Künefe – Turkish Cheese Pastry

Turkish Künefe, is a cheese pastry made in the Hatay region of Turkey.  It is said the best Künefe can be found in the town of Antakya in Hatay.

Künefe can be found in the various Arabic countries under various names.  Though the original Künefe is thought to originate in Palestine where it is called Kenafeh.

Künefe is certainly not a weight watchers pastry made with, cheese, syrup and butter this pastry is very filling and is often served after a meal or when women gather for a bit of tea and gossip. You can find 100s of Künefe shops throughout Turkey offering this tasty pastry.  It can also be found pre-made in the supermarkets where you add a little hot syrup and kaymak and serve or you can make your own at home.

Künefe contains two special ingredients

Tel Kadayıf –  This is a dough which is spun on a round hot spinning table which creates long strands which are then cut into short strands which kind of resemble shredded wheat or vermicelli.

Hatay Cheese – Hatay Cheese is probably the closest cheese you will find to mozzarella here in Turkey.  It is a stringy cheese, made with fresh milk and no salt is added to the cheese.

These two ingredients can be found throughout Turkey but are of course at their best when fresh made in the Hatay region.

Künefe is always served hot and often served with Kaymak and kind of clotted cream found in Turkey or you can also eat it with ice cream.

Künefe – Turkish Cheese Pastry Recipe

Künefe – Turkish Cheese Pastry

Here is Künefe Recipe to try at home, if you can’t get Hatay Cheese try using Mozerrella or Feta as long as they are unsalted and you can source kadyıf from Turkish stores or online.  It is often called phyllo dough which you can get in long strands and then blitz in the food processor to get the short strands.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6
  • Rating: 0 stars – based on 0 reviews



First make your syrup, add your sugar, water and lemon juice to a pan.  Simmer over a medium heat till all the sugar is dissolved then allow to simmer over a low heat for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool while you make the Künefe.

Use a large round baking tray/pan.  Grease the pan with some of the butter.  Then melt the rest of the butter and pour this over the Kadayıf.  Make sure all the Kadayıf  is well soaked in the butter.

Then take half of the Kadayıf  soaked in butter and spread this over the bottom of your baking tray.  Then crumble or spread your cheese over the top of the Kadayıf and press it down into the bottom layer of Kadayıf and then place the rest of Kadayıf on top pressing this down into the cheese.  Some verisions spread kaymak over the top of the cheese or add milk.  This is optional.

Then bake in the oven at about 375 f or 190 c for about 30 to 45 minutes or until all the Kadayıf  is golden on top.

Remove your Künefe from the oven and pour over the cooled syrup, allow the syrup to soak into the Künefe for about 5 or 10 mintues.

Then sprinkle over your pistachios and serve with kaymak or ice cream on the side or you can leave it plain.

© 2012 – 2015, Kerry Arslan. All rights reserved.

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