Authentic Greek Spanakopita – Spinach and Feta Pie

The Greek authentic recipe for delicious spanakopita straight from my mothers notes! Crispy layers of phyllo dough brushed with olive oil cover a delicious spinach feta filling in this delicious traditional Greek recipe.

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Spanakopita Greek spinach pie

Spanakopita pronounced spah-nah-KO-pee-tah is the amazing and extremely popular Greek spinach pie. Spanakopita is a traditional Greek dish where spinach, feta, olive oil, herbs are baked in a golden, crispy phyllo dough. It is a favorite appetizer, meal, and snack not only in Greece but around the globe. Go into any bakery in Greece and you will find this wonderful pie!

The first time I realized that spanakopita was to become a popular dish all over the world was in the 70’s. My mother would bake a large pan of it and take it to the school PTA meetings. The other moms loved it! They all wanted my mom’s recipe. Mind you this was in a Chicago suburb with few Greek people. And the thing is, it is a dish you never get tired of, flaky crust, earthy spinach, tangy feta…

For us spanakopita is a weekly staple and I also keep a bunch in the freezer for a last minute meal (see below how to freeze). This recipe here is my mother’s of course and I have been making it for years! Spanakopita is a popular recipe consisting of spinach, herbs and cheese, the types of herbs used, the ratio of cheese to spinach, the phyllo, all make the difference.

Greek Spanakopita Recipe Spinach and Feta pie

How to make an Authentic Spanakopita Recipe

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 Celsius).
  • Heat up a medium-sized pan with one tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Start by sautéing the onions until they become soft and translucent.
  • Now, add the spinach to the pan, making sure to squeeze out any excess water from it.
  • Continue to sauté the spinach along with the onions for a few more minutes. Sprinkle in the herbs, nutmeg, and sugar, and sauté everything together for another 2-3 minutes. Then, set this mixture aside and let it cool.
  • Grate half of the feta cheese, and crumble the remaining half.
  • In a small bowl, beat an egg and then mix it with the crumbled feta.
  • Combine the egg and feta mixture with the sautéed spinach mixture. Also, add the other tablespoon of olive oil and make sure everything is well mixed.
  • Take a pan that’s about 10 x 15 inches and brush it with olive oil. Place a sheet of phyllo dough in the pan and brush it with more olive oil. Repeat this step with 5 more phyllo sheets.
  • Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the phyllo sheets. Cover the spinach with 6 more phyllo sheets, brushing each one with olive oil. You can either trim the excess phyllo hanging over the pan or roll it in.
  • Use a knife to score the top of the phyllo (don’t cut all the way through, just through the top phyllo sheets) to create about 10-12 pieces.
  • Bake the dish in the preheated oven for approximately 40 minutes or until the phyllo turns golden brown. Once done, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool. Then, cut it into pieces.
  • You can enjoy this dish at room temperature, or if you prefer the phyllo to be crunchy, you can warm it in the oven before serving.

Tips for Making the Very Best Authentic Spanakopita

This is a tried and true recipe and works every time. It is easy but you need to remember some key points shared by both my mom and dad:

  • The filling is not supposed to be salty but rather mild and almost sweet. The addition of soft sautéed onions (sometimes leek) and sugar provide that sweetness.
  • Do not add garlic. I know you want to, after all spinach and garlic are often cooked together, but again the idea is to have a somewhat sweet filling, garlic is an “intruder” in this particular recipe.
  • Be careful with the ratio of filling and phyllo. I often see photos of spankopita that has a real thick layer of filling, but when you are using the thin phyllo you have to make sure it can hold the filling. In addition, you want to make sure that every bite has the right amount of filling in relation to the phyllo, not too much and not too little. If you want a thicker filling than you will have to use a thicker phyllo (here is a recipe for that).
  • Do not expect pites (pies) made with this phyllo to be neat, they are messy. This phyllo is tasty and crunchy but it will break, that is why it is important to score the pie before baking, so that you can get a cleaner cut.

Authentic Spanakopita Does NOT Contain the Following Ingredients (Beware of Imitations)

  • Garlic
  • Sesame seeds
  • Butter (traditionally it is made with olive oil)
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Lemon

Working with Phyllo

  • Most likely your phyllo will be frozen. So, make sure you defrost in the refrigerator before using. Do not open the package before it has defrosted. Once it is defrosted, and you open the package do not attempt to pick up a sheet of it has not defrosted completely because it will break.
  • Now that you are ready to work with  make sure that you keep it covered completely with a damp kitchen towel, work with one sheet at a time.
  • Make sure most of the surface of the phyllo is covered with olive oil, otherwise you will have a paper like texture not a crispy one.

Make Ahead and Storing Spanakopita

Spanakopita is one of those dishes that are easy to make ahead and store. There are 2 ways:

  1. You can assemble the pie, wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it. When you are ready to bake it, just remove from the freezer and bake, and you will have freshly baked pie to serve.
  2. Another way, is to assemble the pie, bake it, let it cool completely, cut it in pieces, wrap and freeze. When you are ready to serve, just heat up the pieces at 325 until warm and crispy and serve.

Now back to the recipe. So this recipe is actually lighter than the typical spanakopita. There is a just a bit of olive oil in the mix, and you can adjust how much feta you want to add or you can choose not to add feta.

Greek Spinach and Feta Pie with Phyllo dough Spanakopita

What to Serve with a Spanakopita

Vegetable pites are such a great way to eat well. Spanakopita is a complete vegetarian meal combining vegetables, starch, dairy and good fats. You really do not need anything else. Vegetables cooked with herbs wrapped in the thin phyllo provide 1-2 servings of vegetables and about 1/2 to 1 serving starch. It can easily be consumed as a meal or as a snack and in Greece we often have them for breakfast. But here are some serving suggestions:

  • As a side, it is a great accompaniment to meat or fish.
  • For a buffet, serve the spanakopita cut in squares on a large platter or you can make spanakopita triangles
  • If serving as a main, I often accompany it with a small tomato salad, some olives and a bit of cheese. But as noted above, I often serve it as is especially for lunch.

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Authentic Greek Spinach and Feta Pie – Spanakopita

Spanakopita Greek spinach pie
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
The authentic Greek recipe for spanakopita, spinach and cheese pie. A baked spinach pie with herbs and feta cheese covered with crunchy phyllo. Easy to make and healthy.
Course: appetizer. entree, Snack
Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean
Keyword: Pie, Spanakopita, Spinach
Servings: 10 pieces
Calories: 252kcal
Author: Elena Paravantes
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Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 Celsius)
  • Heat a medium pan with one tablespoon olive oil.
  • Sauté the onions until soft.
  • Add the spinach (make sure you have squeezed out the water).
  • Sauté spinach with onion for a few minutes.
  • Add the herbs, nutmeg and sugar and sauté for 2-3 minutes more. Set aside and let it cool.
  • Grate half of the feta and crumble the rest.
  • In a small bowl beat the egg and add the feta.
  • Add the egg mixture to the spinach and add the other tablespoon of olive oil. Mix so that all the ingredients are blended.
  • Brush a pan that is about 10 X 15 inches with olive oil.
  • Place a sheet of phyllo in the pan and brush with olive oil. Repeat with 5 more phyllo sheets.
  • Spread the spinach mixture evenly.
  • Cover with 6 more phyllo sheets brushing each one with olive oil. Cut the phyllo hanging over the pan or roll in.
  • Score the top with a knife (do not cut all the way through, just through the top phyllo sheets) for about 10-12 pieces.
  • Bake for about 40 minutes until phyllo is golden.
  • Remove from oven and let the pita cool. Cut in pieces.
  • Enjoy at room temperature or if you want the phyllo crunchy, warm in the oven before serving.

Notes

Working with Phyllo

  • Most likely your phyllo will be frozen. So, make sure you defrost in the refrigerator before using. Do not open the package before it has defrosted. Once it is defrosted, and you open the package do not attempt to pick up a sheet of it has not defrosted completely because it will break.
  • Now that you are ready to work with  make sure that you keep it covered completely with a damp kitchen towel, work with one sheet at a time.
  • Make sure most of the surface of the phyllo is covered with olive oil, otherwise you will have a paper like texture not a crispy one.

Make Ahead and Storing Spanakopita

Spanakopita is one of those dishes that are easy to make ahead and store. There are 2 ways:
  1. You can assemble the pie, wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it. When you are ready to bake it, just remove from the freezer and bake, and you will have freshly baked pie to serve.
  2. Another way, is to assemble the pie, bake it, let it cool completely, cut it in pieces, wrap and freeze. When you are ready to serve, just heat up the pieces at 325 until warm and crispy and serve.

