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Künefe (Turkish Sweet Cheese Pastry) in two metal pans.

Künefe (Turkish Sweet Cheese Pastry)

A recipe for Künefe (Turkish Sweet Cheese Pastry)! Cheese is arranged between two layers of Kadayıf (shredded phyllo), cooked until golden, and soaked in a sweet syrup.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Turkish
Keyword cheese, kadayif, pastries, pastry, Turkey, Turkish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 4 -6 Servings



  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) freshly squeezed lemon juice

For greasing the pan:

  • 4 tablespoons (60 grams) unsalted butter softened at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) grape molasses


  • 1 pound (454 grams) Kadayıf (kadaifi/kataifi), shredded phyllo
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter melted
  • 10 ounces (283 grams) unsalted and stringy Turkish cheese or Mozzarella


  • Finely ground pistachios for topping


To make the syrup:

  • In a medium pot, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is starting to thicken slightly, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the lemon juice and simmer for another 1-2 minutes to blend the flavors.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

To grease the pans:

  • In a small bowl, mix together the softened butter and grape molasses.
  • Generously grease 4-6 individual or one large stove-safe pans with half the butter (they will be greased again before flipping the pastries).

To arrange the pastry:

  • Roughly chop the Kadayıf into 1 inch (2.5 centimeter) pieces and place in a large bowl.
  • Pour the melted butter over the chopped Kadayıf and toss to thoroughly coat.
  • Press a layer of the coated Kadayıf across the bottom and sides of the prepared pans.
  • Cover each layer of pastry with a layer of the cheese, leaving about a 1/2 inch (1.25 centimeter) border around the edges.
  • Cover the cheese with another layer of the Kadayif. Press down to completely enclose the layer of cheese, especially around the sides.
  • Place the pan over medium low heat. Cook until the bottom is golden, adjusting the heat between medium and low as needed, for about 6 minutes.
  • Carefully flip the pastry onto a plate.
  • Grease the pan again with the grape molasses butter mixture and place the pastry back into the pan, golden side up.
  • Place the pan back over medium low heat and cook until golden on the bottom, another 4-5 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from heat and immediately pour the desired amount of cooled syrup over the pastry to soak.
  • Serve the Künefe hot while the cheese is still melted and stretchy.