Tunisia, a country with a deep affection for confectionery, offers a myriad of traditional and Western sweets that are as rich in history as they are in flavor. From handmade sweets to crunchy cookies and delightful pastries, the Tunisian sweet scene is a testament to the country's culinary diversity and creativity.

 

 If you're planning a trip to Tunisia, or simply curious about its cuisine, WildyNess team has compiled a guide to more than 15 popular Tunisian sweets that will surely satisfy your sweet tooth.

 

1. Makroudh: The Semolina Delight

 

A beloved staple of Tunisian confectionery, Makroudh is a semolina-based pastry that blends textures and flavors harmoniously. Originating from Kairouan, this delightful sweet is traditionally filled with date, fig, or almond paste, and is either fried or baked to a perfect golden hue before being generously soaked in a fragrant syrup. Available in various shapes, including the traditional diamonds and modern rounds, many pâtisseries now offer versions of this classic pastry that cater to individuals with specific health considerations, such as gluten sensitivity or diabetes.

 

makroud pastry tunisia

 

These adaptations ensure that more people can enjoy the rich flavors and comforting sweetness of Makroudh, making it a pastry that truly delights and satisfies a wide range of taste buds.

 

In the vibrant streets of La Medina and other parts of Tunisia, Makroudh is more than just a treat; it symbolizes the warmth and generosity of Tunisian hospitality. 

 

Book your Makroudh Workshop in Kairouan 

 

 

2. Samsa: The Crispy Triangle

 

Samsa stands out for its intricate preparation and rich taste. This triangular pastry is crafted from crispy brick dough, enveloping a sweet filling of almonds, pistachios, or hazelnuts. After frying, Samsa is bathed in syrup and encrusted with crushed nuts, making it a prized delicacy at weddings and during Ramadan. 

 

samsa tunisian pastries

 

Now, as pastries are expanding their catalogs, the authentic recipe is widely revisited with a few additions for those who want to get the most out of texture and taste. Some samsa comes wrapped in chocolate, hazelnut or pistachio butter and adorned with crispy nuts. As the process of making this cherished delicacy is long and intensive, it can serve as a great gift and a testament to Tunisian craftsmanship in sweets.

 

3. Zouza: Walnut Shells of Caramel

 

Zouza captures the essence of Tunisian creativity. Just like samsa or makroudh, this delicacy represents a delightful challenge, especially with the shaping process.

 

zouza tunisian pastry

 

Resembling a walnut shell, this unique cookie is filled with a smooth caramel, offering a delightful contrast in textures.. You can get a packet on your way home, so you can snack some zouzas when you cannot resist your sweet tooth. Liked by both adults and children, they are the perfect companion for a cup of Arabic coffee or a refreshing juice

 

 

4. Bachkoutou: Versatile Biscuits

 

 

Bachkoutou, meaning biscuit in Tunisian, embodies the joy of simple baking. These biscuits, diverse in shape and flavor, are a great complement to beverages like tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. Within Tunisian traditions, bachkoutou holds a special place, particularly during Eid celebrations. It is a treasured delicacy that marks the first breakfast after Ramadan, serving as a heartfelt gift among families to celebrate the end of the fasting month.

 

bachkoutou tunisian pastry

 

The preparation of bachkoutou involves family members, including kids, in the baking process the night before Eid, which adds to its significance and the communal joy of the occasion. After preparing the paste, kids accompanied by an adult from the family go together to the traditional bakery to bake it there. This hidden aspect of these traditional biscuits is enough to be tempted to try it. 

 

The vanilla-infused variety, in particular, stands out for its simplicity and versatility, proving that sometimes, the best flavors come in the most unassuming packages.

 

 

 

5. Harissa Hlowa: Sweet Cake

 

 

Not to be confused with the fiery harissa paste, Harissa Hlowa is a semolina and almond cake, moistened with syrup to create a rich and dense texture. This cake has traveled across North African and Middle Eastern countries, adapting new names and slight variations in its recipe along the way.

