Knafeh, a Middle Eastern pastry stuffed with sweet cheese and drenched in sugary syrup, is native to Nablus, Palestine. I haven’t had the pleasure of eating knafeh Nabulsiyeh but I’ve heard it’s the best! The closest I’ve come to amazing knafeh is Habeeba’s knafeh in Amman.

The debate continues over which one is better, خشنة khishneh (coarse) or ناعمة na3meh (fine). My personal favorite is Khishneh. I cannot tell you how excited I was to find out a sweet shop opened up in Northern Virginia offering freshly made knafeh. Jenin Pastry lets you choose between khishneh and na3meh and even delivers for parties!


What goes great with knafeh? A tall glass of cold milk goes perfectly with all that sugary goodness. That may be because I’m Arab-American and appreciate milk with cookies and cakes. Let me tell you, my friends overseas have the hardest time understanding how well milk goes with knafeh. They find it to be the most disturbing combination ever. I’ve gotten into many arguments with one of my best friends about the Milk and Knafeh combo. I tried introducing the idea to my friends in Amman and having them try it, but that didn’t go over too well. To them, it’s knafeh with coffee or tea. Needless to say, the BFF and I decided to agree to disagree.

In any case, whether or not we agree on what drink goes best with knafeh, we can all agree that knafeh is best served with good friends and family.




Knafeh [Sweet Cheese and Shredded Fillo Pastry]


  • 1 lb Kataifi Shredded Fillo Dough
  • 2 sticks Unsalted Butter
  • 1 lb Sweet Cheese
  • 32oz Whole milk ricotta cheese
  • Knafeh dye [I don't remember exactly how much, but just enough to coat the dough]
  • Ground, Raw Pistachios, for garnish
  • For the Syrup
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons mazaher, orange blossom water


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Cut fillo dough into pieces
  3. Add knafeh coloring
  4. Melt the butter, and add it to the dough
  5. In a large bowl, mix coloring, butter, and filo dough by hand until the filo is fully coated, set aside
  6. Cut the sweet cheese into thin rectangular pieces, and remove excess water by placing between paper towels
  7. In another bowl, mix the sweet cheese with the ricotta cheese
  8. Spread most of the filo dough on a large round baking tray, top with an even layer of cheese and then top with the remaining filo dough
  9. Make sure the cheese is covered
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is melted
  11. Flip the knafeh over and top with crushed pistachios
  12. Pour syrup over the knafeh before serving
  13. For the Syrup
  14. In a small heavy saucepan, combine sugar, water and lemon juice
  15. Bring to a boil over medium high heat
  16. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes
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