Banitsa

4.88 from 8 votes

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This is the easiest version of a traditional Bulgarian phyllo feta pie, that we call Banitsa 🇧🇬. Here, thin sheets of phyllo (aka filo) dough are stuffed with salty feta, rolled up into a spiral 🌀, painted with butter, and baked until golden and delicious. One bite into the flaky, crispy dough reveals a rich, creamy center, and your life will be forever changed 😉. This puffed pastry has such deep meaning to me. It’s a nostalgic dish that my grandma would often make, sometimes with pumpkin or apple for a sweet variation. Many different cultures have their own stuffed phyllo dough pastries, such as burek and tiropita, and this recipe has been passed down throughout generations in my family 👩‍👧 and was taught to me by my grandma.

Why You’ll Love Banitsa

If you love flaky, buttery, stuffed pastries, you will love this Banitsa, which is stuffed in a tangy and salty feta and yogurt mixture, similar to burek and tiropita. Phyllo dough is an incredible ingredient, which you can find in the freezer aisle in most grocery stores; it’s the ultimate hack for making a quick and easy pastry at home. When brushed with butter and baked, phyllo dough transforms into crisp, flaky golden pastry sheets 🥐 that shatter into a million delicious crumbs when bit into. I love how impressive this dish looks, but it’s really so easy to make 🤫.

How to Prepare Banitsa

👩‍🍳 Line a round baking dish with parchment paper and lightly grease with melted butter. Preheat the oven to 400F.

🧊 Thaw the phyllo sheets as per the package directions, and meanwhile, start preparing the ingredients before you unroll the thawed phyllo.

🧀 In a large bowl, break the feta into chunks using a fork. Add the eggs and mix well with the fork. Add the yogurt and baking soda and mix well.

🧈 Place one sheet of thawed phyllo on your work surface and brush with some of the melted butter. Place another sheet on top of the first sheet and butter it as well. Add a few big spoonfuls of the yogurt-feta mixture onto the top phyllo sheet and spread it around.

꩜ Tightly roll up the phyllo sheet lengthwise to form a long rope. Roll that “rope” into a spiral and place it in the center of your baking dish. Repeat this process with the remaining phyllo sheets and yogurt-feta mixture and wrap each stuffed “rope” around the center to create a coiled pattern, until the baking dish is full.

🔥 Lightly brush the top of the Banitsa with melted butter and bake until flakey and golden, 45 to 50 minutes, depending on the oven. It should be nice and light and golden on the top and bottom. I bake mine uncovered on the middle rack. Let it cool a bit, and enjoy.

Nonna’s Tip

To prevent phyllo from drying out, keep it covered in a slightly damp, clean kitchen towel while you assemble the recipe.

Banitsa

Variations and Substitutions for Banitsa

  1. You can use any yogurt you like, but I love Bulgarian yogurt or Balkan-style yogurt.
  2. Bulgarian white cheese looks and feels just like feta so feel free to use any white, crumbly, salty, cheese you like 🧀.
  3. Instead of butter, you can use any cooking oil. I prefer butter 🧈, but oil is totally acceptable.
  4. Any baking dish will work here: a 12-inch round baking dish helps with shaping the dish, but you can form the same coil pattern on a baking sheet.
  5. Instead of shaping the dish into a coil 🌀, you can also bake the rolled “logs” 🪵 side by side in straight lines on a baking sheet. This can be an easier method.

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Common Questions

How large is the baking dish?

I use a 12-inch round baking dish, such as a springform pan, but any baking dish will work here, even a baking sheet.

Can i use other stuffings?

Of course, but then it won’t be my family’s traditional Banitsa recipe 😉. Cooked pumpkin and apple are popular fillings in Bulgaria, and spinach is a popular addition in Greece.

Does this make good leftovers?

Enjoy no more than a few hours after it comes out of the oven. However, you can crisp up leftovers in a 300F oven or in the air fryer for a few minutes.

IS this like Burek, Spanakopita, Tiropita?

YES! All over Europe, you will find so many incredible variations of a savory stuffed phyllo pastry. This is my Bulgarian version.

Can i make this in advance?

I recommend serving this dish shortly after it comes out of the oven. However, you can pre-make the filling one day prior to assembling and baking.

