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Healthy Vegan Baklava (With An Oil-Free Option!)

By Thepickyeater @pickyeaterblog

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Let me introduce you to my healthy baklava - a Greek classic with wholesome ingredients and only 20 minutes of prep. This beloved family recipe has been perfected over the years, resulting in crispy golden layers of pastry combined with a sweet mixture of walnuts and almonds. Plus, my vegan baklava has a never before seen oil-free option! It's great for anyone looking for a lighter, plant-based version of baklava that tastes like the classic dessert!

Healthy Vegan Baklava (With An Oil-Free Option!)

Are you ready? I'd sit down if I were you. My vegan Greek baklava is incredibly delicious and mind-blowing at first bite. I can assure you, you have never had anything like it. Sure, there are other baklava recipes out there, but the flavors and proportion of ingredients in here have been tried and tested throughout my childhood to result in the best baklava on the planet. Or dare I even say... best baklava in the galaxy!

Baklava is so amazing that I don't want anyone to miss out on trying it! That's why I decided to share my mom's family recipe with you all, and I've even provided an oil-free baklava for those who prefer it.

Why oil-free? So, I am going to start with this: using a good vegan butter (like Miyoko's Creamery Vegan Cultured Butter) is going to result in a better end product. It'll be more flaky, have a light textured crisp, and of course, boast that signature buttery flavor. That being said, I know there are many of you out there that do not use butters or oils, so that's why I created an oil-free version, so that my baklava recipe is accessible to everyone!

Personally, I am not anti-oil or butter. I do use it in my everyday cooking, but I know that I'm also able to get amazing flavors without it. (Have you even seen my gluten-free almond flour peanut butter cookies? No oil or butter needed!). In treats like this or in small amounts for flavor (I love that true, deep olive oil taste), I'm all in.

But I knew that if I was going to post this vegan baklava recipe, I needed to also nail down a decent baklava with no oil. And the winner here was a combination of aquafaba (the juice from a can of chickpeas) coupled with drippy creamy almond butter and a touch of maple syrup. I needed the fat, and I needed something that would make it crisp!

No matter which version you go with, I am confident you will LOVE this recipe just as much as my family does! Get ready to whip up the most delicious treat to satisfy your sweet tooth!

🥘 Ingredients

I was able to find all of the ingredients for this healthy baklava recipe easily at my local grocery store! Here is what you'll need:

Healthy Vegan Baklava (With An Oil-Free Option!)

For The Vegan Baklava

Phyllo Pastry Sheets: Using pre-made sheets of phyllo dough helps this recipe come together quickly. With their light and flaky texture, they add the best layer to my vegan baklava.

Walnuts & Almonds: Walnuts are a staple in Greek traditional baklava recipes, but I also add in almonds to carry on my family's personal tradition! Both have great flavor and texture when chopped.

Vegan Butter: Any vegan butter will work, but I love Miyoko's since it has the best ingredients in my opinion! You could also use coconut oil instead of melted butter.

Coconut Sugar: I made this with coconut sugar, but any sugar really will work. If you don't eat sugar, you can try omitting it from the nut mixture, and using all maple syrup in the syrup mixture, but I caution that it may not work out. Please do not blame me if it doesn't work!

Spices: I combine cinnamon and allspice for the perfect addition of flavor to the nut mixture. I also use whole cloves to help hold the phyllo together, while boosting the overall taste!

Oil-Free Basting Option

As I mentioned earlier, the traditional way uses butter, but I have provided this oil-free option as well. Whatever you use, follow the directions precisely and do not over baste!

Aquafaba: The aquafaba helps give that crisp, much like egg whites are used to coat the top of bread or other baked goods.

Almond Butter: I've found that the fat in the almond butter is needed to help the filo bake without it becoming overly dry.

Maple Syrup: I use a smidge of maple syrup to absolutely make sure you do not get that bean taste from the chickpea liquid!

For The Syrup

Maple Syrup & Coconut Sugar: I keep this syrup as healthy as possible by using a pure maple syrup and coconut sugar - organic preferably! Agave or honey can also be used in place of the maple syrup.

Water: This helps thin things out so to the ideal consistency for pouring.

Cinnamon Stick & Lemon: To infuse a lovely flavor into the sweet syrup, I add a small piece of lemon and one whole cinnamon stick to the syrup as it simmers.

🔪 How To Make Healthy Baklava

Following my step by step directions below will guide you to making the best healthy vegan baklava!

Preheat & Prep Filling: First, I preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius). In a bowl, I mix walnuts and almonds with sugar, cinnamon and allspice.

Prepare Pan: Now, I prepare the bottom of my pan (I use a 9x13x2-inch pan) by brushing it with aquafaba mix or butter so it doesn't stick. If you are not using butter, you may want to spray a thin layer of coconut oil to make sure it won't stick to the bottom, or use your preferred oil free method to avoid sticking.

Healthy Vegan Baklava (With An Oil-Free Option!)

Layer Phyllo: Next, I lay one phyllo sheet at the bottom of the pan, brushing it with aquafaba mix or butter. I repeat this process until I have used about five sheets. Please make sure you are brushing lightly and not using too much or the end result will be soggy.

Healthy Vegan Baklava (With An Oil-Free Option!)

