Almost Turkish Recipes

Flaky Spinach Pie (Ispanaklı Tepsi Böreği)

After gathering courage to make my mom's zucchini börek, I now am familiar with using phllyo dough for other various börek recipes. As I mentioned before börek is a common term for all pastries that use Turkish yufka i.e. phllyo dough. Depending on the filling, the shape and sometimes the region the term börek is preceded by a descriptive noun: kabak böreği (zucchini börek), ıspanak böreği (spinach börek), kıymalı börek (börek with ground meat) or su böreği (water/boiled börek), tepsi böreği (layered börek) etc.

Spinach börek is definitely a nation-wide favorite. It's made for and served at afternoon tea gatherings; sold by street vendors or patisseries early in the morning for breakfast; or can be a whole meal for lunch or dinner served with a yogurt beverage, ayran, or coke, but 95% of the time with tea.

Although spinach börek can be made in different styles such as bundles, rolls, or spiral, the most common version is layered, tepsi in Turkish which literary translates as "tray."

20 phyllo dough sheets (1 packet usually has 40)
1 lb fresh or frozen spinach
1/2 cup white cheese or feta
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup olive oil (I prefer olive oil, but others can be used too)
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
black seeds (nigella seeds)

-Thaw phyllos according to the instructions on the package.
-Put fresh spinach in a bowl. Sprinkle a little bit of salt. Rub spinach leaves with your fingers until wilted. Drain excessive water. (If you're using frozen spinach, let it thaw first. Squeeze to drain excessive water. Sprinkle salt and rub spinach leaves with your fingers. Drain excessive water once again)
-Add feta, black pepper, and crushed red pepper to spinach and mix well.
-In another bowl beat the eggs and add milk and olive oil. Mix well.
-Grease an 8 X 11.5 pan (or in a pan that's approximately the same size with phyllo sheets)
-Layer half of phyllo dough sheets in the pan by brushing every single layer generously with the egg+milk+oil mixture.
-On the 10th phyllo sprinkle spinach mix.
-Cut the 1 tbsp butter in to small pieces and sprinkle on spinach.
-Keep layering the rest of phyllos by brushing each layer with the mixture.
-After putting down the last phyllo, pour whatever is left from the egg+milk+oil mixture on top.
-Sprinkle the pie with black (nigella) seeds or sessame seeds or neither.
-Bake in a preheated oven at 390F for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
-Wait for 10-15 minutes and then cut into square pieces.


  1. Beautiful dish! Now you got me curious, though: what is su böreği (water/boiled börek)?

  2. Sounds delicious. I'm familiar with Spanakopita, which I'm guessing is kind of similar.

  3. Yes, this does sound like Spanakopita! Delicious.

  4. Simona, I know it sounds weird, and honestly "water borek" is a literally translation which doesn't capture the real concept of the dish. With water borek which is a layered pastry just like this one, phyllos are hand made, boiled in hot water, then immediately dipped in ice cold water, and then baked like a regular borek. It's simply delicious. Only if I can make phllyos myself.

    kalyn and lisa-you're right. Other than onion, dill, and use of butter, ıt's similar to spanakopita. We neighbors know how to eat.

  5. This looks really delicious! i am craving for one:)

    Try "gul boregi"! I like it very much too.

  6. It looks delicious and the nigella seeds make it look so pretty.

  7. This is one of my favourites that's for sure:D

  8. Anonymous4:19 PM

    hi Burcu, I was just wondering if you could tell me how to do the sides of this... I've made it once with yufka and we just fold all the sides in at the top but how do you do it with filo? Do you still fold all the sides in?

  9. anonymous-if the tray you're using is smaller than phyllos, you can tuck the overhanging phyllo in to the sides.

  10. Thanks Burcu! this recipe was perfect! i just made it for all my turkish housemates and they loved it :) not very hard to make this one :))

  11. Anonymous1:27 PM

    This is a beautifully put together dish. This does look like it would taste delicious with tea. I would love to feature this recipe on our Demy, the first and only digital recipe reader. Please email if you're interested. Thanks!

  12. Anonymous10:16 AM

    I was looking for Ispanak Börek and I found it at your page. Thanks for all the explanation.
    It became one of my little cravings, we went to Turkish restaurant 2 times already this month. Now I will do it myself.


  13. Anonymous12:50 PM

    My mother has made these for years. For passover, you just use matzoh instead of phylo dough. It's still delicious

  14. Nice to be here and know this kind of blog belong to Turkish Recepies.

    Lucky my friends who are from all the world; from now on i am going to share the link who interested in Turkish Kitchen

    Thanks dear :)

  15. Anonymous3:53 PM

    Merhaba - I was wondering how this would do prepared up to the point before you put it in the oven and saved overnight in the fridge until the next day. I have a party to attend Friday night and would love to bring this with me but wont have enough time to assemble it all and bake it after I get home from work. On the same note, would it be better to bake it and just reheat it the next day? Thank you so much for sharing your love for cooking as I truly miss Turkish food after studying in a Turkish boarding school all through high school and being spoiled by the amazing food!

