Vegan Baklava

Indulge in the sweet symphony of flavors with this delectable vegan baklava recipe. Layers of crisp, phyllo pastry are generously filled with a blend of chopped nuts, and sweetened with a luscious brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.
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Vegan baklava on a baking tray, sliced diagonally into diamond shapes with rose petals on top.
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If you love baklava but aren’t sure if it’s vegan, we’re answering all of your burning questions! We’ve got the lowdown on what goes into baklava, what ingredients to look out for, plus a homemade recipe that will have you devouring every last piece!

This vegan baklava recipe from Zacchary Bird’s new cookbook The Vegan Baker, is easy to follow and tastes just like the real thing! You’ll never miss out on baklava again with this irresistible recipe!

What Is Baklava?

Baklava boasts a rich history dating back to the Byzantine Empire, where it began its sugary conquest. Originally a treat enjoyed by the wealthy elite, it gradually found its way to various corners of the world, evolving into the beloved pastry we relish today.

This sweet marvel showcases the artistry of layering paper-thin sheets of phyllo dough, an unleavened dough that has its roots in the kitchens of the Ottoman Empire. The nuts, a star-studded cast within the baklava layers, not only contribute to its irresistible crunch but also provide a nutritional punch with healthy fats and proteins.

The syrup, a concoction of sugar, water, and a hint of citrus, not only adds sweetness but also preserves the layers, creating a dessert that’s as enduring as its fascinating heritage. So, whether you’re savoring baklava for the first time or revisiting an old favorite, each bite is a delightful journey through time and taste!

Is Baklava Vegan?

Traditional baklava recipes typically include butter in the layers of phyllo dough, which makes them not vegan. However, many creative and delicious vegan baklava recipes have emerged, using plant-based alternatives such as vegan margarine or oil to achieve the flaky layers.

Additionally, the honey commonly found in traditional recipes can be substituted with agave syrup, maple syrup, or other liquid plant-based sweeteners. So, while traditional baklava may not be vegan, there are wonderful plant-powered alternatives available!

Non-Vegan Ingredients In Baklava

In traditional baklava recipes, there are several non-vegan ingredients to be mindful of:

  • Butter: Traditional recipes use butter to brush between the layers of phyllo dough, giving baklava its flaky texture.
  • Honey: Honey is often used in the syrup that’s poured over the baklava after baking. Some recipes also include honey in the nut filling.
  • Clarified Butter (Ghee): In certain variations, clarified butter or ghee may be used. This is a form of butter where the milk solids have been removed, but it is still an animal-derived product.

To make a vegan version of baklava, you can substitute these ingredients with vegan alternatives, such as vegan butter, and a vegan honey substitute like agave syrup. Always check the ingredient list or ask if you’re buying baklava, as recipes can vary.

Store-Bought Vegan Baklava

Vegan store-bought brands are not as common and you’re more likely to find them in online shops versus in person. However, if the craving strikes you, you can order a platter of light and flaky baklava delivered right to your doorstep from the following brands:

Vegan baklava in a pan with a wooden spatula holding a couple pieces.
Photo source: Samaya Delights

How To Make Baklava

If you want to try your hand at preparing your own homemade baklava, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make! Layer phyllo dough with chopped nuts and bake to crispy perfection. Then drizzle with a citrus syrup and enjoy!

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Best Vegan Baklava Recipe

Author: Zacchary Bird | The Vegan Baker
5 from 8 votes
For the perfect baklava experience, achieve a delightful contrast by pouring cold syrup over hot baklava or hot syrup over cold baklava. This ensures a warm blend with syrup seeping in between the layers, followed by quick cooling.
Vegan baklava on a baking tray, sliced diagonally into diamond shapes with rose petals on top.
Servings 40

Ingredients

  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon vegan butter, (125g) or coconut oil, melted
  • 13 oz vegan filo pastry, (375g)
  • dried rose petals, to serve (optional)

Nut Filling

  • 2 cups pistachios, (300g)
  • 1 cup walnuts, (100g)
  • ½ brown sugar, (100g)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • large pinch of sea salt