Add Nuts & Repeat Layers: Then, I spread one thin layer of nuts and cover that with one phyllo sheet. I brush the sheet with aquafaba mix or butter, cover with another phyllo sheet, brush with aquafaba mix or butter and then spread another thin layer of nuts. I repeat this process until all the nuts are used, or until I have five phyllo sheets left. I cover the last layer of nuts with the remaining five phyllo sheets, brushing each sheet with aquafaba mix or butter.

Healthy Vegan Baklava (With An Oil-Free Option!)

Cut Triangles Or Squares: With a sharp knife, I cut the baklava into either squares or triangles (diamond-like - cutting diagonally across the pan). The phyllo will be wet and soft so the best way to do this without messing it all up is to lightly hold your fingers on each side of the knife as you cut. Use small slices, taking the knife out each time.

Healthy Vegan Baklava (With An Oil-Free Option!)

Bake: Now, I recommend inserting a clove in the center of each triangle to hold the phyllo sheets together (you don't have to do this, but I find it works better). I bake the baklava for 1 hour, or until I see the top beginning to brown. Then, I increase the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius) and bake for another five to ten minutes or until the top is very golden brown.

Healthy Vegan Baklava (With An Oil-Free Option!)

Make Syrup: As the baklava bakes, I make the syrup. In a small pot I combine all of the ingredients for the syrup and bring it to a boil. Then, I turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes. This allows the flavors to infuse. I remove the cinnamon stick and the piece of lemon and let it cool.

Healthy Vegan Baklava (With An Oil-Free Option!)

Pour Syrup Over Baklava: Finally, I remove the baklava from the oven and pour the cooled syrup over it. I pour slowly, as it is important to stop if the baklava is not retaining the liquid and the syrup is pooling. Allow to cool several hours before serving.

Healthy Vegan Baklava (With An Oil-Free Option!)

📖 Variations

In addition to my oil-free version, enjoy these simple variations to accommodate new flavors and dietary needs!

Vegan Pecan Baklava: While this version of vegan baklava calls for almonds and walnuts, I love to occasionally swap one or the other for pecans. This provides a new flavor profile and is perfect for anyone who favors pecans over almonds or walnuts.

​​Gluten Free Vegan Baklava: I haven't tried out this variation myself, so I am not sure exactly how it will turn out. However, if you are looking to enjoy the flavors of baklava without any gluten, there are some options. Try using a gluten-free puff pastry dough which will give a thicker, softer consistency, or rice paper!

Low Calorie Baklava: My baklava recipe comes in at about 213 calories per serving (one baklava triangle). To slightly reduce calories, you can reduce the volume of nuts - using 1 cup of almonds and 1 1.5 cups of walnuts. Also, be sure to choose the oil-free option and stick to maple syrup as agave has more calories.

🍽 Serving Suggestions

My vegan baklava recipe is so tasty all on its own, but there are plenty of fun ways to serve this for the ultimate dessert experience:

With Toppings: When I am in the mood for something extra rich, I love to drizzle melted dark chocolate or vegan nutella over the top of this low fat baklava. You could also add some crushed nuts or shredded coconut for a unique twist.

Warm Drinks: In my opinion, there really isn't anything quite as comforting as a flaky pastry served with a warm beverage! Try my eggless baklava with oat milk hot chocolate or a golden turmeric milk latte.

Other Pastries: When I am hosting a brunch or need a spread of sweet treats, I love to choose an array of delicious pastries! Pair the healthy baklava alongside other favorites like mini apple pies with puff pastry and healthy cinnamon rolls.

🫙 Storage Instructions

Make Ahead: When I know I need some extra time, I prepare the nut mixture ahead of time. I mix the walnuts and almonds with sugar, cinnamon, and allspice and store in an airtight container or mason jar until ready to assemble.

Fridge: Once completely cooled, I store my leftover baklava in an airtight container in the fridge. While the dough texture will soften, I still find that the baklava tastes delicious for a few days!

Reheat: For a crispy texture, I like to reheat the baklava in the oven or toaster oven until warmed all the way through. This will help to get the pastry a bit crisp again, rather than the microwave which will create a softer texture. Just be careful to not burn the baklava when reheating!

❓Recipe FAQs

CAN I MAKE SUBSTITUTIONS IN THIS BAKLAVA RECIPE?

Unfortunately, not really. I worked to get you an oil-free option, but other than that there are no subs. Baklava is about nuts. And sugar. So, if you can't have either, this probably is not the dessert for you. Of course, you can play around with the type of nuts and sugar used but keep in mind that baklava is a more delicate dessert that follows a precise structure.

What do I do if my phyllo dough tears?

If your phyllo dough tears or sticks together, don't worry. It's a common issue, and I have a few tips on how to handle it! If the dough tears, simply patch it by overlapping another piece of phyllo dough on top. There are so many layers in baklava, so a few patches won't be noticeable in the final product. You can also just place the torn pieces in the middle layers of your baklava, where they will be less visible. Use whole, unbroken sheets for the top and bottom layers to maintain a neat appearance. Brushing each layer with melted vegan butter or oil will also help hold the pieces together!

How do I make sure my phyllo dough doesn't dry out when making this recipe?

I have found that phyllo dough dries out very quickly when exposed to air. So as soon as you unroll it, make sure to cover the stack of phyllo sheets with a slightly damp (not wet) kitchen towel or plastic wrap. This keeps the dough moist without making it soggy while you build your baklava layers.

Healthy Vegan Baklava (With An Oil-Free Option!)

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