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If you’ve ever been to a Lebanese restaurant and ordered a round of warm mezzes, chances are you’ve seen these crispy, rakakat cheese rolls! They are made with phyllo or spring rolls, sweet Middle Eastern cheese like akawi, along with herbs, rolled, and then baked until crispy, golden, and delicious! These cheese rolls, called Rakakat bi Jebneh in Arabic, is a favorite of ours, especially during Ramadan to enjoy with a warm bowl of crushed lentil soup.
Cheese lovers, this one is for you! Rakakat is a Lebanese appetizer that will tantalize your taste buds. It’s a crispy cheese roll made with spring rolls, akawi cheese, and mozzarella cheese. The best part is that it’s easy to make and only requires a few simple ingredients. So gather your supplies, and let’s get started!
why you’ll love these Lebanese cheese rolls
- Irresistible crunch. These cheese rolls are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. It’s that type of crunch that will have you closing your eyes and savoring every bite.
- Cheesy goodness. These cheese rolls are oozing with akawi and mozzarella cheese. If you love cheese, then you’re going to love these!
- Perfect for any occasion. Serve them as an appetizer or side dish. They also make a great snack or main meal. And they’re perfect for large gatherings and potlucks because they can be made ahead of time.
- Easy to make. This recipe is simple and only requires a few steps. Plus, you can make them ahead of time and freeze them for later.
Ingredients to make crispy cheese rolls
- Cheese: The authentic recipe is made with some Akawi cheese, which is a salty white cheese. It’s also common to make them with a type of white sweet cheese like Chicago cheese or Syrian cheese. I’ve used a combination of Akawi and mozzarella cheese, but feel free to use mozzarella, halloumi, and feta cheese for a combination of flavors and textures.
- Spring roll pastry wrappers: Unlike regular spring rolls, these are very thin and get that perfect crispy texture when baked or fried, making this Spring Home brand ideal for these crispy rolls. You can swap for any spring roll wrappers.
- Herbs: Parsley is very popular in this cheese roll recipe because it’s mild and slightly fragrant. But you can also swap or add mint, basil, or cilantro for other popular choices. Opt for fresh herbs if possible for the best flavor, but you can use dried herbs in a pinch.
How to make rakakat
There are two parts to making this popular Middle Eastern cheese appetizer – making the filling and then rolling the filling. You can then freeze them or bake them immediately.
make the cheese filling
- In a bowl, add the akawi cheese, mozzarella cheese, parsley, and black pepper.
- Mix the filling until everything is well combined.
wrap the cheese rolls
- Place a spring roll wrapper on a flat surface, and place the cheese mixture in the lower third of each spring roll wrapper.
- Beginning at the angle closest to you, start the folding process bottom over the filling first.
- Fold the sides inward over the bottom fold.
- Start to roll the bottom up towards the last open triangle folding the edges inward along the way.
- Press lightly to seal the edges together.
- Place the stuffed cheese rolls seam side down on the prepared baking dish.
Tips for making cheese spring rolls
- Freeze the rolls before baking. This is a great tip when making something like mozzarella sticks which applies to these crispy cheese rolls as well. When the cheese is frozen, it allows the rolls to get crispy on the outside in the oven faster than the cheese can melt. This is what keeps them intact without oozing out.
- Use 8 inch spring roll wrappers. This size is perfect for wrapping around the cheese without being too big or too small. If you want to make a mini rakakat, you can get the smaller 6in size. Make sure to adjust the cooking time down if you’re using the mini wrappers.
- Bake the cheese rolls seam side down. Even though you’ll apply a paste the seal the edges, these rolls can unwrap in the oven if not rolled tightly or if the seam is facing up.
- Serve immediately. For the best crunch and gooiest cheese, serve these right away. But you can reheat them in a 350F oven for 5-10 minutes until warmed through if necessary.
- Fry them instead of baking. If you prefer to fry them, heat neutral oil to 350°F and fry about 4 rolls at a time until golden and crispy, about 2-3 minutes total.
- Air fry them instead of baking. If you prefer to air fry them, preheat the air fryer to 350°F and air fry about 4-6 rolls at a time, depending on how large your air fryer is, until golden and crispy, about 3-4 minutes total.
- Change out the filling. You can use any other cheese like halloumi, feta cheese, or mozzarella cheese, or a combination of them and any herbs like basil, mint, and/or cilantro to customize these to your liking.
how to store & reheat baked cheese rolls
Baked cheese rolls are best served immediately, but you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat them in a 350°F oven until warmed through, about 15 minutes. You can also reheat them in a toaster oven or microwave for 30-60 seconds.
how long will rakakat last in the fridge?
When stored in an airtight container in the fridge, rakakat will last for about a week.
can i freeze rakakat]?
Absolutely! And I highly recommend it, especially before baking. It’s a great make-ahead appetizer that you can have on hand for when company comes over or to bring to a party. To freeze, place the unbaked rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until solid. Once frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer bag. When ready to bake, bake them straight from frozen, adding a few minutes to the baking time.
Frequently asked questions
The most popular cheese for rakakat is akawi cheese. It’s a firm, white cheese that’s common in Middle Eastern cuisine. You can find it at most Middle Eastern grocery stores or online. If you can’t find it, you can substitute ricotta to keep that creamy texture.
Yes, if you can’t find spring roll wrappers, you can use egg roll wrappers, wonton wrappers or even phyllo dough. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
If your rakakat didn’t crisp up, it’s likely because your oven wasn’t hot enough. A good oven thermometer is a great kitchen tool to have to ensure your oven is calibrated correctly.
And if you love these crispy cheese rolls, be sure to check out my zaatar spring rolls, which are very similar to this recipe but with zaatar spice added to the cheese and sprinkled on the outside.
More lebanese mezze / appetizers:
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Crispy Cheese Rolls
- Combine the akawi cheese, mozzarella cheese, parsley and black pepper in a large bowl.
- Combine the warm water and all-purpose flour in a small bowl until a paste forms.
- Arrange the spring roll wrappers on a dry cutting board or other working surface, and position them at an angle so that the corner of each wrapper is closest to you.
- Place 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture in the lower third of each spring roll wrapper. Beginning at the bottom angle closest to you, fold the bottom and then the sides over.
- Use your fingers or a pastry brush to dab a little of the water flour paste mixture on the triangle unfolded part and then continue to roll, folding the edges inward along the way. Press lightly to seal the edges together.
- Place the stuffed spring rolls seam side down on the prepared baking dish and repeat with the remaining wrappers until complete. Freeze for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush the spring rolls lightly with olive oil or coat them with cooking spray.
- Bake in the preheated oven until they are golden brown and crisped on the outside, about 15-20 minutes.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.