Enjoy the sweet flavor and crisp, crunchy texture of this Qatayef recipe! A fluffy pancake-like batter is stuffed with a sweet, crunchy nut filling and fried to golden perfection. Topped with a simple syrup, it’s a dessert that will have everyone drooling.
What Is Qatayef?
Qatayef, also known as katayef and atayef, is a classic Middle Eastern dessert served most commonly during Ramadan. Technically, the name references only the fluffy pancake-like batter used to make the treat. However, it is most commonly associated with the entire desert which consists of a batter similar to pancakes that has been stuffed with a sweet nut filling, fried or baked until crisp, and drizzled with sticky simple syrup. The dough is either pinched together to form a cone shape or sealed completely like a dumpling. No matter how they’re made, they’re always absolutely delicious!
What Does Qatayef Taste Like?
Apart from being absolutely to die for, Qatayef has a super unique flavor! The classic recipe can be compared to that of donuts or pancakes that have been stuffed with nuts. However, there are lots of varieties such as Atayef with Cream Cheese Filling and Atayef with Whipped Cream and Pistachios that feature slightly bolder saccharine flavors and softer textures. No matter what, you can count on the dessert being sweet!
Ingredients You’ll Need
For this Qatayef recipe, we stuck with simple, traditional flavors, using common ingredients, many of which you probably have waiting in your kitchen! Here’s everything you’ll need:
For the Qatayef
- All-Purpose Flour and Cream of Wheat – This forms the base of the dough, creating a fluffy texture that’s easy to mold and holds together well.
- Water – Make sure it’s room temperature and not hot or you’ll kill the yeast!
- Yeast – Regular yeast helps create a sticky texture that rises and fries well.
- Granulated Sugar – This is used in both the dough and the filling for the ultimate sweet flavor.
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda – Make sure they’re fresh!
- Cornstarch – Used as a thickening agent for the batter.
- Salt – Helps enhance the natural flavor of the rest of the ingredients.
- Nuts – Chopped walnuts are combined with chopped almonds or pistachios.
- Unsweetened Coconut Flakes – These add a slightly chewy texture and hint of rich flavor.
- Cinnamon – This is technically optional but highly recommend. The combination of sweet and spicy flavors takes this dessert to the next level of deliciousness!
- Optional: Some people also like to include raisins for a pop of sweetness and chewy texture.
For the Simple Syrup
- Water – Forms the base of the syrup, melting everything together.
- Sugar – Creates the sweet flavor we’re looking to achieve.
- Citrus Juice – Either lemon or lime juice adds a citrus zest that pairs surprisingly well with the rest of the ingredients, creating a refreshing balance of flavors.
- Vanilla Extract – Used to add depth to the syrup.
How to Make Classic Qatayef
This recipe might look difficult to make, but it’s actually pretty simple. Once you get the hang of it, it goes quickly and is fun to do!
Prepare the Simple Syrup
- Boil. Add the water and sugar to a pot, and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Mix. Add the lemon juice, and mix well.
- Flavor. Reduce the heat to low, and let the mixture sit to simmer and thicken before removing it from the heat. Stir in the remaining ingredients, and set it aside to come to room temperature.
Make the Qatayef
- Form the Batter. Add the flour, cream of wheat, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, salt, and sugar to a blender. Carefully pour in room temperature water, and pulse until the ingredients are well blended. Add the baking soda, and pulse a few times to blend.
- Cook. Use a small ladle to scoop the batter onto a hot pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Cook the Qatayef until the sides begin to puff up and bubbles start to form. Set the rounds on a towel with the top racing up, and keep them covered.
- Prepare the Filling. In a bowl, combine the walnuts, almonds, coconut flakes, sugar, and cinnamon.
- Stuff the Dough. Spoon a tablespoon of the mixture into the center of each dough round.
