Pistachio Baklava

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr 5 min (including cooling and soaking times)
  • Active: 35 min
  • Yield: 24 servings
Popular in the Middle East and parts of the Mediterranean, baklava is made with layers of phyllo dough and nuts soaked in syrup. Throughout Turkey, you can find baklava shops, known as baklavacı, offering many varieties, including pistachio, walnut, cream-filled and chocolate. My recipe with pistachios follows the version familiar to many. Whatever nut you use, the secret to a perfectly crisp baklava is room-temperature syrup and hot baklava.


Simple Syrup:




  1. For the simple syrup: Put the sugar and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until the syrup has thickened a bit, about 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and simmer for 2 more minutes. Set the syrup aside to cool completely.
  2. For the baklava: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Put the pistachios and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse, stopping every few pulses to scrape down the sides, until finely chopped. Be careful not to overprocess into pistachio butter.
  4. To assemble the baklava: Unroll the phyllo sheets and cover them with a kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out. Brush the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan with the butter and add 1 phyllo sheet. If your phyllo sheets are larger than the pan, simply fold them; there is no need to cut them. Brush with butter and top with another phyllo sheet. Repeat until you've layered about a third of the phyllo sheets and each sheet is brushed with butter. Sprinkle half of the pistachio mixture on top, then layer on another third of the phyllo sheets one by one, brushing each sheet with butter. Top with the remaining pistachio filling. Finish with the remaining phyllo sheets, brushing each sheet, including the top one, with butter.
  5. Cut the pastry diagonally and then into strips to make diamond shapes. Alternatively, you can cut them into 24 squares. Pour the remaining butter evenly over the baklava.
  6. Bake until the top is crispy and golden, about 1 hour. Immediately pour the cool syrup evenly over the baklava. Let sit at room temperature until cooled completely and the syrup has soaked in, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. For the topping: Top the baklava with the ground pistachios before serving.

Cook’s Note

It’s important that the syrup is cool and the baklava is hot. This will guarantee the baklava stays crispy after soaking in the syrup. Store the leftovers in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 4 days.