Lebanon is known for its incredible traditional food; while the main Lebanese dishes are commonly raved about, let’s not forget the wide variety of sweet treats. Lebanese desserts typically contain sweet syrups and nuts with many unique flavors and textures.
Lebanese people love to enjoy food and desserts together, appreciating life and sharing conversation. It’s no wonder there are so many loved Lebanese desserts in this delicious cuisine.
The commonly used invitation Halleh Temak, meaning “sweeten your mouth”, represents the Lebanese attitude. So, enjoy some Lebanese desserts and forget your worries, allowing the sweets to sweeten your day.
Most Famous Lebanese Dessert
This flaky Lebanese dessert is famous throughout the Middle East and worldwide. Its delicious layers of crisp phyllo dough and nuts create an irresistible crunch.
Lebanese Baklawa is similar to, yet different than, Greek Baklava. Greek Baklava is soaked in honey, whereas Lebanese Baklawa is soaked in a syrup of rosewater and orange blossom.
The filling in this well-known Lebanese pastry is made of ground pistachios and sugar. Pistachios are a typical nut found in many Lebanese desserts.
The ingredients are layered, giving it a unique texture and incredible crunch. After the pastry comes out of the oven, the sweet syrup is poured over the hot pastry, creating a gentle sizzle.
Baklawa is cut into a uniform triangle or diamond shape before being served. Despite many Lebanese sweets with similar ingredients, Baklawa is definitely the most famous.
Lebanese Desserts to Try
Mammoul (Semolina Shortbread Cookie)
Mammoul is a sweet shortbread cookie made of semolina flour. The inside of this yummy Lebanese dessert is filled with dried dates, figs, pistachios, or walnuts.
Mammoul cookies are traditionally made for Eid, the end of the Ramadan month of fasting. These sweet treats are a reward for breaking the fasting period in Lebanese culture.
The traditional spice used in Mammoul is called Mahlab. Mahlab is made from ground cherry pits and smells like cherries, almonds, and anise. Ground fruit, like date paste, is often used instead of the whole piece of fruit.
While this Lebanese dessert is typically eaten around the holidays, you can find it in many sweet shops at any time of the year.
Nammoura (Semolina Cake)
This very sticky and sweet cake is a beloved Lebanese dessert. First, the cake batter made of semolina flour, yeast, flour, and water is baked in a well-greased baking tin. Then, the cake is soaked in sweet syrup, creating a moist and delicious dessert.
Nammoura is slightly similar to cornbread in texture due to the semolina flour. Topped with slivered almonds, this delicious Lebanese dessert cake is a real treat for anyone who has a strong sweet tooth.
Sfouf (Turmeric Cake)
Similar to Nammoura in texture and appearance, Sfouf is a Lebanese dessert cake made of semolina flour and turmeric. Sfouf, meaning “lines” in Arabic, refers to how the cake is cut before being served.
Sfouf is made without butter or eggs and instead uses vegetable oil in its place. Topped with pine nuts or sesame seeds, Sfouf is light and airy, perfect with a cup of afternoon coffee.
This flavorful but not sweet cake is a crowd favorite in Lebanon, and its bright yellow color is eye-catching and unmistakable.
Halawet El Jibn (Sweet Cheese Dessert)
This sweet cheese Lebanese dessert is for all the dairy lovers out there. Halawet El Jibn is made of soft pillowy cheese dough stuffed with clotted cream.
The rolls of Halawet El Jibn are topped with crushed pistachios and rose water orange blossom syrup, typical in Lebanese cuisine. The syrup elevates the light flavors of the cheese dough and cream into heavenly Lebanese sweets.
Halawet El Jibn has an interesting texture, unlike any other Lebanese dessert you’ve had. This Lebanese treat will hit the spot if you enjoy unique desserts.
Qatayef (Stuffed Pancake)
Qatayef is a Lebanese dessert pancake meant to be handheld and enjoyed in a few bites. Typically stuffed with Akka cheese, Ashta Cream, or ground walnut filling, Qatayef is a delicious treat.
