Skip to Content

Banitsa Recipe (A Cheesy and Buttery Soft Pastry Dish from Bulgaria with Love)

Sharing is caring!

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more

Our banitsa recipe, a beloved and iconic Bulgarian and Balkans pie, sings to the stomach with each and every wholesome, cheesy, and buttery soft mouthful. It’s ideal to serve at celebrations, parties, and big gatherings, and it is as filling as it is delicious.

Banitsa slice on a plate.

Banitsa Recipe

Embrace Bulgarian tradition and cuisine by preparing this wonderfully filling pastry dish, and treat your family, friends, and loved ones to a slice of pie (or several) that is loaded with flavor enveloped within a delightfully soft and buttery texture.

Banitsa slice on a plate with the rest of the banitsa in the background on a wooden board.

What is Banitsa?

Integral to Bulgarian cuisine, banitsa is a delicious baked pastry dish made of rolled filo pastry, commonly assembled in a spiral formation, with a cheese, egg, and yogurt-based filling.

The dish is an important symbol of Bulgarian cuisine and tradition and is always prepared on Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Often, lucky charms, similar to fortune cookies, are put into the dish before baking, which symbolizes good health and long life to those who find them.

While originating from Bulgaria, the dish, which can also be called banica or banitza, is also prominent in both North Macedonian cuisine and Serbian cuisine.

Our recipe closely follows the traditional preparation of this dish. However, there is plenty of room to adapt the recipe, and many variations exist. These include putting spinach or pumpkin into the filling or drizzling sunflower oil on the pastry layers before baking.

Recipe Ingredients

To make your very own banitsa, you’ll first need the following ingredients:

Banitsa Recipe ingredients.
  • Filo (Phyllo) Dough – 6 sheets*
  • Feta – 300 grams (10.5 oz), crumbled
  • Butter – 100 grams (7 tbsp), cut into tiny cubes
  • Eggs – 4
  • Greek Yoghurt (10%) – 150 grams (5.2 oz or roughly 1/2 cup)
  • Whole Milk – 200 ml (3/4 cups and 2 tbsp)
  • Sunflower Oil (or Light Olive Oil or another neutral-tasting oil) – 30 ml (2 tbsp)
  • Baking Soda – 1/2 tsp

*Note: We used 6 sheets for our 9-inch round baking pan. Adjust accordingly if your pan is bigger.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1 – Mix 3 eggs, the oil, the baking soda, and the yogurt in a medium-sized bowl.

Banitsa Recipe Step by Step (mixing the eggs, oil, yogurt, and baking soda).

Give everything a rigorous mix, ideally with a whisk.

Banitsa Recipe Step by Step (mixing the eggs, oil, yogurt, and baking soda with a whisk).

Once mixed, you should have a smooth, yellow-colored mixture, as shown below.

Banitsa Recipe Step by Step (mixed the eggs, oil, yogurt, and baking soda).

Step 2 – Add the crumbled feta cheese to the egg-yogurt mixture. We prefer getting our feta whole and crumbling it with a fork rather than buying the cheese pre-crumbled.

Banitsa Recipe Step by Step (adding the feta cheese).
Banitsa Recipe Step by Step (the eggs, oil, yogurt, and baking soda mixture with feta cheese).

Step 3 – On each filo sheet, add some of the egg-cheese mixture. If using our measurements and a 9-inch pan, then use about 1/6 of the egg-cheese mixture on each filo dough sheet.

Banitsa Recipe Step by Step (assembling the filo sheets with the cheese mixture).

Step 4 – Add tiny cubes of butter on each filo dough sheet. Again, if using our measurements, you’ll be using 1/6 of the butter on each filo sheet. Take the short edge of the filo dough, and roll each sheet (as shown below).

Banitsa Recipe Step by Step (assembling the filo sheets with the cheese mixture and butter).

Step 5 – In the round baking pan (which should be either lined with baking paper or greased with some oil or melted butter so the filo dough doesn’t stick to the bottom), add each rolled sheet (as shown below).

Banitsa Recipe Step by Step (the filo rolled in the pan).

Repeat with each rolled filo dough sheet.

Banitsa Recipe Step by Step (the filo pastry sheets rolled in the pan).

Step 6 – Mix the milk with the remaining egg with a whisk or fork.

Banitsa Recipe Step by Step (mixing the milk and egg).

Step 7 – Pour the egg and milk mixture over the banitsa.

Banitsa Recipe Step by Step (pouring the milk-egg mixture over the banitsa).

Step 8 – Poke holes with a fork so that the banitsa absorbs the milk better.

Banitsa Recipe Step by Step (poking holes with a fork in the banitsa).

