I'm so excited to share my mom's spanakopita (σπανακόπιτα) recipe on Binge Worthy Bites, it's a very big deal. This is a perfected version of the classic cheesy, flaky Spanakopita (Greek Spinach and Feta Pie). It has a crispy, buttery, Phyllo dough crust and a delectable spinach and cheese filling.
Spanakopita (Greek Spinach and Feta Pie)
Spanakopita is a staple food found on any Greek menu, and it's usually served as an appetizer or side. You can typically find it in the frozen food aisle at the grocery store, but the frozen versions won't hold a candle to this recipe. This recipe will turn you into a Spanakopita snob, even if you're not Greek. It's a crowd favorite and always requested among our family and friends.
Do you eat spanakopita hot or cold?
There really are no rules here. You can serve your spanakopita freshly baked as a side with a meal, or have it served out on a platter as an appetizer at a warm or room temperature. It also tastes delicious right out of the refrigerator, so for a personal serving, the choice is yours. When snacking, it's great cold and I usually end up picking at it before it even reaches my toaster oven.
Tips for working with phyllo pastry
You need to mentally prepare, grab and melt a lot of butter, and follow these tips when you're working with the Phyllo dough for this recipe. This advice comes from years of experience, and years of my mom fighting with Phyllo to make these notes for future generations.
- Try to handle the phyllo as little as possible.
- Work with a piece of phyllo that is slightly larger than your baking sheet. DO NOT use a sheet of phyllo that is smaller than the baking sheet you're using.
- Lay a damp towel over the sheet of phyllo you are about to use before lifting it to the pan.
- My mom recommends using a #7 phyllo dough (I found mine at Valli Produce in the Chicagoland area).
- The phyllo I'm using in my pictures measured 14"x18". It's #7 thickness and I used a 10"x15" jelly roll pan with a 1" edge.
- Per my mom, "Don't let phyllo scare you...because butter fixes everything." The phyllo dough tears very easily. Use a pastry brush and melted butter to patchwork the layers of phyllo if you have tears. The melted butter will smooth out the tear and bonds the patches together.
- Bake at 350°F degrees if you're baking in a conventional oven, but bake at 325°F degrees if you're baking in a convection oven.
What is in the spanakopita filling?
This spanakopita is filled with a mix of spinach, green onion, dill, a little seasoning, and ALL the cheese. You're going to use four different types of cheese in this mix and each one has a very unique flavor and texture. If you're not usually a fan of feta, don't worry. It's super important to the recipe, but it doesn't have a strong feta flavor at all.
What kind of spinach and feta are used to make spanakopita?
For this spanakopita recipe, fresh or frozen spinach will work. After many trials and taste tests of this recipe, frozen spinach actually produced the best outcome (but fresh was close) and it was easier to use.
- Thawing frozen spinach is great because it is pre-chopped, you just need to ring out the water.
- Make sure you do not use pre-cooked spinach, be sure that the chopped spinach you purchase is raw.
- I think imported feta from Greece is INCREDIBLE, but domestic feta works very well for this recipe too.
Authentic spanakopita recipe
Before you get started, make note of these additional tips that will save you time and will help you succeed with this recipe...
- First, put the frozen phyllo dough and frozen spinach in the refrigerator the night before you're going to prepare this. This will give both a chance to slowly thaw.
- You can use a food processor to chop spinach, green onions, and dill. You need to pulse it a couple times, but don't over pulse it. If you don't have a food processor, you can also finely chop it.
- Also, put your cream cheese on the counter before you get started. Let it get to room temperature before you use it. Room temperature cream cheese is much easier to use.
- Cover the unused phyllo sheets with a damp towel so that it doesn't dry out as you are layering the spanakopita.
- Be sure to score your spanakopita before baking. It will be much easier to cut once it's baked if it has been scored.
My favorite tools to make Spanakopita
click photos for links!
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Spanakopita (Greek Spinach and Feta Pie)
- 32 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1 bunch dill, stems removed
- 5 bunches green onions
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 large eggs
- 1¼ cups cottage cheese 4%
- 12 ounces cream cheese, softened 1 standard block = 8 ounces
- ½ cup kefalotyri or substitute this with Romano cheese*
- 1 lb block of feta cheese, crumbled Imported feta from Greece is INCREDIBLE, but domestic feta works well for this recipe too!
- 2 teaspoon sea salt flakes *if substituting with regular salt, cut the measurement in half
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- 3 tablespoon dried mint
- 15 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed (1 package) #7 phyllo dough 14"x18"
- 1 cup salted butter, melted
- Thaw frozen spinach and frozen phyllo dough overnight in the refrigerator before using. Do not leave it in the fridge for more than a day though.
- Preheat conventional oven to 350°F or convection to 325°F.
- Prep your ingredients: squeeze the thawed, chopped spinach until you've wrung out all the water. Remove stems from dill and chop the white ends off green onions/scallion. You can finely chop the green onion and dill OR throw them in your food processor and pulse a few times until they're combined and finely chopped (one of my favorite shortcuts because it saves so much time).
- Next, mix your greens. Combine the chopped spinach, dill, and green onions in a mixing bowl and drizzle olive oil over it. Stir to make sure the olive oil is distributed. Set aside.
- In another mixing bowl, whisk 5 eggs, cream cheese, cottage cheese, kefalotyri, sea salt flakes, celery salt, and dried mint in your stand mixer. Once those are mixed and eggs are no longer "streaky," add in the feta on the lowest speed setting. Once feta has been added, slowly incorporate your greens . Now the filling is ready to go!
- Grease your baking sheet. Lay out thawed phyllo dough. Pull 2 sheets + brush with melted butter (cover unused phyllo with damp paper towel in between so it doesn't dry out). Using a pastry brush generously coat the 2 phyllo sheets in your baking sheet with melted butter. Once they are coated edge to edge, grab another 2 sheets of phyllo dough and repeat, Repeat one last time so that you have a total of 6 sheets of phyllo as your bottom layer in the baking sheet.
- Gently scoop spinach and feta filling over the buttered phyllo. Evenly distribute it.
- Now, layer another 3 sheets of phyllo, and brush with melted butter, After the first 3 sheets are well coated, layer another 3 sheets of phyllo, and melted butter. Last, place another 3 sheets of phyllo and brush all over with melted butter
- Brush butter on all of the edges of the phyllo and cut each corner GENTLY roll up the edges of phyllo around the border of the baking sheet. This will make a nice edge crust. Brush melted butter over the top of the rolled edges.
- Score the phyllo to precut it (it's harder to cut when it's crispy)
- Bake until the top layer of phyllo turns golden brown. If you're using a conventional oven bake at 350°F (typically takes around 40 minutes but start watching it at 30 minutes). It usually around 45 minutes to bake so it's just right. If baking this in an oven with convection, make sure you lower the temperature and bake it at 325°F. Still be sure to check it at 30 minutes