Spanakopita – spinach, onion, and herbed Feta cheese in between layers of Phyllo dough create an easy and delicious Greek dinner that you’ll love to serve everyone.
When we lived in Rhode Island, we became extremely close friends with a family across the street. It’s not often that each family member gets along with every member of another family. But this is the way it was with my and Mary’s family. We all had an extraordinary bond, so much so that we became family.
One day, with a three-year-old by my side and a one-year-old on my hip, I answered the door and saw a woman standing on our front steps with a beautiful three-year-old boy. She introduced herself and her son and said they had purchased the home across the street. They hadn’t moved in yet and were living about 40 minutes away.
I invited her in, and we talked at length while the kids played quite nicely together. She said she wasn’t feeling well, had recently found out she was pregnant, and wanted to lie down before driving back home. I decided I’d take the three kids to the playground down the street to give her some peace and quiet.
Now, if you’ve ever had a “gut feeling” about someone, or feel like you’ve known a person forever even though you’ve already met them, then you know what I’m talking about. There was an instantaneous connection between our families, and Mary and I felt completely comfortable with each other.
So comfortable with each other, in fact, that I allowed a stranger to rest in my home without me being there, and she allowed a stranger to take her son to the park! I know it seems a little bizarre, but neither of us had any concerns. There are some things in life you “just know.” And this was one of them. Our first meeting always reminds me of a Bible verse:
“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing, some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”Hebrews 13:2 (NIV 1984 ed.)
Yes, Mary was, and still is, an angel. Her family came into our lives at exactly the perfect time. Throughout the years, we shared many tears, an endless amount of laughter, and countless hours playing cards after we had put the kids to bed. We will all cherish many memories for the rest of our lives
Both of our families moved away from the old neighborhood, our kids have grown up, married and moved away, and we don’t see each other every day as we did when the kids were little.
But there’s one thing that’s always certain, whenever we do speak of get together, it’s as though no time has passed. We can always pick up where we left off.
Mary made this recipe often and our family loved it immediately. I think yours will, too.
To my “sister”, thank you not only for your Spanakopita but for being you. I am blessed to have you in my life, and will cherish our relationship always.
SAVE THIS GREEK SPINACH PIE RECIPE TO YOUR FAVORITE PINTEREST BOARD!
Where did Spanakopita come from?
Spanakopita, also known as Greek spinach pie, is a savory pie that has been part of Greek cuisine for a very long time. It is also closely related to a similar Turkish dish called ispanakli. While the actual origins are difficult to trace, most spanakopita recipes are derived from the northwest region of Greece. It is a very popular dish in Greece and can be found throughout the world today!
Is Spanakopita served warm or cold?
There are really no rules as to how to eat this delicious main dish! You can serve it warm out of the oven, at room temperature, or even out of the refrigerator for leftovers!
What ingredients do I need for this easy Spanakopita recipe?
Save yourself a lot of time and a big headache by purchasing pre-made phyllo sheet dough. In addition to that, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- 2 16 oz packages of frozen spinach
- One very large red onion
- Three 6-ounce packages of tomato and basil spiced feta cheese – if I can’t find it, I use the Mediterranean blend which is just as delicious.
- 1 cup plus two tablespoons olive oil
- 5 eggs
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cold (8 tablespoons)
How to make authentic Spanakopita
Preparation: Before making this recipe, you need to thaw your phyllo pastry dough and your spinach. Then, remove any excess moisture from your spinach. Either put it into a clean, damp towel and squeeze the water out, or if you have a potato ricer, you can place it in there and squeeze the excess water out that way. Don’t forget to preheat the oven to 350 degrees F!
Make the Spinach Filling: Heat a large pot on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then add minced onion and sauté until soft. Add the spinach and mix before removing it from the heat to cool.
Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add the remaining cup of olive oil and the crumbled feta cheese. Combine the cooled, cooked spinach mixture with the egg mixture.
Assemble: Use a pastry brush to spread a small amount of melted butter on the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Place three Phyllo sheets into the bottom of the baking dish. Brush the top of the dough generously but gently with melted butter. Repeat this process until half of the phyllo dough is in the baking dish.
Spread the spanakopita filling over the Phyllo dough. Place three sheets of Phyllo dough over the spinach mixture and brush with melted butter. Continue this process until all the dough is in the baking dish.
Bake: Butter the top layers of dough and sprinkle a small amount of cold water on top. Tuck in the edges of the phyllo dough, then place in preheated oven and bake for one hour or until the top layer of dough is golden brown, and the filling is heated throughout. Use a sharp knife to cut the spanakopita into triangles to serve.
Can I use fresh spinach in this recipe?
You can use fresh spinach! However, it must be cooked and any excess liquid removed. 32 ounces of frozen spinach equals about 4 ½ pounds of fresh spinach.
Can I substitute puff pastry for phyllo dough?
No, you need to use the phyllo dough for this recipe.
Puff pastry dough and phyllo dough (or filo pastry dough) are not interchangeable. Puff pastry is laminated, which means butter is folded into the dough to create thin, airy layers. Phyllo dough is very thin, mostly flour, water, and sometimes oil.
Why is my Spanakopita soggy?
The downside of phyllo dough is that it gets soggy quickly. Leftovers are only good for a day or so, even when kept in an airtight container in the fridge. The best way to reheat leftovers is in the oven since the microwave makes them soggy.
If you find your spanakopita is soggy when baking it, you have too much liquid left in your spinach. Make sure you eliminate as much excess moisture as possible before baking!
Can Spanakopita be made ahead of time and frozen?
Yes, this spinach pie freezes very well! The key is to freeze it before baking. After layering the phyllo sheets and spinach filling, wrap the dish tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil.
Place it in the freezer, labeled, and freeze it for up to two months. When you’re ready to bake it, uncover the dish and bake it for about an hour and 15 minutes. Check and bake additional ten minutes if not cooked through.
If you like this, you’ll love these recipes:
Try one of these other delicious Greek-inspired recipes!
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- 1 package of phyllo dough thawed
- 32 ounces frozen spinach thawed
- 1 very large sweet onion minced
- 3 packages of tomato & basil spiced feta cheese
- 1 cup olive oil + 2 tablespoons
- 5 eggs
- 8 tablespoons 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Heat large pot on stove top on medium high heat. Put in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add minced onion and sauté until soft. Add spinach and mix together. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add remaining cup of olive oil and crumbled feta cheese. Combine cooled, cooked spinach mixture with egg mixture.
- Brush a small amount of melted butter on bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Place three pieces of Phyllo dough into the bottom of the baking dish.
- Brush gently with melted butter (don’t be shy, but don’t overdo). Continue with process until half of the Phyllo dough is on the bottom.
- Pour spinach mixture over Phyllo dough.
- Place three pieces of Phyllo dough over mixture and brush with butter. Continue with Phyllo dough and butter. Butter top layer and sprinkle a small amount of cold water on top. Tuck in edges.
- Bake for 1 hour.
*this is an updated post in both format and with pictures. The previous post was published as Day 48 as my original 365 Days of Baking. It was republished on 11/3/15, and again on 2/8/23.