Irmik Helvasi - Turkish Semolina Halva

Semolina halva topped with toasted pine nuts served on a white plate with a spoon on the side.

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A wonderful light dessert with semolina and pine nuts. It is one of the easiest Turkish desserts that can be made with a few simple ingredients.


  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil (or 110g / 1 stick butter)

  • 1 cup semolina

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, optional

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 and 3/4 cups water

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, optional


  1. Add in olive oil and semolina. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it gets golden, for 8 minutes. 

  2. Add in lemon zest (if you are using), sugar and water. Give it a stir and cook covered until it boils. 

  3. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to the lowest and let it cook until all the water is absorbed. This might take 3-4 minutes. 

  4. Remove from the heat and let it rest for 15 minutes. 

  5. Share it into bowls, gently pressing on them and let them cool. 

  6. Serve it warm, at room temperature or cold.

  7. Either serve it in bowls or turn the bowls upside down on a plate to give it a dome shape.Sprinkle cinnamon on it and serve.


  1. If you are using butter instead of oil, let it melt in the pan before adding semolina.

  2. You shouldn’t leave the pan when cooking this helva. After reaching a certain temperature in the pan, semolina might burn very quickly. So you should keep an eye on it and cook stirring constantly. We want the semolina to get golden or very light brown. If you follow the steps with their time in the recipe card below, everything will be fine.

  3. Be careful when pouring water into the pan once the semolina in it gets golden. As the pan is really hot, water might spill. 

  4. Don’t serve it before letting the helva sit for 15 minutes. The texture will get better and the flavors will bend better.

  5. Semolina Halva With Milk (Sütlü İrmik Helvası):

  • If you want to make your halva with milk, you need to make a syrup first. Combine milk, water and sugar in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat. 
  • Cook the pine nuts and semolina as described in the recipe. When the semolina gets golden, reduce the heat and pour this milky syrup into the pan. Give it a stir and bring it to a boil.
  • When it starts to boil, reduce the heat to the lowest and cook it covered until the syrup is absorbed, for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes before serving.