Banitsa is a traditional Bulgarian cheese pie made with cheese, yogurt and eggs. It’s perfect for breakfast or as a snack and it’s best enjoyed warm!
This savory pie is easy to make and so good!
Bulgarian banica is traditionally prepared with homemade filo sheets, Bulgarian cheese (Sirene), and of course Bulgarian yogurt.
If you know a store that stocks Bulgarian products, I would recommend using them for the most authentic experience. Feta and Greek yogurt are the closest and widely used substitutions and they work really well.
This simple pastry pie has a few other variations depending on ingredients used: cabbage, spinach or pumpkin are other favorites.
How to make banitsa
Mix crumbled Feta cheese, with yogurt, eggs and baking soda. Lay a sheet of filo pastry on your worktop, spoon some of the filling over (you can spread it slightly) and roll. This is then rolled into a snail like shape and placed in a greased oven-proof dish.
Depending on what shape or look you would like your banitsa to be, you can “assemble” it in a few ways.
How to assemble banitsa?
3 easy ways to prepare this Bulgarian cheese pie for baking:
Individual “snails” – these can be easily pulled apart once cooked. The method of rolling is the same as rolling cinnamon buns.
One large snail – the traditional banitsa recipe would be made like this. This large cheese pie can be easily sliced like a cake or small pieces can be torn away.
Lasagna style – instead of rolling the filo sheets, you would just layer them on top of each other like you would do with lasagna.
Tips for making the best banitza
- Each filo pastry sheet needs only a little bit of the feta filling. Adding way too much of it will result in a very salty banica. Now that being said, you can double the filling and add more, if you like.
- You don’t have to cover the whole area of the filo sheet with the mixture.
- When rolling the Filo sheets are very fragile so avoid using pressure when rolling them into a sausage.
- Cooking time may vary. There are many things that affect this from the size of your oven to its quality, the size of your pie as well as the oven-proof dish/pan you use (they all conduct heat differently). For that reason, if you are making banitsa for the first time, cook it on a lower rack and increase cooking time if not golden brown and puffed on top.
- Use unsalted butter!
More breakfast recipes from around the world:
Greek yogurt breakfast bowl – Visit Greece and you will come across this rich and healthy breakfast!
Ham and cheese pockets – you’ll find these at any Irish deli counter. They are tasty, filling, and the crowd’s favorite.
If you ever visit Bulgaria, make sure to taste the real deal. And, shopska salad is another Bulgarian food worth trying.
This is an old post that has been recently updated with new process photos, a quick video, and much useful information.
Check out our video for how to make banitsa:
- Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit (175° Celsius).
- Meanwhile, take a round oven-proof dish and grease it with oil or butter and set aside.
- Put drained feta in a mixing bowl and crumble it with a fork (or your fingers). Add yogurt, eggs and baking soda and mix everything well. Set aside.
- Spread one sheet of phyllo (filo) pastry on a clean work top, the wider side facing you. Brush some melted butter over the sheet.
- Spoon some of the Feta mixture over and spread around a little. Lift the edge closest to you and roll/fold into a “sausage”.
- Now, roll this into a snail (like you would when making cinnamon rolls). Place the “snail” in the middle of your oven dish/cake pan.
- Repeat step 4 with another phyllo sheet. When ready, place it in the cake pan, just around the first “snail” and repeat with the rest of the sheets until you fill up you cake pan.
- When done, pour the leftover melted butter over banitsa. Transfer the pan in the oven and bake at 350° Fahrenheit (175° Celsius) for 25 minutes or until puffed and golden brown on top.
- When ready, take it out and let it cool slightly before slicing.
- This recipe can be easily doubled.
- I used a 9-inch (23-centimeters round cake pan. You can use a different assembling method. To see it, check the process photos above this recipe card. The post above this recipe card includes 3 simple ways how you can prepare banitsa for baking.