Banitsa, a.k.a. Cheese pie, is a traditional Bulgarian dish made with just 6 simple ingredients, phyllo dough, feta, yogurt, eggs, baking soda, and some type of fat (butter or oil). It’s layers of phyllo dough and a cheesy mixture in between. But don’t let the simplicity of this dish fool you. It’s comforting, delicious, filling, and it has been my favorite thing to eat since I was a child. I love how easy and quick is to make, which makes it perfect for breakfast or a snack.
This is my favorite childhood thing to eat, Banitsa. I don’t know, is it because I love Feta cheese and Phyllo dough? Or because it’s something everyone eats in Bulgaria and you can find it in every bakery. The great thing about this recipe, is that it’s very easy to make and almost every family, especially grandmothers know how to make it. Fresh homemade Banitsa is just the best! Crispy top with a fluffy cheesy interior. Let’s get into it!
It’s made with 6 simple ingredients:
Phyllo/Filo dough sheets.
There are many variations of this type of Banitsa. It’s very popular in Eastern Europe, especially in Macedonia, Serbia, Greece (Spanakopita).In Middle Eastern countries Phyllo dough is used a lot too.
It can be filled with different greens like spinach, chard, leeks, nettles, also onion, cabbage. I also like making sweet fillings, for example, apples and cinnamon, honey, dates, walnuts, Pumpkin turnovers, chocolate, or some type of fruits and jams. Options are endless, and they are all delicious.
How to make Banitsa?
Note: For exact measurements and detailed instructions see the recipe card below.
Making this recipe can’t be any easier. All you have to do is to make the filling. In a bowl mix yogurt with baking soda. Adding baking soda makes the Banitsa and filling rise more when baked. Then add the crumbled feta cheese and eggs. Mix everything till combined. And this is it! The filling is ready.
You can use any type of unflavored vegetable oil or butter. I prefer to use butter.
First, I melt the butter to brush the phyllo sheets with it.
I begin by brushing the top sheet with the melted butter, then I flip it upside down so the brushed side sticks to the bottom sheet.
After that, I add some of the yogurt filling and roll from the wider side with two sheets at a time.
Further, I transfer to an oiled baking dish, starting from the center rolling into a snail shape.
Repeat the same process with each layer till you use up the filling, or you can leave some extra to put on top of the pastry. If you use the whole filling then brush the top of the pastry only with butter or oil. If you don’t have enough of the filling to put on top you can also mix one egg with the rest of the melted butter or oil and spread that on top.
Bake on the middle rack at 350F(180C) for 25-30 minutes. It should be golden brown on top. You can enjoy it hot or wait for a little to cool down. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you keep it in the fridge it will get soggy, so I recommend eating it fresh.
However, you could freeze it, but BEFORE baking it. Make it in advance and when ready to bake just let it defrost.
Stay in touch!
Here are a few more recipes I am loving at the moment:
EASY PUMPKIN TURNOVERS MADE WITH PHYLLO DOUGH – This is another recipe using phyllo dough but a sweet version. The pumping filling with warming spices makes them so perfect for Fall, and they are also so easy to make.
YOGURT PANCAKES – PERFECT EVERY TIME – When I don’t know what to have for breakfast but want it to be quick and yummy, this is the recipe I usually go for. It’s perfect every time. Fluffy pancakes with toppings of your choice.
THE ONLY CINNAMON ROLLS RECIPE YOU NEED – Fluffy, soft like a pillow, these Cinnamon Rolls will rock your world! They are that good!! If you want to add more happiness to your life, try them out, you won’t regret them.
Easy Banitsa Recipe – Bulgarian Cheese Pie
- 400 g Yogurt 1½ cups
- 1 t Baking Soda
- 400 g Feta cheese 2½ cups
- 4 Eggs
- 100 g Butter 1/2 cup
- 400 g Phyllo dough sheets
- Oil or use malted butter to brush the bottom and sides of a round baking dish. Set aside.
- In a bowl combine crumbled yogurt and baking soda. The yogurt will foam up from the reaction with the soda.
- Add crumbled feta to the yogurt. Mix. Then add eggs and mix again.
- Melt butter or use vegetable oil. Spread the butter over one of the phyllo sheets using a pastry brush. Then flip the sheet over the one underneath and spread about 3-4 tbsps of the yogurt-feta mixture. Roll both sheets from the wider side creating a log. Place on the center of the baking dish, creating a snail shape. Repeat the same process with each layer, oil/butter, flip, spread filling, roll both sheets. Continue the snail shape with each roll starting from the end of the previous one.
- When done, brush the top with more butter/oil, and if you have any filling left spread it on top.
- Bake in preheated oven at 350F(180C), for 25-30 minutes or till golden brown on top.
- Enjoy hot or cold.