Is Baklava Vegan?
Baklava is a traditional dessert originating from Turkey. It consists of layers of filo (phyllo) pastry, chopped nuts, spices, and sweet syrup. There are several variations of baklava, including ones containing raisins, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, dried fruit, etc.
While baklava itself isn’t vegan, most versions do include dairy products, eggs, and honey. However, there are a number of ingredients that are commonly used in baklava that are not vegan-friendly. These include milk, butter, cream cheese, yogurt, egg whites, and honey.
What Is Baklava?
Baklava is a delicious dessert that comes in many forms. Some versions include pistachios, almonds, walnuts, raisins, honey, cinnamon, orange zest, and rose water. There are also variations where the filling is replaced with chocolate chips, cherries, or apples.
But regardless of the ingredients in baklava confection, standard baklava recipes have become synonymous with Turkey. And there are plenty of reasons why.
It’s a great dessert to serve during Ramadan, a Muslim holy month of daytime fasting. It’s a traditional holiday food that dates back centuries. It’s a favorite among Turks, Greek-style baklava, Armenians, and Syrians. It’s a popular dessert across the Middle Eastern style baklava. It’s a tasty treat that’s easy to make. It’s a versatile dessert that goes well with coffee, tea, or alcohol. It’s a delicious dessert that’s gluten-free. It’s a dessert that makes a great gift. It’s a dessert with a rich cultural heritage. It’s a dessert everyone loves.
There are plenty of reasons why baklava is so beloved. But no matter the reason, it’s a delicious treat that deserves to be celebrated.
There are two main theories regarding where baklava originated. One theory suggests that it came from the Ottoman Empire and was created there in the 15th or 16th century. Another theory suggests that it comes from ancient Greece and was created there in 400 BC.
Regardless of its origin, baklava is now enjoyed worldwide. Baklava is a traditional dessert made from phyllo pastry sheets stuffed with chopped walnuts, pistachios, almonds, apricots, raisins, figs, dates, candied citron, and orange peel. Other common additions include rose water, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, saffron, sesame seeds, and sugar syrup.
A variation of baklava is called kataifi, which is similar to baklava but uses shredded wheat instead of phyllo pastry. Kataifi is usually served warm with ice cream or yogurt.
For the vegan baklava filling:
- 1 cup pistachios
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1 and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp orange zest (optional)
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (optional)
- 1/8 tsp ground clove (optional)
- 1/8 tsp salt(only add if nuts are unsalted)
- 5 tbsp maple syrup
For assembling the vegan baklava:
- 8 oz layers of homemade phyllo dough (most varieties in stores are vegan; check ingredients of baklava)
- 2 tbsp light olive oil (plus more as needed)
For the honey-free syrup:
- 3/4 cup water
- 6 tbsp agave nectar
- 1 stick cinnamon (optional)
- 5 whole cloves (optional)
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tsp fresh orange juice (optional)
How To Make Vegan Baklava
Making vegan baklava recipes doesn’t really differ from making non-vegan baklava. There are a couple of things to consider, however, including using vegan common ingredients and avoiding dairy products.
There are plenty of vegan options available for baking, including almond flour, coconut flour, oatmeal, rice flour, soy milk, tofu, and various nut milk. These flours work great for creating delicious favorite desserts without any animal products.
You’ll also want to avoid dairy products since most dairy products come from cows. Dairy products include butter, cheese, cream, yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, etc. So if you’re trying to make vegan baklava, you’ll want to look for alternatives to dairy products.
For starters, you can substitute regular milk for soy milk. Soy milk comes in several varieties, including unsweetened, vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and others. Some brands even add flavors, which makes it easier to customize your recipe.
Another option is to replace regular milk with nondairy creamer. Nondairy creamer usually comes in two forms: liquid and powdered. Both types contain sugar and artificial flavorings, but the powder form tends to be less expensive than the liquid version.
Finally, you can use alternative sweeteners instead of sugar. Stevia is a natural herb extract that many people prefer because it does not cause blood glucose spikes. Agave nectar is another alternative sweetener that is a low glycemic index. Honey is also a great choice.
If you don’t mind adding a little extra sweetness, you can also use molasses, maple syrup, brown sugar, or agave syrup. All of these sweeteners are naturally occurring and do not require any processing.
