This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
Manakeesh is a very popular breakfast food in the Middle Eastern cuisine. In fact, it is deliciously homemade or store-bought dough topped with the paste of zesty, nutty seasoning known as Zaa’tar or zaatar spice mixed with olive oil.
The classic manaqish recipe uses the same base of the dough recipe with different toppings as I will show you. You will find this Zaatar Manakeesh Recipe out of this world. It’s fun to have it at any time of the day.
A Vegetarian’s Dream
Zaatar and Other Toppings
Zaa’tar Manakeesh recipe is a popular breakfast or a snack choice for a good reason. First of all, you can easily fold the manakeesh over, and then carry and chomp on while on your way to work or for those long fun road trips.
Additionally, there are different types of toppings for everyone. From a variety of cheeses, to veggie toppings like tomatoes, onions and parsley, to zaa’tar, keshek, and meat pies known as lahme bi ajeen mix, you have such a wide selection to choose from as part of a mezze platter.
Furthermore, homemade manakeesh are filling for those longer days and an inexpensive, yet fulfilling, breakfast choice that is delicious.
A Colorful and Flavorful Breakfast
What is Zaatar (Zaa’tar)?
Zaatar is a popular Middle Eastern spice mixture that can become a paste mainly for zaatar bread (mana’ish, manouche, manakish, manaqish) or sprinkled/spread on pita bread and rolled into a bread flour sandwich. So, how do you make this Middle Eastern spice blend or zaatar?
First, it starts off as green oregano, thyme leaves, and sumac that are hand-picked and dried out in the sun. Then, all three are hand-crushed and smashed with a wooden mallet until they are very fine and powder-like.
After that, these dry ingredients are combined using a ratio depending on how sour or sweet you prefer your zaatar. So, the more tangy you like it, the more sour sumac you add. Finally, you add salt to the mixture along with toasted sesame seeds.
A Feast for the Eye
Where Can I Find Zaatar?
Most middle-eastern stores carry zaatar and bulks of it. The dry zaatar mixture is often sprinkled on a plate of labneh or over cheese sandwich in a middle eastern flatbread.
Let me tell you that zesty flavor mixed in the savory sesame seeds and other herbs is a taste like no other. Whether it’s in this Zaatar Manakeesh recipe, or any other recipe, you’ll find yourself loving zaatar more and more!
Make It into a Pizza
At so many times, local bakers, as manakeesh café bakery & grill, sprinkle nigella seeds on the cheese manouche for taste, texture, and appearance.
You can turn your cheese manakish into a pizza by simply adding a pizza sauce, then a cheese of your choice, and whatever toppings your heart desires. Serve it on a wooden pizza stone to stir your taste buds.
A Daily Dose of Zaatar
The Ten-Minute Dough
Did you know that you can use the Ten Minute All-Purpose Dough to make manakeesh zaatar? Yes, this is real. Whenever I’m on the rush for some quick breakfast or even dinner, I make manakeesh with this easy dough. It works well from the first time.
Even with just 10 minutes resting, the 10-minute dough will rise in an oven of 450-500 degrees F. It only takes 8-11 minutes in the oven, but the longer you place it in the oven, the crispier it gets. So opt for the maximum baking time for a soft finish of the dough.
Similar to manakeesh is the Lebanese Veggie Pizza (Pie) I’ve always made manaqish with this pie, and it comes out perfectly as well. In this veggie pie recipe, you can replace parsley with finely chopped kale or spinach.
Different Types of Toppings
Zaatar – You take the za’atar spice blend and add olive oil to it in a small bowl, and you’ve got a paste of zaatar mix. Then, take that paste and spread it on the dough as heavy or light as you like it. As you remove it from the preheated oven, you can see the zaatar sizzling atop the soft yeast-risen flat bread in all its glory.
Cheese – This is a topping usually made with either a white salty cheese called akawi cheese, tchiki cheese, kashkaval, mejduli, or a blend of cheeses with mozzarella cheese or feta cheese for example. Lebanese cheese manakeesh are usually prepared with a milder cheese called akkawi cheese because it melts so well.
Keshek – It is an aged cheese powder mixture that is mixed with either milk or water to make a paste. Plenty of people enjoy manakeesh keshek that are quite star rating, too.
Meat Pie (Lahme bi Ajeen)- This is another appetizing version with ground meatw hich is mixed with onions, tomatoes, and spices and topped on a manouche called lahme bi ajeen, or minced meat pie.
Veggie pies – These have gained more fame lately whether it’s a simple tomato-onion manouche or mixed veggie one with greens. This is a Lebanese Veggie Pizza you will thoroughly enjoy.
