Zaatar Croissants

Some days, I am spontaneously inspired to bake. Like lightning, the urge strikes seemingly out of nowhere, and soon enough I’m rummaging through our cupboard to see what might make a happy union in my mixing bowl.
Over the weekend, one such craving hit. Specifically, for savory, zaatar-filled twists like the ones my college roommate and best friend from Beirut used to make on dizzy mornings… predictably following dizzy nights.
Similarly to my zaatar pastries, these little ‘croissants’ get their unique Middle Eastern flavor from the famed oregano spice blend, as well as extra virgin olive oil. They are also rolled into little crescent shapes, which makes them fast-cooking and lovely to present for brunch or with afternoon tea. The 2:1 ratio of wholemeal to plain flour makes a chewy, substantial dough that is still light enough to have as a guilt-free snack.
At first this recipe may seem complicated, since it requires hand-making dough. It really does come together quickly, and is ideal for making with kids, who will enjoy the rolling part. I’ve outlined the steps in detail, but after the first try, the process will be a breeze.
If you find yourself up early on a Sunday morning, whip up a batch of dough and go about your morning business while it rises. By the time your special someone awakes, they’ll be greeted with fresh, ready-to-bake bread. 

Makes 15 small croissants
zaatar pastries

For the dough
   2 cups wholemeal flour
   1 cup plain flour
   1 tbsp dry yeast
   1 tsp raw sugar
   Pinch salt
   1 1/4 cup warm water
   Extra virgin olive oil
For the filling
   1/2 cup zaatar, plus extra for garnish (this can be purchased from Middle Eastern stores)
   3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

In a large mixing bowl, combine the wholemeal flour with the yeast, sugar and salt. Add the water and olive oil and mix with a fork until a wet dough forms. Add half of the all purpose flour and combine once more.

Spread the remaining all purpose flour on your work bench. Place the dough in the middle and knead, incorporating the remaining flour, until smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, then a tea towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 190C / 375F.  Mix the zaatar and olive oil to make a paste.

Punch down the dough, then knead for 1-2 minutes on a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into three equal portions. Roll each portion out into a circle, about 1/2cm thick. The dough will shrink, but just keep rolling. If it will not keep its shape, you can stretch each piece manually in the next step.

Slice each circle of dough into 8 equal triangles, as if cutting a pizza (see photo below). Place a small teaspoon of zaatar at the outermost edge of each triangle.

Roll each triangle, from the widest part moving in towards the center, to form a twist. Curl the edges toward each other to form a croissant shape.

Place the croissants on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle some extra dry zaatar mix on top, for garnish. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

zaatar pastries
zaatar pastries

Audio pairing: SebastiAn, “Embody”

  • Rosa May

    Lovely pastries! I am a big fan of zaâtar.



  • Abeer

    Brillaint! and  delicious, Bravo Yasmeen, I am truly impressed.

  • Eva

    I absolutely love it that you’ve already accounted for the whole wheat flour; it’s such a healthy adjustment to baking and it makes you feel better when you have it too! I have yet to try zaatar, now I shall go looking around to make my own.

  • Eileen

    I would never have thought to use za’atar in baking like this!  Super intriguing.  Thanks for the great idea!

  • Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy

    I am new to zaatar and have been trying to find ways to use it. I love this idea, it would be perfect for party finger food!

  • Yasmeen

    You read my mind, Anna – these are great as finger foods, too. Plus you can make and roll them in advance. Just cover with plastic and refrigerate, then bake them just before your guests arrive.

  • Yasmeen

    Thanks, Eileen! Glad you like them.

  • Yasmeen

    Merci auntie :)

  • Yasmeen

    We love whole wheat flour in this house and use it for most – if not all – of our baking. For little items like these, I do prefer to mix in a bit of all purpose flour so they stay nice and light. 

    Do you have a Middle Eastern grocer nearby? They will definitely have zaatar. If you can’t find it, make your own by combining 1/2 cup oregano, 2 heaping tbsp sesame seeds, a pinch of salt, and a healthy dash of sumac (a tangy spice). 

    If you can’t find sumac, just mix the dried oregano, sesame seeds and a pinch of salt together. I hope that helps!

  • Yasmeen

    Thanks, Rosa! I love it too – could eat it on anything.

  • Hannah

    Teehee, I think I wake up every morning with the urge to bake. I have to restrain myself, on account of usually having too many baked goods around for me to eat already! ;)

    Love za’atar, so these look wonderful!

  • Yasmeen

    It’s a gift and a curse! I suppose these spontaneous urges are why most wedding dresses have built-in corsets ;)

  • Winston

    Ohhh I’ve never had these before but sounds great! And the fact that they’re quite mini makes it even cuter to eat. I only hope that mine will turn out as nicely as yours when I make them during the holidays. Yummy!

  • Heyladygrey

    These look amazing. I know the feeling about the spontaneous baking…. my husband calls me a compulsive baker!

  • Megan Khoury

    A101 Love Beti! Love love this post! (and you, too!)

  • Joanne

    I’ve never really seen savory croissants like this but what a great idea! za’atar is one of my favorite spice blends!

  • Yasmeen

    Yours will be gorgeous, Wince! 

  • Yasmeen

    With our powers combined, we could charter an International Bakers Anonymous… what do you think?

  • Yasmeen

    Love you loads, Beti!

  • Yasmeen

    Thanks, Joanne. They’re not traditional croissants of course, but just our take on them, and one of our favorite snacks. The same dough recipe works so well with a variety of cheeses too, like halloumi or kashkaval and mint.

  • DarylSchmidt

    Oh my gosh, you are amazing! I’ve never cooked with Zaatar before but I love savory baked goods and this looks incredible. There really aren’t a lot of middle eastern stores here in Germany, unless you count the turkish markets. Maybe I can find some there! 

    <3 Daryl 
    Roots, Wings & Other Things.

  • Tanvi_SinfullySpicy

    Oh my Did I read zaatar & croissants together?? Love! 

  • Yasmeen

    You sure did! :)

  • Asmita

    Hi Yasmmen,
    These croissants look amazing!

  • Needful Things

    I’m so making these over the next weekend. We love za’atar & my kids would go ape over these.