What’s cheesy, saucy, and meaty on the inside, wrapped in a delightful pastry blanket on the outside, then doused with sweet syrupy goodness? You guessed it—it’s none other than pizza BAKLAVA, folks!
Or, maybe you didn’t guess it… We could see how you might’ve thought the answer to our riddle was just a humble folded-over pizza slice dipped in honey. Or perhaps your microwaveable Hot Pocket, drizzled with pancake syrup. (Because mornings can be rough—and why the heck not?)
Both respectable guesses, and perfectly staple eats for the everyday Pizza Freak. But, today’s not just any day, and we’re not just any Pizza Freaks. It’s FRIDAY, which means it’s freakin’ Eat the PIZZA day, and we’re goin’ big with one of our weirdest concoctions yet! A savory-sweet layered pizza pastry dessert: our pizza baklava recipe.
NOT to be mistaken for a ‘baklava pizza pie,’ with layers of flaky phyllo dough and cinnamon-y nuts all arranged in a slice-able dessert pie. No, this is savory-sweet pizza-flavored baklava—with pizza sauce, cheese, and pepperoni layered between all of that buttery phyllo dough!
It’s an epic marriage of dinner and dessert that took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to make. And, even though it tastes kinda weird, we ate it up anyway. So we’re sharing our pizza baklava recipe here in case you’d like to, too.
What is Baklava & Where Did it Come From?
If you’ve never had baklava, we’re truly so sorry. It’s insanely delicious! Layers upon layers of light, flaky phyllo dough; each paper-thin sheet individually buttered for maximum crispness; sweet, cinnamon-spiced nuts interspersed between the layers; all soaked in a generous helping of honey syrup when the dish is fresh out of the oven. If you’re drooling, us too.
Humans have had many a century to perfect the delectable recipe! Baklava is a pastry that’s almost as old as time, with long and winding roots running deep into ancient history. But, most historians agree that the modern baklava recipe—as we know the dish today—was perfected in the Ottoman Empire during the 15th century BC.
The Ottoman sultan loved baklava and had it baked all the time in Topkapi Palace, in what’s now modern-day Istanbul, Turkey. He even had a special ceremonial procession on every 15th day of Ramadan, named the Baklava Alayi, in which he’d present trays of baklava to his janissaries (a.k.a. royal guards).
With all of this royal status, baklava-making quickly became a high-class art form and the pastry was considered a luxury that only the wealthy could afford. Still to this day, there’s a common expression in Turkey to say, “I am not rich enough to eat baklava every day!” Luckily, nowadays, you can probably head over to your nearest Middle Eastern or Mediterranean restaurant and try some just a few bucks.
Baklava is one of the most beloved desserts across the globe, and it’s stood the test of time! In fact, baklava is thought to be as old of a culinary legend as pizza—and their origins are surprisingly intertwined…
The History of Baklava and its Cousin: Pizza
The far-reaching ancient roots of baklava trace waaaay back to the Ancient Assyrians. During the 8th century BC, the Assyrians were assembling layers of unleavened flatbread with chopped nuts in between, which was then drenched in honey and baked. Not quite as thin, flaky, and pastry-like as modern-day baklava, but it was a start!
Funnily enough, pizza may have originated from very similar dishes close to this same time period, in Ancient Egypt, Persia, and Greece.
In Ancient Egypt, some of the earliest flatbreads were baked, topped with nuts, dried fruit, and honey—often thought to be the beginnings of cakes, pies, and perhaps pizzas. Ancient Persian soldiers were said to have topped flatbreads with cheese and dates, and then baked them upon their shields. And, the Ancient Greeks had their undeniably pizza-like plakous flatbreads, topped with cheese, garlic, onions, and herbs!
If it all sounds too similar, we agree. Leading us to conclude that pizza and baklava must be long-lost culinary cousins—reunited at long last, in our pizza baklava recipe.
Are Weird Pizza-Dessert Mash-Ups Your Thing? Or Maybe You're in it for All the Layers?
Why don't you give these a try:
- Pizza Pinwheels / Pizza Flavored Cinnamon Rolls
- Pizza Monkey Bread / Cheesy Meaty SAVORY Pull-Apart Bread
- Pizza Fudge - Mozzarella Cheese Flavored Fudge
- Apple Pie Pizza Pie - GIANT Apple Pie, the Size of a Pizza
- 6-Layer Giant Pizza CAKE - Pizzas stacked on Pizzas stacked on etc.
- HUGE Pizza Cones - Savory & Sweet
Make the Pizza Baklava NOW (So You Can Eat it in 8 Hours)
If you’ve never made baklava, there’s no time like the RIGHT NOW. And, if you’re here reading this, there’s no questioning—you’re a true Pizza Freak. What better way to make your first baklava than with this crazy pizza baklava recipe? It’s a heckuva kitchen production, but oh so worth it.
Tending each delicate, flaky phyllo sheet, buttering every single one by hand, assembling layers upon layers of delicious goodness that will soon be baked until crispy and drenched in sugary honey syrup until it finally meets and melts in your mouth! It’s one of the most satisfying endeavors you’ll undertake in a lifetime.
Fair warning: this pizza baklava tastes more like a baklava with a hint of pizza. And, after it’s made, you’ll have to wait for 8 hours before you can eat it. So, it’s totally and absolutely delicious, only a little bit strange—and you might wanna order a pizza or a few before you get started.
Pizza Baklava Filling:
- 10-12 pepperonis
- 1 cup mozzarella
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs
- ½ tsp oregano
- 3-4 basil leaves
Phyllo Dough & Baklava Assembly:
- 16 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed & cut in half
- 1 cup melted butter
- ~1 cup pizza sauce (or less!)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup honey
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Combine all pizza baklava filling ingredients in food processor and pulse into crumbs.
- Brush a 9x13-inch baking dish with butter. Layer 8 sheets of phyllo into dish, brushing each with butter before adding the next. Keep the remaining sheets of phyllo covered with a damp towel to prevent drying.
- Spread a thin layer of pizza sauce (VERY THIN, 2-3 Tbsp) onto phyllo layers in dish. Sprinkle ¼ of the filling mixture onto sauce.
- Layer 4 pieces of phyllo on top, brushing each with butter before adding the next. Add another thin layer of pizza sauce and sprinkle with filling mixture.
- Repeat step #5 two more times: layering 4 sheets of buttered phyllo, followed by pizza sauce and filling mixture.
- For final top layer, add 8 sheets of phyllo to dish, brushing each with butter before adding the next. (Total sequence: 8 phyllo sheets on bottom, 4 sheets, 4 sheets, 4 sheets, 8 sheets on top; with layers of pizza sauce & filling mixture between each section of phyllo sheets.)
- Use a sharp knife to cut assembled baklava into pieces. (Squares, diamonds, however you like!)
- Bake for 50 minutes, until heated through and golden brown.
- To make the syrup: add all ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Allow to cool slightly. When baklava is out of oven, pour syrup evenly over warm baklava.
- Allow baklava to cool completely—uncovered, at room temperature—and wait for 8 long hours before you can eat the pizza baklava.
Yields ~24 pieces of mildly pizza-esque and entirely devourable baklava.