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Atayef (Middle Eastern Stuffed Pancake Dessert)

circular platter with atayef on it topped with pistachios

Hi my lovely friends!!

Today, I am sharing with a recipe that is often prepared for Ramadan and Eid time in a Middle Eastern household! It’s a dessert thatsi extremely popular, irresistible and its shaped like an empanada! What can it be? Atayef, is a delicious baked treat usually filled with nuts or cheese but people get creative and fill it with nutella and other things too. Atayef, for those who don’t know, literally looks like a pancake except its porous and thinner than your average pancake.

Atayef are nostalgic to me; its something I remember making with my parents growing up and being super excited about it too! I always couldn’t wait till that time of year; my favorite job was eating the baby atayef that was left over from the batter with some honey! For those who don’t know, I share with you how to make this through videos on my Instagram highlights section. You can check it out there @fufuinthekitchen. I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as my family does. Some of you have made it already and love it, which makes me so happy!

Servings: approx. 18 atayef

Total Time: approx. 1 hour

Dough Ingredients

1 tsp Active Dry  Yeast

1 tbsp baking powder

2 3/4 cups of warm water (may need a little more)

6 tbsp fine semolina (smeed na3em)

2 tbsp granulated sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour


  • In a blender, add the lukewarm water along with the rest of the dry ingredients. Blend for 20 seconds then allow this mixture to rest for 20 min.
  • Heat the nonstick pan or griddle you will be using. Ladle a 1/4 cup of batter onto the hot flat surface and cook on low to medium heat. You want them the size of pancakes but not as thick. You should see pores developing on the atayef. Once batter is completely dried from the top of the atayef then it is ready to be taken off the heat and placed on a towel to cool off. Keep repeating the same step. It shouldn’t take more than a minute or so to cook one atayef. *Make sure not to stack them on top of each other unless completely cooled off. The bottom should be golden brown!

Nut filling Ingredients

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 tsp cinnamon

1-2 tbsp brown sugar


  • Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Cheese Filling Ingredients

1 package defrosted Sweet cheese (usually found in the freezer section in Arabic stores by the phyllo dough)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp sugar


  • Crumble the cheese with your hands and mix with the cinnamon and sugar in a bowl.

Syrup Ingredients

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup water

A squeeze of fresh lemon juice


  • Add all the above ingredients together in a small pot. Stir for a few minutes. Let it simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes till liquid becomes sticky. (*It will not be a thick syrup but will become thicker when storing in fridge afterwards).

How to Assemble the Atayef:

  • Take your cooled atayef (pancake) and add about 1-2 tbsp of filling in the center depending on size of atayef. Make sure not to over stuff to avoid atayef from opening up when baking but you do not want to be skimpy either!
  • Then, bring both sides of the atayef together to form somewhat of an empanada shape. Make sure to seal it well. Go over the edges twice to ensure its closed well.
  • You can store the atayef in a baking pan covered with a towel really well and maybe even a plastic bag then put in the fridge for a few days.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 F.
  • Lay the atayef on an oiled baking pan leaving them 2 inches apart. Also, spray or brush the atayef with oil at the top before placing in the preheated oven.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes on 400 F. The broil each side of the atayef for 1-2 minutes to achieve some crispiness and browning. You can also air fry at 400 F for 7 minutes.
  • Then, take your hot atayef and place it in the syrup (cooled), toss it around a little bit and take it out to plate.



Please share with me any recreations made using my recipes! I would love to see 🙂

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    1. Hi Sameera,
      It is called Arabic sweet cheese. You can find them in the freezer section in Middle Eastern supermarkets by the Kataifi and phyllo dough. The most common brands are Dana and Zdan.

  1. I made these last night for my family and from how surprised I was by how good they turned out I doubled the recipe. Was super easy and simple to follow and turned out exactly as how described. My husband said they were the best atayef he EVER had. I still have a bunch in the freezer, and will very likely be making them again because I know they won’t last long. Thanks so much ❤️

  2. Thank so much for your recipe.
    I tried it today very easy the measurements were perfect.The Atayef were very fluffy easy to fill and close and most important didn’t break while frying..Very tasty and crunchy .

  3. Excellent recipe. It seems every year I change my recipe for the batter, but I think I’ve found a keeper. The pancakes came out porous with a nice brown base and they closed easily without reopening.
    I made the arayes with the qishta recipe which turned out delicious and beautiful.
    Thank you!

  4. Hello! Recipe came out awesome, however once I let it sit for 20 mins and I was ready to pour it, the mixture was too thick. Do I add more water? I added 3 cups as is.

    1. Hi Ruby,
      Mix the batter with a spoon and try pouring one and see the result. If it is too thick, then pour a little water into the batter, stir, and try again. The first few may be a trial but you will get the hang of it. Hope that helps.

  5. I made these today for iftar and they were delish! I didn’t have sweet cheese on hand so I made qishta and mixed it w some moz cheese and they were so good! Definitely a fool proof recipe for a Ramadan staple!

  6. Hi Heifa! Thanks for the recipe I made this recipe but the batter was too thick. I kept adding extra water but I never reached a thinner consistency. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Areen,
      Try stirring the batter really well, test one, and keep adding water until its the perfect consistency. Sometimes its trial and error!

  7. The first time I find a recipe that works! They turned out amazing. I fried them and still perfect. Thank you so much fufu!

    1. You can eat the atayef pre-stuffed on its own-sometimes we would eat them for breakfast with honey but if you want to stuff them then i recommend baking or frying afterwards before enjoying.

  8. This recipe was a hit during Ramadan. The qatayif were crispy and with the hot sugar water it was delicious and sweet but not too sweet. I will be making these again very soon! 🙂

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