What to Serve with a Spanakopita

Vegetable pites are such a great way to eat well. Spanakopita is a complete vegetarian meal combining vegetables, starch, dairy and good fats. You really do not need anything else. Vegetables cooked with herbs wrapped in the thin phyllo provide 1-2 servings of vegetables and about 1/2 to 1 serving starch. It can easily be consumed as a meal or as a snack and in Greece we often have them for breakfast. But here are some serving suggestions:
  • As a side, it is a great accompaniment to meat or fish.
  • For a buffet, serve the spanakopita cut in squares on a large platter or you can make spanakopita triangles
  • If serving as a main, I often accompany it with a small tomato salad, some olives and a bit of cheese. But as noted above, I often serve it as is especially for lunch.
Nutrition Facts
Authentic Greek Spinach and Feta Pie – Spanakopita
Serving Size
 
1 piece
Amount per Serving
Calories
252
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
17
g
26
%
Carbohydrates
 
15
g
5
%
Protein
 
9
g
18
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Photos by Elena Paravantes © All Rights Reserved

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Recipe Rating




81 Comments

  1. Scott Hollingsworth says:

    My family- and friends- can’t get enough of these! Your recipe is so full of detail and little tweaks that I reread often. Have just discovered your reference to the thicker dough so will try that very soon after I’ve finished the three I’m making at the moment! Grandson, whose eczema is irritated by dairy products, is fine with these.5 stars

  2. Excellent!! Works every time!5 stars

  3. Just made this pie and followed your instructions to the letter # it is delicious and the fresh herbs make it really zing – excellent clear instructions and tips thankyou5 stars

  4. Joanne Minuete says:

    I, too, would like to know about the fresh spinach. I did make this recipe when you first posted it a while ago. And I think I did use fresh spinach. Maybe that is why my phyllo did not cook well enough in the center and I need practice with using phyllo. Going to make this again. I can see it would be a winner for me if I can do it right.5 stars

  5. Hi Elena,
    Thank you for the recipe. Would you advise using fresh spinach? And if so, any tips on how to handle the fresh spinach when preparing the filling? Many thanks, Anna

  6. Cassandra says:

    This is perfect! I followed the recipe exactly and it was amazing. My husband claims it’s the best he’s ever had! I cut it into sections and froze half for later as suggested. We’re diving into the Mediterranean Diet plan this week and he is super happy with my selection of your recipes so far. We are both very fond of Greek cuisine, so it is great to have some authentic recipes to follow. Thank you so much!!

  7. Andrea Wilson says:

    While mixing this together, I thought “There is no way this is going to be good.” I was very wrong. This is delicious. I followed the recipe exactly, and it turned out perfect. I am having more for dinner tomorrow and freezing the rest to eat for breakfast this week.5 stars

  8. Jessica Pinette says:

    Elena thank you for recipe look forward to trying it. I am wondering If I should roll out thePhyllo dough or if it the proper thickness when coming out of the package ?
    I made a Beef Wellington last week using a puff pastry and I was unsure about how thick i should roll it out.
    I look forward to your input!

  9. Kristina B says:

    Hi Elena. I have everything thawing and realized I forgot the mint. Can anything be substituted that I might have on hand? So bummed!

  10. Jacqui Clark says:

    I’m going to be making this tonight for dinner. However, my husband can tell when sugar is added to meals so I need to leave it out. Will it still taste good without the sugar and should I adjust any of the other ingredients when leaving out the sugar?

  11. Hi! This was my first time making Spanakopita and mine came out dry. I know that I didn’t add enough olive oil to the phyllo sheets because the top came out really papery (I was running out of olive oil and trying to make it last), but my filling was kind of bland and dry. *sobbing* Any tips on how to make it better next time?

    1. Hi Tara, Yes, the olive oil is an important part. Not sure why the filling would not be flavorful. Did you also add the 2 tbsp olive oil in the mixture? The feta and herbs is what imparts the flavor. Also you want to make sure not to over-saute the spinach.

      1. oooh. I probably cooked the spinach too long. I’ve been reheating the pieces with move olive oil and it’s a lot better. I already want to make them again. Thank you!!

  12. Rachel Bradley says:

    Yum! I really enjoyed the fresh herbs and grated nutmeg in this dish. I halved the most of the ingredients (not the phyllo) to make a smaller square pan of this, as there’s just two of us (and I’m the only one who loves spinach). My husbands usually says he hates spinach but still found this very tasty and has eaten a few servings.5 stars

  13. Delicious!! will have to try it out

  14. Made this tonight. Delicious! Will make it again. Many thanks!5 stars

  15. Hello,
    Your recipe looks delicious. I can’t wait to try it. I noticed you are a dietitian. Would you mind posting the macro or nutritional information. I need to know if this is my treat meal/holidays or can I add it to my regular rotation.

    1. Thanks Toya,
      One piece has approximately 8 grams protein, 13 grams carbohydrates and 16 grams fat, calories are noted in recipe