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Lebanese Kanafa (Kataifi and Sweet Cheese Pie)

Total Time: 1 HR 5 MIN Makes: 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 MIN Cook Time: 45 MIN

Popular in Lebanon and most parts of the Mid-East and Northern Africa, this unique delicious dessert is simple to make, pretty and perfect for the holidays. Cheese is nestled in two layers of Kataifi (shredded phyllo dough) and finished with an aromatic rosewater syrup.

  • 1 package (16 ounce) Athens® Kataifi or Apollo® Kataifi, thawed
  • 1 cup + 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3″ strip lemon peel
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons rose water
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese, drained for at least 30 minutes
  • 1 1/2 cups ackawi cheese (or mozzarella), shredded
  • 1 cup ghee (or butter), melted
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons rose petals, (optional) for garnish


Thaw one 16 ounce package of kataifi, following thawing instructions on package.  Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush a 9″ cake or pie pan with ghee.

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar, water, lemon peel and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 7-8 minutes and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add rose water.

In a medium bowl, mix together ricotta cheese, ackawi cheese and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar.

Pulse kataifi, 1/2 bag at a time, in a food processor until strands are approximately 1/4″- 1/2″ long. Pour into a large bowl. Add melted ghee and mix well with your hand making sure the strands are all coated. Transfer half of the buttered kataifi to the prepared pan. Use a ramekin or measuring cup to press the kataifi down firmly into the pan. Evenly spread cheese mixture on top. Cover cheese mixture with remaining kataifi, pressing gently.

Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Flip pie onto a serving platter with rim  and sprinkle with pistachios. Pour 3/4 of the syrup over the pie reserving the extra to serve with it. Optional, sprinkle with rose petals. Best served warm but room temperature is tasty too.



Serving size: 1 piece (165g), Amount per serving: Calories 540, Total Fat – 34g, Saturated fat – 20g, Trans Fat – 0g, Cholesterol – 95mg, Sodium – 330 mg, Dietary Fiber – 0g, Total Carbohydrate –46g Total Sugars – 26g, Protein –10g, Vitamin D – 0%, Calcium 10%, Iron 6%, Potassium 2%

  • Kataifi can be found in most Middle Eastern and European ethnic markets across the country. Regionally, Kataifi is sold at Market Basket in New England and Super King and John’s Markets in California.