Spanakopita Recipe: The Best Greek Spinach and Feta Pie
I first encountered spanakopita when I did my internship at Bella Vista Hotel, the place that Matt and I first met in Benitses, Corfu. This hotel is famous for its traditional Greek cuisine breakfast, and the pies alone are well worth trying. So fresh and crispy, with thin pastry and a tender filling, I decided I had to learn the spanakopita recipe. Yes, Greek cuisine has always had a special place in my heart – or stomach – and spanakopita is one of those simple dishes that just tastes too good to resist.
For a long time, I did not dare to try this spanakopita recipe at home because I thought it would be difficult to make it the same as it was in Greece. Luckily I was wrong and the “everything great is simple” theory was confirmed once again. It was one of the best souvenirs I took back from Corfu.
What is spanakopita?
Spanakopita is a Greek spinach pie with feta cheese. It’s a classic Greek dish that uses filo pastry and fresh spinach leaves. It’s popular on the island of Corfu, as well as mainland Greece (and the other islands). In many ways, it’s similar to the Turkish spinach börek, zelnik from North Macedonian cuisine, or the German spinach strudel, with slight differences in the way the filling and dough are prepared. But out of all the above, our favourite is Greek spanakopita (Greek spinach pie 4ever❤).
The first mention of a spanakopita recipe dates back to the 5th century BC and its appearance is associated with the Byzantine Empire. Both the filo dough and the spinach came from Byzantine cuisine. But today, spanakopita is an integral part of Greek cuisine.
Here is the delicious spanakopita recipe you wanna try😉
For the spinach and feta pie filling:
- Fresh chopped spinach (you can also use frozen spinach): 500 g
- Fresh dill: 50 g
- Feta cheese: 250 g
- Egg: 1
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the filo pastry:
- Filo sheets: 1 package (7 layers)
- Olive oil (or a mix of half olive oil and half melted butter): 100g
- Optional: Sesame seeds for sprinkling on top
- Wash the fresh spinach and drain well. Squeeze out any excess water if necessary and cut it into small pieces. Add the spinach to the pan with the olive oil. Sprinkle a little salt and sauté for 5 minutes over medium heat. There should be as little excess liquid as possible. Or if, like me, you used frozen spinach, then you need to defrost it and drain well.
- Crumble the feta cheese into small pieces.
- In a large bowl, mix the egg, pepper, spinach, and dill. Add feta cheese and stir well.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
- Grease an ovenproof baking dish with a little olive oil. Brush the first 4 filo pastry sheets individually with oil and stack them on top of each other in the baking tray. The filo pastry sheets should be a little bigger than the tray and will form a border on all sides.
- On top of the fourth filo pastry sheet, spread the feta and spinach mixture and then repeat the previous step for the remaining sheets of filo pastry (except for the last one which will form the top). Don't brush the last sheet of filo with oil but sprinkle it with some water instead. Also, you can sprinkle some sesame seeds on the top if you like.
- Cut the spanakopita with a sharp knife into squares before baking.
- Bake spanakopita in a preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- This spanakopita recipe is especially good because a Greek spinach pie can be served warm or cold, as a side dish or a main dish, for breakfast or on a meze platter along with a big salad, some hummus and pita bread. You can have Spanakopita pie with almost anything, at almost any time of day.
- You can experiment with the spanakopita filling as well. Try adding fresh parsley, spring onions or green onions, lemon zest or fresh herbs to the spinach mixture. Spice it how you like. You can even use ricotta cheese instead of feta if you prefer. Have fun with it. You can alter the traditional Greek spinach pie and make it your own!
- If you like red onions as I do, then you should also try to fry them with some spinach and add it to the filling. It's super tasty!
- For those who do not like olive oil, you can easily use butter instead, or any other cooking oil of your taste.
- You can freeze spanakopita for later. Just reheat it whenever you like at around 180 degrees.
- Filo dough is sometimes called phyllo dough, so look out for that name too!
- For me to find filo pastry was a pain. I searched 4 grocery shops and could not find any, but luckily found some in Kaufland in Germany. I also heard it's usually easy to find filo dough in a Turkish shop or, alternatively, you can try using puff pastry instead. If you do use puff pastry for spanakopita, please let me know how it was in the comments below. When travelling, it might be challenging to find filo dough, so if I want to bake Greek spinach and feta pie I will have to experiment. I relish the challenge though, as it often leads to the creation of new recipes that might be even better... 😉
Enjoy your yummy spinach and feta pie
This spanakopita recipe is pretty easy to make so long as you can find the right ingredients. It shouldn’t take much of your time and it’ll also serve quite a few people if you have it as a side dish to a delicious moussaka, or even a mouth-watering beef stifado, for example. It’s great for parties and buffets, and even better when followed by a special home-made Greek cheesecake! 😉
If you thought this recipe was simple, you should see our other easy recipes. They take barely any effort at all! Also, check out our different recipes from around the world to experience a variety of distinct cuisines.