Kunafa (Knafeh Na’ameh) Recipe

Kunafa (Knafeh Na’ameh) Recipe is an easy-to-make and tasty Dessert. Today, I’m excited to share with you a recipe that holds a special place in my heart: Palestinian Knafeh or as many know it, Kunafa. Picture this: layers of crispy pastry cradling a luscious sweet cheese filling, all drenched in a divine syrup. It’s like a culinary symphony, born centuries ago in the captivating city of Nablus, Palestine.

Kunafa (Knafeh Na'ameh)
Kunafa (Knafeh Na’ameh)

Kunefe, a dessert from the Middle East, is spelled in multiple ways such as kanafa and knafeh. It is a popular dessert in the Levant/Middle East area. When I visited countries in the Middle East, such as Palestine, I found this recipe on many menus.

I am extremely grateful to a generous Middle Eastern couple who kindly shared with me their treasured recipe. It’s not just a dessert, it’s a valuable tradition that brings people together over a shared love of food and a way of expressing love.

Let’s recreate the magic of Palestinian Knafeh in our kitchens by gathering ingredients and infusing each step with passion and joy.

Why you’ll love this Kunafa Recipe

When I was growing up, I never really had the stretchy or cheesy type of kunafa that many people are familiar with. However, I noticed that many people around me preferred the cheesy version, so I decided to try something new. I combined my mom’s original recipe with a Palestine couple’s Recipe, hoping to please everyone’s palate.


Easy To Make: This delicious dessert is both easy to make and impressive to look at! It serves 8-9 people, so it’s perfect for when you have guests over.

Preparation: You can even prepare it in advance and just bake it when you’re ready to serve.

Reheat: If you have any leftovers, you can easily reheat them in the microwave, air-fryer, or toaster oven.

What Ingredients You Need To Make Kunafa

Preparing (Kunafa) Knafeh, a simple dessert, doesn’t require many ingredients. However, some of these ingredients can be difficult to find. So, let’s go over them one by one:”.

Ingredients: Kunafa
Ingredients: Sugar
Ingredients: Milk
Ingredients: Ghee
Ingredients: Cheese

  1. Kunafa: Kataifi or Kunafa is a shredded phyllo pastry used for Knafeh. The pastry is broken into 1-3 inch strands. If unavailable, use Knafeh Na’ameh. Purchase Kataifi from Middle Eastern and South Asian stores in the freezer section. To begin, obtain kunafa dough. Yours might be from a different vendor but it should have “KATAIFI” on it.
  2. Ghee: Use ghee for Kunafa’s traditional superb flavor. Make it by browning butter or buy it at stores.
  3. Kunafa food color: Add an orangish-red food coloring to Kataifi for Knafeh’s orange color. Find it at a local South Asian grocery store or use any other red/orange food coloring. Kunafa pastry coloring is mixed with melted butter and kataifi to give kunafa an orange hue, but it is optional.
  4. Cheese: To make Knafeh, a sweet cheese pastry, it’s hard to find traditional Akkawi or Nabulsi cheese. Fresh mozzarella is a good substitute. Cream cheese or ricotta cheese can be used but won’t provide the stretchy consistency. Queso Fresco can also be used if it’s salt-free. Soak salted cheese for 2 hours. Ricotta Cheese may work, but we haven’t tried it.
  5. Sugar
  6. Syrup/Rosewater extract. Create a rich simple syrup and flavor it with rose water, orange blossom water, or vanilla. It’s optional, so don’t worry if you can’t find it.
  7. Pistachios. Use chopped pistachios to decorate Knafeh. Blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds and peel off the skin for greener and prettier pistachios.

How To Make Kunafa (Knafeh Na’ameh)

To Make Kunafa (Knafeh Na’ameh) follow these Step by Step instruction:

Step 1

Divide the pastry into halves and place it in the food processor and a plastic bag from the package.

Step 2: Cut and add butter to the kunafa:

Cut the pastry in the food processor about 5-10 times until it is cut into small pieces without making it into powder. Transfer the cut pastry to a bowl.

Melt the ghee on the stove or microwave. Add 70% of it to the Kunafa and rub it into the pastry with your hands, ensuring it is evenly coated.

Step 3: Prep the baking pan:

Use the remaining melted ghee to coat the bottom of the baking pan.

Add half of the kunafa to the baking pan, spreading it evenly and pressing it down firmly using the bottom of another pan or a cup to compact it.

Step 4: Layer the ingredients:

Pour the Ashta (milk pudding) mixture over the kunafa, spreading it evenly, leaving about half an inch around the edges.

If you’re using sweet cheese, grate it and spread it evenly on top of the pudding.

Add the remaining shredded kunafa on top, spread it evenly, and press lightly with your fingertips.

Step 5: Bake the Kunafa:

Spread the remaining melted ghee on top of the kunafa and bake until it turns brown.

Step 6: Prep the Syrup:

Heat water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Stir in lemon juice and rose water, then simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Step 7: Drizzle with Syrup and Serve:

After baking, pour the cooled syrup over the kunafa, letting it soak for 10-15 minutes.

Invert the kunafa onto a serving platter, slice, and serve it while it’s warm and delicious.