    Regards, Ayna

    1. I always make borek and freeze it raw until I’m ready to bake it and it comes out lovely
      You do not defrost, just pop it in 350 preheated oven

  16. Merhaba Ayna,
    I would not let the borek sit in the fridge over night. I've never done it before but I think the phyllo would soak the juice and get mushy! However you can totally bake it a day before and either heat in the oven or microwave it at the party. It would be great even when it's cold.
    Boarding school and amazing food? What boarding school did you go to? I still don't eat a couple of things because of my boarding school's cooks :(

  17. Anonymous3:54 PM

    Thank you for your response, I will definitely go with the bake and reheat route and will let you know how it goes. Yes, most people think I am crazy when I tell them I miss the food from boarding school but it was my first exposure to Turkish food and my "yurt" teachers were always cooking us something, especially around Ramadan bayram - i still dream about those meals! Thank you so much once again for sharing your great recipes!

  18. Aisyah12:42 AM

    i simply love the recipes here. simple to follow instructions with great results. this was my first attempt at making turkish pastry and it's made me brave enough to try others.. thanks!

  19. Hi Burcu
    So, i made this on the weekend and it was a resounding success. I particularly loved the tip of wilting the spinach just with a little salt and the heat and friction of your hands - it made it so much easier to handle! This is a genius technique!
    Thanks v much Mx

  20. Selam Burcu, I was wondering if the method would be the same if you used yufka instead of phyllo. Would the layering change?

  21. Merhaba Margaret, since yufka is much thicker than phyllo, you would use less. Instead of 20 phyllo, use 4 yufka. The shape would be different, too. If you're using a square/rectangle oven dish, lay one round yufka at the bottom; divide the others into 3 or 4 pieces, lay on top, and place the stuffing in the mid layer. close the top with the over flowing yufka that you placed at the bottom.

  22. Excellent! My son didn't notice the spinach and chowed this down. The nigella seeds were a first for me but really added something special. Thank you Burcu. Your site is amazing.

  23. Lacey3:21 PM

    Hi there. Recently i tried Boreks in Seattle and I loved them so much that I thought of baking them. I followed your recipe but the layers at the bottom of the spinach came out soggy and not flaky. Do you think it happened because of spinach or I didn't bake it long enough. I have a gas oven so i almost backed it for 45min. The top most layer was golden brown and flaky. Kindly let me know what I did wrong. I would love to try some more recipes from your blog.


    God bless

  24. Lacey, I don't think you did anything wrong; boreks are usually flaky on top and not-flaky on the bottom, that's how they are. If you want them to be flaky all around then you should try maybe this recipe:

  25. lacey2:44 PM

    Thank you for the response but the link you gave me is not working

  26. Lacey, under the recipe categories on the right side, click on the second from the top: borek/phyllo dough pastry. On the page comes the last recipe Turkish feta-potatorolls it is.

  27. Your dish reminds me of summer more exciting scenes. I was very happy to have full friends. Thank you. If you want to know about my country and the dishes, go to:

  28. I'm craving borek right now!! Will soon post a recipe on my blog.

  29. maria7:06 PM

    Hello. I really like spinach borek n want to try it. Can I make itc with puff pastry? What will be the changes? Thanks a lot

    1. Dear Maria, puff pastry is completely different than phyllo dough so you'll need to change a lot of things. Check out this recipe:

      As for spinach, you don;t need to cook it with borek, but with puff pastry you might need to stir it with butter before stuff the bundles.

  30. This recipe was easy to use and delicious. It turned out exactly like your picture. Thank you!

  31. Kabak boreginin harci yogurt ve zeytin yagi. Ispanak boreginin harcindan farkli. Tat yuzunden mi yoksa baska bi sebebi var mi? Benim yogurt ve yag kullandigim cok oldu ispanak boregine aslinda. Ama simdi sizin tarifler cok isime geliyo, aciyorum telefonu hic dusunmeme hatirlama gerek kalmadan sizin blogdan yapiveriyorum. Sagolun bu blog icin Banu hanim. Simdi firindan cikardim boregi, harika gorunuyo. Feta az kalmis mozerella ekledim. Cayla aksam yemegi olacak! Saygilar!

  32. Dogru! Kabak boregi annemin tarifi ve ona uydum. Ama ispanak boreginin tarifini buraya gelkdikten sonra burdaki yufkalarla borek yapmaya calisirken deneye yanila buldum ve sut daha cok kabartiyormus gibi geldi tepsi boregini. Ama kabak boregi gul boregi o yuzden cok kabarmasa da sorun olmuyor. Ama isterseniz sutu yogurtla degistirebilirisiniz. Umarim guzel olmustur!

  33. I just made your recipe for borek and have to say it is the best borek I have ever had, my husband loved it. Totally amazing. Thank you!