Cheese Sambusak

Ayelet Izraeli

30 minutes + 50 minutes baking

~4 dozen

Cheese-filled pastries on a blue and white plate

Cheese Sambusak. Photo by Dor Malka.

Cheese Sambusak. Photo by Dor Malka.

In Ayelet Izraeli’s family, these savory pastries are made as part of an elaborate Iraqi Purim spread for an annual party. Start with the family’s dough recipe, which makes enough for these sambusak and three dozen date-filled cookies called b’ab’e b’tamer. Any leftover dough can be twisted into simple biscuits called ka’akat. The pastries will hold in the freezer for two weeks.

Read more about Ayelet’s family story on the Jewish Food Society archive.


  • 1 lb. hard, salty cheese (like feta, kashkaval, sulguni, kasseri, or a combination), grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons cottage cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • sesame seeds, for sprinkling
  • Dough (recipe here)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the cheese, 1 egg, cottage cheese, and salt, until well combined.
  3. On a clean work surface, roll out a quarter of the dough into a ⅙-inch thick circle. Using a 3-in diameter glass, cut circles in the dough. Reserve the leftover dough between the circles for k’aakat (see below).
  4. Place 1 ½ teaspoons of the cheese mixture in the center of each circle. Fold the dough in half over the filling forming a half moon shape and press to seal the edges together (being careful not to create air pockets).
  5. Using a fork, score along the entire edge of the sambusak. This will help seal them and add a decorative touch. Place on the prepared baking sheet with a bit of space between them.
  6. In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg. Lightly brush each sambusak with a coating of egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  7. Bake until golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through, 20-24 minutes (baking time will be longer if you bake more than one sheet of sambusak at a time).
  8. Let cool, then serve or freeze until serving.

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