Easy Cheese Flatbread (Cheese Manakish)

5 from 10 votes
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This cheese manakish is a simple Middle Eastern cheese flatbread, using an all-purpose simple dough and topped with cheese and nigella seeds for a delicious snack, appetizer, or breakfast dish! Plus, all you need is just 7 ingredients and 20 minutes of hands-on prep!

A baked cheese manakish (cheese flatbread)

I’ve already shared this all-purpose Middle Eastern dough along – perfect for making Manakish, like za’atar manakish, and now this cheese manakish. This cheese flatbread is simple, fresh, and delicious – not to mention that it smells amazing as it bakes in the oven.

Best of all, the manakish dough can be made up to two days in advance and takes under 10 minutes to bake in the oven. Once baked, store the leftover cheese manakish in the freezer for up to three months and re-heat from frozen for a quick and tasty snack whenever you feel like it.

If you’re feeling a little untraditional, then this cheese flatbread can double up amazingly as a garlic cheese flatbread or even a pizza base with some tomato puree and your toppings of choice. Honestly, the sky is the limit! 

A baked cheese manakish topped with nigella seeds

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What Are Manakish?

Manakish – also referred to as manakeesh, manaqish, and manoush – is a type of Middle Eastern flatbread ‘pizza’ traditionally topped with either a za’atar spice and oil blend, cheese (like this one!), or a meaty minced lamb topping.

The name is said to come from the Arabic word manqūshah – which means ‘to sculpt’ or ‘carve out’ and refers to how the rolled-out dough is dimpled with fingers before baking. This creates little dips for the topping to lie in and will stop the bread puffing up too much in the oven.

The Ingredients

  • Manakish Dough: I use this Middle Eastern Bread dough for these cheese manakish.
  • Cheese: I used a combination of mozzarella and parmesan – as they’re easy to find for all. You could also use a combination of halloumi and feta with mozzarella for a mixture of salty and neutral. For a more traditional Lebanese flavor, then use Akawi, kashkaval, or nabulsi combined with mozzarella. 
  • Sesame seeds: these are technically optional but add a nice, nutty flavor to the top of the Arabic cheese bread. 

Optional Add-ons

  • Za’atar spice: I use homemade za’atar. However, it’s also available in several grocery stores and most Middle Eastern stores. 
  • Olives: Kalamata olives can be added halved, whole, or sliced to the cheese manakeesh/manakish. This is best when you’re not using too much salty cheese. 
  • Red Pepper Flakes: Add some pepper flakes to add a little spice to the cheese manakish.

This cheese flatbread can also easily be transformed into a quick garlic cheese flatbread (with minced garlic) or even pizza. 

How To Make Manakish Cheese

Step 1: Prepare the manakish dough

I use this simple Middle Eastern Dough. This recipe will require about an hour and a half (due to the hour-long proving time), so plan accordingly. 

Once the dough is prepared, split it into 5 equal pieces for large pizza-sized cheese flatbread or more pieces if you want smaller ones (you can get 8 medium-sized ones). You can weigh it out for complete accuracy.

I roll out the dough to around 1/4-inch in thickness. If you prefer it slightly thinner or thicker, you may need to adjust the baking time accordingly. 

Steps for rolling manakish dough

Once rolled out, dimple the top of the dough with your fingers (like you would with focaccia). This is important to help hold the cheese in place and stop the bread from puffing up too much in the oven. 

Step 2: Top and bake the cheese flatbread

Place an inverted tray or a pizza stone in the oven and preheat it to the highest it can possibly reach (Mine is 500ºF/260ºC).

Shred/grate or crumble your cheeses of choice and combine. Then sprinkle over the flatbread, leaving a little 1/2-inch crust. Sprinkled some nigella seeds if wanted.

Then, transfer the cheese manakish to the pre-heated oven tray/pizza stone. Be careful when doing this, as the surface will be scorching. 

Bake for between 5-7 minutes until it’s lightly golden brown around the edges and bottom. 

You can optionally broil the cheese manakish for a short while right in the last minute in the oven for a more golden-topped, bubbly cheese flatbread.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy warm and gooey or at room temperature. 

How To Store & Reheat

Store: Leftover cheese manakish should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. 

Freezer: Store the baked flatbreads, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, in the freezer for up to three months.Thaw in the refrigerator before enjoying or reheat from frozen.

Reheat: Reheat the cheese flatbreads in the oven at 250ºF/120ºC until warmed through. You can do this from room temp, chilled, or frozen- adjusting the time until the cheese manakeesh is warmed. 

How To Serve Cheese Manakish

Just like zaatar manakish, this Arabic cheese bread is traditionally served as part of a breakfast spread alongside fresh vegetables like tomatoes, olives, cucumber, radishes, etc.

You can also serve it to dip into homemade labneh or other mezze-style dips like creamy hummus, smoky baba ganoushSimple Spinach Yogurt Dip (Borani), etc. 

