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This Vegan Baklava recipe is inspired by the traditional Middle Eastern dessert and just as good as the real thing! It’s made with layers of flaky phyllo pastry, a sticky nut filling, and a hot syrup naturally sweetened with dates. This sweet treat is guaranteed to become one of your favorite desserts.
What is baklava?
Baklava is a sweet pastry that is popular in many Middle Eastern, Balkan, and Mediterranean cuisines. It is made from layers of thin and flaky phyllo pastry and filled with chopped nuts then drizzled with a sticky sweet syrup. Our recipe is inspired by a restaurant on the east called Mamoun’s. They serve up a next level baklava – the only downside is that it contains honey. If you’ve never had baklava, this date-sweetened version will completely blow you away.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Dates: Many classic versions of this popular dish are filled with a nut mixture that’s sweetened with cane sugar, brown sugar, and honey. Instead, we added chopped dates to our filling to add sweetness while keeping it refined-sugar-free. From experience, the drier your dates, the better! They will be easier to cut and spread throughout the wet ingredients.
- Nuts: The most common nuts are pistachios and walnuts. We used a blend of almonds, walnuts, and pistachios, but feel free to use a mix of your favorite nuts or what you have available to you.
- Orange zest: Fresh orange zest adds a boost of fresh, unique flavor that compliments the sweetness. If you have it, you can also substitute orange blossom water. If needed or preferred, you can also opt for lemon zest.
- Vegan butter: We swapped the traditional melted butter with melted vegan butter. We typically use Country Crock, Earth Balance, or another brand of vegan butter sticks. If you are using salted butter, we recommend omitting the added salt.
- Phyllo dough: Store-bought phyllo dough is typically found in the freezer section near the other pre-made doughs like pie crust or puff pastry. Most store-bought versions are accidentally vegan, meaning they aren’t advertised as vegan foods but happen to be free of animal products.
- Just Date syrup: This liquid sweetener is a sugar alternative that happens to be the perfect alternative to honey. It’s also loaded with potassium, antioxidants, and has a low glycemic index so it won’t spike your blood sugar. You can also use it as a liquid sweetener in other baking recipes as well as in your coffee, tea, or vegan matcha latte.
- Lemon juice: A small squeeze of lemon juice helps brighten the syrup and makes it taste fresh and light. A little goes a long way!
- Spices: You’ll need a simple blend of cinnamon, ground cardamom, vanilla extract, and sea salt for this vegan baklava.
How to Make Vegan Baklava
- Roughly chop the filling. Add the dates, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, orange zest, cinnamon, and salt in a large cup food processor. Pulse until the mixture is just roughly chopped (avoid making a fine consistency). Set aside.
- Trim the phyllo dough. Place the thawed phyllo dough on a clean work surface, then lightly place the baking dish on top of the dough. Using a sharp knife, trim the phyllo dough to fit the size of the pan. Feel free to be a bit generous – it is better to cut the dough slightly larger than the dish than cutting it too small.
- Cover the dough. Once cut to your ideal size, cover the phyllo dough with a slightly damp kitchen towel to keep it from drying out. Set aside until ready to layer.
- Prep the baking dish. Using a pastry brush, brush the bottom and sides of the baking dish with a thin layer of melted vegan butter.
- Begin to layer the vegan baklava. Lay two sheets of the phyllo in the bottom of the buttered baking dish then gently drizzle with vegan butter. Add two more sheets of phyllo directly on top and drizzle again with vegan butter. Repeat the process two more times until you’ve layered 8 sheets of phyllo sheets in the bottom of the baking dish.
- Add in the filling. Spread 1/3 of the ground nut mixture on top of the phyllo dough and spread it as evenly as possible to the edges of the pan.
- Continue to layer. Layer on 8 more sheets of phyllo dough, drizzling vegan butter between every two sheets. Then, add on another 1/3 of the ground nut mixture before repeating the full process once more.
- Add final layers of phyllo dough on top. Layer on the final 8 sheets of dough on top, drizzling with melted butter between every two sheets then drizzling any remaining melted vegan butter over the top of the phyllo dough layers.
- Chill for one hour. Once fully layered, place the vegan baklava in the refrigerator for 1 hour so that the butter can set.
- Cut the baklava. Using a very sharp knife, cut the uncooked baklava four times lengthwise, then diagonally, creating diamond shapes.
- Bake. Bake the vegan baklava for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown and flaky.
- Prepare the syrup. While the vegan baklava bakes, prepare the syrup. In a small pot over medium heat, whisk together the date syrup, water, lemon juice, cinnamon, salt, and ground cardamom until well combined. Heat for 8-10 minutes or until thickened and syrup-like. Set aside to cool, then once cool, stir in the vanilla.
- Drizzle the vegan baklava with syrup. Once baked, remove the vegan baklava from the oven and drizzle with the cooled syrup immediately while hot.
- Serve. Top the vegan baklava with crushed pistachios and allow it to sit at room temperature for several hours or overnight before serving.
Traditional baklava is not typically vegan-friendly. Although the base ingredients like phyllo dough and nuts are vegan, the pastry is typically brushed with dairy butter or ghee and drizzled with a honey-based syrup. We swapped the honey syrup with date syrup, and it worked perfectly. Date syrup is also loaded with potassium and antioxidants and has a low glycemic index, so it won’t spike your blood sugar.
Yes! If you don’t have a food processor, finely chop the pitted Medjool dates, almonds, walnuts, and pistachios until a chopped consistency. Again, avoid chopping it too finely or else your vegan baklava recipe won’t have much texture.
Baklava is traditionally served either warm or cold with a cup of hot coffee or tea for dessert or entertaining guests. It’s one of our favorite desserts to enjoy with warm beverages or served with a scoop of non-dairy vanilla ice cream and a dollop of Coconut Whipped Cream.
This decadent treat will keep best for up to 1 week at room temperature or 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Always store vegan baklava tightly covered in either an airtight container or directly in the casserole dish covered with plastic wrap or reusable wrap.
Vegan baklava can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Before freezing, allow the hot baklava to cool completely to room temperature, cut it into individual pieces, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container or bag. If layering in your container, place a piece of parchment paper between each layer to prevent sticking. Thaw your desired number of pieces at room temperature until softened again.
More Vegan Dessert Recipes You May Enjoy:
- Creamy Ube Pie – a Filipino dessert made with a buttery pie crust filled with a creamy yam filling.
- Vegan Chocolate Fudge – made with just 3 ingredients in 15 minutes!
- Vegan Cannoli – our spin on the classic Italian dessert.
- Classic Vegan Brownies – the best, fudgy brownies made with simple pantry staples.
- Classic Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies – our must-try cookie recipe.
Nutrition facts label provided by Nutri Fox.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional’s advice. This page may contain affiliate links, which simply means that we earn a commission if you purchase through those links, but your price remains the same. Thank you for supporting Sweet Simple Vegan!