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Manakeesh: A Bite-Sized Twist on a Levantine Classic

Manakeesh, also known as manaeesh, is a beloved Levantine delicacy, akin to a flatbread pizza, topped with a variety of flavourful ingredients. The most traditional toppings include zaatar—a savoury mix of dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, sesame seeds, and sumac—along with options like cheese or spiced ground meat. The dough is rolled out flat and baked until perfect, creating a versatile base for these delicious toppings.

This recipe takes a delightful twist on the classic and shaping them into mini-sized manakeesh, perfect for social gatherings or personal indulgence. Starting with a basic yet perfectly risen dough, each mini manakeesh is generously topped with a zaatar blend, bursting with traditional flavours. Top with labneh, cucumbers, tomatoes, and mint to add a refreshing and vibrant contrast to the zaatar’s earthy depth, offering a symphony of flavours and textures.

These mini manakeesh are suitable for any occasion or time of day. I especially enjoy preparing them for Iftar or Suhoor during Ramadan. They are also perfect for casual brunch gatherings on the weekend.

Basic Ingredients for Manakeesh


Active Yeast: This is a leavening agent that causes the dough to rise, creating a light and airy texture.

Sugar: Helps to activate the yeast and adds a slight sweetness to the dough.

Hand-Hot Water: The optimal temperature to activate yeast without killing it, ensuring the dough rises properly.

All-Purpose Flour: The main structure of the dough, providing gluten to give the dough elasticity and strength.

Salt: Enhances the flavour of the dough and regulates yeast activity.

Olive Oil: Adds moisture and flavour to the dough, contributing to a tender crumb.

Milk: Introduces additional fat and sugar, which helps to brown and soften the dough.

Zaatar Topping:

Zaatar: A Middle Eastern spice blend with a tangy, herbal, and nutty flavour.

Olive Oil: Helps to bind the zaatar to the dough and adds richness.

Labneh: A thick, creamy yoghurt that adds a tangy, cooling contrast to the za’atar.

Cucumbers: Provide a fresh, crisp texture and a mild flavour that complements the other toppings.

Tomato: Adds juiciness and slight acidity, balancing the rich flavours of the zaatar and labneh.

Fresh Mint: Offers a burst of freshness and a light, aromatic touch to the dish.

Alternative Ingredients

Yeast: Instant yeast can be used instead of active dry yeast, with adjustments to the activation process.

Flour: Whole wheat flour can be substituted for all-purpose flour for a healthier option, though it will alter the texture.

Labneh: Greek yoghurt or sour cream can be substituted for labneh.

Zaatar: If zaatar is not available, you can make your own blend using dried thyme, sesame seeds, sumac, and oregano.

Preparation Tips for Manakeesh

  • Ensure the water is at the right temperature to activate the yeast effectively.
  • Knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic for the best texture.
  • Allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft-free area to ensure it doubles in size.

Serving Tips for Manakeesh

  • Serve the manakeesh warm for the best flavour and texture.
  • The labneh and vegetables should be fresh and added before serving to maintain their texture and taste.

Storage Tips

  • Any leftover dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to three months.
  • Baked manakeesh can be stored in an airtight container for a few days and reheated in an oven or toaster oven to refresh.


Servings: 48 pieces
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 26 minutes



  • 1 ½ tsp active yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup hand-hot water
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • cup olive oil
  • ½ cup milk

Zaatar Topping

  • 1 cup zaatar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups labneh
  • 2 cucumber, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • handful fresh mint, finely chopped


  • In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in hand-hot water. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 10 minutes to activate the yeast. (Hand-hot water should be warm enough to put your hand in without discomfort.)
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, olive oil, milk, and the activated yeast mixture. Knead the mixture until the dough is moist, elastic, and not sticky. Form it into a ball, lightly coat with olive oil to prevent drying, and let it rise for about 2 hours.
  • For the zaatar topping, mix the zaatar and olive oil in a bowl. Adjust the oil as needed to get a spreadable consistency.
  • Preheat your oven at 230°C. Roll out the dough into small circles and place them on a baking sheet. Spread 1–2 teaspoons of the zaatar mixture onto each dough circle.
  • Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until the manakeesh are slightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Once cooled, top each mini manakeesh with a dollop of labneh and garnish with chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and fresh mint.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @cookingwithzahra on Instagram and hashtag it #cookingwithzahra so we can see all the deliciousness!

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