Best Banitsa Recipe (Bulgarian cheese pie)

Best Banitsa recipe, also known as Bulgarian Cheese pie. Banitsa with fillo (phyllo) dough, white cheese and Greek yogurt is traditionally served as breakfast all year round. Vegetarian, fluffy and moist, this recipe is a keeper.

Banitsa

Bulgarian Banitsa is a traditional pastry dish enjoyed throughout Bulgaria. It consists of thin layers of phyllo dough filled with a mixture of eggs, cheese, and sometimes spinach or other ingredients, all baked to golden perfection. Banitsa is often served as a breakfast or snack and is a beloved part of Bulgarian cuisine, known for its deliciously flaky texture and savory flavor profile.

FUN FACT: New Year’s tradition has it, every family prepares Banitsa on New Year’s Eve. We add lucky charms within the layers of the pastry – coins, small trinkets, or fortunes tucked within. Family members and friends gather together to share the Banitsa, with each person hoping to find a lucky charm in their slice. It’s believed that whoever discovers a charm in their portion will be blessed with good luck and fortune in the upcoming year. This tradition not only brings loved ones together but also adds an element of excitement and anticipation to the New Year’s celebration. My kids love to search for their lucky charms and insist on eating more and more (even though they are no longer hungry).

What is Banitsa?

Bulgarian Banitsa is a traditional pie made with fillo dough and a number of fillings (savory) like spinach, leeks, rice and even meat. Banitsa can be found in various shapes, with the most common being a rectangular or square form. Additionally, it is sometimes shaped into a spiral or coiled into a round shape with delicious layers of phyllo dough and filling. If you like fillo pastries, definitely check out my Turkish Borek recipe, made with similar ingredients, but shaped as cigars. Alternatively, check out my Greek Spinach Pie with rice (Spanakopita), it never dissapoints.

Ingredients & Substitutions:

  • Fillo pastry dough – or phyllo pastry sheets – thin like these
  • White Cheese – Bulgarian white cheese from cow’s milk, or substitute with Feta Cheese
  • Eggs – medium
  • Greek Yogurt – plain
  • Oil – Vegetable oil or olive oil, I use sunflower oil
  • Pinch of baking soda – to elevate the Yogurt

How to cook Bulgarian Banitsa?

1st: Combine filling ingredients and whisk together well.

2nd: Place some filling on bottom of round baking pan (avoid non-stick surface). Then start layering.

3rd: Add one wrinkled fillo sheet, then sprinkle with some filling (unevenly). Repeat.

4th: Cover the last layer with a mix of some water and what is left of the filling. Add some to the sides as well. Bake. Then, turn around onto two soup bowls and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Cut and enjoy with some Greek yogurt.

How to store Bulgarian Banitsa?

Store in air-tight container in the fridge for up to 48 hours. Reheat in microwave/oven or even air fryer before consumption. Banitsa tastes best if hot/warm.

Best Banitsa Recipe - Bulgarian Cheese Pie with fillo dough

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Best Banitsa Recipe - Bulgarian Cheese Pie with fillo dough

Best Banitsa – Bulgarian Cheese Pie

The European Dish
Best traditional Banitsa – Bulgarian Cheese pie with phyllo dough, white cheese, eggs and Greek yogurt Filling.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Resting time, after cooking 10 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Bulgarian,, European
Servings 10 people

Equipment

  • 1 round pan max 32 cm/12 inch

Ingredients
  

  • 400 g (1 lb) fillo dough sheets
  • 3 eggs, medium to large
  • 200 g (7 oz) white cheese, crumbled, like Feta Cheese
  • 400 g (14 oz) Greek Yogurt, plain
  • 50 ml vegetable oil (sunflower or olive oil)
  • pinch of baking soda, for Yogurt

Instructions
 

  • In a large mixing bowl combine Greek yogurt and soda. Stir for a while until yogurt starts to bubble up.
  • Then, add white crumbled (Feta) cheese, oil and eggs and incorporate well.
  • Next, with a spoon sprinkle some of the filling onto the bottom of a bake pan. Then layer the 1st fillo sheet – should be wrinkled. Do not press down.
  • Start layering. Sprinkle (2-3 tbsp.) of the filling unevenly on each layer of wrinkled fillo dough.
  • For the last fillo layer, add a few tbsp. of water (if needed) to the filling and gently cover the whole sheet with it. Add to the sides of the pan as well to make it crispier.
  • Bake in preheated oven on 180C/360F with ventilator (hot air) until golden on top.
  • Remove from stove and turn upside down onto two even soup bowls. Leave to cool for 10 -15 minutes. Cut and enjoy with some yogurt on the side.

Notes

  • Recommend to skip the non-stick pan, otherwise Banitsa will not stick to the bottom when turned upside down. 
  • Do not press down the sheets and filling as the air-y element will be removed. 
Keyword feta cheese, fillo dough, greek yogurt, vegetarian
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