 

harissa hloua tunisia

Known as Basbousa in Egypt, Kalb El Louz in Algeria, and Revani or Rabani in Turkey, this dessert celebrates the shared culinary heritage and the cultural exchanges among these regions. This dessert's journey and transformations highlight the rich history and interconnectedness of North African and Middle Eastern cuisines, showcasing the diverse influences that have shaped these culinary traditions.

 

Harissa Hlowa, despite its name which might suggest a spicy flavor, offers a sweet and unique taste profile. It pairs wonderfully with a refreshing cup of lemonade, a robust coffee, or a soothing tea, making it an ideal treat after a day of exploration or simply to enjoy during a moment of relaxation. 

 

Also Read: Tunisian Cuisine: The Tastier Street Foods You Must Try in Tunisia

 

6. Biscuit with Tunisian Lemonade

 

 

 

The Boulou biscuit boasts a crisp exterior alongside a tender, richly flavored interior. It is often adorned with sesame seeds or finely crushed almonds, introducing an appealing crunch. When served, it’s usually accompanied by a generous glass of lemonade, so you can dip into lemonade to enhance the flavors and also rekindles a taste of timeless joy.

 

boulou biscuit

 

In the warmth of the Tunisian climate, this combination emerges as a refreshingly simple yet compelling delight. You can find this combo in all pastry shops that offer traditional delicacies like makroudh, zalabia, and more. 

 

 

7. Tunisian Candies: A Nougat Delight

 

Far from the typical Western candy, Tunisian sweets like nougat and halkoum (akin to Turkish delight) offer a glimpse into the country's rich confectionery tradition. These treats, with their combination of roasted nuts and syrup, are known for its sweet, chewy texture and nutty flavors. 

 

nougat tunisian sweet

 

A glimpse into its history can be enlightening about Tunisian history and cuisine.  Originating from ancient Rome and evolving through Arabian influence and European innovation, it started as a luxury for the elite, made from honey, nuts, and egg whites to expand its popularity in the medieval period with the Moors introducing it to Spain. This led to the development of regional varieties across Southern Europe, including Italy's "torrone" and Spain's "turrón." 

 

Today, nougat continues to evolve with modern flavors and textures, enjoying international appeal and featuring in festive celebrations worldwide. Its rich history underscores nougat's role as a timeless, beloved confection that bridges cultures and delights people across the globe.

 

Book your Street Food Tour in La Medina of Tunis 

 

 

8. Bambalouni: The Tunisian Donut

 

A beloved street food, Bambalouni offers a simple pleasure with its fluffy texture and sweet coating. This Tunisian donut, best enjoyed fresh from the fryer, is a popular treat in Sidi Bou Said and beyond, embodying the joy of Tunisian street cuisine.

 

bambalouni tunisian donut

 

 

9. Baklava: A Layered Masterpiece

 

 

While baklava is celebrated across many cultures, the Tunisian version stands out for its distinct preparation and presentation. With layers of filo dough filled with a single layer of nuts and soaked in syrup, Tunisian baklava offers a unique take on this classic dessert, proving that even well-known sweets can have a local twist.

 

tunisian baklava

 

10. Kaak Warka: Almond-Infused Rings

 

Reserved for special occasions, Kaak Warka is a delicate, donut-shaped treat made from flour, butter, almond, sugar, and blossom water. Its subtle flavors of almond and blossom water make it a perfect match for mint tea or coffee, showcasing the elegance of Tunisian confectionery.

 

tunisian kaak warka

 

11. Garn Ghzal / Mehshi Tataouine: The Stuffed Delight

 

Garn Ghzal, also known as Mehshi Tataouine, is a quintessential Tunisian dessert that beautifully encapsulates the essence of traditional Tunisian flavors. This unique sweet is characterized by its stuffing—a rich blend of sesame, almonds, and walnuts, enveloped in a soft dough that's then fried to perfection. 

 

Garn Ghzal / Mehshi Tataouine: The Stuffed Delight

 

To enhance its flavors, it is often drenched in a citrus-flavored honey syrup, adding a delightful sweetness that perfectly balances the nuttiness of the filling. This dessert is not only a testament to the creativity of Tunisian cuisine but also serves as a cultural emblem, representing the fusion of ingredients that are fundamental to Tunisian gastronomy, and the connection between all regions in the country. 

