Mini Baklava Cups
These bite-sized mini baklava cups are the perfect party dessert hors d’oeuvres! They’ve got the crisp, flaky, syrupy-sweet deliciousness of traditional baklava, but they’re much simpler to prepare. Instead of layering sheet after sheet of phyllo dough yourself, learn how to make mini baklava in phyllo cups from the freezer section—including a simple homemade honey syrup.
What is baklava?
Baklava is a sweet pastry made from flaky layers of phyllo dough, filled with chopped nuts, and drenched in honey syrup. It’s a traditional dessert in Turkish, Arabic, and Greek cuisines, and there are many different types of baklava with unique fillings & flavors. As a kid, I grew up eating & making baklava with my family during the holidays, so it’s a treat that’s so nostalgic & comforting to me now as an adult. The fragrant smell, crisp bite, its sweet and nutty flavor—it’s a complete sensory experience!
Traditional vs. Mini Baklava Cups
- Cups Instead of Layers. These mini baklava bites are more like mini baklava tarts, with a classic nut filling served in mini phyllo shells. Although I think baklava from scratch is tastier overall—with so many flaky layers of phyllo—this mini baklava recipe is much simpler to make. Plus, it’s a fun, bite-sized option that’s perfect for hosting a party or get-together!
- Simplified Prep Process. Traditional baklava tastes so amazing because every sheet of phyllo dough is placed and buttered, one-by-one, with layers of nut filling in between. As delicious as it is, the prep process much more tedious and meticulous than baking mini baklava in phyllo cups. All you have to do is fill the premade phyllo shells, bake, and finish with honey syrup!
- Lightened-Up & Balanced. Sometimes traditional baklava is too drenched in syrup for my taste, but this simplified homemade version is lighter on the syrup and has a nice balance of sweetness. It satisfies my craving for nostalgia in a lightened-up form—without compromising on what I really love in the dish. Of course, if you love your baklava drenched in syrup, add as much as you want! Lighten up by giving yourself permission to enjoy the experience that you want to have.
What are phyllo cups & how do I use them?
Phyllo cups are flaky mini pastry cups made from layers of phyllo (a.k.a. filo): an unleavened dough that’s stretched into paper-thin sheets. Unlike the thin, airy layers of puff pastry—which is made with butter—phyllo contains very little fat, since it’s made of flour, water, and just a little oil. You can find convenient premade phyllo cups in the freezer section of the grocery store, and you don’t even need to thaw them before baking. Just add your mini baklava filling, then bake until the phyllo is nice & crisp!
Ingredients for Mini Baklava Bites
- Toasted Nuts. Pistachios & walnuts are common in traditional baklava recipes, but you could also use almonds, cashews, pecans, or hazelnuts. I filled my mini baklava cups with a classic combo of pistachios & walnuts—plus hazelnuts for some festive flair, since I made these during the holiday season!
- Dates. Dates add natural sweetness and an almost-caramelized flavor after baking, which helped cut down on the added sugars this mini baklava recipe. Plus, my family always had dates in the house growing up, so they make these bites taste even more comforting for me! Feel free to substitute with a different dried fruit, or omit the dates if preferred.
- Sugar. In this entire batch of nut filling, you only need 1 Tbsp of sugar! I recommend using granulated white sugar, or you could use brown or coconut sugar.
- Spices. I kept things simple with just cinnamon, cloves, and salt, but you could add other warm, fragrant spices like cardamom, ginger, or allspice.
- Butter. Just a bit of melted butter is all you need to give your nut filling a rich, comforting flavor and deliciously crisp texture. If needed, substitute with coconut oil.
- Phyllo Shells. Check the freezer section at your grocery store for premade mini phyllo pastry shells! They typically come in packs of 15 shells each, so you’ll need at least 3 packages to make this easy baklava cups recipe.
- Honey Syrup. To finish your mini baklava tarts, you can whip up a homemade honey syrup with just water, sugar, honey, & lemon juice! This is a classic component in traditional baklava recipes, and it only takes about 15 minutes to make.
