Deliciously Sweet Halva Recipe: A Middle-Eastern Treat!

Dear food enthusiasts, I would like to introduce to you a classic Greek sweet recipe that has been passed down for generations – halva made from semolina. This traditional Greek dessert is typically served during Orthodox religious celebrations and is often enjoyed throughout the year in households all over Greece.

The sweet aroma of cinnamon, with the sprinkling of sesame seeds, walnuts, and pine nuts, all blended together with milk and water, creates a tantalizing melody that is utterly irresistible to anyone who is lucky enough to taste it. I will show you my family’s personal recipe for this decadent dish.

For those who are unfamiliar with halva, it’s a delectable combination of semolina pudding sweetened with syrup and studded with nuts raisins. The texture of the halva is soft and fluffy but also has a slight crispiness that makes every bite satisfying.

This recipe is suitable for vegans as there are no animal products included in the ingredients. But don’t let that fool you; the taste will transport you instantly to the shores of Greece!

So, grab your apron and mixing bowl and let’s make some authentic Greek halva together. Trust me; your taste buds will thank you!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Halva (A Greek Sweet Using Semolina)
Halva (A Greek Sweet Using Semolina)

Allow me to introduce you to a traditional Greek sweet that is sure to sweep you off your feet – Halva! Made from simple ingredients like semolina, olive oil, sugar and water, this dessert has been cherished in Greece for generations. I can assure you that once you try it, you’ll be hooked!

One of my favorite things about Greek Halva is its versatility. It can be made in a variety of ways, from spiced Semolina pudding studded with nuts and raisins to a cake-like Halva made with coarse Semolina flour. Semolina flour is the key ingredient in this recipe which gives it a unique texture unlike any other desserts.

This Halva recipe is perfect for anyone looking for a vegan dessert option that does not skimp on taste! Just think – With the simple substitution of milk for water, anyone can enjoy this delicious treat. And for those who are lactose intolerant or avoiding dairy, this substitution proves to be a life-saver.

Greek Orthodox communities commonly serve Halva during fasting periods when animal products are avoided. The traditional Greek Halva recipe is also suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

The best part about this recipe is how easy it is to make! In less than an hour, with ingredients easily available in most kitchens or supermarkets, you can indulge in the creamy, nutty goodness of this sweet delight. Trust me when I say that one bite of this Vegan Greek semolina pudding sweetened syrup studded nuts raisins would have you coming back for more!

In summary, if you love desserts that are not just easy to make but are also vegan friendly, and crave distinctive textures and flavors; then the Greek Halva is your ideal dessert. It is an absolute must-try recipe that will leave everyone wanting more!

Ingredient List

 The irresistible aroma of sweet semolina and honey.
The irresistible aroma of sweet semolina and honey.

Ingredients in traditional Greek halva:
Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups of fine semolina flour
  • 1/4 cup of coarse semolina flour
  • Cinnamon (optional)

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 cups of water
  • 4 cups of extra virgin olive oil
  • Sweetened syrup (made by combining sugar and water in a pot and boiling until it reaches a syrup-like consistency)
  • Studded nuts and raisins for topping (traditionally walnuts, pine nuts, sesame seeds, or any combination of those)

Substitutions and Variations

  • Corn oil can be used in place of olive oil for a more neutral flavor.
  • Vegan halva enthusiasts can replace the milk-based sweetened syrup with a vegan-friendly alternative, such as agave or maple syrup.
  • Spiced semolina pudding with raisins is also an outstanding variation from the traditional recipe.

The Recipe How-To

 A pinch of cinnamon is the secret ingredient that enhances the flavor of this Halva.
A pinch of cinnamon is the secret ingredient that enhances the flavor of this Halva.

Preparing the Ingredients

Before starting with the recipe, ensure that you have all the necessary ingredients ready:

  • 2 cups semolina
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Gather all the ingredients and sort them out separately. Roasting nuts and sesame beforehand will help you to save a lot of time.

Cooking Process
Step 1: Prepare the syrup

The first step is to prepare the syrup. Take a pot and pour in sugar and water. Heat it up and stir well until syrup gets slightly thickened. Once done, set this aside.

Step 2: Cook the Semolina

Next, heat up olive oil in a separate pan or pot. Add semolina and continuosly stir until it gets golden brown. Be patient; this can take around ten minutes.

Step 3: Add Syrup

Pour the previously prepared syrup over the golden-colored semolina while stirring continuously for about five minutes until everything is mixed properly.

Step 4 – Add Crunchy Toppings

Now that everything is mixed, add walnuts, pine nuts and sesame seeds on top while still hot so they stick to the halva. Gently mix it by folding, so as not to break up the nut pieces too much.

Step 5 – Cool Down & Serve!

Finally, let your halva cool completely before cutting to portions or serving it in a big platter! Enjoy its crunchy texture with a little bit of spiced flavour from cinnamon on top.

With these simple steps, you can make your own traditional Greek halva that’s both sweet and nutty!

