Manakish are a delicious Lebanese pizza topped with zaatar or cheese or a variety of toppings. Also known as manaeesh, they are made with a simple olive oil based dough that comes together so quickly and easily. You’ll love experimenting with these and eating them even more!
What are manakish?
Manakish are savory pastries also known as manaeesh, manouche, man’ouche or manaqish depending on the dialect you are using. They are Lebanese pizzas, leavened flatbreads but without any pizza sauce.
Instead, manakish usually come in one of two varieties- cheese manakish and zaatar manakish. The cheese is usually akkawi (akawi), halloumi, or a mixture of both. The zaatar is a delicious Middle Eastern blend of thyme, sesame seeds, sumac, and toasted cumin.
Manaeesh are similar to fatayer, which is another Middle Eastern dough based recipe, but fatayer are usually folded like calzone instead of open faced.
Why should I make this recipe?
There’s no denying how delicious manakish are. They are traditionally made in a wood fire oven, but you can recreate the deliciousness using a regular oven making this the perfect at home recipe.
The dough itself has a prominent flavor of olive oil, and is very easy to work with and versatile.
There are lots of topping options (I give you some ideas below).
Kids will love eating this, and they have a lot of fun making their own manakish by choosing their own toppings.
Manaeesh freeze really well too, and are great to have in the freezer for a quick breakfast/snack/lunchbox idea.
What ingredients do you need for manakish dough?
The ingredients for the dough are every day ingredients you’ll probably have right in your pantry.
Flour: I like using a 50/50 mix of all purpose and whole wheat flour. You can do all of either, but the full whole wheat flour will be denser and not as fluffy or light.
You can also use bread flour, or a mix of regular flour and bread flour. This recipe is pretty forgiving!
I haven’t tried this with any gluten free flour or flour blends so I can’t speak to that.
Olive Oil: use the best quality olive oil you can get, because the flavor is really prominent in this recipe.
Warm Water: you want lukewarm water, that’s not too hot that it’ll burn the yeast, but warm enough to activate it- about 110 F or 40 C. I never bother reading the water temperature with a thermometer, I just stick a finger in it. If it’s warm to the touch but not so hot that I want to remove my finger, then that’s what I aim for.
How to make the best easy manakish:
- You mix together half the flour with the instant yeast, sugar and salt. Add in the warm water and olive oil, and mix to combine. Use your hands, and it’ll come right together.
- After that, add the remaining half of the flour, and give a little knead with your hands until combined and shaped in a smooth dough ball.
- Drizzle a bowl with olive oil, place the dough ball in, and drizzle the top of the dough with more olive oil.
- Allow to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes to an hour, until doubled in size. I baked these after 30 minutes and they came out great.
- Once dough is puffy and risen, you divide it into as many dough balls as you want. I did four big manakish, but I’d recommend doing 6-8 more moderate sized ones. Stretch out into manakish shaped oblong circles, by using fingers or a rolling pin, top with your preferred topping and bake in a hot 400F (205C) oven.
Check the video in the recipe card if you want to see the steps in action!
For cheese manakish:
To make these delicious Arabic cheese breads, just top with cheese of your choice. Anything from mozzarella, to akkawi, to halloumi, to a mix of cheeses including feta. You can top with nigella seeds for even bigger flavor.
For zaatar manakish:
Mix together the zaatar and olive oil to make the zaatar topping, and use a spoon to spread evenly on the dough, leaving a border of dough without zaatar.
I let the dough rise in a bowl inside my washing machine lol. This is one of my favorite hacks! It’s a warm enclosed place away from any drafty breezes.
Alternate Lebanese pizza toppings:
You can do a mix of zaatar and cheese, this is actually my favorite! After spreading the zaatar on the dough, sprinkle some cheese on top before baking.
You can do an assortment of cheeses. Try all halloumi, kashkaval, akkawi cheese. You can also do shredded mozzarella, or a mix of cheese.
