Greek Spinach and Leek Fritters – Spanakokeftethes

Spinach fritters Greek

I’m back from an exciting event the Mediterranean Diet Roundtable, where I had the honor to speak about the Mediterranean Diet, its portrayal in the U.S. and show how easy it is to follow it. The event was basically a first discussion on how the Mediterranean diet can be applied in a variety of settings from hospitals to schools. I’ll be writing about that later, but for now I would like to share this recipe I “discovered” during my stay in New York. I had dinner at a restaurant near my hotel that just happened to be Mediterranean with a strong Greek influence. I noticed on the menu spinach fritters, which I ordered and were great. However, I had never really come across this type of fritter in Greece. Although  I  am not sure if this was a traditional Greek dish, Greek cuisine has a variety of vegetable based fritters, and so these make complete sense and are in line with a Greek-Mediterranean diet. After searching and experimenting, here is a great vegan recipe for spinach fritters-spanakokefthethes. I chose to make them vegan (or nistisimo in Greek) because I really wanted the taste of the greens to come through and I thought that feta would make them taste more like spanakopita filling-which is great-but I was looking for a different taste profile here.

So here is another great example of a Greek dish that is almost 100% vegetables. The spinach is combined with leeks, spring onion and a variety of herbs and lightly fried in olive oil. And you can use other greens to make this as well. Fresh spinach works best. And I flatten the patties so they are thin and therefore I do not use as much olive oil. I lightly pan fry them on both sides. And while you do not need to fully cook these as there is no meat in them, you do want to make sure the spinach has cooked somewhat, otherwise it will be stringy.

So you have a dish rich in beta-carotene, the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, folic acid and fiber. These are ordered as an appetizer, but here at home we ate them with yogurt for a dip and it was a filling and tasty meal. I’ll be making these often.

Greek Spinach and Leek Fritters – Spanakokeftethes


  • 1 ½ pounds spinach
  • 2 leeks chopped
  • 5 spring onions chopped (only white section)
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • ½ cup chopped dill
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pepper
  • 3-4 tablespoons corn flour (corn meal)
  • Regular flour
  • Olive Oil for frying


1. Heat the spinach in a pot until it wilts. Strain well.

2. Mix spinach, leeks, onions, dill, parsley and dill in a bowl along with salt, pepper and corn flour. Knead with your hands so that all ingredients are blended well.

3. Let the mixture sit 1-2 hours if you have time.

4. Form into flat patties that should have a thickness of about ½ inch, flour both sides.

5. Heat the olive oil at medium heat and gently fry for about 3 minutes on each side.

6. Remove and place on paper towels, to soak up any oil.

Makes about 16 medium patties.

Photo by Elena Paravantes

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  1. I make mine with matzo meal, theyre actually a sephardic jewish dish. Probably why you dont really see them much in greece and most likely why you found them in New York 🙂

  2. I made the fritters but they would not hold together, so I added 2 eggs – did you forget the eggs, or did I do something wrong. Delicious, but the could not be made in to patties until I added eggs, and then it was still difficult to keep them together.

  3. One of the amazing things about Greek cuisine is how many ways you can prepare vegetables! Sometimes, I use scallions instead of green onions, depending on what’s available. In Santorini, there’s a version of this dish that also includes tomatoes.

  4. Hi, are you referring to masa harina or corn starch? Also want to say thanks for your website, I make the tomato baked beans all the time, they are my favourite (with the addition of two sundried tomatoes)! I appreciate the work you put into this, and hope to try many more of your recipes.

  5. Could a bit of chickpea flour work in these? That is a most Mediterranean ingredient, and would contribute some protein, while remaining vegan. They look lovely.