Traditional Lebanese Za'atar bread (aka manaqish, manakeesh, or manakish) is an incredibly tasty Mediterranean flatbread made with toasty za'atar seasoning of roasted thyme, oregano, sesame and sumac. This savory rustic tart is baked with extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice and an incredible spice blend of roasted Mediterranean herbs.Jump to Recipe
Lebanese Zaatar Bread (Manakish)
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A few weeks ago I posted my recipe for easy homemade pita bread and nothing can beat fresh baked pita bread right out of the oven! But this recipe will dive deeper into what you can use basic Arabic bread dough for including how to make za'atar bread.
A good read for later is my article on the Ultimate Guide to Lebanese Food! Check it out!
What is Za'atar bread?
Za'atar bread is a Middle Eastern Flatbread. It is a Lebanese staple and is traditionally a breakfast food that you will see on breakfast spreads. It is usually served with strained yogurt (aka Labneh) and fresh herbs like mint. Manakish Za'atar is a popular street food and can also be prepared with fresh mozzarella (za'atar bread with cheese).
The ingredients for this za'atar bread recipe are:
- all-purpose flour
- active dry yeast
- za'atar seasoning
- extra virgin olive oil
- fresh squeezed lemon juice
What is Za'atar spice?
Za'atar is a Lebanese or Middle Eastern spice blend of thyme, oregano, toasted sesame seeds, sumac and may include other spices that are roasted and blended together. Most za'atar seasoning blends are salt free, however some contain salt, depending on the brand you buy.
How to use Za'atar?
Za'atar is a very versatile spice blend and can be used on chicken, breads, salads, eggs, potatoes and so much more! It's kind of like the Middle Eastern equivalent of "everything but the bagel" spice blend. In my opinion it's much better!
Looking for something new and different to spice up your favorite soup, meat, salad, eggs or side dish? Za'atar is there for you!
Is Za'atar healthy? Za'atar benefits:
Absolutely! It is made out of natural herbs and spices, all of which have their own particular health benefits from improving memory, boosting energy, improving skin health as well as boosting the immune system. You can read more about the health benefits of za'atar here.
What does Za'atar seasoning taste like?
Za'atar seasoning does not normally contains hot peppers, so it is not spicy. Za'atar seasoning has a subtle but toasty flavor to it and can sometimes taste nutty and even tangy because of the sumac. It's not overpowering, but is more of a subtle, yet delicious spice blend. It has hints of Mediterranean food since it contains thyme, oregano and sometimes marjoram.
How to make Za'atar bread from scratch:
If you want to make zaatar bread from scratch, you need to start with my recipe for Homemade Pita Bread.
- Warm the water so that is it lukewarm, but not too hot. Add the dry active yeast to ½ cup of the warm water and let the yeast bloom.
- Sift together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients after the yeast has bloomed and is fragrant.
- Knead the dough together and let it rise. You can either knead it by hand, or if you have a KitchenAid Mixer with the dough hook attachment (which I highly recommend) and let it mix and knead for 3-4 minutes.
It should come together very nicely and be a very elastic dough.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the manakish dough rise in a warm place for about 1-1 ½ hours, or until doubled in size.
After it rises, form into orange size balls and let it rise again. If you would like a more details step-by-step tutorial of how to make the dough, head on over to here.
After the dough rises...
Split each orange size ball of dough into 2-3 balls. Take a ball of dough and with a rolling pin on a well floured work surface surface, roll out your bread dough so that it is about ¼" thick and 6" across. Crimp the edges of the dough, this will ensure that the za'atar seasoning and olive oil mix will stay on your bread and not seep off the edges, it also give is a rustic look.
How to make zaatar oil for this manakeesh recipe:
Mix the za'atar spices with the olive oil and lemon juice, it shouldn't be runny, it should be rather thick and gritty. After it is mixed, with a spoon, spread a few tablespoons of the za'atar topping mixture evenly on top of the dough until it reaches ¼" from the edge, or where it is crimped.
⏲️ Baking time
How to bake the Lebanese flatbread:
Traditionally za'atar bread is made in a special oven or a pizza oven. If you have a pizza oven, awesome! If not, I will show you how to bake zaatar bread in the oven...