Nutella manakish are another very popular rendition. To make these, you’d have to spread on half the manakish dough, then fold over the other half of the dough on top, and bake calzone style so that the nutella doesn’t burn in the oven.
If you want labneh manakish, bake the dough until done, then spread labneh on it once it comes out of the oven. You can top with fresh mint, tomatoes and cucumbers.
What to serve with:
These are amazing with a piping hot cup of tea, with olives and fresh vegetables like tomato wedges and cucumber sticks on the side.
Leftovers will keep well for 2-3 days in the fridge. Reheat before enjoying.
These also freeze so well. Wrap tightly or place in a freezer bag and freeze for 2-3 months. They’ll thaw quickly at room temperature, and if you want them warm you can gently microwave. It’s so handy to have some in the freezer to stick in lunchboxes or have for breakfast or work lunches.
Recipe tips and tricks:
- For a quick dough rise, let the dough rise in a warm enclosed place. My favorite hack is to place the bowl inside my turned off washing machine. It stays warm, and isn’t subject to any cold drafts.
- Make sure that the yeast you are using is still active, by mixing 2 teaspoon of yeast with 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 cup of warm water. Wait 10 minutes, and see if the mixture is bubbling and foamy. If it is, you are good to go!
- If using akkawi cheese, you’ll want to desalt it. You do this by soaking it water for hours, or even overnight, swapping out the water every few hours. The water draws out the extra salt in the cheese.
I would recommend doing a mix of whole wheat and regular flour, or even all regular flour. Whole wheat flour makes them more dense and less fluffy.
The dough itself is vegan, so if you choose the zaatar topping, you have the tastiest naturally vegan zaatar manakish. It all depends on what toppings you use!
You can place the dough in a covered bowl after the first rise, and keep it overnight in the fridge. You’ll want to take it out and let it come to room temperature before dividing and shaping your flatbreads. I would recommend using fresh dough though, especially since it comes together so easily.
For more easy dough recipes:
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟rating in the recipe card and a comment!
- 1 cup and 3 tbsp all purpose flour 150g
- 1 cup and 3 tbsp whole wheat flour 150g
- 2.5 teaspoon instant yeast
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 3/4 cup warm water 175 g
- plus extra olive oil for drizzling
For zaatar topping:
- 4 tablespoon zaatar
- 5 tablespoon olive oil
For cheese topping:
- 1 cup grated akkawi cheese, kashkaval, mozzarella or halloumi 240g
- In a large bowl, add half the amount of flour, the yeast, sugar and salt. Whisk to combine.
- Add the olive oil and warm water, and use your hands to mix the dough until combined. Add the remaining flour, and knead it in until dough is nice and smooth. Shape into a ball, and lift out of the bowl. Drizzle some olive oil in the bowl you were using, place the dough ball back in, and drizzle the top with a little more olive oil.
- Loosely cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, and allow to rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes or until dough is doubled and puffy. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 F (205 C ).
- Punch dough down, knead a little, then divide into 6 or 8 balls, depending on the size of the manakish you want. On a lightly floured surface, press the dough balls into an oblong manakish shape like pictured. You can use your hands to shape the dough, or a rolling pin.The dough should be very easy to work with, but if it's sticky, lightly dust the top with flour
- Mix together the zaatar and olive oil to make the zaatar topping, and use a spoon to spread evenly on the dough, leaving a border of dough without zaatar. If using cheese, just top the zaatar mix with the cheese, or add cheese without any zaatar underneath. You might find it easier to place the dough on parchment lined baking sheets, and assemble directly on the sheets.
- Bake for 8-12 minutes (the range of time depends on the size of the manakish), until dough is lightly browned on the edges, and if you lift up a manakish the bottom is cooked through and lightly browned. For cheese manakish, I like to broil for 1-2 minutes to get a little more crunch and to get the cheese golden brown.
- Once out of the oven, rest for a few minutes, then enjoy warm!