Citrus Syrup

  • 5-6 large oranges, lemons, limes or grapefruits, or a mix
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar, (400g)

Instructions

Make the Citrus Syrup

  • Prepare the citrus syrup. Wash the fruit well, then slice off large strips of peel using a vegetable peeler (and avoiding too much of the white pith), until it has all been removed. Cut the peeled strips into thin slivers and add them to bowl of water as you go, to stop them browning
  • Add the granulated sugar and a cup (8 fl oz) of water to a saucepan and stir briefly to dissolve. Bring to a boil. 
  • Drain the citrus zest, then add it to the boiling syrup and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, swishing occasionally.
  • Strain the syrup and allow it to cool before transferring it to a clean, sealable jar and storing it in the fridge.

Prepare the Filling

  • Put the nut filling ingredients in a food processor and pulse into a rough rubble. Place the butter or coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat and gently heat until mostly melted. Set aside.

Assemble Baklava

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Line a baking tray about the same size as your filo sheets with parchment paper and brush a little of the butter or oil over the paper.
  • When working with the filo pastry, either proceed quickly or cover with a scarcely damp tea towel to stop it drying out. Place a filo sheet on the baking tray and use a pastry brush to splatter a little of the butter or oil over the top. Brush to spread it out in an even layer, then repeat with eight more sheets of filo to create your base layer.
  • Spread half the nut filling over the filo. As the number of sheets in a packet of filo can vary, count how many you have left. You will need ten sheets for the top layer, so use however many are remaining for your middle layer, repeating the buttering process. Top with the remaining nut filling.
  • Brush six sheets of filo with butter or oil and place over the final layer of nuts. Place two more sheets of filo over one half of the filling at a 90-degree angle, then brush with butter or oil and tuck the ends under the filled half of the pastry. Repeat with two more filo sheets on the other side.
  • Using a paring knife, and pressing down on the filo around the knife, diagonally score the baklava into diamonds, for ease of cutting later on. Delicately brush any remaining butter or oil over the top.
  • Transfer the tray to the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 170°C (340°F). Bake for 40 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden.
  • Remove the baklava from the oven and evenly pour 1 ⅔ cups of the cooled citrus syrup over the top. Bake for another 5 minutes, then remove from the oven again and allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Use a sharp knife to separate the baklava into diamonds for serving and scatter with dried rose petals, if desired. The baklava will keep in an airtight container on the benchtop for up to 2 weeks of glorious snacking.

Notes

Don’t waste the citrus zest. After removing from the syrup, spread the zest on a wire rack on the benchtop to dry out for a full day. Once they’re no longer wet, toss the zest in 1/2 cup of caster sugar and store in an airtight jar. They’ll keep in the fridge for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 140kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Sodium: 62mg | Potassium: 87mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 32IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg
Love this Recipe? Leave a Rating!And follow @Vegan on Instagram for more.

Vegan baklava recipe shared with permission from The Vegan Baker by Zacchary Bird, published by Smith Street Books. Vegan baklava recipe photo by Emily Weaving.

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Recipe Rating




8 comments
  1. 5 stars
    My first time trying baklava and it’s delicious!

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve never had baklava before so couldn’t compare it to the butter and honey-based version, but was amazed at how unique and delicious this vegan baklava was. Thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    Baklava is one of my favourite desserts. Love that this is a vegan version and enjoyed reading the history of it!

  4. 5 stars
    Omg, this is amazing! I’ve never eaten baklava before and it’s the most delicious dessert. I thought it would be much harder to make, but this recipe is straightforward and explains everything simply. Love!

  5. 5 stars
    The citrus syrup is my favorite part of this! It’s such a good use for all the grapefruits in Texas farmers markets in the winter.

  6. 5 stars
    Love the easy swaps to make it vegan! So delicious! Thanks for the tip about leftover zest!

  7. 5 stars
    Delicious and surprisingly easy to make! Saving this recipe to make again for Christmas!

  8. 5 stars
    Loved your version of baklava. I went wild and made it with limes, which I’ve never done before. It gave such a different flavour, but so good.

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