Day….. who knows of quarantine. Today, we are headed to Greece to create my favorite Greek pastry, Spanakopita Triangles– pronounced: spah-nah-KO-pee-tah. This mini spinach pie recipe is very simple flavor-wise, but trust me, it’s so delicious and easy for the whole family to make.
Here’s the deal. I made this recipe with one person in mind, my daughter.
About a year ago, I was doing a shop at the local Greek grocer, when I grabbed a spanakopita triangle on the way out and passed it to my ten-month-old daughter. For a baby who had spent months protesting food in all forms, she devoured it. From that moment on, I made it my life mission to re-create this authentic spanakopita triangles recipe. That’s where this classic Greek-inspired dish comes into play.
For us, spanakopita has become a weekly staple in our household. This recipe here was initially from a family member of Greece who also happens to be a chief. As she graciously translated the ingredient ratios, I quickly realized the serving size could easily feed 100 people. Over the last few months, I have been carefully experimenting with the proportions of cheese to spinach, to herbs and phyllo.
When I finally got this recipe perfected (after several attempts), I presented it to my most trustworthy critic, my very greek father-in-law. The verdict?
He loved it.
In this post, through photos and step-by-step instructions, I am going to show you how to make quick and easy Spanakopita triangles. You will learn how to prepare, assemble, and fold the phyllo dough to perfection. This recipe is a great way to get the kids involved, whether it’s to overcome boredom or to convince them to eat their greens!
What is Spanakopita?
Traditionally spanakopita is a flakey phyllo dough filled with a mix of a lot of spinach, some herbs, and a generous amount of feta cheese. Also known as spinach and feta cheese pie.
Spanakopita comes in several variations. This recipe calls for individual spanakopita triangle shapes- perfect as finger food for kids! The spinach and feta filling gets wrapped into the phyllo dough and baked to golden brown perfection. Now, don’t let the shape intimidate you. I will show you how to fold these mini triangular bites.
Measurements and instructions found at the end of this post.
- Olive oil – To help spread the olive oil, use a pastry brush.
- Onion – I use white onion for this dish. It is paper-thin and milder in flavor.
- Spinach – Frozen spinach is preferred, but excess moisture kills this dish. Make sure you drain all the liquid out of the spinach.
- Cheese – We use the traditional cheese found in spanakopita, feta cheese. I have a substitute ingredient below.
- Herbs – Our secret flavors are nutmeg and a generous amount of dill.
- Phyllo pastry – Be sure to take it out of the freezer to allow it to thaw completely before using it.
- Salt and pepper to taste
Tips for Working with Phyllo Dough:
Before you start this spanakopita recipe, become familiar with phyllo dough. Now, I know phyllo dough gets a bad wrap of being hard to work with, but here’s the key to success when working with phyllo…oil. Brushing the dough with oil keeps the phyllo from drying out and tearing, not to mention adds yet another layer of delicious crispy flavor.
- Be sure to thaw phyllo dough in the fridge 12-14 hours before using it.
- Phyllo dough is paper-thin, cover the phyllo dough you are not using with a lightly damp kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out.
- Prepare ingredients before unwrapping the phyllo dough.
- You can find phyllo dough in the freezer section of your grocery store near the frozen puff pastry and pies.
How To Make Our Authentic Spanakopita Triangles Recipe
1. Make the Filling
- To make this spanakopita recipe, begin by preparing the filling first. Bake the frozen spinach in the oven to 350 degrees until completely thawed. After you have let the cooked spinach cool, remove as much moisture as possible.
- In a large skillet on medium heat, add the olive oil. To add a bit of sweetness to your spanakopita, saute your leek and onion and add it to the spinach.
- Let the spinach mixture completely cool and then combine it with the crumbled feta, chopped dill, and nutmeg.
This Spanakopita triangles recipe calls for A LOT of spinach. Therefore frozen chopped spinach is preferred. But here’s the deal. Excess moisture kills this dish. I ended up squeezing the liquid out by hand, using a towel and colander.
- After your phyllo dough has thawed, unroll, and lay one sheet flat on your work surface with the short side towards yourself. Cover up the remaining phyllo dough with a damp cloth or paper towel to prevent it from drying out. Using a pastry brush generously apply the sheet with olive oil. Repeat, layering two more times, placing the sheets of phyllo dough over the top of each other (3 sheets in total).
- Using a pizza cutter, divide the layered sheets into three equal parts. Drop a spoonful of the filling at the end of the dough. Fold up into mini triangular spanakopita bites.
