Baklava, the sweet and flaky pastry made from layers of phyllo dough and filled with honey, nuts, and spices, is one of the most beloved and iconic desserts in the world.
Originating from the Ottoman Empire, baklava has been enjoyed by millions of people for centuries and has become a staple treat in Turkish cuisine. Baklava is an essential sweet treat during the Ramadan festival in Turkey. It’s a symbol of hospitality and generosity, and sharing baklava with guests and loved ones is a cherished tradition during this time. The festival is a time of coming together and celebrating, and baklava plays a special role in these celebrations.
If you’re looking for the best baklava in Istanbul, look no further!
The History of Baklava
Baklava has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the Ottoman Empire. It is believed that the dessert was created by the Ottoman palace cooks, who sought to create a sweet and luxurious treat for the sultans and their guests. The recipe for baklava has evolved over the centuries, but the basic ingredients and method of preparation have remained the same.
Today, baklava is a beloved dessert that is enjoyed by people all over the world, from the Middle East to Europe, and beyond.
The Ingredients of Baklava
The key ingredients of baklava are simple, but their combination creates a complex and delicious flavor that is hard to resist. The ingredients include phyllo dough, butter, honey, nuts (typically pistachios or walnuts), and spices (such as cinnamon or cloves). The exact recipe may vary depending on the region or the baker, but the basic ingredients remain the same.
Turkish baklava combines pistachios, walnuts, and hot syrup most of the time, while Lebanese baklava often includes lemon juice and rosewater.
Pistachios (in Turkish: fıstık) are so prized that their name, fıstık, is slang for “hot babe.” Pistachios are picked in August, one month earlier than usual, when they are higher in protein and fat, and their color is bright green, rather than yellow-green.
A unique technique exclusive to Turkey involves pouring boiling sugar syrup over freshly baked baklava after it has been baked, unlike other cultures where syrup is either poured over cooled pastry or cool syrup poured over hot pastry.
Baklava, while not traditionally vegan, has adapted vegan recipes. Although honey is a key ingredient, it can be easily substituted for a vegan version.
Additionally, people may not realize that phyllo dough and filo pastry are vegan, making baklava egg and dairy-free. Switching honey to syrup is a straightforward way to create a vegan version. Whether you are vegan or not, this classic dessert is sure to please anyone who loves sweet treats.
Famous Baklava shops started selling Vegan baklavas in the last couple of years so if you are Vegan don’t worry they got you covered!
The Art of Baklava Making: Insider’s Perspective
Below is a video demonstrating how to make baklava from the renowned baklava shop, Karaköy Güllüoğlu, which also holds the top spot on this posts list. Having thin Phyllo dough sheets is crucial, and it is equally important to have a generous amount of pistachios or other nuts.
The best baklava makers are known for making the phyllo dough so thin that you can read a book through it.
Best Baklava in Istanbul: Where to Find It?
Istanbul is home to many delicious baklava shops that offer a wide variety of desserts. Whether you’re looking for traditional baklava or a more modern twist on the classic recipe, there’s something for everyone in Istanbul. Here are the top picks for the best baklava shops in the city.
1. Karakoy Güllüoğlu
This legendary baklava shop has been making the sweet treat for over 180 years and is considered by many to be the best baklava in Istanbul. They continue their mastery story that began in Gaziantep (Which is the city of Baklava) in 1843. Karaköy Güllüoğlu moved to a new place and started to meet its guests with its renewed face.
Güllüoğlu’s secret recipe combines the perfect balance of sweet honey, crunchy nuts, pistachio, and flaky phyllo dough to create a truly irresistible treat. In addition to traditional baklava, Karaköy Güllüoğlu also offers other desserts which you should try.
You should know that if you want you can get your baklava with Ice Cream or Clotted Cream. My personal favorite is wedge-shaped havuc dilimi (“carrot slices in Turkish”) with ice cream and Mussel Baklava.
No matter what you choose, I’m sure that you won’t regret it.
Köskeroglu was founded in Gaziantep in 1946 by Hacı Mehmet Ali. Their first branch in Istanbul was opened in 1986. They have multiple locations but the one in Karakoy is the center.
For years, Köskeroglu has been a strong competitor against Güllüoglu and is a top pick for those seeking delicious baklava. Beyond being a bakery, Köskeroglu is also a restaurant. So, if you’re feeling hungry, why not try their kebabs before indulging in some mouth-watering baklava?
3. Gaziburma Baklava Mustafa
Location: Pendik (Asian Side)
Gaziburma, established in Istanbul-Pendik in 1984 by M. Sait Budumlu and his sons, offers service to its customers with a 700 m2 production area and 165 m2 sales space. Gaziburma is recognized as the best baklava shop in the Asian side of Istanbul. Especially during holidays you can see long lines in front of the shop.
4. Hafiz Mustafa 1864
Hafiz Mustafa is considered one of the most popular baklava shops for tourists in Istanbul with 15 locations, including Dubai, and 12 of them being in Istanbul. Their stores are attractively designed and resemble candy shops.
Candy maker Hafız Mustafa was founded by Hadji İsmail Hakkı Bey during the reign of Sultan Abdulaziz Khan in Bahçekapı, Istanbul in 1864, and then it was taken over by his son, Hafız Mustafa. Hadji İsmail Hakkı Bey, one of the first producers of sugar candy, first started making sugar candies with dibek stone at the basement floor of the shop.
You can visit the original Hafiz Mustafa shop in Bahcekapi, or any of their locations as they are all good. The one on Istiklal Street is always bustling with tourists. They offer various desserts (Also Turkish Delight) and are a great place to purchase baklava as a souvenir, with their well-designed packaging.