Put the oven rack up high in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 ℉. Place 2-3 of the prepared za'atar flatbreads on a baking sheet. As soon as it is preheated you can place the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for about 5-6 minutes until it starts to bubble then turn the broiler on for about 2 minutes to make the top get nice ant toasty.
Placing the za'atar bread in a preheated oven and finishing it with the broil function will ensure and crisp top and a fluffy center.
Remove from the oven and serve warm.
🥗 Serving suggestions
What do you eat with Zaatar bread?
Traditionally manakish zaatar is served alongside of breakfast with a Lebanese yogurt and fresh herbs like mint or with this mint yogurt sauce. It is also a popular street food and can be topped with fresh mozzarella and baked in a pizza oven.
How to make Za'atar bread not from scratch:
Want a short cut? You can buy frozen yeast bread dough rolls at your local grocery store and use those instead of making the pita bread from scratch. I personally like the taste of it from scratch, but buying the dough pre-made will save you time. Make sure to allow time for the dough to thaw.
Go ahead and follow the directions above for rolling out the dough, crimping the edges and putting on the za'atare mix exactly how it is above.
Serve warm and with a dollop of Mint Yogurt Sauce, or just plain and enjoy!
It's very helpful to have a Kitchenaid stand mixer with the dough hook attachment for any sort of bread. I highly recommend it!
Where can I buy Za'atar seasoning?
I am a big believer in QUALITY spices and am almost always willing to even spend a little bit more for a deeper, richer flavor.
In some areas of the county it may be more difficult to find za'atar seasoning locally but fortunately for you, I highly recommend Za'atar seasoning from The Spice House. The Za'atar seasoning from here does contain salt.
The Spice House is an amazing company that sells fair trade quality spices. All the spices are processed in small batches and are hand crafted for optimum quality and flavor, and they are very reasonably priced! Check out their Za'atar spice on their website. I personally love all of the spices and spice blends I have tried from The Spice House.
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Za'atar Bread - Lebanese Flat Bread (Manakish)
For the Bread dough
- 6 cups flour all purpose
- 2 teas salt
- 2 cups warm water
- ⅓ cup milk
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 2 ¼ teas dry active yeast or one package
Za'atar Seasoning Mix
- 4 tablespoon za'atar seasoning
- 4 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- ½ lemon juiced
- salt to taste optional
- Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl
- Add the sugar and yeast to ½ cup of the warm water and give it a quick stir, let it sit for ten minutes or until the yeast activates
- Add all of the wet ingredients to the flour and salt
- Either knead with your hands for 10 minutes or until all of it comes together well, or use a KitchenAid mixer with the dough attachment on low for 3-4 minutes. It should be a very elastic dough when it comes together
- Cover the bowl with plastic and place the bowl in a warm place of the house to proof for about 1-1 ½ hours, or until it doubles in size
- With wet fingers, form the dough into orange size balls and place on a greased cookie sheet, intermittently dip your fingers in water so that you can work with the dough without it sticking and so that it will get that nice shine on the dough
- At this point you can freeze as many of the dough balls you want, if you want to freeze them to use later. The amount of za'atar seasoning should be doubled if using the whole recipe for all of the dough
- After forming the dough into balls, place a greased piece of plastic wrap over it and let it rise for about 30-45 minutes
- After it rises, put a little bit of the dough on a well floured surface and roll it to be about ¼" in thickness or even less. It is easier to work with if it is about 6 inches across.
- Move the oven rack to the top of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°
- Mix the za'atar seasoning, olive oil and lemon juice together. It should not be runny, but more of a wet, gritty mixture
- Crimp the edges of the dough after it is rolled out. This will give it a rustic look and it will also ensure the za'atar mix does not seep off of the edge of the bread
- Spread several tablespoons of the za'atar mix evenly over the surface of the dough leaving ¼ of the edge of the dough without any seasoning.
- Place the prepared flatbreads on a baking sheet and transfer them to the preheated oven
- Bake the bread for 5-6 minutes or until the za'atar it starts to bubble then turn on the broil function to high for 2 more minutes or until the edges become brown and crispy
- Serve warm either as a side dish or with hummus. Traditionally it is served with yogurt and fresh mint along side breakfast