Dairy free, Desserts, Gluten free, Vegan

Pasteli: Greek Honey-Sesame Bars

PasteliThese sesame bars known as pasteli in Greek are the original power bars. They actually go back to antiquity, the ancient Greeks had a similar recipe that included a variety of nuts and honey. Today you can pretty much find pasteli anywhere in Greece. When I’m out and am looking for something quick I’ll stop by a periptero (kiosks that are everywhere) and that is what I’ll get. It is basically honey and sesame seeds. You can also find other types of pasteli that include other nuts such as pistachios.

These bars are traditionally consumed during times of fasting, when animal products are prohibited. If you do not already know, Greeks used to fast from animal products for about 180 days a year so these little things were nice little desserts to have.

I’ve seen these bars, being called sesame candy, but they are far from it, from nutritional point of view at least. Sesame is an excellent source of protein, a good source of calcium and iron, contains the good fats and the most phytosterols among nuts and seeds. Phytosterols are substances that appear to lower cholesterol levels and may protect from cancer. In addition sesame seeds contain antioxidants and fiber. The honey acts as a binder and a sweetener. They are a great snack during the day and kids love them too.

These bars are a concentrated source of calories and they are rich and sweet so you only need small amount. And I’m not just saying that, you really will feel satisfied after eating a small thin bar.

I decided to make my own, as holiday treats this year. They only contain honey and sesame seeds, unfortunately nowadays a lot of the pasteli you buy at the store contains glucose syrup.

The steps are simple, you just want to make sure you do not overcook it. I like mine to be thin and crispy, but you can roll them out in the size you wish. There are different recipes out there, I used the most straightforward one with equal amounts of honey and sesame seeds (by weight).

Pasteli: Greek Honey-Sesame Bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Category: snack, dessert

Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean, Vegan

Yield: 20 pieces.

Serving Size: 1 bar

Pasteli: Greek Honey-Sesame Bars


  • 7 ounces about 1 ½ cup sesame seeds
  • 7 ounces about ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon honey


  1. Toast the sesame seeds. You can spread them in a pan and put them in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit or you can toast them in a pan. You want them to get a bit of color but not too brown.
  2. Pour the honey in medium sauce pan and heat the honey until it starts to bubble. Let it boil for 4-5 minutes. If you have a food thermometer, you boil until honey reaches a temperature of 250 F (125 C).
  3. Pour the toasted sesame seeds, lower the heat and stir. Making sure all ingredients are moxed well together. Heat the mixture for 2-3 minutes more (the more it cooks the crunchier it will be-but be careful of scorching). To check if it is ready, take a small amount and drop it in a glass with water, it should stay in a ball, if it spreads out it still needs to be heated.
  4. Line a pan with slight greased (I spray or brush with olive oil) wax paper or parchment paper and pour the sesame mixture, place another sheet of wax paper on top (also greased) and spread out the sesame-honey mix with a rolling pin. I prefer to do this step directly on the table instead of using a pan, that way I can spread as thin as I like (mine are rolled out to ¼ inch thick).
  5. Remove the top sheet carefully and let it cool for about 15 minutes. Cut in small bars (I use a pizza cutter).
  6. Let them cool completely. Remove and store with wax paper between them in airtight container.


It is advisable to weigh the ingredients. Make sure you grease the parchment paper well.

Photo by Elena Paravantes

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  • Reply Rinjez September 4, 2019 at 6:29 am

    What doe that ingredient mean? Is it a half cup of honey?

    7 ounces about ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon honey

  • Reply Becky August 28, 2019 at 9:55 pm

    Just made these. They were so easy and are delicious!

  • Reply Sam June 12, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Yia Sou,
    These were my favorite snack growing up. Also, could you recommend a great Med Diet. I need something to follow and try to get my family to jump on board as well. I miss growing up in Greece and eating healthy. A Monday through Sunday broken down diet which is easy to follow. email is boperoni@yahoo.com. Thank you so much.