Cocktail – It may sound weird, but there’s a man’ushi called a cocktail. In Arabic, its name is nos bi nos (translated: half and half). They call it these various names because it’s a combo of za’atar topping and cheese together. You can fold it so that you have a combo of zaatar and cheese in every bite. YUM!
A Delicious Way to Eat Your Greens
Best Ways to Eat Manakeesh
Having the Lebanese flatbread known as manakeesh includes many creative ways. The most well-known manakeesh favorite is by all means the zaatar pie, heavy on the zaatar, with a bag of salt-and-vinegar chips emptied into it.
They then press down on the manouche to crush the chips and start munching and crunching. Of course, it won’t go down without a drink, either the pyramid juice known as Bon Jus or a good old cup of Pepsi or Crush.
Then you have the really traditional way of eating manakeesh. Serve it with all the right veggies including: green onions, mint, cucumbers, and fresh tomatoes with makdus (pickled eggplant), pickles, and olives. Finally, get a very heavy black tea.
How to Make Zaa’tar Paste
In a large bowl, mix the zaa’tar and extra virgin olive oil together. If you’re running low on olive oil or don’t like it, you can mix olive oil with any other vegetable oil as canola or sunflower oil. You can always add extra sumac or salt to the mix as well. Spread out the round dough ball into round or long shaped flat bread, then spread the zaa’tar mix on top to bake in the heated-oven.
Quick Tips for the Best Manakeesh
As all kinds of dough recipes as pizza dough for instance, ingredients have to be at room temperature. Also, leave the dough to rest in a warm place.
Instead of kneading by hand, you can combine flour with the other ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer using the dough hook.
You can replace half of the water with warm milk. So you can use a half cup water and half cup milk.
Cover the bowl of the dough with a wet kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out when resting.
Before flattening the small balls of dough, spread some tiny bit of flour for a lightly floured surface.
Frequently Asked Questions
Depending on how the manakeesh are prepared, one manouche can range from 183 calories up through 550 calories. It is a dough-based pie, so it should be eaten in moderation.
Zaa’tar can be used dry in marinades and dressings as well as turned into a paste and spread and rolled into pita sandwiches.
It belongs to a family of herbs made from the dried and ground berries of the wild sumac with flavors that are tangy, toasty with a nutty flavor.
Manakeesh is a plural term for rounded cooked flatbread with different toppings. Basically, it’s the Arabic synonym for pie. The same soft dough is used for all types of easy manakeesh bread, so no matter what you’re topping them with, the base is the same.
For the Dough
All purpose- flour: This is whole wheat flour that acts as various purpose flour.
Vegetable or olive oil: You can use olive oil or any other of your choice.
Water: Try to use warm water at 95°F since it helps the active dry yeast to work perfectly.
Sugar: This sweet agent activates the instant yeast. However, you can replace it with honey or maple syrup
Yeast: It makes the dough rise to get the perfect manakeesh.
For the Zaatar Paste
Zaa’tar spice: It is a mixture of zaatar, sumac, and other spices.
Extra virgin olive oil: Mixing oil with the za’atar blend gives the right texture for the most delicious bread of manakeesh.
(Scroll down for more details in the recipe card.)
Other Recipes You Will Enjoy
- Lahme bi ajeen (Meat Pies)
- Ten Minute All-Purpose Dough
- Easy Lebanese Spinach Pies
- Lebanese Veggie Pies
- Easy Olive Muffalata Bread
- All-Purpose Flour Vs. Bread Flour
- Gluten Free Yeast Free Naan Bread
- Gluten-Free Zaatar Flat Bread (No Yeast)
- Easy Olive Bread
- Simple Skillet Flat Bread
Easy Manakeesh Recipe
- ¼ cup zaa'tar spice
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- In a large bowl, stir yeast, sugar and one cup warm water. Allow it to rest to 10 minutes for the yeast to activate where you will see foam form to the surface of the water.
- Add the flour and begin to mix. Then knead. You can choose use stand mixer.
- The dough will be sticky at this point. Slowly add in the oil as you knead until it is well-combined and is not as sticky any more.
- Dough can be used right away or you can let it rest for 30 minutes – up to all day if you have the time
- Cover the dough with oiled plastic wrap. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and set aside for about 1/2 hour.
- Form a 2-inch round ball of dough, and then spread it using the tips of your fingers to form a circular shape. You can add oil or flour to your hands as you shape. Place the circular shaped dough on a prepared baking sheet and repeat.
- Bake at 450F for 10-12 minutes.
- Mix the zaa'tar and olive oil together. Spread on the raw dough, and spread out the dough before placing it in the oven.