Banitsa

Banitsa

Flaky, crispy, buttery, and stuffed with salty cheese, you will love this easy Bulgarian Banitsa (phyllo feta pie) 🇧🇬!
4.88 from 8 votes
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: Bulgarian
Servings: 6
Author: The Modern Nonna
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup butter, (equivalent to 2 sticks), melted, plus more for the baking dish
  • 454 grams Phyllo dough (frozen), (1 package, about 16 sheets; aka 16 ounces total)
  • 5 eggs
  • 350 grams Bulgarian white cheese, Sirene or any feta
  • 1.5 cups plain yogurt, Balkan-Style or any you like
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

Instructions 

  • Line a 12-inch round baking dish with parchment paper and lightly grease with melted butter. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Thaw the phyllo sheets as per the package directions and meanwhile, start preparing the ingredients before you unroll the thawed phyllo.
  • In a large bowl, break the feta into chunks using a fork. Add the eggs and mix well with the fork. Add the yogurt and baking soda and mix well.
  • Unroll the thawed phyllo sheets and cover with a clean kitchen towel or a slightly damp towel as they dry quickly. Place one sheet on your work surface and brush with some of the melted butter. Place another sheet on top of the first sheet and butter it as well. Add a few big spoonfuls of the yogurt-feta mixture onto the top phyllo sheet and spread it around. You should have a thin layer of the yogurt-feta mixture.
  • Tightly roll up the phyllo sheet lengthwise to form a long rope. Roll that "rope" into a spiral and place it in the center of your baking dish. Repeat this process with the remaining phyllo sheets and yogurt-feta mixture and wrap each stuffed "rope" around the center to create a coiled pattern, until the baking dish is full. (Since there are 16 phyllo sheets in a pack and we use 2 sheets per roll, you should have a total of 8 ropes that are filled with the feta-yogurt mixture.)
  • NOTE: Please watch my video below for a helpful visual on how to make this dish. You can also place the phyllo rolls side by side lengthwise in a baking dish instead of rolling them around one another, if that’s easier.
  • Lightly brush the top of the Banitsa with melted butter and bake until flakey and golden, 45 to 50 minutes depending on the oven. It should be nice and light and golden on the top and bottom. I bake mine uncovered on the middle rack. Let it cool a bit and enjoy.

Nutrition

Calories: 742kcal, Carbohydrates: 45g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 53g, Saturated Fat: 31g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 15g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 278mg, Sodium: 1445mg, Potassium: 247mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 1450IU, Vitamin C: 0.3mg, Calcium: 400mg, Iron: 3mg

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

Additional Info

Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: Bulgarian
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Hi! I'm Sneji. Nice to meet you!

I am more commonly known as “The Modern Nonna” on social media where I create easy home cooked meals with a modern twist. I was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria and learned how to cook at the best culinary school in the world – my grandma’s kitchen. I lived in Greece on the Island of Crete with my parents for a while and then moved to Toronto, Canada when I was in grade 5. I started to really cook and experiment with food 11 years ago when I was 21 years old. Everything I currently know is a reflection of some part of my life…

Keep up to date with me on social media! Follow @themodernnonna

4.88 from 8 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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18 Comments

  1. I didn’t know that “Style” Balkan or otherwise could be measured in Grams?? Who knew?

    1. Hey Todd — thanks for spotting the error! Looks like that line of the ingredient list got detached from “yogurt”.

    1. You’re welcome, MaryAnn. I’m so glad you’ve been able to use them. I appreciate it so much! 🥰

  2. My grandmother and mother both used to put spinach in with this too. Borekas I think it was called. It’s my comfort food.

    1. Love it, Samuel! My comfort food too! It’s enjoyed in so many different cultures, all of which have their own unique name for the dish.

  3. My grandmother came from Bulgaria, and I can remember when I was a child she would make bunitsa all the time. She used a grass that grows wild called loposh (which is very similar to spinach) and cheese – I’m not sure what else she put in it, but it was wonderful! Unfortunately, she was the only one who knew how to make it, and when she died, the recipe went with her. Today, I am 73 years old, and would love to be able to re-create her bunitsa – do you have any recipes that uses greens instead of yogurt? Thanks!

    1. Hi Donna, I don’t at the moment but hopefully in the very near future. You can however look at my SPANAKOPITA puff pastry and use a filling like that in this banitsa instead. Bless her heart!

  4. Thanks for the recipe. During “communism” there were basically two types of cheese available. The yellow hard-ish one called Sirene, to compare with Gouda but with and différent taste. Anf feta, Bulgarian state produced and super yummy, sold in huge cans. Because feta was on everything, from fries to salad to meatdishes…I don’t remember seeing any yoghurt while I watched it being made at home. We ate it with yoghurt though (real Bulgarian, the one that you can cut trough and has this amazing taste, not sure that still exists) but nobody would ever put Sirene in a Banitsa. Anyways, thanks again for the recipe, stirs up many memories.

    1. Thank you so much for this message ❤️ I remember this all too well when I was little and the stories my grandma and my mom would tell me as well

  5. My grandmother used to make pumpkin Banitsa. It was my favourite ! Do you have a recipe for this version? I would appreciate it so much!

  6. 5 stars
    Good recipe! I made it for a romantic celebratory dinner with my partner and he loved it! Highly recommended.