Tips For Perfect Vegan Baklava
You will need to shell the pistachios before assembling the vegan baklava in order to save yourself lots of work later. Pistachios come pre-shelled, so if you buy them, you won’t have to shell them yourself.
To keep your baklava moist, you will need to coat each piece of phyllo dough with oil before assembling the vegan baklava. Olive oil is used in most recipes to give a crispy phyllo dough texture, so you should have plenty available.
Assembling vegan baklavas is very similar to making traditional baklava. Just remember to slice the baklavas into pieces before baking them. Otherwise, they become extremely crisp once baked.
Once assembled, you can either serve the vegan baklavas right away or refrigerate them until serving time. Either way, they taste great cold or hot.
Use good quality maple syrup instead of raw honey to add sweetness to the vegan baklavas. Maple syrup is thicker than honey, so it adds a nice texture to the vegan baklava.
Try using agave syrup as a substitute for maple syrup. Agave syrup is sweeter than maple syrup, so it works well in place of maple syrup. However, you may prefer the taste of maple syrup better.
Be sure to slice the baklava into pieces before baking them because once they are baked, they are much too crispy to cut into pieces without breaking the baklava.
Baklava Storage And Freezing
Baklava is delicious, but it can also be dangerous if not stored properly. Baklava should never be covered up, otherwise, it becomes soggy. You should also avoid freezing baklava since it will lose its crispiness. Instead, place leftover baklava in a freezer-friendly container and keep it in the freezer for up six months.
You can thaw frozen baklava in the refrigerator overnight, but you’ll probably want to leave it out until it’s completely defrosted. Once it’s fully defrosted, you can serve it right away.
Easy Vegan Baklava
It’s layers of phyllo pastry and chopped walnut pieces, covered with sweet syrup! No inclusion of honey or milk is required, it’s an easy and impressive dessert!
- 1 lb phyllo dough 16 oz (See notes)
- 1 lb walnuts chopped (See notes)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon stick
- 1 cup vegan butter softened and spreadable
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup maple syrup or agave nectar (See notes)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon rosewater extract (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F). Cut your phyllo rolls of dough into pieces of phyllo dough, and cover one half in a damp cloth, so they don’t dry out.
- Put your chopped walnut mixture into a mixing bowl and add some cinnamon. Then brush a 9×13-inch pan with butter.
- Place two sheets of phyllo crispy dough with butter into the bottom of the baking dish. Butter them generously. Repeat this step twice more, so you end up with four layers of pastry. Sprinkle half of the chopped almonds on the pastry, then place another layer of pastry on the dish. Add the rest of the chopped almonds, then add the final layer of pastry. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, slice the pie into eight equal wedges. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely before serving.
- Bake the baklavas for around 45 mins, until golden on top
- While the baklavas are baking, prepare the sugar syrups. In a small saucepan, combine your sugar and hot water. On medium-high, stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the stove and allow to cool completely before adding in the pureed extracts and the vanilla. Stir again and place back on the stove on low-medium. Allow cooking for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After the baklava has cooled down, pour the sugar syrups to cover it completely. Allow it to cool completely, then use a knife to cut into the very bottom of the pan, so the sugar syrups can seep out. Sprinkle with crushed nuts and top with whipped cream.
- To make gluten-free baklavas, use gluten-free pastry sheets.
- You can also use crushed pistachio nuts or a mixture of both.
- If you aren’t strictly vegan, you can use raw honey syrup.
To store leftover baklava, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then place it in an airtight container. It can be kept in the fridge for up to one week. Do not cover it up, otherwise, it will get soggy.
To freeze: Place baklava into a freezable (freeze-proof) dish and then place it in the fridge. It will keep frozen for up to six months. You may thaw it out at room temperature if necessary.
Serving: 1serving | Calories: 195kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 14g | Sodium: 154mg | Potassium: 115mg | Fiber: 2g | Vitamin A: 363IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 1mg | CARBS: 19g
Hey'all I'm Amy, a born foodie and diagnosed with celiac disease 7 years ago. I refused to cave into tasteless, boring gulten free food and create my own!
On my blog you'll find info & cool facts along with recipes, all on gluten free foods!