Spanakopita Recipe (Greek Spinach Pie)

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Updated February 4, 2022

Don’t let layers of flaky phyllo intimidate you. Here’s an easy recipe for spanakopita success.

Spanakopita is an essential Greek recipe. The pie is a savory mix of spinach, feta, and herbs ensconced in flaky layers of phyllo. Therefore, you will rarely encounter a Greek holiday or celebration without this masterpiece. In Greece, its prevalent supply leads it to be the logical choice for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Spanakopita’s versatility and portability makes it the perfect street food as well. I love making it for my Los Angeles personal chef clients. If you’re intrigued, read all about the history of Spanakopita.

Ingredients for an ideal Spanakopita

For me, the perfect spanakopita involves wilted spinach, woven with a variety of cheese. My goal is to have a filling that is tangy (from the feta), savory (from the Kefalotiri), and complex (from the herbs and scallions). In Greece, cooks use a nice salty hard salty sheep’s/goat’s-milk cheese called Kefalotiri. It’s a little harder to source that in the U.S. so you can sub in parmesan, romano or pecorino or a mix of those. Additionally, Feta cheese is a main ingredient. I love traditional Greek feta made from sheep’s and/or goat’s milk. If you can’t find that, try to source one that is tangy as that affects the spanakopita’s taste. Fresh herbs make the entire mix pop, so splurge on those. Most people traditionally use dill, mint, and parsley or any mix of those to your taste. 

spanakopita-technique

Making spanakopita in my kitchen.

Fresh vs Frozen Spinach

Let’s face it, nobody wants to eat a soggy spanakopita. But this doesn’t have to be your fate if you follow a few simple tips. Firstly, making sure you squeeze all the excess moisture out of your spinach. This is the case with fresh and frozen spinach. If you are using fresh spinach, wilt it in a large pan and then drain it in a colander. If you have a salad spinner, that’s even better. It is the perfect tool for getting all the extra moisture out of the spinach. For those using frozen spinach, make sure it’s thoroughly defrosted. Then squeeze out all moisture using a colander. You can also put it in a kitchen towel or a cheese cloth to help with squeezing.

Releasing Steam

Finally, scoring your spanakopita after you have assembled it serves two purposes. It vents the spanakopita and gets rid of the steam that can build up in the pie. The steam is excess moisture, which can make it soggy. In addition, scoring helps with cutting. You can cut phyllo before it cooks and becomes super flaky. Also, baking it in a shallower baking dish will help the steam escape and give you a crispier result.

Freeze for later

Sometimes if I’m in the groove (like in the time-lapse video below), I like to make a few spanakopitas at a time. Then I freeze them to easily bake off at a later time. All you have to do is make the pie up until you finish assembling it. Then wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it. Once you are ready to bake it, take it out of the freezer, and pop it into the oven and bake directly from frozen. You don’t need to defrost it or anything. You’ll just need to bake it at a slightly lower temperature (350ºF) for a little longer.

Make this winning Spanakopita recipe

This recipe originally appeared on the Huffington Post in an article covering the 2010 KCRW Good Food Pie Contest. Moreover, I took home a 3rd place ribbon for it that year. I think I could have placed higher but there was some dispute if a spanakopita was a real pie. Obviously, it is a pie. It was a pie before pie was pie. But I digress.

Let me teach you how to make Spanakopita

I love teaching how to make this recipe in my cooking classes. Take the basic ingredients and riff off it to your own taste. This is the perfect ratio of scallions and spinach to cheese and herbs for me, but you may have another mixture in mind. Above all, savor your finished product. There’s nothing quite like a hot, buttery, spinachy, cheesy spanakopita that is just out of the oven.

Check out the recipe!

 

Join the Conversation

  1. Great! thanks for sharing. I love it. tastyrecipes

  2. Delicious.

    1. Christina Xenos Author says:

      Thanks, Len!

  3. Rob McCaskill says:

    Well laid out. I think even I can follow the path.