5. Kasibeyaz Baklava
Kaşıbeyaz is a well know restaurant chain in Turkey. Kaşıbeyaz Baklava, the Baklava Stores of Kaşıbeyaz group, established in 2001. They offer the finest flavors of South Eastern Anatolian cuisine through the Kaşıbeyaz ´ Group, which has been introducing these tastes to Istanbul for over 40 years.
Kaşıbeyaz’s legendary baklavas, with the golden, crispy phyllo and the premium Antep pistachios activate all five senses.
The baklava is made with the best Antep pistachios and simple oil to ensure its lightness, and features flavors such as şöbiyet, dolama, and havuc dilimi. Kaşıbeyaz Baklava stores also offer Antep-style kahke bread varieties and other local products in addition to their sweets.
Whichever store you choose from this list, you can be sure to enjoy delicious baklava. My personal suggestion would be to visit Güllüoglu or Köskeroglu in Karaköy for baklava, then take a walk across the Galata Bridge to Eminönü and explore the Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar.
Located on the Asian Side in Üsküdar, Emiroğlu Baklavacısı is undeniably one of the first places that come to mind when it comes to baklava in Istanbul. You can rest assured that among the numerous varieties of baklava, you’ll find one that perfectly suits your palate.
Hacı Bozan Ogulları
Hacı Bozan Oğulları, renowned for its diverse and unforgettable flavors, has become a go-to spot for both local and international cuisine enthusiasts. You can visit this establishment, famous for its chocolate baklava and şöbiyet, on weekdays and weekends alike.
For those craving authentic Gaziantep baklava, Fıstıkzade is the go-to place. This establishment boasts a variety of syrupy desserts, with highlights including midye baklava, şöbiyet, and home-style baklava. Moreover, for those eager to sample a bit of everything, there’s a mixed baklava menu available.
How to Choose the Best Baklava in Istanbul?
If you’re unable to visit the stores listed in this post, don’t worry as there are many other great baklava shops in Istanbul. It’s tough for food stores to survive for long in Istanbul if they don’t sell delicious food or dessert, as the rent is high. If sales are not good, they may be forced to close.
It’s important to be careful when making your selection. One helpful way to choose is to check the store’s rating on Google. If the store has a score of 4 or higher, it’s likely a good choice for baklava.
When choosing the best baklava in Istanbul, there are a few factors to consider. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice:
Choose a shop or bakery that uses only the freshest ingredients, including high-quality phyllo dough, butter, honey, and nuts.
Consider the recipe and style of baklava. Some shops offer traditional recipes, while others offer unique and modern twists on the classic dessert.
Consider the reputation of the shop or bakery. Look for recommendations from friends, family, and online reviews to ensure you’re choosing a quality establishment.
Look for a shop or bakery that offers friendly and knowledgeable service. You want to feel comfortable asking questions and making your selection. One way to determine the quality of baklava is to ask for a sample. In most cases, you can request to try a piece of baklava before making a purchase, which will give you an idea of its freshness and taste.
What are the Different Types of Baklava to Try?
When you enter a baklava shop, it can be overwhelming to choose from the numerous varieties available. It’s recommended to try all of them to find your favorite since everyone’s taste is different.
Initially, you should choose the type of nuts you want in your baklava, such as pistachio, walnut, or hazelnut (some stores may offer more options). The classic choice is pistachio, but I know lots of crazy people who prefer walnuts.
As an example, I’ll take the Product Palette from Karaköy Güllüoğlu. Click on the link and look at the possible options. The ones I would definitely recommend are:
- Pistachio Baklava (Obviously) but you can get 1 Walnut and 1 Hazelnut to try as well
- Wrap with Pistachio
- Midye (Mussels in Turkish) Baklava
- Havuc Dilimi (Carrot Slice)
Sampling all the types of baklava at once is challenging as it’s not easy to consume a lot in a short time. However, you can purchase a box with a variety of types to taste everything. This way, before leaving Istanbul, you’ll know which type of baklava to buy as a souvenir.
Baklava is one of the most beloved and iconic desserts in the world, and Istanbul is one of the best places to enjoy it. With its rich history, delicious ingredients, and variety of shops and bakeries, Istanbul is a destination for baklava lovers everywhere. Whether you prefer traditional recipes or modern twists, there’s something for everyone in Istanbul.
So next time you’re in the city, be sure to treat yourself to the best baklava in town!
FAQs about Best Baklava
Baklava is primarily a sweet dessert, but its versatility shines as it can also be enjoyed as a delightful snack or paired with savory dishes.
Istanbul’s baklava stands out due to its perfect balance of flavors, including locally sourced nuts, premium honey, and expertise passed down through generations.
While there are numerous options, locals often recommend renowned establishments like Karaköy Güllüoğlu, Köskeroglu and Hafız Mustafa for an unparalleled baklava experience. Read this Article for other great options.
Absolutely! We provide a simple recipe for you to try your hand at crafting authentic Istanbul-style baklava in the comfort of your kitchen.
To preserve the freshness and taste, store baklava in an airtight container at room temperature. Avoid refrigeration to prevent it from becoming too hard.
Yes, each shop in Istanbul may have its unique twist on baklava, with variations in ingredients or preparation methods that make them distinct and worth exploring.
In the past year, an increasing number of shops have introduced vegan baklava options. If you visit renowned establishments, you’re sure to discover a delectable array of vegan baklava choices.