Cheese Fatayer

5 from 5 votes

Cheese Fatayer is a delicious Lebanese pastry perfect for dinner, savory breakfast, or brunch, offering irresistible flavor and comfort in every bite.

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Ever tried making Cheese Fatayer at home? If not, you’re seriously missing out. This recipe became a fast favorite in my kitchen for when I crave something cheesy and satisfying. A mix of mozzarella and feta cheese is wrapped in a simple dough and baked until golden and gooey. Sounds good, right? This cheese fatayer is the kind of recipe that looks impressive but is secretly easy to pull off, perfect for those of us who like to keep things straightforward in the kitchen.

Serving bowl full of homemade cheese fatayer with a few off to the side.
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I’ll be honest, the first time I decided to make homemade cheese fatayer, I was a bit skeptical. Would it be worth the effort? Turns out, it’s not only worth it but also surprisingly fun. The dough is basic—nothing too fancy, just your usual ingredients like flour, yeast, and olive oil coming together to create a cheese fatayer that is both soft and slightly crispy. And the filling? Just the right balance of creamy mozzarella and tangy feta, with a little parsley and pepper to spice things up.

Recipe At a Glance

Cuisine Inspiration: Middle Eastern
Primary Cooking Method: Oven-baked
Dietary Info: Vegetarian
Key Flavor: Cheesy and savory
Skill Level: Intermediate

Summary

  • Lebanese flavors: With this Middle Eastern cheese fatayer, you not only get to enjoy a delicious and satisfying dish but also get a taste of Lebanon’s vibrant culinary traditions.
  • Versatile serving suggestions: With irresistible flavor and satisfying comfort in every bite, you can serve these savory pastries as an appetizer or for breakfast, brunch, or dinner.
  • Unique texture: The combination of chewy dough and cheesy filling is a total crowd-pleaser. The blend of two different cheeses provides a unique and satisfying flavor that makes this impressive appetizer stand out from the rest.
  • Addictively delicious: Homemade cheese fatayer is the epitome of comfort food – warm, gooey, and full of flavor. These savory cheese pies are impossible to resist, and you won’t be able to stop at just one.

Ingredients to Make Cheese Fatayer

Ingredients for recipe before prepping: cheese, flour, feta, chopped parsley, black pepper, oil, instant yeast, sugar, and salt.
  • All-purpose flour: Gives these homemade cheese fatayer a perfectly soft and airy texture. It provides structure and elasticity, creating a soft and pliable dough.
  • Instant yeast: Makes the dough rise and helps aerate it for a fluffy and light bite.
  • Sugar: Sugar helps to activate the yeast, allowing it to ferment which helps the dough rise. It also adds a subtle sweetness.
  • Salt: Balances the flavors in the dough and helps give the dough structure.
  • Olive oil: Helps add flavor and moisture to the cheese fatayer dough, resulting in a softer and smoother dough.
  • Mozzarella cheese: Melts into gooey, stretchy cheese filling and helps to hold feta and parsley together.
  • Feta cheese: Adds a tangy, salty flavor that pairs well with cheesy mozzarella and soft dough. Feta cheese brings a crumbly texture that complements mozzarella’s creaminess.
  • Fresh parsley: Provides a fresh, herbal flavor and pop of color.
  • Black pepper: Adds a subtle kick and balances the other rich flavors.
  • Try a different cheese. Though traditionally, mozzarella is the gold standard in Middle Eastern cheese fatayer, you can try sharp cheddar, Gruyère, or even smoked gouda for a unique flavor profile.
  • Swap feta cheese. If you prefer a less tangy flavor, substitute the feta cheese with goat cheese or mild blue cheese. These cheeses are still bold in flavor but have less tang than feta cheese.
  • Add creaminess. Try adding ricotta cheese or cottage cheese to the filling to give it a little creamy texture. Be careful not to add too much so the cheese filling doesn’t spill over during baking.
  • Try other herbs. Enhance the filling flavor with additional herbs and spices such as chopped fresh mint, oregano, or a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  • Tasty add-ins. Add chopped olives, sun-dried tomatoes, or even ground meat to the cheese mixture for different flavor and texture.

How to Make Cheese Fatayer

Authentic Lebanese cheese fatayer may appear intimidating but once you break it down, you’ll quickly learn that it’s not that hard. After mixing a simple 3-ingredient cheese mixture, you’ll get started on the pastry dough. Then, tuck the cheese into the dough, form it into a boat shape, and bake until golden brown and delicious. Follow these simple steps for the best homemade cheese fatayer.

Make the Cheese Filling

  1. In a large bowl, add shredded mozzarella cheese, feta cheese, parsley, and black pepper.
  2. Combine and set aside in the fridge until ready to use.
2 image collage showing filling ingredients before and after combining.

Prepare the Dough

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment, mix the flour, water, yeast, sugar, and salt until it comes together in a shaggy mixture. Add the olive oil and continue to mix until the dough becomes soft and smooth.
  2. Cover the dough with a slightly damp kitchen towel and set aside at room temperature until the dough has doubled its volume.
2 image collage making dough before and after rising.

Assemble and Bake

  1. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into 24 even pieces. Shape into round balls and set aside at room temperature until they have doubled in volume.
  2. Use your hands to flatten the dough in a circular shape. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of the cheese mixture onto each dough round.
  3. Pinch the dough from two opposite sides up in the shape of a boat. Push the cheese mixture down.
  4. Bake until the tops are golden brown and the cheese is melted.
4 image collage making recipe: 1-dough formed into balls, 2- dough balls pressed into round and filled with filling, 3-dough shaped around filling before baking, 4- after baking.