Kunafa (Knafeh)

Kunafa (Knafeh Na’ameh) Recipe Pro Tips

  1. Prepare the Syrup in Advance:
    • Make the syrup ahead of time and allow it to cool completely before pouring it over the baked kunafa. This ensures that the syrup fully absorbs into the dessert, adding sweetness and moisture.
  2. Handle the Kataifi with Care:
    • When shredding and buttering the kataifi dough, be gentle to avoid breaking or clumping the strands. Even distribution of the ghee ensures a crispy and evenly browned texture.
  3. Press Firmly for a Compact Base:
    • When layering the kunafa in the baking pan, press down firmly with the bottom of a glass or pan to compact the base. This helps create a sturdy foundation for the filling and ensures even baking.
  4. Balance the Cheese and Pudding Layers:
    • For a perfect balance of flavors and textures, ensure an even distribution of sweet cheese and milk pudding layers. This creates a harmonious blend of creamy richness and sweet indulgence in every bite.
  5. Monitor Baking Time Closely:
    • Keep a close eye on the kunafa while it’s baking to prevent over-browning. Oven temperatures may vary, so adjust the baking time accordingly to achieve a golden brown crust without burning.
  6. Soak the Kunafa Generously:
    • When pouring the syrup over the baked kunafa, be generous to ensure thorough soaking. This adds moisture and sweetness to the dessert, enhancing its flavor and texture.
  7. Serve Warm for Best Enjoyment:
    • Palestinian Knafeh is best enjoyed warm, so serve it shortly after soaking in the syrup. The warm, gooey cheese filling and crispy pastry layers are at their most indulgent when freshly made.

Nutritional Facts:

The nutritional information for one slice of Palestinian Knafeh:

  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 519 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 41g
  • Protein: 18g
  • Fat: 37g
  • Saturated Fat: 22g
  • Cholesterol: 61mg
  • Sodium: 62mg
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 18g

Enjoy your slice of Knafeh, indulging in its rich flavors while keeping an eye on your nutritional intake.

Kunafa (Knafeh)
Kunafa (Knafeh)


What does Knafeh taste like?

Kunafa has a unique flavor profile that combines the syrup’s sweetness with the cheese’s richness and the pastry’s crispy texture. It’s sweet, creamy, and slightly salty, with a hint of floral notes from the syrup.

Is Kunafa eaten hot or cold?

Kunafa can be enjoyed both hot and cold, depending on personal preference. Some people prefer it fresh out of the oven when the cheese is gooey and the pastry is crispy, while others enjoy it chilled after it has been refrigerated.

What type of cheese is used in Kunafa?

The traditional cheese used in Kunafa is called Akkawi or Nabulsi cheese, which is a semi-hard, slightly salty cheese with a high melting point. However, other cheeses like mozzarella or ricotta can also be used as substitutes, depending on availability and personal taste preferences.

What is Kunafa made of?

Kunafa is made primarily of shredded phyllo dough (kataifi), which is layered with cheese, typically Akkawi or Nabulsi cheese, and sometimes a creamy filling like ashta (clotted cream). The pastry is baked until golden brown and crispy, then soaked in a sugar syrup flavored with rose water or orange blossom water.

Kunafa (Knafeh Na'ameh)

Kunafa (Knafeh Na’ameh) Recipe

Palestinian Knafeh, also known as Kunafa, is a Wonderful Middle Eastern dessert featuring crispy pastry layers filled with sweet cheese, soaked in syrup. This recipe combines tradition with a modern twist, making it easy to recreate at home.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Servings 6
Calories 519 kcal


  • food processor
  • Baking pan
  • Saucepan
  • Mixing bowls
  • Whisk
  • Brush
  • Oven


  • 500 g Kunafa Kataifi or Kunafa Na’ameh
  • 1 cup ghee
  • Kunafa food coloring optional
  • 300 g fresh mozzarella cheese grated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon rose water optional
  • Chopped pistachios for garnish


  • Divide the kunafa pastry into halves and place it in a food processor. Pulse a few times until cut into small pieces, then transfer to a bowl.
  • Melt 70% of the ghee and mix it with the shredded kunafa pastry until evenly coated.
  • Use the remaining melted ghee to coat the bottom of the baking pan. Spread half of the kunafa in the pan, pressing it down firmly.
  • Layer grated mozzarella cheese over the kunafa, then add the remaining kunafa on top.
  • Drizzle the remaining melted ghee over the kunafa and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  • In a saucepan, combine sugar and water over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add lemon juice and rose water, then simmer for 10 minutes to make the syrup.
  • Once the kunafa is baked, pour the cooled syrup over it, allowing it to soak for 10-15 minutes.
  • Garnish with chopped pistachios and serve warm. Enjoy the delicious Palestinian Knafeh!


Pro Tips:

  • Prepare the syrup in advance for convenience and optimal absorption.
  • Handle the kunafa dough with care to maintain its texture.
  • Press the kunafa firmly to create a sturdy base for the filling.
  • Monitor the baking time closely to achieve the desired golden color.
  • Generously soak the kunafa with syrup for enhanced flavor and moisture.
  • Serve the kunafa warm to experience its indulgent texture and flavors.

Nutrition Facts for 1 Serving:

  • Calories: 519 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 41g
  • Protein: 18g
  • Fat: 37g
  • Saturated Fat: 22g
  • Cholesterol: 61mg
  • Sodium: 62mg
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 18g
Keyword Knafeh, Kunafa

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