Kunafe, the undisputed queen of Middle Eastern desserts, holds a special place in my heart and my kitchen. It’s not just a dessert; it’s an experience—a symphony of textures and flavors that dance on your palate with every bite. This recipe, crafted with care and passion, is more than just any Kunafe; it’s a cheesy and syrup-soaked masterpiece that will have you dreaming about it long after the last crumb has been savored.

Ingredients For Kunafe

Sugar Syrup:

  • Water – Use filtered or distilled water.
  • Sugar – You can substitute with honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup for a different flavor.
  • Green Cardamom – If you don’t have whole cardamom pods, you can use ground cardamom. Start with 1/4 teaspoon and adjust to taste.
  • Kewra Water – If you don’t have kewra water, you can substitute it with rose water or orange blossom water for a floral aroma.


  • Fried Vermicelli (Pheni) – Look for fried vermicelli (pheni) in Middle Eastern or specialty grocery stores. If unavailable, you can fry regular vermicelli in butter until golden brown and crispy.
  • Butter – Substitute with ghee or margarine for a dairy-free option.
  • Orange Food Color – Optional for aesthetics. You can omit it or use natural food coloring alternatives like turmeric for a yellow hue.
  • Ricotta Cheese or Cream Cheese – Both provide a creamy texture. Substitute with mascarpone cheese for a richer flavor or cottage cheese for a lighter option.
  • Mozzarella Cheese – Use shredded mozzarella or any melting cheese of your choice such as provolone or gouda.

How To Make Kunafe

To begin, prepare the sugar syrup by combining water, sugar, and green cardamom in a saucepan. Allow the mixture to simmer until slightly thickened, then remove it from heat and stir in the kewra water. Set the syrup aside to cool while you prepare the Kunafe layers.

Next, preheat your oven and start assembling the Kunafe. Mix fried vermicelli with melted butter and optional orange food color until well coated. Press half of the vermicelli mixture into a greased baking dish to form the bottom layer. In a separate bowl, combine ricotta cheese or cream cheese with mozzarella cheese to create the creamy filling. Spread the cheese mixture evenly over the vermicelli layer before topping it with the remaining vermicelli mixture.

Once assembled, bake the Kunafe in the preheated oven until golden brown and crispy. While the Kunafe is baking, you can reheat the sugar syrup if needed. Once the Kunafe is done, remove it from the oven and immediately pour the prepared sugar syrup over the hot pastry, allowing it to soak in and infuse the dessert with sweetness and aroma. Let the Kunafe cool slightly before slicing it into squares or slices and serving.



Kunafe is a popular Middle Eastern dessert that is enjoyed throughout the region and beyond. It is also known as Knafeh or Kunafa. It's a sweet, cheese-filled pastry made of shredded phyllo dough and a soft, white cheese like Akkawi or Nabulsi. The pastry is then soaked in a sweet syrup made of sugar, water, and rose or orange blossom water, which imparts a sweet and floral flavor to it.
4.25 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Arabic Kitchen, Dessert Recipes
Cuisine: Middle East
Keyword: Knafeh, Kunafa, Kunafe
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 1 servings
Calories: 300kcal


For Sugar Syrup:

  • 1 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 3 Green cardamom
  • 1 tsp Kewra water

For Kunafa:

  • 200 g Fried vermicelli (pheni)
  • 1/2 cup Butter melted
  • 1/2 tsp Orange food color (optional)
  • 200 g Ricotta Cheese/cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese


Sugar Syrup:

  • In a saucepan, combine water, sugar, and green cardamom.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes until slightly thickened.
  • Remove from heat and stir in kewra water. Set aside to cool.


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • In a mixing bowl, combine fried vermicelli, melted butter, and orange food color. Mix until well coated.
  • Press half of the vermicelli mixture into the bottom of a greased baking dish.
  • In another bowl, mix together ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese. Spread evenly over the vermicelli layer.
  • Top with the remaining vermicelli mixture, pressing gently to compact.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and pour the prepared sugar syrup over the hot Kunafe.
  • Allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.


Calories: 300kcal

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