Tips for Making the Best Lebanese Cheese Fatayer

  1. Proper dough kneading. Make sure your dough is smooth, elastic, and doesn’t stick to your hands or the bowl. If it does, knead for a few more minutes. Working the dough on a flat surface like a countertop can be helpful.
  2. Grease the bowl. After kneading the dough, lightly oil the bowl and transfer the dough back into it to prevent it from sticking later.
  3. Keep the dough covered. To prevent the dough from drying out, keep it covered with a damp kitchen towel any time you’re waiting for it to rise or when you need to be working on other components.
  4. Push down the cheese. Two or 3 minutes before the cheese fatayer finishes baking, you can use a spoon to push down any cheese that starts to ooze out.
Golden brown cheese fatayer in a rectangular dish.

What to Serve With Middle Eastern Cheese Fatayer

How to Store & Reheat Cheese Fatayer

Allow the homemade cheese fatayer to cool completely to room temperature. Then, transfer them to an airtight container or a resealable zip-top bag and keep them in the refrigerator.

To reheat, place them on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes or until heated through. Lightly cover with foil to prevent over browning. You can also reheat them in the microwave in short intervals.

How Long Will Cheese Fatayer Last in the Fridge?

Cheese fatayer can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Can I Freeze Lebanese Cheese Fatayer?

Yes! You can freeze these savory cheese bites in a freezer-safe container for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat in the oven.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make these without cheese?

Cheese fatayer must include cheese, however, you can make a variation of this using spinach filling. Follow the recipe for the dough as written in the recipe card, then make the filling from this spinach pies recipe. It’s a tasty vegan variation that is just as delicious!

How do I know when the dough has risen enough?

The dough should roughly double in size after the first rise. If you’re unsure, gently poke the dough with your finger, going down about 1 inch. If the indent remains, the dough has risen enough. If it pops back out, give it a bit more time.

Can I make mini cheese fatayer instead of regular size?

While I think this size is perfect for a single serving, you can make them even smaller for more bite-size treats. Divide the dough into smaller portions and use less cheese mixture for each one. You may also have to reduce the baking time since the mini fatayer will bake quickly.

Cheese fatayer piled in a bowl.

This cheese fatayer is such a tasty appetizer that can be customized to fit your personal taste preferences. It’s a bit of labor of love, but so worth it for the ultimate cheesy satisfaction. Make this as a crowd-pleasing side dish or appetizer for your next party or just because. It’s so good!

More Lebanese Breads and Appetizer Recipes:

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Cheese Fatayer

Cheese Fatayer is a delicious Lebanese pastry perfect for dinner, savory breakfast, or brunch, offering irresistible flavor and comfort in every bite.
5 from 5 votes
Servings 12 servings
Course Side Dish
Calories 270
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Resting Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
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Ingredients
  

For the Dough

For the Cheese Mixture

  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

Make the Dough

  • In a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, mix the flour, water, yeast, sugar and salt until it comes together in a shaggy mixture, about 1 minute. Add the olive oil and continue to mix until the dough becomes soft and smooth and lightly sticky without leaving any dough on your fingers, about 5 more minutes.
  • Lift the dough from the bowl, lightly oil the bowl and return the dough back to the oiled bowl. Cover the dough in the bowl with a slightly damp kitchen towel and set aside at room temperature until the dough has puffed and risen to double its volume, about 90 minutes.
  • Remove the dough and divide into 24 pieces, about 30 grams each, and shape into round balls. Let sit in an oiled tray covered until doubled in volume, about 30 more minutes.

Make the Cheese Mixture

  • In a large bowl, combine the mozzarella cheese, feta cheese, parsley and black pepper. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use.

Assemble & Bake

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly sprinkle flour on top.
  • Divide the dough into the two trays with 12 balls each and keep them covered while you work.
  • Use your hands to flatten the dough in a circular shape, about 5-inches wide. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of the cheese mixture inside each circle. Pinch the dough from two opposite sides up in the shape of a boat. Press the cheese mixture down.
  • Bake for 14-16 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the cheese is melted. 2-3 minutes before they finish baking, you can use a spoon to push down any cheese that starts to ooze out.

Notes

Storage: Allow the homemade cheese fatayer to cool completely to room temperature. Then, transfer them to an airtight container or a resealable zip-top bag and keep them in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Tips: 
Proper dough kneading. Make sure your dough is smooth, elastic, and doesn’t stick to your hands or the bowl. If it does, knead for a few more minutes. Working the dough on a flat surface like a countertop can be helpful.
Grease the bowl. After kneading the dough, lightly oil the bowl and transfer the dough back into it to prevent it from sticking later.
Keep the dough covered. To prevent the dough from drying out, keep it covered with a damp kitchen towel any time you’re waiting for it to rise or when you need to be working on other components.
Push down the cheese. Two or 3 minutes before the cheese fatayer finishes baking, you can use a spoon to push down any cheese that starts to ooze out.

Nutrition

Serving: 2pies, Calories: 270kcal, Carbohydrates: 27g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 29mg, Sodium: 709mg, Potassium: 95mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 295IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 291mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine Lebanese
Course: Side Dish
5 from 5 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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