Qatayef Recipe: No-Fail Middle Eastern Pancakes قطايف

Atayef filled with Cream and drizzled with simple syrup.

This Qatayef recipe comes with traditional and non traditional fillings options. Qatayef is a quintessential treat during Ramadan that is made of pancake-like batter, filled with nuts, cheese, or cream. Some are folded in a half moon shape and deep fried, while others are cone-shaped and filled with Ashta (clotted cream). 

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Blessed Ramadan to my precious friends and followers! May all your prayers during the holy month be answered.

Born and bred in Egypt, I have the merriest memories of Ramadan. Despite being  Egyptian-Christian, My family and I always anticipated Ramadan with immense joy.

In Many ways, Ramadan brings out the best in the Middle Eastern culture: The human warmth, compassion, hearty recipes and the generous food exchange among friends and neighbors.

When I moved to the US, It was hard to picture Ramadan without Qatayef! Therefore, I had to figure out how to make Qatayef from scratch, which is something unheard of in the Middle East, as Atayef are omnipresent in the local markets during Ramadan.

In Egypt we used to buy them plain to fill them with a variety of fillings. In this post, I am sharing a no fail recipe as well as my favorite fillings.

What Is Qatayef? 

Hands filling Qatayef with nuts and raisins.

Qatayef batter requires simple pantry ingredients such as flour, fine semolina, sugar, yeast, baking powder and baking soda.

Yet, the batter is just the first step. After the Qatayef are baked only on one side, on a hot griddle or a non stick pan, they are filled with several filling options such as nuts, stretchy unsalted cheese and then deep fried in unflavored oil and doused, while still hot, in infused simple syrup. Qatayef consists of:

  • Batter
  • Filling
  • Simple Syrup


There are multiple recipes for Qatayef’s batter. The batter is mostly a vegan batter, yet some would include dehydrated milk. However, the batter requires simple ingredients such as flour, semolina, water, sugar and a pinch of salt.

The loveliest surprise occurred when a Qatayef recipe surfaced this week in the food section of New York Times magazine by The Palestinian Author Reem Kassis.

I used her batter recipe, yet experimented with different fillings and played with different flavorings.

A good batter has the consistency of single cream and it is made of fairly simple ingredients: Semolina, flour, water, and livening factors (baking soda, baking powder, and yeast), sugar and a pinch of salt.

A very thin batter will lead to Qatayef with crispy edges that are impossible to pinch together to form a cone shape or a half moon one. While a very thick batter leads to nothing close to Qatayef.

If the batter is too thick, then add one tablespoon of hot water at a time and whisk well with a wire whisk, let the batter rest for 15-30 minutes, and then start baking them on the hot griddle.

I use a pancake batter dispenser, that makes the batter pouring less messier and yields perfect circles of pancakes. Alternatively, you can use an empty and clean ketchup bottle.

Different Fillings

The most common Egyptian Qatayef or “Atayef” (according to the Egyptian dialect) is the one that is deep fried and filled with an assortment of nuts and then doused in simple syrup.

However, the levant has a more progressive one.  There is the one filled with stretchy cheese called “Akawi” and deep fried.

As for a non-fried version, there is “Qatayef Asafiri”, the ones filled with the clotted cream, dipped in pulverized nuts, and drizzled with simple syrup.

Qatayef filled with nuts
Qatayef: Stock Image @Canva

Growing up in Egypt, my mom and grandma concocted a savory one filled with feta cheese and black olives and then deep fried, resulting in a sensational savory treat. I made it last night and served it to my family as a snack and everyone went bananas over them.

Pancakes filled with Ashta and sprinkled with crushed pistachios.
Photo Credit: Chez Nermine

The Flavorings

Flavoring plays a significant role in either jazzing up the batter, filling, or syrup.  There are multiple types of flavors that you can experiment with according to your preferences such as:

The levant tends to add Mahlab to the batter, which is a powder made from the seeds of the St. Lucy’s cherry. The taste of “mahlab” is an exotic cross between roses, almond, and vanilla, to say a few.

A pinch of Mahlab goes a long way, so less is more.

Vanilla is probably the most classic and safe flavoring. Although the batter does’t contain any eggs, vanilla still takes it up a notch.

  • Spices

While simple syrup is by definition as simple as water and sugar mixed together over low heat to simmer, I like to infuse mine with an assortment of warm spices such as cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon, as their notes add depth to the syrup that complements the overall taste of the Qatayef.

