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Spanakopita & Tiropita ...YiaYia approved!

With this post, I will stretch YOUR Greek table (and your waistline) a little bit more, because for Greeks it's never enough food 🤦‍♀️. Two tasty appetizers I am sharing with you are Spanakopita and Tiropita. Although they may sound foreign, you might better recognize them as spinach pies and cheese pies, respectively. While both are commonly sold in the freezer section of many grocery stores, those CERTAINLY do not hold a candle to the HOMEMADE variety. No comparison!! With homemade spanakopita and tiropita, YOU control the quality of ingredients, YOU control the types of cheeses, YOU control the herbs and spices. Once you learn how to make them, you will be reluctant to settle for the store-bought offerings, unless you are really pressed for time. However, the nice feature of both of these appetizers is that they freeze extremely well. So when you do have time, make them and stock your freezer to have them available for your convenience and unexpected guests.


Spanakopita are savory spinach and cheese-filled pastries with a delicious balance of aromatic herbs like dill, mint, and scallions. There are different presentations of it, such as sandwiching the spinach filling between two layers of phyllo, some on the top and some on the bottom, then baking it in a baking dish and cutting it into squares or pie-shaped wedges. This style is commonly referred to as 'Spinach Pie'. Another presentation is the more tedious construction of individual triangles which are what I prefer because I think they look more attractive and can be handled easier as bite-sized finger-foods. Tiropita are of the same concept as Spanakopita, but with more cheese varieties and quantities, and without spinach. Tiropita are also savory and have a bold bite offered by the various cheeses. Both make for perfect appetizers or snacks.


A key ingredient that you will incorporate into BOTH spanakopita and tiropita is feta cheese. This is a sharp and briny cheese made of sheep's milk. I highly recommend good quality feta, ideally bigger chunks or blocks that are sold in brine. I buy the Dodoni Feta (at Costco). This feta is imported from Greece and has a 'Protected Designation of Origin' classification. There are 4 chunks that come in each container. While you will need to crumble the chunks by hand, this is preferred so that YOU can control the size of the crumbles. If you purchase a container of pre-crumbled feta, you will likely find that it is too finely crumbled.


Phyllo is another key ingredient. While this dough can be homemade, with flour, salt, water, olive oil, and baking powder, it is far more convenient to purchase commercially-made phyllo sheets from your local market in their freezer section. Be sure to purchase the LARGE (LONG) sheets. The leaves of phyllo are very thin, fragile, and delicate. They do dry out easily, so it is important to keep them moist either with a damp towel until ready to assemble, or by basting them well with the butter-olive oil mixture.


Historically, spinach and phyllo were both introduced into the region of Greece during the Byzantine years. Nonetheless, spanakopita, as we know it today, more likely dates to the years that Greece was occupied by the Ottoman Empire, beginning in the 15th century. The Ottomans excelled at working with phyllo dough, also know to them as Yufka dough. They used this dough for savory pies like börek, as well as desserts like baklava, both of which are Ottoman specialties.


Spanakopita Recipe

Ingredients: (quantity about 50)


1 lb. box phyllo

2 x 16 oz containers of baby spinach leaves

1 lb. feta cheese

1/2 lb. ricotta cheese

1 cup scallions, finely chopped

1 cup fresh dill, finely chopped

1 cup fresh mint, finely chopped

4 whole eggs

2 sticks unsalted butter

1/3 cup olive oil

salt and black pepper to taste


Thaw out the frozen phyllo to room temperature.


Sort through spinach leaves removing thicker stems. Wash spinach thoroughly and then coarsely chop. Put them into a large bowl. Sprinkle the spinach leaves with about 3 Tbsp salt. Work the salt through the spinach leaves and let it sit for about 15 minutes until the spinach wilts down and renders its water.



In the meantime wash scallions, dill, and mint well. Finely chop 1 cup of each, using both the whites and the greens of the scallions.


Into a separate large bowl COARSELY crumble the feta. Add the ricotta cheese. Season with freshly ground black pepper.


