Easy Traditional Bulgarian Banitsa

5 from 3 votes

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This is the best Easy Traditional Bulgarian Banitsa also known as Banitsa. Banitsa is a traditional Bulgarian Phyllo recipe that is a staple in our country. It’s flakey & buttery phyllo dough rolled with feta — or Bulgarian white cheese which we call Sirene. I will never forget waking up to the smell of fresh bread and homemade “Banitza”. It is simply the most delicious phyllo pastry dish, and the options for fillings are endless. My favorite filling was always with feta cheese or pumpkin, which my grandma and I would often make for dessert. She would roll handmade sheets of phyllo every single weekend for hours, and I watched and helped her for as long as I can remember. This dish is also known as Tiropita, Pita, or Burek in many European countries and households and everyone has a slightly different variation of it. As we reach a community of over 1.6 million on TikTok and Instagram I wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart and honour both of my grandma’s whom I lost not long ago, my culture, and you all with this incredibly delicious family recipe that is so near and dear to my heart and soul. This recipe and the vivid childhood memories associated with it mean everything to me.

Easy Traditional Bulgarian Banitsa

This is the best Bulgarian Phyllo Feta “Pie” also known as Banitsa. Banitsa is a traditional Bulgarian Phyllo recipe that is a staple in our country. It's flakey & buttery phyllo dough rolled with feta — or Bulgarian white cheese which we call Sirene.
5 from 3 votes
Servings: 1
Author: The Modern Nonna
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 5 eggs
  • 350 grams of Bulgarian white cheese, Sirene or any feta
  • 1.5 cups of plain yogurt — Bulgarian
  • Balkan-Style or any you like, 280 grams
  • ½ teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 cup of butter, which equals 2 sticks or 227 grams ( butter should be melted )
  • 1 pack of Phyllo dough sheets — 454g or 16 sheets

Instructions 

  • Thaw the phyllo sheets as per the package directions and start preparing all of the ingredients before you unroll the thawed phyllo sheets. In a bowl break apart the feta with a fork, add the eggs and mix. Add the yogurt and baking soda and mix. Melt the butter and set it aside in a separate bowl.
  • Unroll the thawed phyllo sheets and cover with a towel or a slightly damp towel as they dry quickly. Place one sheet on your work surface and brush with butter, place another sheet on top of the first sheet and butter it as well. You can now add a few big spoonfuls of the yogurt-feta mixture onto the buttered phyllo sheets and spread it around. You should have a thin layer of the yogurt-feta mixture.
  • Tightly roll up the phyllo sheet long side up to form a long rope. Now roll that piece into a spiral shape and place it in the middle of your lined and buttered baking dish. I lined mine with parchment paper and buttered the top to prevent sticking. Repeat this exact step with the remaining phyllo sheets and wrap each one around the centre phyllo sheet to make a coiled pattern until the baking dish is full. You should have a total of 8 rolls that are filled with the feta-yogurt mixture since there are 16 phyllo sheets in a pack and we use 2 sheets per roll. Side note: 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 on you as well.
  • Once you have all the rolls wrapped around one another in the baking dish you can now lightly brush the top of the Banitsa with melted butter and bake at 400F until flakey and golden for about 45-50 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 it and enjoy.

Notes

You can use any yogurt you like but I love Bulgarian yogurt or Balkan-Style yogurt by Astro here in Canada as it’s not as thick. Bulgarian white cheese looks and feels just like feta so feel free to use any white cheese or feta you like.
You can use Greek feta, Bulgarian feta or any you enjoy. If you don’t want to use butter you can definitely use oil but butter is way more delicious and recommended. Make sure you have everything ready before you unroll the thawed phyllo dough as the dough dries fast if you are not prepared with all of your ingredients.
You can cover any of the remaining phyllo sheets with a slightly damp towel as you work on rolling each piece so that they don’t dry out. You can also bake the Banitsa in a 12 inch round baking dish or even a large baking sheet.
Any baking dish will work. Make sure you line it with parchment paper and butter it up so that it doesn’t stick. You can get good quality Bulgarian feta or any feta at any European specialty store like Starsky’s or even at the deli counter in a lot of grocery stores like Highland Farms as well.
You can also place the rolls straight and lengthwise in a baking dish instead of rolling them around one another if that’s easier on you as well.
Traditionally we enjoy Banitsa with some extra yogurt on the side but you are more than welcome to enjoy it on it’s own. We do have sweet versions of this dish with apples or pumpkin so let me know if you would like to see a sweet version as well.
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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

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12 Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 5 stars
    Good recipe! I made it for a romantic celebratory dinner with my partner and he loved it! Highly recommended.