Step 9 – Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F) and place the banitsa in the oven for about 50 minutes. Place it on a lower level so it doesn’t burn the top. Check on it from time to time.

Banitsa Recipe Step by Step (banitsa ready out of the oven).

Once ready, your banitsa should have a beautiful golden brown crusted exterior, and is ready to serve to your family or dinner guests.

Banitsa on a wooden board.

Texturally, banitsa is such an eye-catching dish. While it can be baked in a square format, there is just something almost hypnotic about the authentic spiral bake, which draws you in with its golden brown and yellow hues and flaked, folded crust.

Banitsa on a wooden board.

But then the real magic of this dish ignites when you cut through the pastry to reveal the moist, melt-in-mouth filling, with its weaving filo sheets and spots of white crumbled cheese, the edges and curves glistening against the light.

Take in that freshly baked aroma, and get ready for a moan or two when a piece of that buttery soft pie glides along your tastebuds. Bulgarians know how to do comforting food, that’s for sure!

Banitsa slice.

What to Serve with Banitsa

Ayran – Enjoy a slice or two of this pie either piping hot from the oven with a glass of ayran, a yogurt-based fermented drink.

Natural or Plain Yogurt – Can’t find ayran? Try it with a dollop of natural yogurt, plain yogurt, or Greek yogurt, for a cool side to the pastry.

Side Salad/Vegetables – For a pick-me-up snack, have a slice of banitsa with a side of salad or vegetables once it’s cooled down, quiche-style.

However you eat it, you, your family, and dinner guests are truly in for a wholesome lunch or dinner from the heart of Bulgaria!

Banitsa Recipe Card

Banitsa

Banitsa
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • Filo (Phyllo) Dough – 6 sheets*
  • Feta – 300 grams (10.5 oz), crumbled
  • Butter – 100 grams (7 tbsp), cut into tiny cubes
  • Eggs – 4
  • Greek Yoghurt (10%) – 150 grams (5.2 oz or roughly 1/2 cup)
  • Whole Milk – 200 ml (3/4 cups and 2 tbsp)
  • Sunflower Oil (or Light Olive Oil or another neutral-tasting oil) – 30 ml (2 tbsp)
  • Baking Soda – 1/2 tsp

Instructions

  1. Using a whisk or a fork, mix 3 eggs, the oil, the baking soda, and the yogurt in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Add the crumbled feta cheese to the egg-yogurt mixture.
  3. On each filo sheet, add some of the egg-cheese mixture. If using our measurements and a 9-inch pan, then use about 1/6 of the egg-cheese mixture on each filo dough sheet.
  4. Add tiny cubes of butter on each filo dough sheet. Again, if using our measurements, you’ll be using 1/6 of the butter on each filo sheet. Take the short edge of the filo dough, and roll each sheet (as shown below).
  5. In the round baking pan (which should be either lined with baking paper or greased with some oil or melted butter so the filo dough doesn’t stick to the bottom), add each rolled sheet like a spiral (as shown below). Repeat with each rolled filo dough sheet until the round pan is full (as shown below).
  6. Mix the milk with the remaining egg with a whisk or fork.
  7. Pour the egg and milk mixture over the banitsa.
  8. Poke holes with a fork so that the banitsa absorbs the milk better.
  9. Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F) and place the banitsa in the oven for about 50 minutes. Place it on a lower level so it doesn’t burn the top. Once ready, your banitsa should have a beautiful golden brown crusted exterior, and is ready to serve to your family or dinner guests.

You Might Also Like to Read

Save and Pin for Later

Breakfast will never be the same again! Keep my banitsa recipe in a safe place by saving it to one of your international food boards.

Banitsa Recipe Pin

Contributor: Efimia is a passionate home chef and teacher, from Moldova, who has been baking, cooking, and making a vast array of Eastern European and Balkans dishes from her humble home kitchen for over four decades.

Author

  • Hey there! We are Dale and Doina, the founders of Nomad Paradise. We traveled full-time for over three years, and while we now have a home base in the U.K., continue to take trips abroad to visit new places and try new cuisines and foods. Our food guides are curated with the guidance of local foodies, and their contribution is indicated under each article. We also cook the foods we try abroad, and you can discover how to make them in our 'recipes from around the world' category.

Sharing is caring!

Velina Bobtcheva Onissiforou

Saturday 30th of December 2023

Very good recipe. Next time I will make it with a little bit less butter and let’s not forget it’s Bulgarian recipe, so do it with Bulgarian yogurt.

Sonia

Tuesday 29th of August 2023

This was delicious but needed something else. It was a bit too plain. Next time I will add some herbs like dill and spring onions to give it more flavour and some colour. Will definitely make it again as it was very easy.

Skip to Recipe