Return your attention to the spinach. Aggressively squeeze out the excess water from spinach leaves and add the squeezed-out leaves to the cheese mixture. Now add the scallions, dill, and mint. Mix together to combine the ingredients. Beat the eggs together in a small bowl with a fork and add them to the spinach-cheese mixture, as well. Mix well.



Melt the butter on the stove. Remove from heat and add the olive oil to the butter. Mix well.


Clean and dry the working surface thoroughly. Lay out parchment paper. Remove phyllo from packaging and open the rolled phyllo to lay flat over parchment paper. Cut the phyllo sheets along their LONG axis with a knife or pizza wheel into 5 equal-width strips (~2.25" wide strips). Baste the top layer of phyllo generously with the butter-olive oil mixture.



Using a SMALL ice cream scooper, place one scoop of the spinach mixture on each strip, approximately 2" from the end. Carefully identify and separate only TWO phyllo layers from the end. (Using a knife may help with that endeavor). Begin the folding process with the TWO layers of phyllo, as if folding a flag into a triangle, working from one end to the other.




When reaching the end of the strip, lift away from the underlying phyllo layers and use the butter-oil mixture to seal the end closed. Lay onto wax paper with seam side down and lightly baste the top of the triangle. Repeat this process with the remaining four strips. Then re-butter the entire phyllo surface and repeat the sequence with 5 new scoops of spinach mixture, one per strip.


You can bake immediately at 400 F for about 30 minutes OR place them UNBAKED into freezer containers for future use. When baking them from a frozen state, may take 40 minutes.


(If freezing some, be sure to place either wax paper or freezer paper between the layers of spanakopita in your plastic container so that they do not stick together in the freezer.)


Download Spanakopita recipepdf



Tiropita Recipe

Ingredients: (quantity about 50)


1 lb. box phyllo

1 1/2 lb. feta cheese

1 lb. ricotta cheese

1 lb. pepper jack cheese

6 whole eggs

2 sticks unsalted butter

1/3 cup olive

black pepper to taste


Thaw out the frozen phyllo to room temperature.


Coarsely crumble the feta into a large bowl. Add the ricotta. Coarsely grate the pepper jack cheese on a box grater and add to the other cheeses. Mix the three kinds of cheeses together. Season with some freshly ground black pepper.


Beat the eggs together in a small bowl with a fork and add them to the cheese mixture. Mix well.


Melt the butter on the stove. Remove from heat and add the olive oil to the butter. Mix well.


Clean and dry the working surface thoroughly. Lay out parchment paper. Remove phyllo from packaging and open the rolled phyllo to lay flat over parchment paper. Cut the phyllo sheets along their LONG axis with a knife or pizza wheel into 5 equal-width strips (~2.25" wide strips). Baste the top layer of phyllo generously with the butter-olive oil mixture.


Using a SMALL ice cream scooper, place one scoop of the cheese mixture on each strip, approximately 2" from the end. Carefully identify and separate only TWO phyllo layers from the end. (Using a knife may help with that endeavor). Begin the folding process with the TWO layers of phyllo, as if folding a flag into a triangle, working from one end to the other.


When reaching the end of the strip, lift away from the underlying phyllo layers and use the butter-oil mixture to seal the end closed. Lay onto wax paper with seam side down and lightly baste the top of the triangle. Repeat this process with the remaining four strips. Then re-butter the entire phyllo surface and repeat the sequence with 5 new scoops of cheese mixture, one per strip.


You can bake immediately at 400 F for about 30 minutes OR place them UNBAKED into freezer containers for future use. When baking them from a frozen state, may take 40 minutes.


(If freezing some, be sure to place either wax paper or freezer paper between the layers of tiropita in your plastic container so that they do not stick together in the freezer.)


Download Tiropita recipepdf




Both spanakopita and tiropita taste delicious and are wonderful to have available in your freezer, ready to bake for ANY occasion. While the assembly can be a bit tedious and time-consuming, the pay-off is well worth it. I attached several photos and videos to help you better understand the steps of assembly. I learned these recipes from my Greek mother-in-law, our family's YiaYia, who is even featured in some of the videos. I hope you give them a try and enjoy them. I'll be adding to YOUR Greek table again soon. Stay tuned!!

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