Greek Sesame Honey Candy (Pasteli)

Greek Sesame Honey Candy (Pasteli)

The Spruce / Tara Omidvar

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Chill Time: 3 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 20 servings
Yield: 100 candies
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
177 Calories
9g Fat
24g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 20
Amount per serving
Calories 177
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 3mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 19g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 191mg 15%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 103mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

In Greek: παστέλι, pronounced pah-STEH-lee

Something of an ancient Greek version of a power bar, pasteli has been made with the same two ingredients for millennia: honey and sesame seeds. The version of pasteli most commonly sold in markets is generally hard—it's the addition of refined sugar in those recipes that make it that way. This classic version does not use refined sugar, allowing the traditional honey to create a chewy texture.

The quality and taste of the honey will have an effect on the final product. Try this recipe with the organic honey of your preference (thyme, wildflower, fir, pine, chestnut, etc.). You also may want to look for sesame seeds in bulk, as they can be quite expensive, especially when purchased in small quantities. This recipe calls for an optional lemon peel to give the pasteli a light hint of citrus. You can omit it, but the lemon flavor adds a bit of zing to this treasured Greek treat.

Pasteli can be eaten as candy or energy booster at any time, and it is a wonderful accompaniment to tea. Because it is very sweet, cut it into small pieces. Those with a sweet tooth can always eat more.


  • 1 1/3 cups honey

  • 3 cups white sesame seeds, hulled

  • 1 strip lemon peel, about 1/4 x 1 inch, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Greek Sesame Honey Candy (Pasteli) ingredients

    The Spruce / Tara Omidvar

  2. Bring the honey and lemon peel (if using) to a boil in a saucepan. Add the sesame seeds, stirring continuously. Continue to cook while stirring to mix completely and thoroughly.

    sesame seeds, honey and lemon peel in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Tara Omidvar

  3. When the seeds are fully mixed in and the mixture has boiled again, remove the pan from the heat. Remove the lemon peel and discard it.

    sesame seeds in a saucepan, lemon peel in a bowl

    The Spruce / Tara Omidvar

  4. Place a piece of baking parchment on a cool work surface and spread out the hot mixture thinly and evenly (about 1/4-inch deep).

    sesame seeds spread on a baking sheet

    The Spruce / Tara Omidvar

  5. Cool the pasteli to room temperature before refrigerating it on the parchment paper (it doesn't need to be covered). Chill for at least 2 to 3 hours.

    sesame seed mixture on a baking sheet

    The Spruce / Tara Omidvar

  6. Using kitchen shears, cut the pasteli together with parchment paper into small pieces, and serve.

    Greek Sesame Honey Candy (Pasteli) cut into pieces

    The Spruce / Tara Omidvar

  7. Peel off the parchment paper to eat. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

    Greek Sesame Honey Candy (Pasteli)

    The Spruce / Tara Omidvar

Recipe Tip

Making More or Less?

The recipe calls for equal parts by weight of sesame seeds and honey:

  • 1 pound of honey (16 ounces) = approximately 1 1/3 cups
  • 1 pound of sesame seeds = approximately 3 cups

You can enjoy pasteli as a natural energy bar. Sesame seeds are high in protein, but also contain healthy oils and antioxidants. If you've become dependent on store-bought energy bars, these will have no additives, and you can ensure they are gluten free if that is a concern.

One variation you might try is adding some crushed nuts to the mixture, such as pistachios. Or lightly toast some of the sesame seeds to add a roasted flavor.

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