What Are the Different Types of Turkish Desserts?

Susan Grindstaff

There are many different types of Turkish desserts, ranging from pies and pastries to preserves made using fresh fruits and rose petals. Some of the most common and recognizable Turkish desserts include baklava, muhallebi, dondurma, and asure. These desserts have a long history in the region, dating all the way back to the Ottoman Empire. Desserts that originate from Turkey are usually rich in nuts, syrups, and fruit.

Rose petals and rose water are common ingredients in Turkisk desserts.
Rose petals and rose water are common ingredients in Turkisk desserts.

Of all the Turkish desserts, baklava is probably the most popular, as the layered pastry is served in many bakeries and restaurants throughout the world. Traditional baklava consists of layers of filo dough that are stuffed with a mixture of ground nuts, spices, and honey or rich syrup. Various types of nuts and spices can be used, but most baklava recipes call for walnuts, pecans, cinnamon and cloves. The pastry is baked, and then cut before serving. Baklava can typically be made well ahead of time, then refrigerated or frozen until needed.

Many Turkish desserts incorporate both fruits and nuts.
Many Turkish desserts incorporate both fruits and nuts.

Asure is an unusual pudding-based dessert, and is made using a mixture of rose water, nuts, fruits, and beans. Most recipes call for the use of a combination of chickpeas and white beans, but other beans can be used. According to folk tales, asure was first served on Noah’s Ark, and was made from all the items that Noah had on hand. Asure requires a great deal of preparation and is usually reserved for special occasions such as religious holidays or festivals. In many families, special recipes for asure are handed down through generations.

Muhallebi describes a whole family of pudding-like Turkish desserts. Traditionally, these puddings are made without using eggs, and are typically thickened with rice flour. Some of the most common flavors of muhallebi are coconut, vanilla, and cinnamon. Muhallebi can be served alone, but is often garnished with spices, fruits, nuts or heavy syrup. In Turkey, some muhallebi recipes call for the addition of meat or poultry being added to the sweetened pudding.

Dondurma is a Turkish dessert that is in many ways like ice cream, made from sugar, milk, mastic, and salep. Mastic is a type of flour made from orchid roots, and is used to add thickness to the dish. Salep is a resin which is added to give dondurma a gummy texture. The rich confection is served frozen, and is can be made in many different flavors or with the addition of chopped fruit and nuts.

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Discussion Comments


@SteamLouis-- No, you don't have to include the rose water. But I do suggest adding some orange zest.

I'm Turkish and I think asure was the first dessert I ever had. My grandmother used to make it for us when we were children. We still make it now, at least once or twice a year. I remember once, my grandmother had made a huge pot of asure. She gave my brother and I spoons to taste it. When she came back to check on us fifteen minutes later, she was shocked to see that half of the pot was gone!

Asure is not only very delicious, it's extremely nutritious. It has complex carbohydrates (wheat berry), fiber and vitamins (dried fruits like figs, apricots and raisins) and protein (walnuts, chick peas, white peas). I also like putting fresh peach cubes. It's not just dessert, it's a complete meal.

I do believe that this was the meal that Noah and his companions made on the ark. I doubt they had sugar at that time though. They probably used honey and dry fruits as sweetener. But what a lovely meal God gave them and I'm happy that I've been eating it my whole life.


I had never heard of asure, or Noah's pudding, until today. I came across the recipe in a book that features recipes from around the world. It sounds very delicious, I would like to try it. Do I have to add rose water or can I leave it out?


Cinnamon is actually not a common ingredient in Turkish baklava. Neither are pecans. Maybe these are used in Greek baklava, I'm not sure.

I stayed in Turkey for a while and I had two types of baklava when I was there -- walnut and pistachio baklava. Pistachio baklava is amazing. I think it's the best dessert I've ever had. It is quite expensive because pistachios are expensive. But since baklava is very rich and very, very sweet, one can't have more than a few pieces anyway.

I can't wait to visit Turkey again for more fresh baklava.

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