Updated: Mar 3
You've probably heard of baklava dessert before. Well, how about the vast and unique varieties of it?
Baklava is a sweet pastry that has an important role in Turkish, Balkan, Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisines. It is made placing walnuts, almonds, pistachios or hazelnuts between thin filo of pastries and the ingredients change according to the region. Baklava is usually flavored with sugar syrup or honey syrup. Some commercial firms, on the other hand, prefer using their special syrups.
Baklava is divided into 3 different types, namely original, sugar free and vegan according to its contents.
Don't miss the 10-minute baklava recipe below!
Even to this day, there are various discussions about the origin of baklava. Arabs and Assyrians, especially Greeks, claim that baklava is their special dessert. However, the evidence for baklava shows that it is a Turkish dessert of Central Asian origin and has survived to the present day through the Ottoman Empire. It is even registered by the EU Commission on the 8th of August in 2013 that baklava is officially a Turkish dessert.
Baklava, which I love, is widely consumed here in Boston, too. You can even order it online. Here are some options you can try.
Ready? Let’s get started.
1. Shatila Bakery
Shatila Bakery was founded in 1979, by Riad Shatila to serve authentic Mediterranean desserts. The ingredients of their baklava are pistachios, Brazilian cashews and California walnuts. I love their version of baklava as it is always served thin and crispy as well as very delicious thanks to the type of butter they use.
It is good to know that they also offer sugar free baklava. For those who have concerns consuming sugar, their version is much healthier and still crispy. People who buy baklava online from Shatila Bakery say that baklava is generally fresh and delicious as well as affordable. Prices for a tray of about 30 pieces range from $19 to $24.
Here are some of their most popular styles. From left to right: Pistachio, Walnut, Vegan.
2. Libanais Bakery
Libanais Bakery is a family adventure that started with the establishment of Nasr Restaurant in Beirut in 1935. Libanais is an authentic dessert brand that is very popular in America. In Libanais, which aims to present the Mediterranean cuisine perfectly, baklava is made according to special recipes inherited from their grandfather.
The secret of this flavor, which was moved from Beirut to America, is hidden in its taste. The mission of Libanais, which is famous for authentic baklava, is to produce quality baklava without preservatives and artificial sweeteners. The company also takes care not to use excessive syrup while using top quality peanuts and hazelnuts.
Libanais offers its customers 3 types of baklava: They are original, sugar-free and vegan. The family aims to make healthy baklava with zero percent cholesterol and low sodium.
On the other hand, some reviewers state that they have found their baklava too sweet, but it's really based on your taste and if you prefer a sweeter baklava.
3. May’s Middle Eastern Pastries
May’s Middle Eastern Pastries is an online bakery shop founded in 2000. Depending on the customers' request, baklava made with walnut and pistachio butter is shipped fresh in special containers. Customers say that May's baklava has an excellent flavor and that they have received their order pretty quickly.
4. Al-wazeer Sweets
Al-wazeer Sweets took its first step into the industry in 1999, by establishing a small sweets factory in Damascus. Upon increasing demand, it started exporting to Europe, USA, Canada and South America in 2004.
Al-wazeer uses completely natural and chemical-free products, meaning that he never uses genetically modified products. Of course, the reflection of this approach is also positive on the customers’ side, as many reviewers are very satisfied with the quality and taste of Al-wazeer Sweets baklava.
5. Layali Deserts
Layali Deserts is the continuation of the brand founded in 1997 in Damascus, Syria under the name of Alsultan. The mission of the company is to bring important flavors of the Middle East to your kitchen.
Using quality ingredients such as pistachios and almonds in baklava, the company is also very sensitive to flavor. Layali Deserts always strives to offer healthy and organic products to its customers.
However, some customers complain that the baklavas are tasteless, saying that there is little sugar in their products. There are also complaints about the higher prices.
6. Anabtawi Sweets
Najeeb Thawabi founded Anabtawi Sweets in 1983. The company, which has grown rapidly in the sector has 17 branches in various cities. The aim of the company is to offer its customers both delicious and luxurious products.
Customers state that Anabtawi Sweets baklava is low fat, crispy and long lasting. Unfortunately, the longevity of baklava sold by the firm increases the likelihood of adding additives.
7. Muhtar Sweets
Muhtar Sweets, founded in Istanbul in 2013, is the first registered Turkish company specializing in traditional Damascus desserts. The company exports its products to the USA, Canada, England, all European and Arab countries.
Muhtar Sweets prioritizes quality, avoids using additives, artificial sweeteners, food dyes and other chemicals in its products. In addition, the company uses high quality pistachio and butter in their product.
Although the majority of customers like the taste of Muhtar’s baklava, some complain that the portions are very small.
8. Zalatimo Sweets
Muhammed Zalatimo, a small pastry shop owner in Jerusalem, founded Zalatimo Sweets in 1860. The company started their menu with “mutabak”, a popular Arab pastry food.
Zalatimo Sweets currently has a total of twelve retail outlets. The company's mission is to offer its customers fresh hand-made desserts at all time. The company makes many versions of baklava by using pistachios, nuts, and butter in its baklava, avoiding using preservatives and artificial sweeteners.
I must say that you should definitely try “Premium Gourmet Baklava Sweets” recommended by the company. The majority of customers say that their baklava is light and delicious.
Are there Dairy Free or Sugar Free Baklava Options?
Since butter and sugar are common ingredients in the making of baklava, I must say that dairy free or sugar free baklava options are limited. Libanais Bakery is one of them, which produces both vegan baklava as well as dairy free pastries. Shatila Bakery, Libanais Bakery and Layali Deserts, on the other hand, offer sugar free baklava.
What Baklava Company is the most Popular?
I can say that Libanais Bakery is very popular in terms of offering its customers vegan style and sugar free healthy baklava. May’s Middle Eastern Pastries' also stands out among the others thanks to its own special syrup. However, aside from being use to home-made baklava, Shatila is our family favorite that we often buy as gifts for friends and family during the holidays. If you have tried any of these brands, what’s your favorite?
If you have any other brand that you love please let us know!
Are there Local Middle Eastern Bakeries around?
There certainly are! Take a look through our Middle Eastern Markets Directory to see if any of your local bakeries sell freshly made baklava!
How Baklava is Made: A 10 Minute Recipe!
Here's a great video by Blanche Araj Shaheen, a TV host/journalist turned cooking show host, and author of "Feast in the Middle East." She certainly makes a delicious looking bakalva with her mother, Vera.
If you enjoyed this video and are interested in ordering Blanche's book, you can find it here: