The best spanakopita recipe comes straight from my own Greek mamma, and her secret makes it the very best! It’s a super popular Greek spinach and feta pie that makes a great vegetarian meal.
Watch the video
Spanakopita is one of the most popular videos on my channel, so I thought it was time for an update. I get requests for this classic Greek dish over and over again, and I get so many pictures of your finished spanakopita that it makes my heart happy. Please keep them coming!
This is the entree recipe for spanakopita. I use the spinach and feta pie filling to make my small appetizer-sized spinach pies as well as my spinach quiche. It’s juicy, fresh, and a definite crowd-pleaser.
What’s the secret to the best spanakopita recipe?
Spanakopita in Greek translates to spinach and feta pie. Layers of flaky phyllo pastry hold a creamy spinach and feta filling. The cheese makes it creamy, and the herbs add so much freshness. The secret is… never to cook the spinach leaves before adding them to the pie. Just like my Greek mamma taught me! Her recipe allows the spinach to cook in the cheese mixture, leaving it bright green and juicy, whereas other recipes end up with overcooked black-colored spinach. My mamma’s way is the best!
This recipe makes enough to fill a half sheet baking tray for whole entree size portions, or you can make it in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. You will create thicker slices using the 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Round pies are also common in Greece. Get creative and have fun!
Let’s go over the ingredients:
- #4 phyllo pastry
- Salted butter –melted
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Spinach leaves –coarsely chopped
- Dried dill
- Scallions –thinly sliced
- Whole milk ricotta cheese
- Feta cheese –crumbled from the block
- Olive oil
- Salt & freshly cracked black pepper
Type of spinach for spanakopita
Baby spinach is very easy to find where I live, and it comes in all different amounts. You can buy regular spinach that is sold in bunches. Just make sure to wash it well. Baby spinach is really convenient since it is already washed and ready to use. That said, use what you can find and give it a coarse chop.
The best cheese for the best spanakopita recipe
Please don’t use low-fat or fat-free cheese! You’re making the best spanakopita recipe, you must use high-quality whole milk ricotta and your favorite feta cheese. A sheep’s milk feta is much milder than regular feta, but you can use the less expensive cow’s milk feta that’s found at the supermarket. Try to buy the blocks and crumble them yourself because it’s really simple and way better than pre-crumbled feta. If you want to get rid of some of that excess salt taste from the block feta, rinse it with warm water and dry it before using it.
A few other essential tips before you get started
- Chop the scallions and put them in a bowl of water. Move them around in the water a bit to release any dirt. The dirt will settle to the bottom of the bowl, so scoop out the scallions and pat dry.
- If you cannot find fresh dill, you may use the dried form. For this recipe, substitute 2 tablespoons of dried dill or enough to suit your taste.
- Start with ½ teaspoon of salt and taste. How much salt you add will depend on how salty your feta is.
Making your spanakopita filling
- In the bowl of a tabletop mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the feta and ricotta cheese. Add the dill, salt, pepper, olive oil, and scallions. Mix until combined.
- Add the spinach in a few batches until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Combine the eggs in a small bowl and whisk them together. Add the eggs to the mixing bowl and mix on low speed until incorporated.
- If you don’t have a tabletop mixer, you’re in luck! I’ve always believed that the best way to mix it is with your hands. Make sure your hands are nice and clean. It comes together after 2 to 3 minutes of mixing. Trust me! There’s no better way to do it than with your hands.
How to work with phyllo
I can’t stress enough how important it is that the phyllo stays in its packaging until it is at room temperature! The best way to do this is by thawing it overnight in your refrigerator (since it’s usually sold in the freezer section). Take it out in the morning or at least 2 hours before you use it and leave it in its packaging while it comes to room temperature. Do not take it out of the airtight plastic packaging that comes in!!! It will be completely useless if it sits out for a long time because it will crumble, and nothing will save it. So, these steps are very important:
- Thaw the phyllo in the refrigerator overnight in its packaging.
- 1-2 hours before you work with the phyllo, allow it to sit at room temperature in the package.
- Remove the phyllo from its packaging and work with it on a clean, dry surface.
- Keep a large dry kitchen towel along with a damp towel handy. When phyllo is exposed to air for extended amounts of time, it dries out and begins to crumble. Any phyllo that is not being handled cover it first with the dry towel then with the damp towel.
How to build your spanakopita spinach and feta pie
- Yes, it’s phyllo on the bottom, spinach mix in the middle, and phyllo on the top. But I have a unique way to layer and tuck the phyllo that helps it bake up nice and crisp. The top comes out golden, crispy, and beautiful.
- You’ll need a half sheet baking tray, melted butter, the thawed phyllo dough, breadcrumbs, and your spinach filling. You’re going to be using your hands here, but you can use a brush to apply the olive oil. Watch the video to see precisely how I layer the spanakopita.
- Sprinkle the breadcrumbs onto the large baking tray to create an even layer. Reserve 6-7 sheets of phyllo for the topping and set aside.
Take a stack of 3 sheets of phyllo and place them in the bottom of the tray to cover. Drizzle the top sheet with some melted butter.
Place 2 sheets half in the tray and half hanging outside of the tray on all four sides—drizzle butter between the layers. See the video above for a guide.
Spread all of the filling inside the phyllo sheets and spread evenly to the edges of the sheet tray. Fold the phyllo hanging outside of the tray over the filling, brushing butter in between the layers.
Now you will use the reserved phyllo sheets. Take one sheet at a time, crinkle it like an accordion, and place it on top. Continue creating accordions and place them side by side until the top is covered. Drizzle with remaining butter.
- Bake the pie on the center rack for about an hour or until golden all around. For an extra crisp bottom crust, transfer the tray to the bottom rack for the last 10 minutes. If your oven’s heat is too high, then skip this step and bake the pie a few extra minutes on the center rack.
- Allow the pie to rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes and then serve.
You’ll end up with a juicy spanakopita on the inside that’s not at all dried or black from overcooking the spinach. The top will be so airy and crispy that you’ll be able to hear the crisp as you cut into it. It’s a filling, healthy, delicious main entree that you can serve with a nice salad, cucumber salad, fruit salad, or marinated olives. You could even serve it with tzatziki or hummus.
How to turn the best spanakopita recipe into a Make-Ahead meal
- Assemble the pie but do not bake it.
- Place in the freezer for 1-2 hours, then cover tightly with plastic wrap.
- The spinach pie will stay fresh for up to 1 month.
- When ready to bake, remove the plastic and cover loosely with foil. You may brush some melted butter or cooking spray on the side of the foil that will contact the pie. This will keep the top layer from sticking to the foil. Bake covered at 350 °F for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until golden.
- 1 pound (#4) phyllo pastry at room temperature
- 12 ounces salted butter, melted
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 pound spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
- 3 teaspoons dried dill
- 6 scallions, thinly sliced
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1 pound feta cheese, crumbled
- 3 eggs
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 °F, 200 °C.
Make the filling:
In the bowl of a tabletop mixer that is fitted with the paddle attachment add the feta and ricotta cheese. Add the dill, salt, pepper, olive oil, and the scallions. Mix until combined.
Add the spinach in a few batches until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Combine the eggs ina small bowl and whisk them together. Add the eggs to the mixing bowl and mix on low speed until incorporated.
Assemble the Pie:
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs into a large baking pan to create an even layer.
Take a stack of 3 sheets of phyllo and place it in the pan to cover the bottom and let the rest of the stack hang over the side of the pan. Drizzle the top sheet with some melted butter.
Place 2 sheets half in the pan and half hanging outside of the pan on all four sides of the pan. Drizzle butter between the layers. See the video above.
Spread all of the filling inside of the phyllo sheets. All of the sheets that are hanging outside of the pan should go over the filling. Place all of the filling inside of the phyllo and fold the phyllo that is hanging outside of the pan over the filling brushing butter in between the layers.
Reserve 6-7 sheets of phyllo for the topping and place the remaining sheets over the filling. Drizzle with some butter.
Take one sheet at a time and crinkle it like an accordion and place it on top. Continue creating accordions and place them side by side until the top is covered. Drizzle with butter and score into pieces.
Pour the remaining melted butter on top and brush all around.
Bake the pie on the center rack for about an hour or until golden all around. For an extra crisp bottom crust, transfer the tray to the bottom rack for the last 10 minutes. If your oven's heat is too high then, skip this step and just bake the pie a few extra minutes on the center rack.
Allow the pie to rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes and then serve. Kali Orexi!
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