The Spanakopita Recipe You've Been Looking For

Spanakopita is one of those foods that will seem quite the challenge the first time you make it, but by the fifth or sixth time, you probably won't even look at the recipe. Chef and food writer Kate Shungu of Gift of Hospitality says: "This recipe is intermediate level — it seems intimidating but it's really just a lot of layering. Once you get the hang of layering the phyllo dough, it'll go quite quickly."

And while spanakopita might seem like something for which you need to source specialty ingredients, in fact almost everything you need is freezer — or shelf –stable or is probably already in your kitchen, like eggs, onions and oil. With just a few fresh herbs picked up for this classic Greek dish, you're just 20 or so minutes of hands-on work and 25 minutes of baking away from a delightful dish.

"You can serve spanakopita as an appetizer (it's pretty when cut into triangles) or as a main course," says Shungu, adding: "Grilled lemon chicken kabobs are a great pairing, or if you want to serve spanakopita as the main course, a big hunk of crusty bread pairs well with it."

And she should know. "I enjoyed spanakopita on my honeymoon in Greece," she says, "which is where the inspiration for this recipe came from."

Gather your spanakopita ingredients

Remember, this recipe looks more challenging than it is! Don't let this moderately hefty ingredient list disconcert you.

You'll need 2 pounds of frozen spinach, thawed, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped, 5 green onions, finely chopped, ¾ cup of whole milk plain Greek yogurt (not sweetened, take note!), 2 eggs, 8 ounces of crumbled feta, ½ a cup of chopped fresh parsley, 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh dill, the zest of one lemon, ½ a teaspoon of ground nutmeg, 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ a teaspoon of black pepper, 8 ounces of phyllo dough, defrosted overnight in the refrigerator, and a ½ cup (AKA 1 stick) of salted butter, melted.

Got all that? Let's do it!

Drain the spinach and cook the spanakopita's onions

One quick note: keep the dough in its packaging and in the fridge until you are ready to use it, "it can dry out quickly," warns Shungu.

First step: place the defrosted spinach in a clean kitchen towel and wring it out over the sink until all of the water is removed. Set the spinach aside, ideally in a colander so last drips will run out.

Now pour the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the yellow onion and green onions, and cook until soft, about three to four minutes, then let them cool.

Make the spanakopita filling

In a large bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt and eggs. Then stir in the crumbled feta, parsley, dill, lemon zest, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Then stir in the spinach, yellow onion, and the green onions.

Note that you may want to chop up the spinach some before you add it. You can lay it out on a cutting board and use a chef's knife or use a pair of kitchen shears, but either way, if there are many large leaves, you should cut them smaller so the filling mixes up evenly.

Pre-heat the oven and prep the spanakopita dough

Unroll the phyllo dough sheets and trim the edges so that it measures 13 inches long by 9 inches wide. Now cover the dough with wax paper or parchment paper and then place a damp kitchen towel on top. (This ensures that the phyllo doesn't dry out as you work with it. Keep it covered as much as possible as you work.)

Preheat oven to 425°F, and then, using a pastry brush, brush some of the melted butter onto the bottom of a 13-inch by 9inch pan.

Build the spanakopita layers

Lay one sheet of phyllo dough down into the pan, then carefully brush the sheet of dough with melted butter. Now repeat, laying down another sheet of phyllo and brushing with melted butter. Repeat the layering process until you have a total of eight sheets of phyllo.

Now gently pour the spinach mixture on top, spreading it out to within a ½ inch of the edges. Top with a sheet of phyllo, then brush that with melted butter. Repeat seven more times, for a total of eight sheets of phyllo atop the filling like you did below it.

Baking the spanakopita

Use a sharp knife to score the top several sheets of phyllo into 12 slices, or however many slices you'd like to create (but 12 is rather standard for this size pan and these portions of ingredients). 

Bake in the 425º degree oven on a middle rack for 25 to 28 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crisp. Keep a close eye so it doesn't burn!

Let the spanakopita cool for 10 minutes before cutting the squares all the way through to the bottom, then serve asap. And if you need to prep it ahead of time, you should keep the dish warm until it is time to dish it out.

Spanakopita is a dish best served fresh (or at least the same day)

Spanakopita is really "best enjoyed the day that it's made," says Shungu. "If you have leftovers, store them in a covered dish in the refrigerator. To reheat, place slices of the spanakopita in an oven-safe dish and bake at 375°F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until warm throughout," she advises. 

It may be tempting to reheat this in the microwave and save a little time, but Shungu says this can backfire and "cause the phyllo dough to get soggy." And soggy spanakopita is not what anyone wants, especially when you worked so hard on all that chopping and layering.

The Spanakopita Recipe You've Been Looking For
5 from 10 ratings
This spanakopita recipe might seem challenging, but hang in there and you'll be rewarded with a delightful Greek dish that will impress everyone at the table.
Prep Time
20
minutes
Cook Time
25
minutes
Servings
12
servings
spanakopita
Ready in 45 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 5 green onions, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup whole milk plain Greek yogurt (not sweetened)
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz crumbled feta
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • zest of one lemon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 oz phyllo dough, defrosted overnight in the refrigerator
  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, melted
Directions
  1. Place defrosted spinach in a clean kitchen towel, and wring out over the sink until all of the water is removed. Set the spinach aside.
  2. Place the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the yellow onion and green onions, and cook until soft, about 3 – 4 minutes. Let cool.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt and eggs. Stir in the crumbled feta, parsley, dill, lemon zest, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Then, stir in the spinach, yellow onion, and green onions.
  4. Unroll the phyllo and trim the edges so that it measures 13 inches long by 9 inches wide. Cover the phyllo dough with wax paper and then place a damp kitchen towel on top. This ensures that the phyllo doesn't dry out as you work with it. Keep it covered as much as possible as you work.
  5. Preheat your oven to 425°F. Using a pastry brush, brush some of the melted butter into the bottom of a 13x9 inch pan. Add one sheet of phyllo dough. Carefully brush the sheet with melted butter, and repeat with another layer of phyllo brushed with melted butter. Repeat the layering process, for a total of eight sheets of phyllo
  6. Pour the spinach mixture on top, spreading it to within ½ inch of the edges. Top with a sheet of phyllo, then brush it with melted butter. Repeat seven more times, for a total of eight sheets of phyllo.
  7. Use a sharp knife to score the top several sheets of phyllo into 12 slices (or however many slices you'd like to create).
  8. Bake for 25–28 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crisp. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting the squares all the way through and serve.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 235
Total Fat 16.0 g
Saturated Fat 9.0 g
Trans Fat 0.3 g
Cholesterol 66.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 15.9 g
Dietary Fiber 2.6 g
Total Sugars 2.3 g
Sodium 406.6 mg
Protein 8.8 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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