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+ servings
Serving of walnut-filled knafeh

Arabic Walnut-Filled Knafeh Dessert

An addictive dessert full of nuts, cinnamon and sugar between layers of tasty, crumbly dough.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 12 servings


Knafeh Dough

  • 3 cups semolina flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter or ghee melted
  • 1 1/4 cups water

Knafeh - Post-Baking and Filling

  • 1 cup butter or ghee melted
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon

Simple Syrup

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water


  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup finely chopped pistachios (about 1 - 1 1/2 ounces)


  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C).
  2. Mix together the semolina and white flours and the sugar.
  3. Add the melted butter or ghee and whisk those ingredients to combine them.
  4. Add the water. Knead the mixture until it forms a smooth ball of dough.
  5. Stretch the dough onto a greased sheet pan until it is roughly 1/2-inch thick. Then press dimples into it with your fingertips. Put it into the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the heat off and let the dough sit in the oven for another 35-40 minutes.
  6. Break the dough into pieces and grind it into granules in the food processor.
  7. Preheat the oven again, this time to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  8. Mix the granules of knafeh with the melted post-baking butter or ghee until they are well combined. Press half of that mixture into a greased 11-inch round metal pan or pie dish.
  9. Mix the chopped walnuts, cinnamon and sugar and spread it evenly on top of the first dough layer.
  10. Then add the remaining buttered dough granules and gently press them into the filling, making a dough sandwich.
  11. Bake the walnut-filled knafeh for 15 - 20 minutes, then place it under the broiler for about 1-2 minutes to brown the top, just until it is golden.
  12. As the knafeh is baking, make the simple syrup by bringing the water and sugar to a boil. Lower the heat until they simmer and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside until the knafeh is done.
  13. Take the knafeh out of the oven and immediately spoon the simple syrup evenly over it. The syrup will bubble initially so be careful. There is quite a lot of syrup. Over time it will sink into the knafeh, but at first, some will remain on top.
  14. Add the pistachios on the top. Let the knafeh cool before serving.

Recipe Notes

I thought the Walnut-Filled Knafeh was even better the second (and third) day. You can leave it, tightly covered, on the counter. (It has no eggs in the batter or filling, so it does not have to be refrigerated.)

It is quite sweet, so cut small pieces. I found that it crumbled easily and couldn't get slices to come out of the pan as a pie would. (Some may prefer to eat with a spoon, rather than a fork.) No matter. It was incredibly scrumptious.