Substitutions and Variations

 Halva is a traditional Greek dessert that can be enjoyed any time of the day.
Halva is a traditional Greek dessert that can be enjoyed any time of the day.

As a chef, I love to experiment with different ingredients and variations of recipes. The recipe for halva is no exception. Here are some substitutions and variations you can try to make this traditional Greek sweet your own unique creation.

Firstly, for those who follow a vegan lifestyle, you can replace the milk in this recipe with nut milk such as almond or cashew milk. This will give your halva a delicious nutty taste and make it an ideal snack for those who avoid animal-based products.

If you’re not a fan of walnuts or pine nuts, you can substitute them with other nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts or pistachios. These will add a delightful crunch to your halva and give it a different taste profile.

For those who have a sweet tooth and want to add more flavor to the dish, you can add raisins or dried cranberries to your semolina mixture. I prefer larger-sized raisins that are plump and juicy because they give an unexpected sweetness, texture and aroma to the final product.

Another variation is spicing up your halva by adding cinnamon to it. Cinnamon works well with the halva’s nutty flavors and gives it a warm, cozy, comforting feel. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can experiment with different spices like cardamom, cloves or nutmeg too.

Finally, if you want to make your halva healthier, you can decrease the amount of sugar called for in the recipe. Instead of using refined sugar, go for honey or maple syrup in moderation. Substitute olive oil instead of corn oil.

However you choose to make this traditional Greek sweet using semolina – whether it’s sticking close to the traditional recipe or adding in one (or more!) of these creative twists – enjoy yourself! Remember: cooking should be fun, so don’t be afraid to try new things!

Serving and Pairing

 A close-up shot of the golden brown Halva with the perfect texture and rich flavor!
A close-up shot of the golden brown Halva with the perfect texture and rich flavor!

When serving Greek halva, it’s best to keep things simple. This sweet dessert is usually enjoyed as part of an afternoon snack or after-dinner treat, and it pairs perfectly with a hot cup of coffee or tea. You can also serve it alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream to add creaminess and coolness to the dish.

Serving options for halva are endless – you can serve it in traditional squares, rounds, or even as a cake. It’s also common to top it with some cinnamon, sesame seeds, walnuts, and pine nuts to add some extra crunch and nuttiness to the dish. You could also drizzle some honey over the top for added sweetness.

One of the most popular ways to enjoy Greek halva is by slicing it up into small pieces and serving it as part of a dessert platter with other Greek sweets like baklava and kataifi. This not only makes for an impressive display but also offers diverse flavors for everyone’s taste buds to enjoy.

Whether you choose to serve it warm, cold or room temperature, there is no denying that Greek halva is a standout dessert that offers warmth and comfort in every bite. Its versatility makes it an excellent choice for any occasion or time of year, not just within traditional Greek Orthodox celebrations but as a vegan dessert option too.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A satisfying treat that will remind you of warm Greek hospitality.
A satisfying treat that will remind you of warm Greek hospitality.

Once your Greek semolina halva is cooked, it can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3-4 days. It’s best not to refrigerate the halva as low temperatures can make it dry and hard. If you are planning to make the halva ahead of time or want to store your leftovers, let the cake cool, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer. The halva can last up to three months in the freezer.

When you’re ready to savor this sweet treat again, remove the halva from the freezer and let it sit out at room temperature for a few hours to thaw. You can then reheat it gently in the oven or microwave if desired. To keep your halva extra moist and soft, pour a little bit of milk over it before reheating.

The traditional Greek halva recipe is a perfect make-ahead dessert with simple steps that should be followed exactly. If well prepared, storing and reheating the semolina pudding should not be an issue at all. Its spiced flavor, texture and aroma will stay just as good as they were when freshly made.

Tips for Perfect Results

 The combination of toasted almonds and golden raisins is unbeatable in this Halva.
The combination of toasted almonds and golden raisins is unbeatable in this Halva.

Cooking is a science that requires precise measurements and techniques to get the perfect result. Halva, like any other recipe, can benefit from some tips and tricks that enhance the flavor and texture of the dessert. Here are some tips for perfect results when making Greek halva:

1. Toast the semolina and sesame seeds: This step is crucial for achieving a rich and nutty flavor in your halva. Toast the semolina and sesame seeds in a dry pan until golden brown before adding any liquids.

2. Use coarse semolina: Using coarse semolina instead of fine results in a different texture that makes halva dense and chewy. The coarse grains also give it a rustic look.

3. Accuracy of ingredient measurements: Be accurate when measuring ingredients to get consistent results every time you make the recipe.

4. Keep stirring: Constant stirring helps distribute heat evenly throughout the mixture, preventing lumps from forming.

5. Don’t rush adding ingredients: When adding ingredients such as milk or sugar, do so slowly while stirring continuously to prevent lumps.

6. Add spices: Cinnamon is commonly used in halva recipes to add an aromatic flavor. You can also experiment with other spices, such as cardamom or nutmeg, to give your halva a unique taste.

7. Walnut and Pine Nuts: Adding walnuts or pine nuts adds richness and crunchiness to your halva while also providing nutritive value.