Served often during the month of Ramadan, this folded pancake is usually soaked in sweet syrup. The pancake is only cooked on one side, while the inside is stuffed with the choice filling, suitable for customising to your own perfect taste.
Ghoyraybeh (Shortbread Biscuit)
This Middle Eastern shortbread cookie is a subtly sweet and buttery Lebanese dessert. Ghoyrahbeh’s crumbly texture consists of only three simple ingredients; butter, flour, and sugar.
Typically Ghoyraybeh is topped with ground pistachios or a single pistachio. Sometimes a dollop of apricot jam or another fruit jam is placed on top to finish the cookie.
These straightforward but delicious Lebanese desserts are typical around the holidays but are available to enjoy year-round.
Mafroukeh (Semolina Dough with Ashta and Ground Pistachios)
Semolina dough is layered with Ashta cream and ground nuts in this traditional Lebanese dessert. Sometimes ricotta is used instead of Ashta cream, sweetened in orange blossom syrup.
Typically served on occasions such as weddings and holidays, Mafroukeh is a sweet treat. Various nuts are used to top off this mouthwatering Lebanese dessert, but pistachios are most commonly used.
Lebanese Sweets to Try
Ashta (Sweetened Clotted Cream)
Ashta is a significant ingredient seen a lot in Lebanese sweets and desserts. This is a clotted cream used in many Lebanese dessert recipes as a filling.
Ashta is traditionally made by skimming off the layer of skin that forms on milk while it is boiling. This process is repeated until the milk is gone, leaving you with an incredibly silky and thickened cream.
Often Ashta is flavored with some rose water syrup, orange blossom syrup, or even vanilla extract. Ashta is one of the most versatile Lebanese sweets and can be eaten alone, as a filling, or dolloped on top of a cake.
Semsmieh (Sesame Candy)
Semsmieh is a chewy or hard sesame candy well-known in Lebanese sweets. Sesame seeds are a common ingredient in Lebanese food, as well as tahini, the ground version of sesame seeds.
Semsmieh is made with simple ingredients – toasted sesame seeds, sugar, and butter. But don’t let the simplicity fool you. The sugar is caramelized, and butter and toasted sesame seeds are added before being poured onto a surface and hardened.
The theme of simple ingredients comes across in this Lebanese dessert. These sesame bars are sweet but not too sweet and have an intriguing flavor from the toasted sesame seeds.
Mahalebia (Milk Pudding)
Mahalebia is a super simple Lebanese dessert made with a few ingredients. The milk pudding comes together for a comforting bowl of traditional and well-loved Lebanese sweets.
Mahalebia combines milk, cream, sugar, spices, cornstarch, or rice flour. The spices used to make this milk pudding are ground cardamom, rosewater syrup, or orange blossom syrup.
The Mahalebia is garnished with shredded coconut and finely chopped pistachios or dried fruit. This classic Lebanese dessert is sweet and satisfying for fans of pudding.
Riz bi Haleeb (Rice Pudding)
This creamy comfort food is a popular dessert worldwide, and Lebanon is no exception. Rice is cooked in sweet milk to make a tasty dessert sweetened with syrup.
The floral notes of orange blossom and rosewater syrup, typical in Lebanese desserts, give this rice pudding a unique taste. Riz bi Haleeb is versatile and can be eaten for breakfast or enjoyed as a dessert.
Meghli (Celebration Rice Pudding)
Usually enjoyed at a celebration, such as the birth of a baby, Meghli is a traditional Lebanese dessert. Around Christmas time, Meghli is prepared to represent and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
The brown color of the rice pudding comes from cinnamon, anise, and caraway and is said to represent the richness of the soil. The Lebanese dessert is sprinkled with coconut shreds and an assortment of nuts, representing growing seeds.
This rice pudding is only slightly sweet, with earthy flavors and health benefits for the new mother. If you don’t care for the very sweet Lebanese desserts, Meghli is an excellent alternative worth trying.
Layali Lubnan (Semolina Pudding)
Layali Lubnan translates as “Lebanese nights” and is a popular dessert throughout the Middle East. The base of this Lebanese dessert is made from semolina flour, milk, and sugar and is quite simple.