  • Orange Juice & Zest 

Adding the zest of an orange to the batter or mixing its  juice or its rind into the simple syrup lends a citrus note to the sweet Ramadani treat, and cuts through the creaminess of the Ashta (clotted cream) filling and enlivens the overall taste.

Orange zest, orange zest, and a grater
Stock Image @Canva
  • Orange Blossom & Rose Water

The Simple Syrup 

Simple Syrup is used in 99% of Egyptian and Middle Eastern sweets.  It is called simple syrup because it is simply made of sugar and water.
That said, adding some flavorings to the simple syrup takes it to the next level. (see previous section for flavorings options).
I use equal ratio of water to sugar in my simple syrup, dissolve the sugar first then add my spices and let them simmer with the syrup for 15 minutes. I turn off the heat and let the syrup come to room temperature.
Making a batch of  simple syrup is useful to use in other Egyptian desserts’ recipes such as:

Success Tips 

  • Don’t over cook the Qatayef, remove them off the hot griddle once the back turns golden and the wet batter dries out.
  • Don’t overstuff the Qatayef with the filling before frying, or they will fall apart in the hot oil.
  • In case the batter turn out very thick, dilute it with one tablespoon of hot water at a time, whisk well and add more if needed. the batter is the consistency of single cream.
  • Ahead of filling them, keep the Qatayef covered with a clean kitchen towel, so they don’t dry out.
  • After frying the Qatayef, let them rest on absorbent kitchen paper to get rid of the excess oil before dipping them in the simple syrup.
  • Use a batter dispenser or an empty and clean ketchup bottle to pour the dough on the hot griddle.

Make-Ahead Freezer Friendly 

You can make the syrup in advance and leave it on the counter. Avoid leaving the simple syrup in the fridge as the sugar will crystallize and damage the syrup consistency.

Also the batter could be made in advance and saved in the fridge for a day or two days maximum. Before baking (stove top) the Qatayef, get out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature first.

If you fill them with nuts, seal the ends well and freeze in Ziploc bags, until you are ready to deep fry them.

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Disclaimer:Chez Nermine blog is an Amazon Associate. We earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. Our commission doesn’t affect the  price of the product you purchase.


Batter recipe is adapted from Reem Kassis 


For The Simple Syrup 

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of orange blossom or rose water 

For The Batter  

For Frying 

  • 1 cup vegetable oil


Cream-Mozzarella Filling 

  • 1/4 cup mozzarella
  • 2 tablespoons of Crème fraîche

Nuts Fillings 

  • 1/2 cup assorted nuts and raisins


Cheese-Olives Filling


  1. Prepare the Syrup: Combine the white sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat. Stir the sugar until it is dissolved and bring the syrup to a gentle simmer. Add the cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom  to the simmering syrup to impart their flavors. After 10 minutes of simmering time, turn off the heat and let the syrup come to room temperature.
  2. Make the batter: Combine the water, yeast, and dry ingredients and flavorings in a blender then blend until a smooth batter forms. Let it rest for 30 minutes before you start baking the Qatayef on a stove top in a non stick pan or a cast iron griddle.
  3. Bake the Qatayef: Pour the dough into a batter dispenser and drizzle over hot griddle with enough quantity to form a disk the size of a coffee cup saucer (see notes).  With an offset spatula, remove the Qatayef once its face has dry bubbles and the back becomes golden. Cook only one side and keep the baked Qatayef covered with a clean kitchen towel.
  4. Fill the Qatayef: Lay the filling of your choice in the middle of each pancake and pinch together the ends of the Qatayef to form a half moon shape. In case of Qatayef Asafiri, pinch the ends only in the middle to form a cone shape, serve them as is without frying.
  5. Fry the Qatayef: In a frying pan, pour the oil into a frying pan, Add carefully the Qatayef. don’t cram the frying pan with too many. Remove once they are golden brown. With a slotted spoon, transfer the fried Qatayef to absorbent paper to discard the excess oil.
  6. Serve: Drizzle the Qatayef with simple syrup and sprinkle with some nuts and serve.

Nermine’s Notes: 

  • The size of Qatayaf depends on the filling. If you plan to fill them with nuts, then make them bigger than the one filled with Ashta and not fried.

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