8. Sweetened syrup studded nuts and raisins: It’s common traditional practice that you finish halva with sweetened syrup studded nuts and raisins on top for an extra crunch.

In conclusion, if you’re aiming to make perfect Greek Halva that satisfies your sweet tooth while delivering fluffiness, nuttiness, flavor bursts try these tips as these have helped many like Akis Petretzikis (Greek Chef) gain popularity on YouTube with his delectable Halva recipe made using Semolina pudding sweetened syrup studded with nuts &raisins, and cinnamon spiced flavour which traces its roots back tradition & greek orthoxoy origin with no compromise on being vegan-friendly!


As you get ready to whip up this delightful Greek sweet, you may have some questions or concerns. Whether it’s about substitutions, storage, or serving suggestions, we’ve got you covered in the following FAQ section. Take a moment to read through these commonly asked questions before starting your cooking adventure with this halva recipe made with semolina.

Is halva made from semolina?

Halva is a delectable dessert made from semolina, syrup, and nuts, with an infusion of raisins. This dish has a rich Arabic history, but it has been assimilated into Greek cuisine. It’s particularly popular during fasting periods because of the absence of eggs or dairy in the preparation.

What is Greek halva made of?

When it comes to making flour halva, there are certain staples that are essential to the recipe. These include flour, semolina, butter, oil or ghee, water, and sugar. On the other hand, nut-based halva is crafted using sesame or sunflower seeds. These ingredients are carefully blended into a smooth paste, which is then mixed with hot sugar syrup and molded into bars.

What is the difference between halva and halvah?

The process of making halvah differs between Israeli and Indian cuisine. In Israeli cuisine, a combination of tahini and honey is used to produce a flaky and gratifying fudge, while Indian halva is prepared using semolina to create a crumbly and granular texture.

What is the base of halva?

Halva is a delectable treat that gets its unique texture from sesame paste (tahini). It has a soft, crumbly and dense consistency, thanks to the sesame base. This ingredient gives halva a mild, nutty undertone, which makes it perfect for blending with various flavorings.

Bottom Line


In conclusion, I hope this recipe for Greek Halva sweet made with semolina has inspired you to try something new. As an Israeli chef, I have been fortunate to travel and learn about different cooking styles and flavors from around the world. Greek Halva is definitely one of my favorites.

By using this recipe, you can enjoy a delicious traditional Greek dessert, perfect for any occasion or time of day. The combination of sesame seeds, cinnamon, walnuts, and pine nuts gives it a unique and mouth-watering flavor that everyone will love.

Not only is halva rich in taste, but it is also vegan-friendly, so it can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of their dietary restrictions. Plus, you can make substitutions and variations to fit your taste preference.

I assure you that with my tips and easy-to-follow instructions, anyone can make this delicious dessert without ever stepping foot in a Greek Orthodox monastery kitchen.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your ingredients and get ready to embark on a culinary adventure that will transport your taste buds to the beautiful country of Greece. Trust me; it’s totally worth it!

Halva (A Greek Sweet Using Semolina)

Halva (A Greek Sweet Using Semolina) Recipe

This is a type of pudding, very popular here in Greece. Economical to make and tasty.
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Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Greek
Calories 382.5 kcal


  • 1 cup best quality olive oil (or you can use a combo of 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup corn oil or butter, anything totalling 1 cup)
  • 2 cups fine ground semolina
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups milk


  • coarsely ground walnuts or pine nuts, toasted
  • sesame seeds, toasted (optional)
  • cinnamon


  • Dissolve the sugar in the water and milk and bring it to a bare simmer.
  • Boil for 5 minutes and remove from heat.
  • At the same time, brown the semolina in the oil on medium-high heat, stirring continuously.
  • This should take 4-5 minutes. Add the nutmeats for the last 2-3 minutes to toast them slightly.
  • When the semolina has taken a golden brown colour, add the syrup to it (taking care not to burn your hands, as this bubbles and steams up excessively- be prepared!), turn down the heat and keep stirring until you get a kind of thick porridge. Continue cooking until the mixture is very thick and pulls away from the sides of the pan as you stir.
  • Spoon into a buttered or oiled bundt pan and pack down with the back of a spoon. Let it cool. (I use a silicone bundt pan for this - eliminates the need to grease, and my halvah comes out in a pretty pattern).
  • Unmold onto a platter and sprinkle with more walnuts, toasted sesame (optional) and cinnamon.
  • You should not put this dessert in the refrigerator.
  • It can keep for a few days outside the refrigerator, assuming you can gather enough will power not to eat it all at once.
  • Some oil may start to drain off after a day or so, but this is to be expected, just dab it away with some kitchen paper.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 119gCalories: 382.5kcalCarbohydrates: 45.5gProtein: 5.1gFat: 20.9gSaturated Fat: 3.2gCholesterol: 4.5mgSodium: 17.2mgFiber: 1.4gSugar: 26.9g
Keyword < 30 Mins, Dessert, European, For Large Groups, Greek, Kid-Friendly
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