    Sam Anagnostopoulos

  • Reply Zalerea January 18, 2019 at 1:12 am

    Please remove the vegan tag. Using honey which is a product created by animals goes against vegan definition. Thanks!

    • Reply Puela August 11, 2019 at 6:13 pm

      Good point! But so is sugar, which is processed with cow bones, yet most vegans use freely and call a vegan product, when it is not! Sugar is not even a vegetarian product.

  • Reply Sesame | Healthiest Foods ( video inside) - Share Top Five January 11, 2019 at 7:57 am

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  • Reply Jennifer Merioles January 3, 2019 at 12:18 am

    I made this for the first time yesterday. LOVE THIS SNACK!!! So easy to make. The only question I have is do they really get crispier with longer cooking time? I simmered the honey for a few minutes and the honey sesame seed mix for several minutes….it’s a gooey mess. I have to keep it in the fridge or it’s the consistance of honey out of the jar.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN January 5, 2019 at 9:42 am

      Thanks Jennifer. The mix honey-nuts should be simmered 5-10 minutes. Another way is to wait for the honey to reach a temperature of 250F and then add the nuts.

  • Reply sudha gupta December 27, 2018 at 6:38 am

    thanks for sharing this recipe .
    it is so perfect and simple.
    when i followed your recipe sesame seeds bar came out crunchier than before what i used to do.

  • Reply Janene October 4, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    I can’t wait to try these, they sound like a perfect boost. Are the sesame seeds Hulled or Unhulled?

  • Reply Änne Sauer July 25, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    Thanks for the recipe! Having lived I Greece I loved these sesame bars, Never bothered to make them there since you can buy them anywhere,
    However, mine turned out too sticky and fudgy consistency. Maybe it’s because it’s really hot. Or maybe I didn’t use enough sesame seeds.

    I covered them with more sesame seeds and it’s still excellent to taste.
    Ευχάριστο πολύ

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN July 25, 2018 at 4:51 pm

      Thank you for your comment Anne. Sometimes if you do not heat the mixture enough it will not become hard.

  • Reply Tife June 29, 2018 at 1:16 am

    I love the recipe, but i tried it and after some hours it’s became de-crytillized and sticky

  • Reply Monika June 7, 2018 at 11:18 am

    Heated honey is a BIG poison, read about that

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN June 7, 2018 at 1:35 pm

      There is no scientific evidence that shows that heated honey is toxic or poisonous.

  • Reply Elena April 3, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    Do you think it will work if I use date syrup instead? I heard that honey can become toxic at high temperatures

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN April 6, 2018 at 1:40 pm

      Hi Elena, I have not used date syrup so I am not sure of the result. However, there is no valid evidence that shows that honey can become toxic at high temperatures.

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  • Reply Ariel March 28, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    I had these when I lived in Israel. Fell in love with them as I walked to school munching on them. Just made a batch & they’re cooling down now. Very eager for the memory trip, lol! Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  • Reply Addy January 28, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    Oh my goodness! I should have read these tips before making them. I ended up eating right off the wax paper – quite frustrated. It was worth it coz they’re so delicious. I will try parchment paper and oil spray next time.

  • Reply Ann December 16, 2017 at 4:09 am

    Will maple syrup work in this recipe?Unfortunately my son is allergic to honey.

    • Reply Elena December 16, 2017 at 7:30 am

      Hi Ann,
      Maple syrup is thinner than honey, so I’m not sure if it will harden enough, it may have a softer consistency – so a more chewy rather than crunchy pasteli.

  • Reply Pippa Lawson August 25, 2017 at 4:01 am

    Parchment paper works far better than wax paper, but even better to avoid sticking is a silicon mat – no need for grease! Thanks for this awesome recipe.

    • Reply Elena August 25, 2017 at 7:03 am

      Thanks for the tip Pippa!

  • Reply Marjorie Stradinger April 10, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    After craving these I bought some at my local supposedly upscale grocery. Corn syrup, ugh! No more. I am so grateful for your authentic recipe.