A folded cheese manakish being pulled apart to show the stretchy cheese

Recipe Notes

  • If you use salted akawi cheese, it’s best to soak it in water for an hour (up to 24 hours) in the fridge to remove some of the salt. After soaking, grate and drain the cheese through a cheesecloth. If you don’t soak the cheese, then the manakish can become VERY salty. 
  • Feel free to adjust the size of the flatbread. Whether you want large pizza-sized flatbread or small snack-sized versions, divide the dough into fewer/more pieces. 
  • Easily adapt this cheese flatbread into a quick pizza by first topping the dough with a little tomato puree or marinara sauce, then topped with the cheese mixture and your toppings of choice. 

If you try this cheese manakish recipe, then let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments. I’d also really appreciate a recipe rating and would love to see your recreations – just tag @AlphaFoodie.

Cheese Flatbread (Cheese Manakish)

5 from 10 votes
By: Samira
This manakish cheese is a simple Middle-eastern cheese flatbread, using an all-purpose simple dough and topped with cheese and nigella seeds for a delicious snack, appetizer, or breakfast dish! Plus, all you need is just 7 ingredients and 20 minutes of hands-on prep!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8 medium-sized breads (more/less depending on size)

Ingredients 
 

  • Manakish dough
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese check notes for substitutions
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp nigella seeds or sesame seeds (optional)

Instructions 

Step 1: Prepare the manakish dough

  • I use this simple Middle Eastern Dough. This recipe will require about an hour and a half (due to the hour-long proving time), so plan accordingly.
  • Once the dough is prepared, split it into 5 equal pieces for large pizza-sized cheese flatbread or more pieces if you want smaller ones (you can make 8 medium-sized ones). You can weigh it out for complete accuracy.
  • I roll out the dough to around 1/4-inch in thickness. If you prefer it slightly thinner or thicker, you may need to adjust the baking time accordingly.
  • Once rolled out, dimple the top of the dough with your fingers (like you would with focaccia). This is important to help hold the cheese in place and stop the bread from puffing up too much in the oven.

Step 2: Top and bake the cheese flatbread

  • Place an inverted tray or a pizza stone in the oven and preheat it to the highest it can possibly reach (Mine is 500ºF/260ºC).
  • Shred/grate or crumble your cheeses of choice and combine. Then sprinkle over the flatbread, leaving a little 1/2-inch crust.
  • Transfer the cheese manakish to the pre-heated oven tray/pizza stone. Be careful when doing this, as the surface will be scorching.
  • Bake for between 5-7 minutes until it's lightly golden brown around the edges and bottom.
    You can optionally broil the cheese manakish for a short while right in the last minute in the oven for a more golden-topped, bubbly cheese flatbread.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy warm and gooey or at room temperature.

How To Store & Reheat

  • Store: Leftover cheese manakish should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
    Freezer: Store the baked flatbreads, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, in the freezer for up to three months.Thaw in the refrigerator before enjoying or reheat from frozen.
    Reheat: Reheat the cheese flatbreads in the oven at 250ºF/12º0C until warmed through. You can do this from room temp, chilled, or frozen – adjusting the time until the cheese manakeesh is warmed.

Notes

  • If you use salted akawi cheese, it’s best to soak it in water for an hour (up to 24 hours) in the fridge to remove some of the salt. After soaking, grate and drain the cheese through a cheesecloth. If you don’t soak the cheese, then the manakish can become VERY salty. 
  • Feel free to adjust the size of the flatbread. Whether you want large pizza-sized flatbread or small snack-sized versions, divide the dough into fewer/more pieces. 
  • Easily adapt this cheese flatbread into a quick pizza by first topping the dough with a little tomato puree or marinara sauce, then topped with the cheese mixture and your toppings of choice. 
Ingredient Notes
  • Cheese: I used a combination of mozzarella and parmesan – as they’re easy to find for all. You could also use a combination of halloumi and feta with mozzarella for a mixture of salty and neutral. For a more traditional Lebanese flavor, then use Akawi, kashkaval, or nabulsi combined with mozzarella. 

Optional Add-ons

  • Za’atar spice: I use homemade za’atar. However, it’s also available in several grocery stores and most Middle Eastern stores. 
  • Olives: Kalamata olives can be added halved, whole, or sliced to the cheese manakeesh/manakish. This is best when you’re not using too much salty cheese. 
  • Red Pepper Flakes: Add some pepper flakes to add a little spice to the cheese manakish.
This cheese flatbread can also easily be transformed into a quick garlic cheese flatbread (with minced garlic) or even pizza. 
Course: Appetizer, Breakfast, Brunch, Side, Snack
Cuisine: Lebanese, Levantine, Middle Eastern
Freezer friendly: 3 Months
Shelf life: 1 Week

Nutrition

Serving: 1bread, Calories: 228kcal, Carbohydrates: 40g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 9mg, Sodium: 394mg, Potassium: 114mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 82IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 107mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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