Pistachio Kunafa/ Kanafe/ Kanafah

A Middle Eastern dessert, Kunafa made with crunchy shredded phyllo pastry filled with a creamy gooey mixture of mozzarella cheese and semolina and finally sweetened with an authentic scented sugar syrup.

In our home, it’s not Ramadan without Kunafa, our go to Ramadan dessert indulgence. There are numerous ways to prepare this sweet dish. Today I have for you Kunafa with pistachios. I added pistachios in the Kunafa dough and also lavishly used pistachios for garnish. The filling is not prepared in the traditional way, where authentic cheeses like Akkawi or Nabulsi are used. 

I am making it with the world famous, everybody’s favorite, Mozzarella Cheese. Why not? It is very easily available and Kunafa tastes just as good as the traditionally prepared ones. But I made a semolina pudding kinda mixture and mixed it with the mozzarella giving the filling a creamy cheesy texture. 

Hope you all will give this a try, I am sure that it may become your new favorite.


  • 250 grams Kunafa (shredded phyllo pastry)
  • 1/2 cup powdered pistachios
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 113 grams unsalted butter or ghee (melted)
  • few drops of green food color (optional)

For the filling:

  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup semolina
  • 1 tsp rose water

For the simple syrup:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbs rose water


  • You can freeze the Kunafa before baking. Assemble the kunafa in pan, don’t bake, then cover it with cling film really well. Then cover with aluminum foil. When ready to bake, let it thaw, then bake as usual.


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a food processor, add the phyllo dough and process into small sized pieces or cut into small pieces with scissors. Add this into a bowl.
  3. Add pistachios and powdered sugar, combine well.
  4. Add few drops of green food color to the butter. This is highly optional.
  5. Pour this into the kunafa mix. Combine.
  6. Press half of the dough into the bottom of a 10 inch buttered pan and press down very well. Use measuring cup to flatten it well.
To prepare the filling:
  1. Place the mozzarella cheese in a bowl.
  2. In a small pot heat milk, add sugar. Let it dissolve.
  3. Add semolina, stirring continuously. Cook for about 2 minutes while stirring. 
  4. Pour this hot milk mix over the cheese and combine well.
  5. Pour rose water.
To prepare the simple syrup:
  1. In a pan, add sugar, water and lemon juice and bring it to a boil. If the sugar isn’t dissolving, give it a stir.
  2. Once it comes to a boil, put it on simmer for 5-6 minutes.
  3. Turn off flame. Pour rose water.
To assemble:
  1. Pour cheese mixture over kunafa dough, spread well.
  2. Add the rest of the kunafa on top.
  3. Place in the oven, cook for about 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Use a knife or spatula to push the sides of the kunafa to check if it is golden brown at the bottom too. The longer the kunafa bakes, the crunchier it gets. 
  4. Take it out of the oven. Immediately pour about 3/4 cup of sugar syrup all over the kunafa, starting from the edges moving to the center. Reserve the leftover to drizzle while serving.
  5. Let cool for 10 minutes before flipping it over onto a nice plate.
  6. Decorate with ground pistachio and serve warm with reserved simple syrup.
[yumprint-recipe id=’276′]

Filling recipe adapted from Dedemed

9 thoughts on “Pistachio Kunafa/ Kanafe/ Kanafah

  1. I have been off sugar and maybe when I am able to treat myself, I would love to make Kunafa! Love the addition of pistachios to the katayef dough, I may have added some to my filling as well for some crunch… hehe… Lovely clicks as usual…

  2. For how many days we can freeze kunafa without baking? And how much time should we keep outside the freezer before baking ? Thanks

  3. I made kunafa and it was very tasty. But i think my cream filling was too thick? How much is 2 cups mozzarella? Should i flip it upside down?

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