Layali Lubnan has two layers, the first being the semolina pudding, and the second is a layer of Ashta. Finely chopped pistachios cover the top of the pudding, giving it a nice crunch.
Sometimes, the pudding is topped with fruits such as bananas and strawberries. A drizzle of honey or rosewater and orange blossom syrup is typically the finishing piece to this Lebanese dessert.
Aish Al Saraya (Bread Pudding)
One of the few Lebanese sweets on this list that requires little to no cooking, Aish Al Saraya means “The Palace Bread”. Slices of stale or toasted bread are soaked in syrup and then covered with Ashta.
Aish Al Saraya is made a day or two ahead of being enjoyed to allow all the flavors to meld together. Like many Lebanese desserts, the top of this bread pudding is covered in ground nuts, such as pistachios.
Aish Al Saraya is a simple dessert with many of the typical flavors of Lebanese sweets.
Jazarieh (Candied Pumpkin Slices)
Although this Lebanese dessert looks like grated carrots, it is candied pumpkin slices. It’s easy to understand why it is named after carrots, or jazar, in Arabic since its vibrant orange color looks like a carrot.
Warm spices such as cinnamon and cloves are combined with orange blossom syrup and used to cook the pumpkin, candying it. Peeled slivered almonds, ground pistachios, and pine nuts are typically sprinkled on top of pyramid-like piles of Jazarieh before being served.
Jazarieh is a memorable and unusual Lebanese sweet worth trying for the experience.
Lebanese Pastries to Try
Kanafeh (Cheese Pastry)
Layers of shredded phyllo dough are stuffed with Akkawai cheese, a soft brine white cheese. Kanafeh is a sweet and savory Lebanese dessert topped with nuts and syrup, creating a delightful taste.
Kanafeh is best when served warm, so the cheese is melted and stringy with each bite. You will also sometimes find Kanafeh served as a typical Lebanese breakfast, with its sweet and salty flavors perfectly balanced.
Kanafeh is one of the most popular Lebanese desserts and is found across the Middle East and worldwide.
Shaabiyat (Phyllo Dough Filled with Ashta Cream)
To make these sweet Lebanese pastries, flaky pastry dough is filled with light Ashta cream or sweet cheese. Brushed with butter, Shaabiyat has a shiny, crunchy, and golden brown exterior that covers its creamy inside.
The layers of phyllo dough create an unbelievable crunch in this Lebanese dessert. As with most desserts in Lebanon, sweet syrup is drizzled over them right after they come out of the oven, making for a light sizzle.
Mushabbak (Fried Dough with Rosewater Syrup)
Just like a funnel cake, Mushabbak is fried dough that is removed from hot oil once it is crispy and golden. The big difference with this Lebanese pastry is that it’s covered in sweet syrup instead of granulated sugar before being served.
Traditionally, Mushabbak will be served on days that celebrate the saints. A common treat during New Year and after Ramadan, Mushabbak is a favorite of many who enjoy Lebanese desserts.
Znoud El Sett (Stuffed Phyllo Rolls)
Similar in appearance to an egg roll, Znoud El Sett are crispy phyllo dough rolls filled with Ashta cream and deep fried. Znoud El Sett translates to “the upper arms of a woman”, referring to their long shape.
Like many other Lebanese pastries, Znoud El Sett is doused in a generous amount of orange blossom syrup before being sprinkled with pistachios. You can eat these handheld Lebanese sweets at cold or room temperature.
Typically Znoud El Sett is enjoyed at the end of Ramadan along with a cup of coffee or tea.
Enjoying Lebanese Desserts and Sweets
Lebanese desserts are some of the most underrated sweets in the world. In Lebanon, dessert is an important part of every meal and is often served with coffee or tea.
If you have a chance to try any of these Lebanese desserts, you will be in for a treat. From light and airy pastries to creamy pudding-like sweets, there is a Lebanese dessert to satisfy any sweet tooth. So go ahead and indulge in these delicious Lebanese sweets!