.

Cool to room temperature on wire rack, 3 hours, then cover with foil.  For best flavor let stand for 8 hours.  Can be stored at room temperature, tightly wrapped with foil, for up to 10 days.


  1. Sonya says

    I just wanted to vouch that this baklava recipe from Cook’s Illustrated is perfect! I have made it three times now, mmmmmmmmmmmm delicious! This last time, I just got my new double oven and had my first mistake of turning on the wrong oven. I meant to roast red peppers in the other oven, but instead, I accidentally BROILED the baklava for five minutes, after it had already baked for about 30. LOL!!! I thought I had to throw it out, but I was able to just remove the top layer and my husband said it was still good 🙂

    • says

      Whoops! I’ve done that before too, lucky you were able to save them! Baklava is time consuming, that would have been a bummer. Thanks!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *