Almost Turkish Recipes

Zucchini Börek (Kabak Böreği)

Börek is a common name in Turkey and neighboring regions that were influenced by Ottoman cuisine for a pie made with flaky pastry: phyllo or yufka. Börek can be made in different forms (bundles, rolls, rounds, squares, etc.) and with different fillings (eggplant, ground meat, milk, potato, spinach, and white cheese).

This particular recipe is my mom's signature dish. This is the dish that I asked her to make every time I went back home from boarding school, college or from the States, and that my friends ask her to make whenever they come over for tea, for dinner, or for a visit. I haven't made zucchini börek before simply because it is hard to find Turkish yufka here and phyllo doughs that you can find in the stores are too thin (harder to deal with), starchier (fit better for baklava than börek), and come in rectangles rather than rounds as we have them in Turkey. However, for the first time I haven't been to Turkey over a year now. I decided that I couldn't wait for another year for zucchini börek.

~30 sheets of phyllo dough=1 box (since they're really thin, a couple will be lost along the way)

for the filling
2-3 zucchinis, grated approximately 4 cups of grated zucchini
3 eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped dill
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint or 3 tbsp dry mint flakes
1/2 cup crumbled Turkish white cheese or feta
1 tbsp paprika (or Hungarian paprika)
1 tbsp or less black pepper
salt (depending on how salty the cheese is)
1 tsp spicy red pepper flakes (optional)

for brushing phyllos
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt (nonfat, reduced, or whole)

-Thaw frozen phyllo as indicated on the package.
-Mix well all the ingredients for the filling in a bowl. Set aside for 10-15 minutes.
-It will be a juicy mixture. Squeeze the mixture and pour that excessive juice into a smaller bowl. Add 3 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 cup yogurt into the juice and mix well. You will use this to brush phyllos.
-Place a phyllo, wide side facing you, on the counter. Brush it with the mixture and put another phyllo on top and brush it, too. Since phyllos are too thin, it's better to use two at a time).
-Place filling ~one seventh of zucchini filling on the long side of phyllo and roll up to make a long cigar.
-Grease ~ 11 X 13 or ~11 X 11 oven tray.
-Hold one end of the long cigar and coil roll around to form a spiral shape as in the picture above.
-Repeat brushing, filling, rolling, and coiling until there's no more filling.
-Pour whatever juice left in the brushing and filling bowls on the börek.
-Bake in a preheated oven at 380-390 F until golden brown. Approximately 50 minutes.
-Cut into triangle pie slices. Serve with tea or soda for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

It is not a common practice throughout Turkey, but where I come from, Thrace, we love to eat our savory börek by dipping it into jam, especially into cherry jam.


  1. This looks fabulous! What a great "Mom" food to have. I've got my Mom foods too and don't they always taste better when Mom makes them even if you do it the exact same way? If I ever go to Turkey maybe your Mom can be my Mom?

  2. Very nice, burcu! I have never used phyllo dough: I can imagine getting into deep trouble with it.

  3. This dish is a real tribute to your mom....just mention feta and I'm in too!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Oh wow this look sooooooo good. Thanks for taking the time to make it and post about it. DELISH.

  5. I salute your endeavour to make this treat. I'd love to try it someday.

  6. Anonymous11:44 AM

    I've never heard of this before but I love the sound of it, it looks gorgeous too. I like the idea of mixing the yoghurt into the juices to coat the top too. Very interesting, I will have to try this at some point!

  7. Wow! I love pastry! I will love to try your mum's when I'm in Turkey and yours too when I'm in the States ;)

  8. Oh, my gosh, that is so impressive, Burcu. I've never seen anything quite like it. Now if I cook only taste it.

  9. Anonymous11:13 AM

    This looks so good! I love boreks of all kinds, this one is particularly pleasing to my eyes.

  10. vb-She'd love to serve you this dish.
    simona-I must say my first two trys were not fun, but then I realized it was way easier once I read the thawing instructions on the package, what a genius ha?
    bellini valli-not just feta but feta with zucchini, great!
    cynthia-it's worth trying
    helen-let me know how it goes
    mrs. ergul-let me know when you'll be in Turkey
    susan-I'd happily make it for you whenever you're in Georgia
    farida-this is my all time favorite borek, too.

  11. I've made this with layered phyllo and would love to try the spiral. It looks so pretty. I'm sure it tastes wonderful. The paprika and spicy red pepper flakes sound like a great addition in this version.

  12. luana - I have no idea why but even if the same ingredients used in the same amounts, this spiral pie tastes better to me than layered phyllo pie.

  13. Anonymous2:29 AM

    Hello Burcu,

    I stumbled across your blog, while I was looking for eggplant mezes. I have tried your recipe and it was so delicious. I love the red chilli flakes for the little hint of spicy zing.

    A few weeks ago, I bought filo from a Turkish shop and I wasn't sure what to make, but I think I am going to try out this recipe. It looks absolutely scrumptious. There is something magical about food that Moms are preparing.

  14. Anonymous2:32 AM

    Forgot to thank you for sharing all the lovely recipes :).

  15. Yes, Burcu, I totally agree. It does taste better than the layered! I made it Thursday night after I made a pan of baklava. Today I took the borek to a friend's house for lunch. I had not tasted it. We both loved it. I must say I've been working with phyllo for many many years and it was a bit challenging making this with tissue-paper thin phyllo; however, phyllo is fairly forgiving, and a cut and paste here and there worked to prevent leaking from a few torn spots. I think it tastes better because there is less phyllo per bite, and more of the filling. The next time I make it, I will make my own phyllo. This recipe is well deserving of such an effort. We also loved the cherry jam with it. Thank you for such a great recipe. It sure is a keeper!

  16. Anonymous5:17 AM

    Burcu slm,

    bu böreği ve ispanakli olani bildigimiz turk yufkasiyla yapmayi deniycem; özel olarak esime getirttim turkiyeden :)

    yalniz, bizim yufkayla ölçüler nedir bu börekler icin?

    kacar tane kullanmak lazim?

    cok tskler!


  17. Asena merhaba,
    Kabak boregini bildigimiz bizim yuvarlak yufkalarin 5 tanesiyle, yufkalari ortadan ikiye bolerek yapabilirsin.

    Ispanak boregi icin, her 2 ya da 3 phyllo icin 1 Turk yufkasi kullanirsan olur heralde.

  18. I'm so happy to have found your recipe! I went to ex-Yugoslavian countries last year where they also eat Borek (but there it is spelled burek). I loved it so much!! I have dreams about it, hahaha! I would love to try and make this and will definitely remember to refer here when I do :)

  19. I just bookmarked this recipe. It sounds wonderful, and I know my husband and I would love it! Thanks! :)

  20. Anonymous6:58 AM

    Thank You very much for this inspiration. A change for spinach or parsley one.

  21. Thank you for this recipe. I am making this today :)

  22. Anonymous9:47 AM


    I really want to try to make this and just want to make sure I understood your instructions correctly. Each "cigar" is made of 2 phyllo sheets? Also, how, if at all do you connect the individual parts? just by pressing them together?

    thank you,

  23. Anonymous7:38 AM

    Dear Burcu, didn't you used to have a dana etli borek recipe made in a large frying pan? It was perfect. If you still have it, could you please repost it? Thank you!

    1. I haven't posted a meaty borek recipe, but I have a meaty roll recipe. Could it be it?