Pecan Bourbon Baklava

Photo by Joseph De Leo, Prop Styling by Megan Hedgpeth, Food Styling by Simon Andrews

The honey-bourbon syrup is the star of this baklava. Serve it with cherries and vanilla ice cream for a decadent summer dessert.

Active Time
1 hour
Total Time
2 1/4 hour (plus one day for standing)


  1. For Baklava:
    • 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    • 1 lb pecans, lightly toasted (see Tips)
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 9 (17 by 12-inch) sheets phyllo dough, thawed if frozen
  2. For Syrup:
    • 3/4cup mild honey (preferably acacia)
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 5 whole cloves
    • 3 (3-inch) strips lemon zest
    • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp bourbon, divided
    • Accompaniments: vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream, fresh figs and cherries


  1. Make Baklava:
    1. Preheat oven to 375 ̊F with rack in the middle. Lightly brush a 13 by 9-inch baking pan with melted butter.
    2. Pulse pecans, sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor until finely chopped.
    3. Cut phyllo sheets in half crosswise, forming 18 (12 by 8 1/2-inch) sheets, then arrange in 1 stack and cover with plastic wrap.
    4. Keeping remaining phyllo covered and working quickly, place 1 sheet on a work surface and gently brush with butter. Top with another sheet and brush with butter. Continue layering until you have a stack of 6 buttered sheets. Transfer to a baking dish sprinkle with half of remaining pecan mixture. Repeat with another stack of 3 buttered sheets and sprinkle with remaining pecan mixture. Top with a stack of 6 buttered sheets.
    5. Score pastry with a sharp knife in quarters lengthwise, then score on a diagonal making 6 cuts about 2 inches apart to create a diamond pattern.
    6. Bake baklava 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 ̊F until top is golden, 40-45 minutes more.
  2. Make syrup while baklava bakes:
    1. Bring honey, sugar, water, cloves, zest, and 1/4 cup bourbon to a simmer in a small pot, stirring until sugar and honey have dissolved. Remove from heat and let stand while baklava finishes baking.
    2. When baklava has finished baking, transfer in pan to a rack. Boil syrup until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 2 Tbsp bourbon. Discard zest and cloves and pour hot syrup to be absorbed and flavors to develop. Cut into diamonds by cutting lengthwise into fourths, then diagonally across.
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