- Shape the Dessert. Fold the dough over itself in half, and pinch the edges together
- Fry. Heat vegetable oil in a large pot or fryer until it reaches 350° Fahrenheit. Carefully, drop the Qatayef into the oil one at a time, making sure not to burn yourself. Fry until it is golden brown, and immediately dunk it into the simple syrup. Set aside, and repeat until all the dough has been fried.
Tips and Tricks
Qatayef is fairly simple to make, but we’ve got a few extra tips to make it virtually failproof!
- Don’t Forget to Cover the Cooked Dough. This keeps them moist and easy to stuff and mold.
- Don’t Overstuff. More isn’t always better, especially when it comes to this recipe! A little goes a long way when you’re filling the dough. A tablespoon is plenty. Otherwise, it will rip when you’re trying to fold it, and your dessert won’t turn out well.
- Don’t Overcook. This recipe fries quickly! So, to prevent it from burning, keep a close eye on your Qatayef as they cook, and remove them from the oil as soon as they turn golden brown!
- Adjust the Syrup. We like to dunk the finished dessert in the simple syrup, coating it completely. However, if you prefer something a little less sweet, feel free to drizzle the syrup on top instead.
How to Make Ahead and Store
This classic Qatayef recipe is pretty much guaranteed to disappear right away which is good because they’re enjoyed right away while they’re still super crispy. However, if you happen to have leftovers, they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days.
Or, if you want to prepare ahead of time, you can form and stuff the dough. Then, instead of frying it, arrange it in a single layer on a baking sheet, and place it in the freezer until each piece is solid. Transfer the Qatayef to a sealable bag, and keep them frozen for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to fry them, you can do so from frozen. Or, let them thaw in the fridge or at room temperature first.
More Middle Eastern Recipes to Enjoy During Ramadan
As mentioned, Qatayef are most commonly served during the month of Ramadan as a tasty way to break one’s fast. However, to make sure our bodies stay properly fueled, we like to pair them with more hearty Middle Eastern dishes like those listed below. Whether you observe Ramadan or not, you won’t want to miss out on these recipes!
- Middle Eastern Crock Pot Beef Stew
- Lesan El Asfour (Egyptian Orzo Pasta)
- Middle Eastern Chicken and Potatoes
- Easy Beef Kofta
Qatayef Recipe with Nuts
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice (freshly squeezed)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cream of wheat
- 3 cups water (room temperature)
- 1 Tablespoon regular yeast
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 cup walnuts (chopped)
- 1/4 cup almonds or pistachios (chopped)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (fine)
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
For the Simple Syrup
- Add the water and sugar to a saucepan over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Then, add the lemon juice, and mix well.
- Reduce the heat to low, and let the mixture simmer for 6-8 minutes to combine and thicken.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract.
- Set aside to come to room temperature.
For the Qatayef
- In a blender, add the flour, cream of wheat, yeast, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Pour in the room temperature water, and blend to combine.
- Add the baking soda, and pulse a few times to combine. Be careful not to overmix! Cover the mixture, and set it aside for 20 minutes.
- Heat a grasped skillet over medium heat, and use a small ladle to pour the batter into the center. Cook until the sides begin to puff up and the top bubbles. It will look like a cross between a pancake and a crumpet.
- Set the Qatayef pancake on a plate with the top facing up, cover, and repeat until all the batter has been used. Set the plate aside, making sure it is covered.
- In a small bowl, combine the walnuts, almonds, coconut flakes, sugar, and cinnamon, if using.
- Scoop 1 tablespoon of the mixture into each Qatayef pancake. Fold the edges of each piece together. Use two fingers to pinch the edges together, sealing them tightly.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large pot or fryer until it reaches 350° Fahrenheit. Carefully drop the Qatayef in one at a time, and fry for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
- Immediately remove them from the oil, and dunk them into the prepared simple syrup mixture. Alternatively, set them on a paper towel or plate, and drizzle the syrup on top.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days.
- Feel free to add raisins to the filling, if desired.
- Be careful not to overstuff the dough or the Qatayef will rip!
- Freeze raw Qatayef for up to 3 months. Fry from frozen or thawed.