Best Cheese for Kunafa: A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Cheese

Kunafa is a popular Middle Eastern dessert that is often served during special occasions and celebrations.

This sweet and savory pastry is made with shredded phyllo dough that is layered with cheese and soaked in sweet syrup.

The cheese filling is a crucial component of Kunafa, and it is important to choose the right type of cheese to achieve the perfect balance of flavors and textures.

While traditional Kunafa recipes call for Akkawi cheese, which is a salty and stretchy cheese that is hard to find outside of the Middle East, many modern recipes use mozzarella cheese as a substitute.

Mozzarella cheese has a similar texture and stretchy cheese pull, and it is widely available in grocery stores around the world.

However, some Kunafa enthusiasts argue that mozzarella cheese is not the best choice for Kunafa, and that other types of cheese can be used to achieve a more authentic flavor profile.

In this article, we will explore the best types of cheese for Kunafa, including traditional and non-traditional options.

We will also discuss the characteristics of each type of cheese and how they affect the overall flavor and texture of the dessert.

Whether you are a Kunafa purist or a modernist, this article will provide you with the information you need to choose the best cheese for your Kunafa recipe.

What is Kunafa?


Kunafa is a Middle Eastern dessert that is made with a crispy and buttery pastry called kadaif, filled with sweet cheese, and soaked in a sugar syrup. It is a popular dessert in many countries in the Middle East, including Palestine, Lebanon, Turkey, and Egypt.

The pastry used in kunafa is made from shredded phyllo dough or kadaif dough, which is similar to vermicelli noodles. The dough is layered in a baking dish, and a sweet cheese filling is added on top.

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The cheese used in kunafa is typically akkawi or nabulsi cheese, which is slightly salty and has a stretchy texture.

However, mozzarella cheese is often used as a substitute for akkawi or nabulsi cheese, as it has a similar texture and stretchy cheese pull.

After the cheese is added, another layer of kadaif dough is placed on top, and the dessert is baked until golden brown. A sugar syrup made from a combination of sugar, water, and lemon juice is poured over the baked kunafa, and it is left to soak for several minutes before serving.

The Best Cheeses for Kunafa

Fresh Mozzarella

The cheese filling is the most important component of kunafa, as it provides the flavor and texture that makes this dessert so delicious. Choosing the right cheese is crucial to achieving the perfect kunafa. Here are some of the best cheeses for kunafa:

  • Akkawi Cheese: This is the traditional cheese used in kunafa. It has a salty and slightly tangy flavor and a stretchy texture that makes it perfect for kunafa. However, it can be difficult to find outside of the Middle East.
  • Nabulsi Cheese: This is another traditional cheese used in kunafa. It has a similar flavor and texture to Akkawi cheese but is a bit saltier. It can also be difficult to find outside of the Middle East.
  • Mozzarella Cheese: Mozzarella cheese is a popular substitute for Akkawi and Nabulsi cheese in kunafa recipes. It has a similar stretchy texture and mild flavor that works well in kunafa. It is also widely available in most grocery stores.
  • Ricotta Cheese: Ricotta cheese is another good option for kunafa. It has a creamy texture and a mild, slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with the sweetness of the pastry and syrup.
  • Cream Cheese: Cream cheese is a non-traditional but delicious option for kunafa. It has a smooth, creamy texture and a tangy flavor that adds a unique twist to the dessert.
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Ultimately, the best cheese for kunafa depends on personal preference and availability. Experiment with different cheeses to find the one that works best for you. Whether you choose traditional Akkawi or Nabulsi cheese or a non-traditional option like cream cheese, the cheese filling is sure to be the star of your kunafa.

How to Choose the Right Cheese for Kunafa

Kunafa is a Middle Eastern dessert that consists of a crispy pastry crust filled with cheese and soaked in sweet syrup. Choosing the right cheese for kunafa is crucial to achieving the perfect texture and flavor. Here are some tips to help you choose the right cheese for your kunafa:

  • Choose a cheese with a high moisture content: Cheese with a high moisture content, such as mozzarella or akkawi (Nabulsi) cheese, is ideal for kunafa. The high moisture content helps the cheese melt and become stretchy, which is essential for achieving the perfect cheese pull.
  • Avoid using hard or aged cheeses: Hard or aged cheeses, such as cheddar or Parmesan, are not suitable for kunafa. These cheeses do not melt well and can result in a dry and crumbly texture.
  • Consider the saltiness of the cheese: Kunafa typically has a slightly salty flavor, so it’s important to choose a cheese that complements this. Akkawi cheese is traditionally used in kunafa and has a slightly salty taste. If you can’t find akkawi cheese, mozzarella cheese is a good substitute as it has a similar taste and texture.

When choosing cheese for kunafa, it’s important to keep in mind the overall flavor profile of the dessert. The cheese should complement the sweetness of the syrup and the crispy texture of the pastry crust.

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By following these tips, you can choose the right cheese for your kunafa and create a delicious and authentic Middle Eastern dessert.


After researching the best cheese for kunafa, it is clear that the most traditional and authentic cheese is Akkawi. However, this cheese can be difficult to find outside of the Middle East. Mozzarella cheese is a popular substitute due to its similar texture and stretchy cheese pull.

Other cheeses that can be used in kunafa include ricotta, feta, and halloumi. Ricotta cheese is a good option for those who prefer a milder flavor, while feta cheese adds a tangy taste to the dessert. Halloumi cheese is a salty cheese that is similar to Akkawi, but it can be difficult to find in some areas.

When choosing a cheese for kunafa, it is important to consider the saltiness and texture of the cheese. Cheese that is too salty can overpower the sweetness of the dessert, while cheese that is not stretchy enough can result in a less satisfying cheese pull.

Ultimately, the best cheese for kunafa is a matter of personal preference. Experiment with different types of cheese to find the one that best suits your taste buds. Whether you choose Akkawi, mozzarella, ricotta, feta, or halloumi, the end result will be a delicious and satisfying dessert that is sure to impress.


The 5 Best Cheeses for Kunafa

If you're a fan of Kunafa, then you know that the cheese filling is what makes it truly special. But with so many types of cheese out there, how do you choose the right one? In this article, we've narrowed down the top 5 best cheeses for Kunafa.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Cheese, Dessert
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Servings 4 people
Calories 365 kcal


  • Akkawi Cheese
  • Nabulsi Cheese
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Ricotta Cheese
  • Cream Cheese


  • Select your favorite cheese from this article.
  • Organize all the required ingredients.
  • Prep a delicious Kunafa in 30 minutes or less!