Since my father traveled a lot, he usually brought many souvenirs. In his visit to Greece, he brought a wooden box filled with Baklava, all individually wrapped. At the time, as you imagine, I wasn’t vegan, so I thoroughly enjoyed it without feeling guilty.
Baklava has an intriguing sweet and nutty flavor, but because it’s traditionally made with butter and honey, it’s not suitable for vegans.
With that being said, even though baklava is typically not suitable for vegans, I’ve come across vegan baklava, where the brands use sugar syrup and vegetable ghee to replace its animal equivalents.
How Is Baklava Typically Made?
Baklava begins like most pastries, where the first step is to make the dough.
Baklava requires a very thin unleavened dough, called phyllo dough, which is typically used in Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines.
Homemade phyllo dough takes an awful amount of work as it requires progressive rolling and stretching until you’re left with a very large but thin sheet. However, most dough today is prepared by machine and sold frozen, unless you go to a very traditional baklava shop.
Phyllo dough is made from wheat flour, water, vinegar, and a little oil, so it’s vegan.
However, when making baklava, the confectioners brush the sheets of dough with butter and stack them with crushed nuts to obtain a flaky crust. Therefore, even though you may find shops selling vegan baklava, it’s more likely for them to not be vegan.
Once they are finished stacking the sheets of phyllo dough with the nuts, they place the dough in the oven, where it will gain a uniquely crisp texture before completely soaking it in honey syrup.
Breaking Down Baklava Brands
Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to travel the Turkey, where the original baklava is made, but thanks to the Internet we’re able to find different baklava brands with different ingredients.
Most baklava brands will have honey, butter, or eggs, but it’s possible to find brands that use alternatives, for example, the brand below uses sugar syrup in place of honey.
Technically, the baklava from Eridanous can be considered vegan because it doesn’t have animal ingredients, however, it contains palm oil, which some vegans avoid because it’s linked to deforestation.
Palm oil production is responsible for destroying rainforests and biodiversity, and it’s also responsible for releasing greenhouse gases that get trapped in the atmosphere.
Therefore, while it may seem harmless to consume baklava because there are no animal ingredients, the impact conventional palm oil production has on entire ecosystems should not be overlooked.
Some vegans believe that products with such an impact on the environment should not be consumed, even though they’re technically considered vegan.
Simply Bklva is clearly not vegan.
Even though they use agave syrup instead of honey, their baklava still contains several dairy ingredients, namely ghee, a form of clarified butter, and milk powder, which some people also refer to as dried milk.
Baklava contains pistachios, but some brands/places also use walnuts, and it’s quite unfortunate because if you have a nut allergy, you can’t eat baklava.
Also, if you’re allergic to gluten, you can’t eat baklava either because they typically contain wheat, though you’re able to find gluten-free baklava recipes.
Apollo baklava doesn’t have ghee or other dairy ingredients, but it contains a common ingredient in baklava confection, honey.
Vegans are against honey for several reasons.
One is that beekeepers upon extracting honey, replace it with a substitute with relatively poor nutritional value, which negatively affects bees’ immune system, making them more susceptible to die from diseases.
There’s also a common practice where queen bees have their wings clipped off to keep them from moving colonies, which would decrease honey production because worker bees would move as well.
These methods are commonly used in conventional beekeeping, a more destructive form of beekeeping.
Therefore, Apollo baklava is not suitable for vegans.
Cerez Pazari Baklava
The baklava from Cerez Pazari doesn’t contain honey, but it’s made with several animal ingredients, including ghee, or clarified butter, and eggs, which is rarer in baklava confection.
This brand prepares an assortment of baklava pastries per box, but they all contain the same ingredients.
Cerez Pazari’s baklava is also not suitable for vegans.
Can You Make Vegan Baklava At Home?
There are countless vegan baklava recipes, so if you can’t find a vegan alternative, you can always turn to the various vegan baklava recipes online.
Yup, It’s Vegan Baklava Recipe
This recipe was created by Shannon, the person behind Yupitsvegan.com.
Instead of using honey to add sweetness, she uses agave syrup. She also brushes the layers of phyllo dough with olive oil which makes the baklava healthier and also less rammish.
Another difference from the original baklava is the dough. Here she adds more filling to the pastry than what’s expected from standard baklava. It’s a different approach, but delicious nonetheless.
The Big Man’s World Vegan Baklava
This recipe belongs to Arman, the author of The Big Man’s World recipe blog.
Unlike the previous recipe, Arman uses vegan butter to brush each sheet of the phyllo dough to give it a moist feel and appearance, more akin to the original baklava.
He also uses maple syrup, a pinch of cinnamon, and vanilla extract to give it a unique fragrance and taste.
If you love the original baklava, this is probably the vegan version that comes closest to it.
Leite’s Culinaria Baklava Recipe
The author of this recipe is called David Leite, a fellow Portuguese, and also the person behind Leite’s Culinaria, a recipe blog.
His vegan baklava recipe is not like the classic Turkish baklava, but it manages to come close. It relies on agave syrup, but it doesn’t contain copious amounts.
The author has also added cinnamon, and a mix of nuts such as pistachios, almonds, and walnuts.
While the previous recipes should suffice to help you forget the traditional baklava, one more recipe won’t do any harm and will give you more to choose from.
You can find vegan baklava, and you can also make your own at home.
However, the likelihood of you finding vegan baklava in traditional baklava shops is low, as the confectioners typically use butter and honey.
With that being said, you should always ask the shop owner just to be sure.
Are baklava gluten-free?
Unfortunately, baklava is not gluten-free. To make baklava, confectioners use phyllo dough, which is made with wheat flour, which is not suitable for people with a gluten allergy.
However, it’s possible to make baklava using gluten-free flour; you can find recipes to help you with that.
Does baklava have eggs?
Most baklava recipes, including traditional ones, do not contain eggs. However, some brands/shops may use eggs to make the phyllo dough.
Does baklava have dairy?
Baklava recipes usually contain butter, which is a dairy ingredient. Therefore, if you’re allergic to milk, it’s not recommended that you eat baklava.