Qatayef are fried Arabic dessert pancakes with a sweet filling inside! Make this classic Middle Eastern dessert recipe for Ramadan iftar.
During the 9th month of the lunar calendar, Muslims around the world celebrate the religious holiday of Ramadan. For each of 30 days, there is intense fasting, from sunrise to sundown.
After the sun sets, iftar takes place. This is a breaking of the fast, usually followed by a full meal of delicious foods.
What is a Qatayef?
Qatayef, also spelled katayef or atayef, is a classic Arabic dessert for the iftar meal, and it is a favorite of many!
Depending on who makes them, the mini-sized, sweet stuffed pancakes can be made and filled in a number of different ways.
- soft or crunchy
- baked or fried
- sweet or savory
- left open or sealed like a dumpling
- covered in sweet sugar syrup, crushed nuts, or both!
Filling options for the qatayef are virtually endless, and can be almost anything! The most popular fillings are whipped cream, chopped nuts, cheese, and fruit or jam.
Video: Making Stuffed Pancakes
To watch the entire process from start to finish, check out the video in the recipe card at the bottom of this post!
INSTRUCTIONS and RECIPE NOTES
- Make the sugar syrup. This step is super simple; just cook the sugar in a saucepan with honey, lemon juice and water for about 10 minutes.
- Crush the nuts. Using a food processor is the quickest way to do this, but if you don't have one, no worries. Just seal the nuts inside of a plastic bag and crush them using a rolling pin or the flat end of a meat tenderizer.
- Make the pancake batter and cook the pancakes.
Making qatayef batter is nearly identical to making any other pancake batter. The primary difference is that this pancake recipe includes yeast, and it doesn't call for eggs.
Fortunately, the waiting time isn't as long as it is when you make a yeast bread recipe like lavash. This batter only needs to rest for about 45 minutes. Then, it's time to heat a skillet and cook the pancakes!
The stuffed pancakes are very small - about 3 inches in diameter. To ensure that they're all the same size, I use a 2-3 tablespoon size Small Cookie Scoop.
Oh, and talk about easy; no flipping is required! This is because the insides of the qatayef will cook as you fry them. Just cook the one side, leaving the other bubbly top as it is (a little tacky, yet dry to the touch).
- Cool slightly, then stuff them with filling.
Keep in mind that these are tiny stuffed pancakes. They're similar in size to dumplings or samosas. So, you will only need a teaspoon of filling for each one. I like to use a 1.5 teaspoon dishing scooper because it's easier than eyeballing the amount.
After you cook them, lay the pancakes flat (bubbles side up) on a baking sheet. This makes a nice surface for them to cool on, and it also makes it easier to scoop the filling onto them.
How to Fry Qatayef
You don't need any fancy equipment to fry the stuffed qatayef; it can be done in a deep cast iron skillet or a Dutch oven. They're small, so you'll only need a couple of inches of cooking oil.
Be sure to use vegetable oil, or another cooking oil with a high smoke point. Peanut oil, avocado oil, and refined olive oil are good choices.
You'll also need large metal slotted spoon or a wire skimmer/strainer to remove the dumplings from the hot oil.
- Drain excess grease.
When the dumplings are nice and golden brown, remove them from the oil. Place them on a double layer of paper toweling to absorb any excess oil.
- Dip the stuffed pancakes in sweet syrup and nuts.
Recipe Notes and Tips
Make ahead instructions
If you'd like to make the stuffed pancakes before Ramadan iftar, you definitely can do so! Simply stuff and seal them, then place them into the freezer on a parchment lined baking sheet.
When they are frozen, you can transfer them to a plastic freezer storage bag. They'll keep well in the freezer for a couple of months.
When you're ready to cook, they can go straight from the freezer to the frying oil. Just be careful because the hot oil may sputter and splatter a bit.
Store any leftover qatayef at room temperature in an airtight container. They should stay fresh for a few days.
Qatayef are delicious at room temperature, but if you'd prefer to warm them up, reheat them for 15 minutes on a sheet pan in a 350° F. oven.
Qatayef (Sweet Stuffed Pancakes)
- 2 cups sugar (400 g )
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1¾ cups AP flour (240g)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp powdered milk
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 1 ¾ cups 425ml warm water
- 2 cups walnuts
- ¼ cup sugar 50g
- 1 tsp rose water
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- Vegetable oil for frying
- In a sauce pan over medium heat, add syrup ingredients, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Turn heat off and let it cool to room temperature. Sauce will thicken as it cools.
- Combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.
- Cover and let it sit for 30 minutes until bubbly and rises slightly.
- Stir the batter and check consistency. Batter should be thinner than pancake and not lumpy. Add a tablespoon of water if needed.
Cook the pancakes
- Heat a griddle or skillet until hot. Use a paper towel and a drop of oil to grease the pan. Add a scoop, about 2 tablespoons of the batter making a 3 inch circle.
- Gently cook pancake on one side, DO NOT FLIP onto the other side. Cook until lots of bubbles form on the surface of the pancake and surface is no longer wet. Adjust the heat and continue with remaining batter.
- Arrange qatayef bubble side up on a baking sheet (do not overlap them) and cover with a towel. Set aside until you are finished with the rest of the batter.
- Process the walnuts, cinnamon, sugar, and rose water in a food processor until finely chopped. Reserve ¾ cup for dipping garnish.
- Hold each qatayef bubble side up and add a teaspoon of the filling in the center. Fold the qatayef in half and pinch the sides to close firmly. (See Note 1).
- Pour 2 inches of oil in a frying pan and heat over medium-high until 350°F.
- Fry about 2 minutes each side, or until they become golden brown and crispy.
- Remove the Qatayef from the pan and drain for 1 minute on paper towels.
- While still hot, toss the qatayef into the cooled sugar syrup, turning to make sure they're well coated. Transfer to a wire rack placed over a baking sheet or piece of aluminum foil, allowing excess syrup to drip off.
- Dip the end of each soaked Qatayef into the reserved ¾ cup walnut filling, pressing to adhere if needed and sprinkle crushed, dried rose petals over and serve warm or at room temperature.
- At this point you could freeze for up to a month. To freeze, lay the Qatayef in a single layer over a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for a few hours until they harden. Transfer to a zipper lock bag then store in the freezer, until ready to fry. Fry directly from frozen (no need to thaw).
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.