Looking to make a restaurant specialty at home? Break out of your usual box? Try making Spanakopita Spinach Pie!
Spanakopita Spinach Pie is a Greek speciality made from wilted spinach and cheese wrapped with flaky pastry, phyllo dough. An easy dish that pairs with anything!
I like to rationalize that ordering a slice of Spanakopita, also known as spinach pie, is a healthier choice to other fried options. The truth is that other than getting a really healthy dose of spinach, it isn’t.
Spinach pie is commonly made into spinach pie triangles, but quite frankly, it is much easier to make into a whole pie, like it is traditionally made in Greece.
Spanakopita ingredients are typically chopped spinach, feta cheese, ricotta cheese and flaky phyllo sheets, it isn’t healthy by any means. It is able to claim the health benefits of spinach which include folate, vitamin C, niacin, riboflavin, and potassium. Even better, cooked spinach helps you absorb vitamins A and E, protein, fiber, zinc, thiamin, calcium, and iron.
How do you make spanakopita?
Make a wilted spinach mixture with garlic, onions and herbs. Then toss with a mediterranean cheese blend.
Pro tip: use tongs to toss spinach while wilted. It is much easier to manage.
Envelope spinach mixture in phyllo dough in a 9×9 baking pan. Some prefer a pie plate, but I like a deeper baking dish. Bake to a crispy golden brown.
What is a phyllo dough? Phyllo dough is an unleavened pastry dough, meaning it doesn’t use yeast or other leaveners like baking soda or baking powder, and therefore doesn’t rise. Instead it bakes to a crispy, crunchy, flakey dough.
It is rolled out super thin and assembled by piling with basted butter or olive between each layer.
Most have a minimum of 4 layers, but the maximum is endless. More layers = more crunchies.
Phyllo can be tricky to work with and commonly disintegrates right in your hands, don’t worry. It doesn’t need to be in perfect sheets. I also don’t make my own phyllo dough, I buy it frozen at the store and it works perfectly fine. It is hard to roll dough out that thin!
Sarah M. says: “I’ve always had spanakopita folded into triangles and didn’t like it. I just realized I liked it more prepared as a spinach pie! Great recipe and thanks for the tips on it not being soggy.”
The butter will help bind it and even it out and after you cut into it, no one will be able to tell. Some use olive oil between sheets of phyllo, but I like the taste of butter better.
Many recipes call for white onion or green onions (scallions), sometimes even both. I find this onion flavor to be too overwhelming and would prefer to taste cheese, pastry and spinach to onion, so I prefer to use shallots.
Still in the onion family, but a little more mild of flavor.
Spinach to cheese to pastry ratio is also important and often overlooked. Some have too much filling, others not enough or too much cheese that overpowers delicate spinach. Call me the Goldilocks of Spanakopita.
I like to eat my Spanakopita Spinach Pie with a fresh lemon spritz and garlicky tzatziki for dipping, olives on the side and maybe even some stuffed grape leaves.
More delicious recipes:
Tools for making spinach pie:
Heavy Bottom Frying Pan– this will be one of your most used kitchen tools. Having something that is heavy bottom will distribute heat better and prevent burning whether you are using an electric or gas range.
Square baking dish– you can make spinach pie in a pie plate, but I prefer a deep 9×9 baking dish.
Basting brush– I love these silicone basting brushes. They clean and dry much easier than the old fashioned hair versions.
Questions you might have about how to make spanakopita:
Where does spanakopita come from? Origins are unknown, but it is accepted as a Greek spinach pie. Other beleive it to be TUrkish, but is indubitably mediterranean. Most early spanakopita was stuffed with a mixture of spinach, olives, cheese and honey.
Can you freeze spanakopita? You sure can! Since the spinach is already wilted, freezing is possible. Package it well and eat within 3-4 months.
Is spanakopita healthy? It depends on your definition of healthy. It is not gluten free or keto friendly, but it does contain a hefty dose of leafy greens and heart healthy olive oil. There are healthier things to eat, but there are also worse.
Can I add olives to my spinach pie? You sure can! Toss in 1-2 tablespoons of chopped olives to the mix.
Does spanakopita have dill? Some recipes for spanakopita do include dill. You can toss in 1 tablespoon of fresh dill, roughly chopped, or 1 teaspoon of dried dill.
Is spanakopita served hot, cold or room temperture? Spinach pie can be served at any temperature, it is purely personal preference.
Can spanakopita be made ahead? You can, but be mindful that the phyllo dough might get a little soggy. Reheat in the oven for best results, but it is best served freshly out of the oven.
What does spanakopita mean? I don’t think it has a literal translation, but it is the name for a Greek spinach pie.
Why is my spanakopita soggy? The main two reason for soggy spanakopita is the spinach or the ricotta cheese. Spinach must be well wilted. Look for little to no remaining moisture in the skillet. If you do this ahead of time, put it in the fridge, uncovered to let it dry out even more.
Even if you ricotta seems to be fairly dry or drained, drain it even more. Any moisture left will result in soggy Greek spinach pie. Place 1-2 layers of cheesecloth in a fine mesh sieve or colander and allow to drain for an hour or so. You can also put it on a plate and let it drain in the refrigerator.
Can I use frozen spinach? You can use frozen spinach, but you still need to saute it well to get the residual moisture out.
Spanakopita Spinach Pie
- Preheat oven to 35o degrees. Coat a 9×9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic. Saute until they start to soften and become fragrant.
- Add spinach and parsley, toss using tongs (much easier than a spoon) until wilted and reduced in size.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, beat egg in a medium mixing bowl. Add drained ricotta cheese, crumbled feta cheese and Kosher salt.
- When spinach mixture has cooled, toss to combine.
- Lay one piece of phyllo dough in the bottom of your baking dish. Baste lightly with melted butter. Continue with 3 more sheets of phyllo. Ends may fall over the sides.
- Spoon spinach mixture into the baking dish. Fold ends over into the dish. It is okay it looks messy.
- Layer remaining phyllo sheets, basting with butter between each layer, on top, tucking ends into the dish.
- Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until top is lightly browned. If it starts to brown too fast, place a leaf of aluminum foil over the top.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!