Growing up Lebanese means zaatar manakeesh flatbreads have been a breakfast staple for as long as you can remember. Zaatar is a Lebanese spice mixture made up of dried thyme, sesame, sumac, salt, and olive oil. It is used to make this delicious flatbread that is so popular in Lebanon. And if you like zaatar manakeesh, check out our cheese manakeesh recipe.
What I Love About This Recipe
Manakeesh zaatar are made with simple ingredients but taste heavenly. The smell of thyme infused with olive oil on dough as it bakes in the oven is something else. We're all used to buying manakeesh zaatar from our local bakery but it's also so simple to make them at home. The taste is just as divine and the process can bring the whole family together.
- Dry zaatar spice: Zaatar is a mixture of dried thyme, sesame seeds, sumac, and salt. You can buy ready-made zaatar mixes available in Middle Eastern grocery stores, trader joes, or online. I mix my own blend at home. This is just because it allows me to determine the flavor my family likes by adding less sumac and salt. If you want to customize the blend's flavor according to your taste, I recommend that you buy the zaatar blend ingredients separately and combine them at home. If you would like to make your own za'atar spice, see the section below.
- Olive oil: I like to drizzle a little bit of extra olive oil on each flatbread before popping it into the oven.
- Teta's homemade dough (ajeen recipe): My favorite recipe for Lebanese dishes. Its ingredients are as follows: active dry yeast, vegetable oil, milk, salt, sugar, flour, egg, and water. If you are short on time, you can use ready-made pizza dough, whole wheat biscuit dough, and dinner roll dough.
How To Make Zaatar Manakeesh
Prepare the dough (or use store-bought dough). To make homemade dough, place the dry ingredients (flour, active dry yeast, salt, and sugar) in a bowl. Create a well in the middle. Crack the egg and pour all the liquid ingredients (lukewarm water, milk, and vegetable oil) into the well.
Scrape the sides into the liquid ingredients and combine everything together. Then start kneading the dough. Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a floured countertop. Continue kneading by hand for up to 10 minutes.
Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and a towel, and let rest for a minimum of 1 hour so the dough can rise.
While the dough is resting, mix the dry zaatar spice with olive oil. Heat the oven to 350 ℉ (180 ℃).
After the dough rested, knead for 5 more minutes. Then, split the manakeesh dough into even balls (about 10). Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into similar-sized circles.
Spread about 2 and ½ teaspoons of zaatar and olive oil mixture on each circle. Add some parchment paper to a baking sheet. Place the zaatar manakeesh on the baking sheet leaving some distance between each.
Pop the manakeesh into the middle of the oven at 350 ℉ (180 ℃). Check on the manakeesh after 12 minutes. They should take around 15 to 2o minutes to cook completely.
Tips and Tricks
- The secret is all in the dough: The more we let it rest, the better. Kneading it a few times during the resting phase also makes a huge difference.
- If short on time, use store-bought dough. This recipe is the best when making the dough from scratch, however, if you are short on time, use store-bought dough. Suitable options are pizza dough, whole wheat biscuit dough, and dinner roll dough.
- Watch that oven: I always make sure I don't over bake manakish. All they need is around 12-20 minutes in the oven (just until the dough is done).
- Don't overdo it with the zaatar mixture: I spread a teaspoon of zaatar mix on every rolled-out dough portion (a circle that's usually double the size of my palm). If I add more the mixture will end up drenching the dough or running over its sides. So always make sure to keep the amount of zaatar mixture you add proportional (this changes depending on the size of your dough).
Variations and Substitutions
- Use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. Swap equal parts to substitute.
- Sprinkle some chia or flax seeds into this dough to add to its nutrition value.
- Use oat flour or gluten-free flour to make this gluten-free.
- Manouche zaatar extra: This manouche version gets its name from local bakeries where it is sold packed with vegetables and "extras" or additions. From fresh mint to tomatoes and even cheese the Lebanese add pretty much everything to their manouche.
- Zaatar w Labneh: This is one of my favorite versions. To make it basically add some labneh, a thick Lebanese strained yogurt, to the manouche.
How To Serve Manakeesh?
Manakeesh can be served and eaten all by itself especially if we're grabbing it from a bakery on a busy day. However, when we do have time to sit down for a manakeesh breakfast feast, we do it right. There's an array of dishes that work really well on the side of a plate of manakeesh. These include labneh (Lebanese dip made with strained cow milk's yogurt), Lebanese white cheese chunks, and marinated olives.
I often eat zaatar manakeesh with a side green salad or sometimes even a bowl of fatoush. I also sometimes serve mini manakeesh pastries alongside hot and cold mezze. No matter what I've served these with, they've always made for an incredible addition.
Though zaatar manakish is considered a calorie-packed breakfast, it does boast several healthy elements. For one, the zaatar is super healthy and includes several ingredients that are packed with antioxidants. These include the dried herb and sumac. In Lebanon, we also serve manakish zaatar filled with greens, tomatoes, and other vegetables. This adds to the health benefits related to this dish.
There are many uses for zaatar such as being sprinkled on pita chips, labneh dip, or used in zaatar and cheese spring rolls. The most popular way of eating zaatar spice is mixing it with olive oil, then eating it with bread.
Homemade zaatar spice is easy to make, just mix 1 heaped tablespoon dried thyme, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon sumac, and a dash of salt.