nut-free baklava recipe

The Ultimate Guide to Nut-Free Baklava Recipe with Creative Fillings & Tips

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Updated on February 17, 2024

Reviewed by Ciaran Connolly

Baklava is an iconic dessert steeped in history and beloved across cultures. It is a sweet pastry traditionally filled with nuts, with sweet syrup poured over after baking.

But what if you can’t indulge in this delectable treat due to nut allergies or dietary restrictions? The beauty of baklava lies in its adaptability. You can enjoy baklava without nuts with plenty of nut-free alternatives that promise equally delectable baklava without any forfeit on taste or texture.

This guide unlocks the secrets to delicious, nut-free baklava. We’ll explore creative fillings, share a simple step-by-step recipe, and unveil expert tips for achieving flaky perfection. Ready? Let’s get started!

What is Baklava?

What is Baklava and Why Choose Nut-Free Baklava

Traditionally hailing from the Middle East and enjoyed across various cultures, baklava is a layered pastry made with paper-thin sheets of phyllo dough brushed with butter or ghee. 

The classic filling revolves around chopped nuts, typically pistachios or walnuts, sweetened with fragrant spices like cinnamon and cardamom. This combination is then drenched in warm, honey-based syrup, creating a symphony of textures and flavours: crisp, flaky pastry yielding to a moist, nutty interior, all balanced by the sweetness of the syrup and the aromatic warmth of the spices.

Reasons to Go Nut-Free with Baklava

  • Nut Allergies: For those with nut allergies, even a small trace can trigger a severe reaction. Nut-free baklava offers a safe and delicious alternative to enjoy the flavours without the risk.
  • Dietary Restrictions: Individuals with certain health conditions may choose to avoid nuts. Nut-free baklava allows them to participate in the shared enjoyment of this popular dessert.
  • Exploring New Flavours: Even without nut allergies, some may simply prefer alternative fillings or seek to explore new flavour profiles. Nut-free baklava opens doors to creative combinations and exciting taste discoveries.

Nut-Free Baklava Fillings

Nut-Free Baklava Fillings

The key to creating delicious nut-free baklava lies in finding suitable replacements for the nutty filling. The options are plentiful and bursting with flavour. Combine different ingredients, explore spice combinations, and let your creativity guide you.

Seeds: Crunch and Subtle Nuttiness

  • Sesame seeds: Toasted to perfection, sesame seeds add a delightful crunch and subtle nutty note. Opt for white for a milder flavour or black for a bolder, earthier taste. Consider grinding some for a richer texture.
  • Sunflower Seeds: These versatile seeds offer a mild nutty flavour and a satisfying chew. Toast them for added depth and sprinkle with a touch of salt for an extra pop.
  • Pumpkin Seeds: With their slightly sweet and earthy taste, pumpkin seeds make a perfect fall-inspired filling. Roast them with a touch of cinnamon or pumpkin spice for a delightful twist.

Dried Fruit: Sweet, Vibrant Filling

  • Apricots: Chopped apricots add beautiful colour, natural sweetness, and a chewy texture. Use dried or freeze-dried varieties, and consider soaking them in orange juice for an extra burst of flavour.
  • Figs: Their unique sweetness and jammy texture make figs a luxurious filling. Choose dried figs for a concentrated flavour, or consider using fresh figs sliced thinly for a more delicate sweetness.
  • Dates: Chopped dates add natural sweetness and a sticky texture. Consider soaking them in rum or brandy for a sophisticated touch.
  • Raisins: Raisins provide concentrated sweetness and a chewy texture. Choose golden raisins for a milder flavour or sultanas for a deeper, more complex taste.

Coconut: A Tropical Twist

  • Shredded Coconut: This versatile ingredient adds sweetness, a subtle tropical flavour, and a delightful textural contrast to the flaky pastry. Use unsweetened shredded coconut and toast it lightly for an extra layer of flavour.
  • Coconut Flakes: Incorporate coconut flakes for a visually stunning and texturally interesting filling. Opt for large flakes for a dramatic contrast, or use smaller flakes for a more subtle presence.

Spices: Aromatic Depth and Complexity

  • Cinnamon: A classic baklava spice, cinnamon adds warmth and depth. Use ground cinnamon or experiment with cinnamon sticks simmered in the syrup for a subtle infusion.
  • Cardamom: This aromatic spice adds a touch of floral sweetness and complexity. Use ground cardamom or pods simmered in the syrup for a delicate fragrance.
  • Orange Blossom Water: This floral essence adds a unique Middle Eastern touch and is best used in small quantities for a hint of sophistication.

Beyond the Basics

  • Pumpkin Puree: This unexpected ingredient adds a smooth, creamy texture and subtle sweetness, perfect for a fall-inspired baklava. Combine it with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg for a warming treat.
  • Poppy Seeds: Their nutty flavour and tiny black specks create a visually stunning and texturally interesting filling. Combine them with dried fruits or a touch of honey for added sweetness.
  • Chocolate Chips: For a decadent twist, incorporate dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips for a delightful contrast to the sweetness of the syrup.

Nut-Free Baklava Recipe

This recipe will guide you on how to make nut-free baklava, ensuring a delicious and satisfying outcome. Feel free to customise the filling based on your favourite flavours and readily available ingredients.