  • Reply Yasmeen March 29, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    Thanks for the recipe! easy to make with just 2 ingredients. I found it too sweet for my taste though, if I add more sesame or decrease the honey will it still bind properly?

    • Reply Elena April 7, 2017 at 5:17 am

      I’m not sure if it will bind, it may be a bit too dry.

  • Reply lise haig November 28, 2016 at 11:52 pm

    I lightly buttered parchment paper and rolled them there and had no sticking problems at all. Nice to find a healthier candy alternative to appease my sweet tooth.

  • Reply 3 Easy Ancient Greek Recipes You Can Make Today | Olive Tomato November 24, 2016 at 6:02 am

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  • Reply Carla White October 24, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    Made these the other day. Heavenly.

  • Reply Spa Bucovina May 5, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Great recipe!

  • Reply r.a. December 22, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    I made this twice in the last couple of days and wonder if anybody else had problems getting the bottom layer of waxed paper off after this set and cooled? I peeled off the top layer of waxed paper as soon as it would pull away without taking the mixture with it but the bottom layer would not budge. I did try to lightly oil it but with wax paper being what it is the oil beaded up and tried to run somewhere. I was finally able to get it off by heating it with a hair blow dryer,picking it with a sharp knife tip and peeling it bit by bit. Aside from that, it is delicious! I would love to make this again but would like to do so without extra steps.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD December 22, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      Yes, it is a sticky process. You can grease your pan with a bit of oil. Or you can use an ice cube and slide it on the places where the wax paper has stuck, it loosens it and then you can remove any stuck paper fairly easy.

      • Reply r.a. December 22, 2014 at 7:50 pm

        Thank you!

    • Reply Veronica July 15, 2016 at 1:40 am

      Hi R.A.! I made them too, and the wax paper idea is just pure evil! I had to throw my first batch out. 🙁 Now, I just grease the bottom of my pan and when they’re cooled they come out much easier (if slightly greasier). Tasty recipe though! Thanks Elena! 🙂

    • Reply Susan Baka March 1, 2019 at 2:29 pm

      Is the wax in the wax paper melting just a bit perhaps and causing the sticking? Would parchment paper work better?

  • Reply r.a. December 19, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    I remember my mother buying these for us occasionally as a treat, I never thought of making them but I will be buying some sesame seeds today to make these. I have recently been reading articles on PubMed about studies measuring the difference between honey and sugar. While nobody is saying to eat honey with abandon the studies are showing the body handles honey much better and there are positive results compared to sugar. When it was pointed out that honey is a whole food, it makes sense. Thanks for providing a recipe for a sweet treat that will satisfy.

  • Reply Laura December 18, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    This is great. I have been planning to buy these for an upcoming long-distance hike, but now I can just make my own!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD December 19, 2014 at 7:18 am

      Great! Just in time. These will be perfect, just make sure to wrap them as they can be sticky.

  • Reply Sophie December 18, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    I used to love these when I was younger – so tasty!! I agree with you, they are very satisfying. Nothing like nuts/seeds in a snack to satisfy you!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD December 19, 2014 at 7:18 am

      Exactly! Love nuts and seeds!

      • Reply Susan March 1, 2019 at 2:24 pm

        I bought on of these and while eating it I searched online for a recipe. I’m munching away eating the bar and reading the article and the recipe. I’m so excited I can make these myself. And I’d like to try making some with black sesame seeds. Thank you Elena! The lemon chicken potato recipe looks great!

    • Reply Jane April 3, 2017 at 12:27 am

      I made these just of the recipe indicated. They came out perfect. I have eaten half of them already. I love using a Bing pizza cutter to slice through treats. I also spread them out right on the counter over a piece of parchment paper sprayed with coconut oil. Put another piece on top, before putting the mixture, and transferred part of that coconut oil on to the other piece of paper first.
      I don’t have a rolling pin so I used a straight edge glass. Thanks I needed a treat they did not include any sugar.

      • Reply Elena April 7, 2017 at 5:15 am

        Thanks for sharing Jane!

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