How to Make Honey Syrup for Baklava Bites
- Combine honey syrup ingredients over high heat. First, add cold water to a saucepan and stir in your granulated sugar. Once the sugar dissolves, add the honey and lemon juice, stirring well until it all integrates.
- Bring to a boil and simmer. Once the mixture comes to a boil over high heat, lower the heat and let your honey syrup for 10-20 minutes, until it thickens a bit. It should be liquid-y enough to drizzle on your mini baklava cups, with a slightly syrupy consistency.
- Set aside. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let your honey syrup rest until your phyllo cup baklava bites finish baking.
How to Make Mini Baklava in Phyllo Cups
- Toast nuts for 8-10 minutes. Add nuts of choice to a baking sheet in an even layer, then toast at 350°F until they’re golden & fragrant. Allow them to cool a bit before making the nut filling.
- Make nut filling mixture. In a food processor, pulse together your toasted nuts, dates, sugar, spices, and melted butter. Continue pulsing until the mixture is finely chopped and well-combined.
- Fill mini phyllo shells. Remove your frozen phyllo cups from the freezer—no need to thaw them—and arrange on a lined baking sheet. Fill each phyllo cup with around 1 tsp or more of your nut filling. (I like to fill them so they’re nice & heaping!)
- Bake baklava cups for 10 minutes at 350°F. Phyllo pastry shells are fully cooked before they’re frozen, so there’s nothing in this recipe that really needs to ‘cook through’ in the oven. Just bake until the nut filling is hot, and the phyllo cups are crisp and browned.
- Drizzle with honey syrup. When your mini baklava bites finish baking, remove them from the oven and add your honey syrup while they’re warm. I spooned around ½ tsp of syrup onto each baklava cup.
- Refrigerate or rest before enjoying. To give the syrup time to soak through the filling and phyllo cups, transfer your mini baklava to the fridge (or rest at room temperature) for at least 5 hours before enjoying.
Watch my Holiday Finger Food Desserts video to see how I made these mini baklava bites!
Make-Ahead & Storage Instructions
To prep this mini baklava recipe for a holiday party or gathering, just prep the recipe a few days ahead of time. Store your baklava bites in an airtight container at room temperature (or refrigerate), and they’ll last for 2 weeks. I think they taste even better a few days later! But, after the first 5-6 days, the phyllo shells can start to lose their crispiness.
The Best Way to Eat Mini Baklava Cups
With traditional baklava, you get to experience your teeth crunching through all those flaky layers of phyllo pastry. But with mini baklava in phyllo cups, the flaky layers are on the bottom and the nut filling is exposed on top. So, I think the best way to eat them is to turn the phyllo cup upside down and eat it in one bite. This way, you taste the sweet & salty nut filling right on your tongue, and you get the satisfaction of biting through those crisp layers of phyllo!
Mini Baklava Cups
- ⅓ cup walnuts
- ⅓ cup pistachios, shelled
- ⅓ cup hazelnuts, or almonds
- ⅓ cup pitted dates, rough chopped
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- pinch of ground cloves
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp butter, melted
- 3 packs mini phyllo pastry shells, (45 shells total, 15 per pack)
- ½ cup cold water
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
Homemade Honey Syrup
- Add cold water and sugar to a saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Then add honey and lemon juice, stirring to integrate.
- Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer 10-20 minutes, until mixture thickens to a slightly syrupy consistency.
- Remove from heat and set aside until mini baklava are ready.
- Yields enough syrup for ~45-48 mini baklava.
Mini Baklava in Phyllo Cups
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Toast nuts on a baking sheet for 8-10 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Allow to cool slightly.
- Add toasted nuts to a food processor with dates, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and melted butter. Pulse to combine, until mixture is finely chopped.
- Fill mini phyllo shells with ~1 tsp nut mixture or more. (Feel free to make them heaping!)
- Bake for 10 minutes, until filling is hot and phyllo shells are crisp and browned.
- Remove from oven and spoon ~½ tsp honey syrup onto each baklava cup.
- Refrigerate 5 hours or overnight, or rest at room temperature.
- Store mini baklava cups in an airtight container at room temperature (or in the fridge) for up to 2 weeks.
- Yields ~45 baklava bites.