For the Phyllo Dough:

  • 1 package (1/2 kg) frozen phyllo dough, thawed overnight in the refrigerator
  • 1/2 cup melted butter or vegan butter substitute

For the Filling:

  • 1 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried figs
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

For the Syrup:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water (optional)


  1. To make the syrup, combine sugar, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in orange blossom water (if using). Set aside to cool completely.
  2. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). 
  3. Unroll the thawed phyllo dough carefully, keeping it covered with a damp cloth to prevent drying. 
  4. Brush one sheet with melted butter and top with another sheet. Repeat layering and brushing with butter until you have 6-8 sheets.
  5. Spread a thin layer of the filling mixture evenly over the buttered phyllo sheets. 
  6. Roll up tightly from the long end, starting at the bottom. Repeat with the remaining phyllo dough and filling, forming a log shape.
  7. Carefully transfer the log to a greased baking sheet and curve it into a horseshoe shape or coil it into a snail shape. 
  8. Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds. 
  9. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
  10. Slowly pour the cooled syrup over hot baklava, ensuring it reaches all the layers. Let it cool completely before slicing and serving.

Tips for Making Perfect Nut-Free Baklava

Mastering the art of nut-free baklava requires a few key steps and a dash of practice. Here are some expert tips to ensure your baklava is flaky, crispy, and utterly irresistible.

  1. Frozen phyllo dough needs proper thawing. Do so in the refrigerator overnight, not at room temperature, to prevent dryness and breakage.
  2. As you work, cover unused sheets with a damp cloth to prevent drying out.
  3. Brush each sheet generously with melted butter or oil before stacking to ensure the essential separation and crispy layers.
  4. Resist the urge to pile on the filling. Aim for a thin, even layer for even baking and crispy results.
  5. Toasting enhances the flavour and texture of seeds like sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds. Toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
  6. If you’re using dried fruit, ensure they are similar in size to prevent uneven cooking and texture. Consider pulsing them briefly in a food processor for a consistent consistency.
  7. For traditional baklava, roll the filled phyllo sheets into logs and arrange them in the pan. For bite-sized treats, cut the filled sheets into squares or triangles before baking.
  8. Before baking, score the top of your baklava using a sharp knife to help the syrup penetrate and create clean serving pieces.
  9. Let the syrup cool completely before pouring it over the hot baklava. This allows for even absorption and prevents the pastry from becoming soggy.
  10. Drizzle the syrup slowly and evenly, allowing it to be absorbed gradually to ensure a perfectly balanced sweetness.

Pairings and Serving Suggestions for Nut-Free Baklava

Nut-free baklava might be the star of the show, but the perfect pairing elevates the experience to a whole new level. Here’s your guide to great pairings and serving suggestions for nut-free baklava.

  • Dust with Powdered Sugar: A light dusting of powdered sugar adds an elegant touch and enhances the visual appeal.
  • Fresh Fruit and Berries: A side of fresh berries like strawberries or raspberries adds a refreshing counterpoint to the sweetness of the baklava. Drizzle them with a touch of honey or balsamic glaze for extra flavour.
  • Yoghurt and Honey: A dollop of plain yoghurt or Greek yoghurt with a drizzle of honey adds a creamy contrast and a touch of tanginess.
  • Ice Cream: A scoop of vanilla or pistachio ice cream creates a delightful temperature contrast and adds a creamy dimension to the dessert.
  • Turkish Coffee: This strong, traditionally brewed coffee pairs beautifully with the sweetness of baklava. Its intense flavour cuts through the richness and leaves a lingering coffee aroma on the palate.
  • Herbal Teas: Delicate floral teas like rosewater or lavender complement the baklava’s subtle floral notes. Try a spicy chai tea or robust mint tea for a bolder contrast.

How to Store Nut-Free Baklava

Like any sweet treat, proper storage and handling are crucial for maintaining the delightful texture and flavour of your nut-free baklava. Here’s a guide to ensuring your nut-free baklava stays fresh and delicious:

Storing at Room Temperature

  • Let the baklava cool completely before storing it to prevent the syrup from becoming sticky and affecting the texture.
  • Place the cooled baklava in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out or absorbing other flavours.
  • Properly stored, your baklava will stay fresh at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Refrigerating for Longer Stays

  • If you won’t be enjoying your baklava within 3 days, refrigerate it for best results.
  • Use the same airtight container you used for room-temperature storage.
  • Refrigerated baklava can last for up to a week. However, the pastry might become slightly less crisp due to the cold.

Freezing for Future Enjoyment

  • For longer storage, consider freezing individual portions of baklava. This allows you to thaw and enjoy smaller quantities without affecting the rest.
  • Wrap each portion tightly in plastic wrap or aluminium foil to prevent freezer burn.
  • Label the wrapped portions with the date and freeze them for up to 3 months.

Reheating Options and Instructions

  • Thaw first: If frozen, thaw the baklava completely in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
  • Oven or toaster oven: Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 175°C (350°F).
  • Warm gently: Place the baklava on a baking sheet and heat for 5-10 minutes or until slightly warmed through and crisp.
  • Microwave option: For a quicker option, microwave individual portions on low power for 15-20 seconds, checking for doneness frequently.

Final Notes on Nut-Free Baklava

Allergies or dietary choices shouldn’t restrict delicious food. With the inspiration within this guide and a little creativity, you can unlock delicious possibilities for nut-free baklava. Practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find your own signature touch.

For further inspiration, explore our website for more amazing recipes and resources. Discover nut-free lunch and snack ideas for everyday treats, or explore some amazing nut-free granola recipes for nourishing breakfasts.

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