- Place your spanakopita triangles on your baking sheet and brush with olive oil or melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake them for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
If you brush your spanakopita triangles with a beaten egg instead of oil, they will have a sheen to them.
How To Fold Spanakopita Triangles
- Cut the phyllo dough into three even sections.
- Spoon one tablespoon of the spinach and feta cheese mixture at the end of each strip
- Grab the corner of the phyllo and form a triangle. Continue folding into you reach the end of the sheet.
How to Serve Spanakopita
While I made this recipe with my daughter in mind, it’s also perfect for the whole family. Spanakopita can be served up warm or cold and in numerous ways, at brunch, as a side dish next to lamb or lemon chicken, or as an appetizer. I prefer it when it’s warm. The spinach is hot, the cheese is soft, and the phyllo is crispy, flakey, and all kinds of wondrous. Serve with a big greek salad my favorite Greek dip, tzatziki.
The traditional ingredients in spanakopita are spinach, feta, and phyllo dough. But there are also substitutes in which you can use if you don’t have all the ingredients on hand.
- Ricotta cheese is the number substitute for feta cheese. Although ricotta is sweeter than fetta, it crumbles very similarly. You can use a mix of equal parts of both feta cheese and ricotta for a salty-sweet flavor.
- For a puffier more buttery crust, you can use pastry puff instead of phyllo dough. Cut the pastry puff into triangles. Spoon the spinach and feta mixture between two sheets of pastry puff and use a fork to press down the edges. Brush with egg wash instead of olive oil.
- Instead of brushing with olive oil, you can brush with butter.
Want To Make This Dish Ahead?
Can spanakopita be frozen?
As much as you may want to eat the whole batch of spanakopita to yourself, you can freeze them before baking instead. Assemble each spinach and feta phyllo triangle, cover in an airtight container, and place in the freezer for up to three months. To bake frozen spanakopita, brush with oil place in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown at 350°F.
Storing in the refrigerator
Can’t eat them all? You can save your leftover spanakopita in the fridge for 2-3 days in an airtight container. To reheat leftovers, bake for 5-7 minutes, at 350°F, or give them a zap in the microwave.
For the Filling
- 200 grams Feta Cheese
- 500 grams Frozen Spinach
- 1 medium White Onion
- 1 medium Leek
- 2 tbsp Dill
- pinch Nutmeg
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
For the Crust
- 18 sheets Phyllo Dough
- Olive Oil For Brushing
- Thaw Phyllo Dough: Place the frozen phyllo dough in the fridge overnight.
- Preheat oven: 350°F or 180°C
- Bake Spinach: Bake the frozen spinach in the oven for about 10 minutes or until completely thawed. Let it cool. Then using a colander, remove as much excess liquid from the spinach as possible.
- Saute leek and onion: While the spinach mixture is baking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the leek and onion until soft and lightly browned. Remove from the heat, add to spinach, and set aside to cool.
- Combine the Filling: In a medium bowl, mix in feta cheese, chopped dill, nutmeg, and spinach mixture.
- Assemble: Open your phyllo dough pack and using one sheet, lay the short side towards yourself, brush with olive oil. Repeat the process, layering two more times, placing the sheets of phyllo dough over the top of each other (3 sheets in total). Cut the phyllo dough layers into three equal sections longways. Add one tablespoon of the cooled spinach filling at the end closest to you.
- Shape your triangles: Starting from the bottom end, fold up into mini spanakopita triangle bites (like pictured) above. Work fast, so your phyllo dough doesn't dry out.
- Bake: Place spanakopita triangles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with sesame seeds—Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Tips for Working with Phyllo Dough: Be sure to thaw phyllo dough in the fridge 12-14 hours before using it. After opening, cover up the remaining phyllo dough with a damp cloth or paper towel to prevent it from drying out.
- Making Spanakopita Ahead: You can freeze spanakopita before baking. Follow the instruction up to step 7. Then place in an airtight container in the freezer for 2-3 months. You don't have to defrost —Bake frozen spanakopita in the oven at 350°F for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Tips for frozen Spinach: This Spanakopita triangles recipe calls for A LOT of spinach. Therefore frozen chopped spinach is preferred. After the spinach has cooled, remove as much excess liquid as possible.
- What to serve with: Spanakopita Triangles make a great side dish to lamb or chicken, compliment a big greek salad, or can be dipped in tzatziki.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Leave a comment or share on Instagram and mention @the.mat.leave.mom
xoxo Alexis & Kirra