I have some Lebanese heritage on my mom's side (my grandma was born in Lebanon), so I've grown up eating a lot of it. Grape leaves are one of my favorite foods, and I've loved baklava since I can remember. While I've eaten a bunch of Lebanese food, baklava is the only Lebanese dessert I ate regularly growing up. To learn more about the food of my ancestors, I asked my mom for her recommendation on which classic Lebanese desserts you have to try at least once in your life. 

1. Baklava

pastry, pie, cake, baklava, sweet, strudel, cream
Shelby McLennan

Everyone in my family knows baklava is my favorite. My aunt always made it for family events, saying it was special for me. Baklava is basically layers of filo dough, nuts, and syrup. It's sticky, sweet, flaky, and utterly addicting. There are many different variations of this dessert depending on where in the world you're enjoying it. I've also grown up pronouncing this dessert differently than most people since

#SpoonTip: The Lebanese pronunciation of baklava is a little different than what you're probably used to saying.

2. Lebanese Rice Pudding

Lebanese rice pudding is hit or miss for most people. My uncle loves it, but my mom thinks it tastes like perfume. I say you should try it at least once to form your own opinion. Check out this recipe for Lebanese rice pudding to find out if you like it or not.

3. Kanafeh/Knefe

This is a dessert that I actually tried for the first time while I was at work because there was some left over from an event (I work on my campus at a place called the Center for Global Engagement). This also uses filo dough, as well as cheese. It's sweet and savory, and while these mixed flavors may be confusing, it's confusing in the best way possible. 

4. Maamoul 

This is a Middle Eastern cookie with a nut filling that's typically made on religious holidays. Nuts are a popular ingredient in Lebanese desserts, in case you hadn't noticed. Maamoul can also include flavorings such as rose water. 

5. Nammoura 

This is a cake-like dessert that's made with yogurt and semolina flour, then soaked in a syrup. It's topped with almonds and is incredibly easy to make.

6. Atayef

Atayef are Middle Eastern-style pancakes that are stuffed with a cream filling and topped with nuts. If cooking intimidates you, you can start with this simple atayef recipe, although it may not be quite as authentic as the real thing.

7. Jazarieh

Jazarieh is a dessert that either has carrot slices or pumpkin preserves in it. This dessert also includes (unsurprisingly) nuts and a syrup. Spices can be added to the dish but they are optional. 

8. Znoud El Sett

These are cream-filled pastries that are also soaked in a syrup. The name translates to "upper arms of the lady," which was referencing a specific woman that they were named after. 

#SpoonTip: To make your life easier, use store-bought filo when making this Lebanese dessert.

9. Mafrokeh

This pastry includes cream, nuts, and rosewater, among other ingredients. Although mafrokeh isn't difficult to make, it does take about two hours to prepare, so plan accordingly if you make it yourself. It has a semolina cake base and is topped with a cream filling. 

10. Ayesh el Saraya

Ayesh el Saray tastes kind of like chilled French toast that's been topped with custard. It features syrup and rosewater and is fairly easy to make. 

Although many of these Lebanese desserts are new to me, I'm so excited now to get out and try these. Baklava will always be my first love as far as Lebanese desserts go, but I'm so ready to try more.