Turkish Kunefe Dessert

A fork taking a piece of kunefe and the cheese inside stretching.

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4.7 from 3 reviews

A heavenly dessert with shredded kadayif dough and unsalted melting cheese. Serve it hot for the best taste!


Units Scale

For the syrup:

  • 1 and 1/4 cup (250 g) sugar
  • 1 cup (240 ml) water
  • 1 slice of lemon

For Greasing the pan:

  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) butter

For Kunefe:

  • 11 oz (310 g) kadayif / kataifi pastry
  • 7 oz (200 g) shredded mozzarella or unsalted stringy cheese like Turkish dil peyniri
  • 3.5 oz (100 g) butter


  • 2 tablespoons chopped or ground pistachio


Make the syrup:

  1. Combine sugar, water and a slice of lemon in a small saucepan. Give it a stir. Bring it to boil and let it simmer for 15 minutes so that it gets syrupy. Remove from the heat and let it cool down to room temperature.

Prepare kadaif pastry: 

  1. Pull apart a large clump of kadayif and chop it into small pieces (about 1/2 inch / 1 cm). Toss them well with melted butter. Make sure all kadayif pieces are coated well with butter.


  1. Generously grease 2 small pans or one large pan with softened butter. Place a handful of buttered kadayif into two prepared small pans so that it covers all the bottom and the edges. 
  2. Press it down with your hand or with a bottom of a glass until even and firm. Spread the shredded mozzarella cheese evenly on it, leaving a little space around the edges.
  3. Place another batch of kadayif on cheese. Make sure that all the cheese is covered well, especially around the edges. Press down again until even and firm. You might need to spend some time for it. You can add a little more kadayif if needed. 

Cook the dessert:

  1. Put the pan over medium heat and bring it to low heat once it gets warm. Cook until the bottom is golden. You can check it with the help of a spatula or the tip of a knife. It takes about 5 minutes (or a bit longer if you are using a large pan).
  2. Now, place a plate on the kadayif and quickly flip it. Be careful when doing this as the pan and kadayif will be hot. Put a little (about 1 teaspoon) butter in the pan and when it melts, slide the kadayif on the plate back into the pan. Cook the other side for 4-5 minutes or until golden. Remove it from the heat.


  1. Pour one or two ladles of cooled syrup over the hot dessert, garnish with ground pistachio and serve immediately. You can always drizzle extra syrup when eating if you want it sweeter. 
  2. If you use two small pans, cook the second one in the same way.


  • Always make the syrup first and let it cool to room temperature and then start making the dessert. If both the syrup and the dessert are hot, the result will be soggy.
  • Don't skip pressing down the kadayif pieces in the pan. It is important that you make it even and firm.
  • We use small individual sized pans that are special to making kunefe dessert, but you can use a regular medium sized frying pan
  • Be very careful when flipping it after one side of it is cooked. It will be really hot.
  • To Make ahead: You can make the syrup ahead of time and keep it at room temperature for up to a month. Also, you can prepare the kadayif pastry and cheese in a pan and keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook it. 
  • Storage: Kunefe dessert tastes the best when eaten fresh, right after it is made. It loses the nice crispy texture and the cheese inside won't be soft and stretchy as it sits. If you have leftovers though, keep them at room temperature for 3 days.
  • To Re-heat: You can re-heat it a little in a pan if you want before eating or microwave it for about 30 seconds. But don't expect the same amazing taste you get when it is freshly made.
  • Nutrition information is approximate and meant as a guideline only.