Bird's Nest Pastries (Kadaif)

March/April 1997

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Kadaif is a classic Middle Eastern pastry, traditionally tossed with lots of butter, filled with cheese or nuts and drenched with a heavy sugar syrup—too much of too many good things, actually. Our version uses Shredded Wheat cereal to replicate authentic kadaif dough, which resembles thin shreds of phyllo. We replaced most of the butter with cinnamon- and lemon-infused milk, added a mixture of pistachios and walnuts and drizzled the warm pastries with a honeyed syrup. The result: A harmonious accord between crunchy textures and rich flavors, ancient ingredients and modern sensibilities.

Bird's Nest Pastries (Kadaif)

Makes: 12 pastries

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Total Time:


  • 1 3/4 cups low-fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 strip lemon zest, 1 by 2 inches
  • 6 rectangles Shredded Wheat cereal, cut in half
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Syrup
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. To make & bake birds’ nests: Bring milk, butter, cinnamon stick and lemon zest to a simmer in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  3. Dip cereal pieces, one at a time, into the warm milk, soaking just until softened. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet with a slotted spoon. Use your fingers to shape each piece into a round nest, 3 inches in diameter. Place 1 inch apart. Drizzle remaining milk over the nests.
  4. Place 3 tablespoons sugar, walnuts, pistachios and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Divide mixture among hollows of nests. Bake until golden brown and crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. To make syrup: Combine 1/3 cup sugar, water, honey and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and drizzle hot syrup over warm birds’ nests. Serve warm or at room temperature shortly after baking.


Per serving: 153 calories; 5 g fat (1 g sat, 1 g mono); 3 mg cholesterol; 27 g carbohydrates; 4 g protein; 4 g fiber; 21 mg sodium; 115 mg potassium.

Carbohydrate Servings: 2

Exchanges: 2 other carbohydrate, 1 fat

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Recipe Categories

Middle Eastern
Ease of Preparation
Total Time
More than 1 hour
8 or more
Preparation/ Technique
March/April 1997
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