Kunafa To Maamoul, 5 Saudi Arabian Sweets Get Healthy Twists
Image Credit: Google Pics/King Arthur Baking

In recent years, the demand for healthier alternatives in the world of sweets has been on the rise. People are becoming more conscious about their dietary choices and are actively seeking options that not only satisfy their sweet cravings but also offer nutritional value. In Saudi Arabia, a country known for its rich culinary heritage, traditional sweets play a significant role in the local cuisine. However, there is a growing trend towards exploring the healthier side of these delectable treats, particularly through the incorporation of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. In this article, we delve into the world of Saudi Arabian sweets and discover the diverse range of options available that cater to those seeking a healthier indulgence.

The Rich Tradition of Saudi Arabian Sweets

Saudi Arabian sweets are deeply rooted in the country's culture and history. These delectable treats have been enjoyed for generations, often served during special occasions and festivals. Traditional Saudi sweets are known for their unique flavours, textures, and presentation. They are often made with ingredients like dates, honey, rose water, saffron, and various spices, resulting in a delightful combination of sweet and aromatic flavours.

Embracing Healthier Alternatives

While traditional Saudi Arabian sweets are undeniably delicious, their high sugar and calorie content make them a less favourable choice for individuals seeking a healthier lifestyle. However, in response to the growing demand for nutritious options, many sweet makers in Saudi Arabia are adapting their recipes to incorporate nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.

1. Nuts: A Crunchy Delight

Nuts have long been recognized for their numerous health benefits. They are packed with essential nutrients such as protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Almonds, pistachios, and walnuts are commonly used in Saudi Arabian sweets to add a delightful crunch and enhance the overall taste. These nuts not only provide a satisfying texture but also offer a wealth of nutritional value, including heart-healthy fats, fibre, and antioxidants.

2. Seeds: Tiny Powerhouses of Nutrition

Seeds have gained popularity in recent years due to their impressive nutritional profile. They are rich in fibre, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flaxseeds are among the seeds commonly incorporated into healthier versions of Saudi Arabian sweets. These tiny powerhouses of nutrition not only contribute to the overall taste and texture but also provide additional health benefits, such as supporting heart health, promoting digestion, and boosting the immune system.

3. Dried Fruits: Nature's Sweetness

Dried fruits are a natural alternative to refined sugar, offering a burst of natural sweetness while providing essential nutrients. In Saudi Arabian sweets, dried fruits like dates, apricots, figs, and raisins are often used to add a luscious sweetness and enhance the flavour profile. Dried fruits are a rich source of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them a healthier choice for those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth.

Traditional Saudi Sweets and their Healthy Incorporation

Now let's explore some traditional Saudi Arabian sweets and how they incorporate these three core ingredients in healthy ways:


Maamoul is a popular Saudi Arabian sweet that is often enjoyed during religious festivals such as Eid. It is a delicate pastry filled with a mixture of nuts, such as almonds or walnuts, and sweetened with dates. The use of nuts in the filling provides a satisfying crunch and adds a dose of healthy fats and nutrients. Dates, a staple ingredient in Saudi Arabian cuisine, offer natural sweetness and contribute to the overall flavour profile of Maamoul. This combination of nuts and dried fruits makes Maamoul a delightful and healthier alternative to traditional sugary treats.


Basbousa is a semolina cake that is widely enjoyed across the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia. Traditionally, it is made with semolina, sugar, and butter, but modern adaptations incorporate healthier ingredients. In a healthier version of Basbousa, nuts such as almonds or pistachios are added to the batter, providing a delightful texture and additional nutrients. The cake is often sweetened with syrup made from honey instead of refined sugar, offering a more wholesome and natural alternative.


Lukaimat is a popular Saudi Arabian dessert, often referred to as "Arabic doughnuts." These bite-sized treats are deep-fried and traditionally coated with sweet syrup. To make a healthier version of Lukaimat, the dough is enriched with ground nuts, such as almonds or hazelnuts, to enhance its nutritional value. Additionally, the syrup can be made with natural sweeteners like honey or date syrup instead of refined sugar. This healthier twist on Lukaimat allows individuals to indulge in a beloved dessert while making conscious choices about their dietary intake



Qatayef is a popular dessert enjoyed during the holy month of Ramadan. It consists of small pancakes filled with a variety of delicious fillings. In a healthier version of Qatayef, the pancakes can be made with whole wheat flour instead of refined flour, adding more fibre and nutrients to the dish. For the filling, nuts such as pistachios or cashews can be used along with a touch of honey or date syrup for natural sweetness.


Kunafa is a traditional Middle Eastern dessert that has different variations across the region, including Saudi Arabia. It is made with shredded phyllo dough, cheese, and sweet syrup. To create a healthier version of Kunafa, the shredded phyllo dough can be baked instead of fried, reducing the amount of oil used in the preparation. Additionally, the cheese filling can be made with low-fat or reduced-fat options to lower the overall calorie content while still maintaining the rich taste.