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Spiced Beef Kanafeh

Kanafeh, traditionally is a Middle Eastern dessert made with thin strands of shredded phyllo dough called Kadaif.  It is usually filled with cheese and soaked in a sugary syrup flavored with rose or orange and topped with chopped nuts, find a traditional kanafeh recipe here.  

As the popularity of this dish has grown in Israel, as seen by the numerous places offering kanafeh in Jerusalem's Machaneh Yehuda, so has the interest in playing with the recipe and making all kinds of variations including our savory meat filled version of kanafeh. 

Instead of butter, we use extra virgin olive oil to coat and flavor the strands of phyllo and we layer in flavorful spiced beef. We top with a sweet syrup to mimic the traditional recipe. 

Meat kanafeh piece
  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 6Servings


Sugar water mixture

  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 12 oz. Kadayif (shredded filo dough)
  • ½ cup Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus an additional tablespoon for frying
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ lb. ground beef or lamb


  1. Pull apart the kadaif (shredded filo) and place in a large bowl. Pour the ½ cup of olive oil on top and mix until all the dough is coated.
  2. Make the sugar water mixture by boiling the water and sugar until it reaches a syrupy consistency, about 5 minutes.
  3. Place a frying pan on medium-high heat and drizzle a tablespoon of olive into the pan. Add the cinnamon, cumin, and salt, then mix. Add the ground beef and mix occasionally until cooked through about 7 minutes.
  4. Place a clean medium-sized frying on medium heat and drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil. Add half of the kadaif and use a spatula to press it down evenly onto the bottom of the pan.
  5. Place the cooked ground beef on top of the kadayif, spread evenly, followed by the remaining kadaif (also pressed down evenly) to complete the layers. Cook for 5 minutes until the bottom begins to turn golden brown.
  6. Place a plate on top of the pan and carefully flip the kanafeh onto the plate. Then slide the kanafeh back into the pan and cook the other side for 5 minutes.
  7. Drizzle the sugar water mixture evenly across the kanafeh.
  8. Transfer it to a serving platter and enjoy!