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gluten-free kunafa on an upside down plate.
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4.9 from 16 votes

Gluten-Free Kunafa (Knafeh) with Cheese

A sweet middle eastern dessert, made with shredded phyllo dough and filled with sweet cheese.
Prep Time10 mins
Active Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Palestinian
Keyword: gluten free kunafa, kanafeh, knafeh, kunafa
Yield: 9 Mini-Kunafa
Calories: 622kcal


Cheese Filling

  • 200 grams of Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 200 grams of Shredded Akkawi Cheese or 150 grams of Ricotta cheese

Sugar Syrup

  • 112 ml of Water
  • 225 grams of Granulated Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of Lemon Juice
  • 1 teaspoon of Rose Water

Kunafa Dough

  • 100 grams of White Rice Flour
  • 60 grams of Tapioca Flour
  • 40 grams of Almond Flour
  • ½ teaspoon of Xanthan Gum
  • 100 grams of Cornstarch
  • 15 grams of Milk Powder
  • ½ teaspoon of Salt
  • 250 ml of Full-Fat Milk
  • 250 ml of Water
  • 60 ml of Vegetable Oil


  • 100 grams of Ghee (melted)
  • 100 grams of Unsalted Butter (melted)
  • 2 tablespoon of Granulated Sugar


Cheese Filling

  • If using Akkawi cheese, cut it into cubes and place it in cold water. Leave it in water for 24 hours. Ensure that you change the water at least six times during the first 12 hours. After 24 hours, the cheese should be sweet and not salty to taste.
  • Mix the cheese together in one bowl. Then cover and set aside for later.

Sugar Syrup

  • In a medium-sized saucepan at medium-low heat, place the sugar, water, lemon juice, and rose water. Cook the syrup for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, remove the syrup from heat.

Kunafa Dough

  • Place all the ingredients in one bowl. Then using a hand-held blender or a stand-alone blender, blend the ingredients until well incorporated and no lumps remain.
  • Transfer the kunafa dough batter to a bottle with a small nozzle. I used the standard mustard squeeze bottles. (see above)
  • Next, using a medium-sized skillet at medium-low heat, make a spiral using the kunafa batter.
  • The dough will start to dry and peel after 10 seconds. Immediately, using a spatula, collect the kunafa dough and place it on a clean plate. Then remove the middle dot formed at the center of the spiral and throw it away. Repeat until you are out of batter.
  • In a food processor, shred the kunafa strings to a length of 2.5 cm.
  • Next, add ghee, butter, and sugar to the kunafa strings and rub the strings between both of your hands until all strings are covered with butter and ghee.

Making Mini-Kunafa

  • Preheat the oven to 180℃
  • Grease a cupcake tin with butter. Then take two tablespoons of kunafa strings and press them around the sides and middle, forming a cup. Make sure that the strings are compacted well.
  • Next, add cheese to the kunafa cup and press it down firmly.
  • Then cover the cheese with more kunafa strings and lightly press on it to secure it.
  • Keep repeating steps 2 to 4 until you have about 9 pieces of mini-kunafa cups.
  • Bake, the mini-kunafa for 17-20 minutes or until the edges are golden.
  • Once baked, allow the kunafa to cool down for 5 minutes before flipping the cupcake tin.
  • Add the syrup to the kunafa once flipped and serve while it is still warm.

Making A Standard Kunafa

  • Preheat the oven to 180℃
  • Grease a 9-inch cake pan with butter. Place half the amount of Kunafa pastry at the bottom of the pan and gently press on it.
  • Bake the Kunafa for 10 minutes, then remove it from the oven and add half the cheese. Don’t add cheese to the edges.
  • Bake the Kunafa again for another 15 minutes or until the edges are golden. Then, let the kunafa rest for 5 minutes before flipping the cake pan.
  • Afterward, add the syrup to the kunafa and serve while it is warm.
  • This recipe makes two 9"-inch kunafa.


  • Cooked Kunafa dough can stay in the fridge for up to 3-days. It can also be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months. To use the dough, take it out of the freezer the day before and allow it to defrost in the fridge. 
  • Kunafa is best served when it is warm. However, for kunafa left-overs, you can store them in the fridge for up to two days and heat them up in the oven before serving. 


Serving: 1mini-Kunafa | Calories: 622kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 279mg | Potassium: 38mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 30g