  4. Love it!!

  5. Is there any way to put meat in this? I made it to rave reviews, except for where’s the meat?!

    1. Christina Xenos Author says:

      Hi Connie, Spanakopita is traditionally a spinach pie. However, there are a variety of pies in Greek cooking. You could make another type of phyllo pie with a meat filling. I’m developing some recipes for Kotopita and Kreatopita that I’ll post soon!

    2. Your webpage was by far and away the most informative and detailed and helpful recipe I have ever read. Thank you very much it’s awesome spanakopita is in the oven and it smells like heaven

      1. Christina Xenos Author says:

        Thank you so much, Nancy!

  6. I would like to serve this for breakfast on Boxing Day, with what would I serve it?

    1. Christina Xenos Author says:

      I would pair it with a salad or some roasted vegetables.

    2. This turned out so beautifully and was delicious! It may be my new go to when I want to bring something impressive to a gathering.

  7. Marcel Reid-Jaques says:

    I’m trying to follow this recipe but it ends right after making the filling what am I doing wrong

    1. Christina Xenos Author says:

      Hi Marcel,
      Apologies on the missing instructions. I had a glitch with my recipe plugin, which is fixed now. Everything should be there. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thanks so much!

  8. Hi There – Are there instructions for layering of the Spinach Pie, or did I miss them. It looks beautiful and delicious!

    1. Christina Xenos Author says:

      Hi Mike,
      Apologies for the missing instructions. I had a glitch in my recipe plugin. It’s fixed now. Please let me know if you have any questions about the recipe. Thanks so much!

  9. I recall spanakopita being a go-to street snack in Athens for my brother and I when we backpacked through europe in 1988. It was less expensive than a giro or souvlaki but just as satisfying, despite the lack of meat. We could buy a square from just about any window that sold food along the street. I don’t recall the price after so many decades but I’m thinking it was fairly south of 200 drachma. Good memories. Now that my daughter is vegetarian, I think we will be preparing spanakopita at home soon. Thank you for the starting point.
    -chuck

  10. I’m confused with how much feta this recipe calls for…
    21 -lb (12 grams.)
    ???

    1. Christina Xenos Author says:

      Hi Lulu,
      Thanks so much for your comment/question. I’m not sure what you’re seeing that makes the feta measurement look like that?

      The way it’s written in the recipe is 3/4 cup or 12 ounces of feta (340 grams if you’re on metric).
      Happy baking!
      -Christina

  11. Looks so yummy – can’t wait to try! What size pan are you using? I’m wondering how to double the recipe for a crowd. I only have one full size sheet pan, but would it work to just increase the amount of filling?

    1. Christina Xenos Author says:

      Hi Jessica,
      I use a 9 x 12 inch pan for this recipe. Depending on the size of phyllo you’re using, you could easily use a half sheet pan (18×13 inch) and increase the amount of filling. Just make sure to get the larger phyllo sheets (which are the most common) and not the 9 x 13 size (Athens/Apollo brand normally makes those).

  12. Hi Christina – I’m a personal chef/caterer in Denver. This recipe looks perfect for one of my client’s requests. I’m to do a luncheon for 30 people, and am hoping to make this in 2 half-sheet pans. I’m thinking to double the ingredients listed for a half sheet. Will that work? I’m also not sure I’ll have enough freezer space to freeze ahead (one of my fridge/freezers just died and I don’t know if I can replace it in time); can I put these together the day before and refrigerate, or will that cause the phyllo to get soggy? Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer 🙂

  13. Barbara Schneider says:

    If I use frozen spinach, do I need two boxes? Not sure if that is equal to 2 lbs of fresh.

    1. Christina Xenos Author says:

      Hi Barbara,
      You will need 2 lbs of frozen spinach. So just look to see how many ounces each box is (I’m not sure if they are 10 or 16-ounce boxes). You would need 32 total ounces. Make sure to squeeze out all the water really well once you thaw the frozen spinach.

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