 

12. Yoyo: The Tunisian Doughnut

 

While Bamablouni is more known for tourists to be the Tunisian doughnut, Yoyo is more similar in shape and texture. Offering a twist on the classic doughnut with its unique texture and flavor profile, the Tunisian Yoyo, unlike its North American counterpart, incorporates a citrus zest, providing a refreshing flavor that distinguishes it from other doughnut varieties.

 

yoyo tunisian donuts

 

Made with a blend of flour, sugar, eggs, and infused with hints of orange and vanilla, Yoyos are fried until golden and then sometimes soaked in a sugar syrup to add an extra layer of sweetness. Almonds can also be added for an additional crunch. Yoyos are a popular treat during Ramadan nights and are a testament to Tunisia's ability to infuse traditional recipes with local flavors, creating delightful sweets that are both familiar and uniquely Tunisian.

 

13. Assida Zgougou: A Tunisian Delicacy

 

First, let us give you a background about Assida Zgougou. This  unique and cherished dish is especially popular during the day of Mouled (the Prophet's birthday). As a creamy and smooth dessert, it is made from the seeds of the Aleppo pine, mixed with water, sugar, and flour to create a distinctive texture and flavor. It's often adorned with nuts and served as a symbol of abundance and celebration.

 

assida zgougou

 

Like other sweets in the list, the process is quite sophisticated, representing the blend of nature and culinary artistry and also the dedication to come out with the best desert for an important day in the Islamic history. 

 

 

14. Bsisa: A Taste of Tradition

 

Next on our list is Bsisa, a versatile and nutritious mixture that dates back centuries.  You can usually find it ready to eat in stores like Ben Yeghlan. 

 

Bsisa, also known as “dardoura”, is a blend of roasted grains (typically barley or wheat) mixed with olive oil and nuts. Using the same blend of roasted grains as its drink  counterpart, it is more than just a sweet treat; it’s a healthful delicacy, rich in flavors and textures, often enjoyed for breakfast or as a snack. Some varieties that can be bought include a mix with chocolate or nut butters to make it more attractive to kids without loosing its nutriment benefits. 

 

As Tunisia is known for its rich agriculture, this brings the taste of the earth directly to your table.

 

15. Zalabiya 

 

 

A taste of India in Tunisia, a northern African country? No one can say no to this! 

Zalabya, also recognized as Zlabia or Jalebi in other cultures, offers a sweet fusion of flavors and textures. This dessert is crafted from a batter consisting of flour, yogurt or ghee, and leavening agents like baking soda or yeast. 

 

zlabya tunisian pastry

 

Poured in hot oil in spiraling patterns, it chips up into intricate golden shapes. Drenched in a thick, fragrant syrup—infused with flavors like rosewater, saffron, honey, orange blossom water, or cardamom—Zlabya becomes a crispy yet tender treat, celebrated especially during Ramadan.

 

16. Oudhenin El Kadhi

 

Another sweet that get a spurge in consumption during Ramadan. Oudhenin El Kadhi, or "Judge's Ears," is a delightful pastry known for its unique shape and delicious taste. Made from a simple yet effective mix of flour, eggs, oil, orange flower water, sugar, and a pinch of salt, this dough is transformed into thin strips that are fried and then meticulously shaped. 

 

oudhenin kadhi tunisian sweet

 

The final touch is a generous coating of honey or syrup, or a dusting of powdered sugar, occasionally topped with sesame seeds for an added crunch.

 

 

 

Tunisian Sweets, a Window into the country's culture, history, and traditions

 

By now, you have broad insights on how these Tunisian sweets are more than just treats. Each one of them is testifying one civilization and influence at a time. Exploring Tunisian sweets equals embarking on a culinary adventure, where each sweet not only delights the palate but also tells a story of tradition, innovation, and cultural pride. So, as you traverse through Tunisia's vibrant markets and bakeries, make sure to indulge in these delightful sweets, for they offer a taste of Tunisia's soul.