Banitsa, a.k.a. cheese pie, is a traditional Bulgarian dish made with just six simple ingredients: phyllo dough, feta, yogurt, eggs, baking soda, and some type of fat (butter or oil). Layers of phyllo dough with a cheesy mixture in between. But don’t let the simplicity of this dish fool you. It’s comforting and delicious, 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.
Banitsa was one of my favorite childhood foods to eat. I don’t know, is it because I love Feta cheese and Phyllo dough? Or, because everyone eats Banitsa 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 six simple ingredients:
Phyllo/Filo dough sheets. Feta cheese. Yogurt. Eggs. Oil/Butter. Baking Soda.
There are many variations of this type of Banitsa. It’s very popular in Eastern Europe, especially in Macedonia, Serbia, and 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, onion, and cabbage. I also like using sweet fillings, for example, apples and cinnamon, honey, dates, walnuts, Pumpkin turnovers, chocolate, or different types of fruits and jams. The 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 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 until it’s combined. That’s 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 it to an oiled baking dish, starting from the center and shaping it into a snail.
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 just 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 eat it hot or wait for it to cool slightly. 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.
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.
SWEET POTATO AND FETA PHYLLO ROLL – Now, this recipe is a combination of sweet and salty. So if you like mixing flavors, this baby is for you. Sweet potatoes pair very well with Feta cheese, plus being rolled in a thin phyllo dough takes it to the next level.
THE ONLY CINNAMON ROLLS RECIPE YOU NEED – Fluffy and 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 yogurt and baking soda. The yogurt will foam up from the reaction with the soda. Add crumbled feta and eggs. Mix. Set aside.
- 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.