Banitsa is the queen that dominates Bulgarian cuisine! Everyone in the country knows and loves this traditional dish.
Other Balkan countries offer different variations of it, and you can find it in many forms and flavors. We will show you the easiest Banitsa recipe that you can make at home.
What is Banitsa?
For a traditional version of Banitsa that is simple and classic, layers of buttered phyllo pastry are covered with eggs, yogurt and white cheeses, like sirene and feta. You can fill this pie with a variety of savory or sweet fillings, as well as with the classic cheese filling.
As far as sweet Banitsa varieties go, there is tikvenik—filled with pumpkins—another with apples, strudel, or mlecna Banitsa—prepared by soaking pastry sheets in milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract.
In Bulgaria, you can sometimes find Banitsa filled with lucky charms, coins or pieces of paper that have wishes written on them, which is especially popular during the holiday season.
Originally, the Bulgarian word Banitsa comes from the South Slavic word (гъбнѫти) and means “to fold”. Banitsa is regarded as a symbol of Bulgarian cuisine and tradition.
Among the Banitsa, Börek is their oldest ancestor. In fact, the Banitsa is simply one of the numerous varieties of börek.
Borek, Burek, Beurek and Bourek are all names for the same savory pastry, which is popular in all ancient countries of the Ottoman Empire.
Since the Middle Ages, Albanians, Serbs, Bulgarians, and Greeks have been preparing börek. Turkish nomads moved into the Mediterranean basin when the Ottoman Turks adopted Byzantine cuisine and popularized it.
Banitsa is a simple dish that can feed a large group of people. You can also add ground beef or cooked butternut squash to produce variations.
Apples, which make this Banitsa comparable to apple pie or strudel, or pumpkin with brown sugar, almonds and cinnamon are among the sweet contents. Strudel is the apple variation, and tikvenik (тиквеник) is the pumpkin variant.
You will find out a super simple but amazing and traditional Banitsa recipe below!
Banitsa Recipe Ingredients
- 1 package phyllo dough (400 g)
- 3/4 pound / 350 g feta cheese
- 7 eggs
- 1 cup / 250 g plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup / 120 ml water
- 4 tablespoons butter melted or avocado oil
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Banitsa Recipe Step-By-Step Instructions
Add Ingredients In A Large Bowl And Mix
Break up the feta cheese with a fork as much as possible in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the eggs thoroughly. Then, along with the baking soda, add yogurt and mix again. Then stir in the melted butter or oil until thoroughly combined. Finally, pour in the water and stir well.
Cover The Bottom Of The Pan With Mixture
Use two spoons of the mixture to lightly cover the bottom of your largest baking pan from edge to edge. The idea is that the phyllo sticks to the Banitsa so that it doesn’t fall out when it’s flipped upside down after baking.
Start Adding The Phyllo Sheets
Place one sheet of phyllo dough in the pan and scrunch it into a loose ball. Continue until the bottom of the pan is completely coated (about 7 sheets). Add about half of the egg mixture using a spoon, making sure to cover the phyllo layer completely.
Then, for the second layer, add more crinkled phyllo sheets on top (about 5 sheets). Pour the remaining egg mixture on top (making sure to save 4–5 tablespoons).
Add three more sheets of phyllo flat across the top of the pan, tucking the edges of the phyllo down the pan’s edge. Spoon the remaining egg mixture over the top layer, making sure it is completely saturated.
Preheat Oven And Bake Until Deep Golden Brown
Preheat the oven to 390F/200C and leave the Banitsa at room temperature for 15 minutes before baking for 26–30 minutes, or until the top is deep golden brown. If the top becomes too dark, cover it with a sheet of tin foil or parchment paper.
Remove From Oven And Flip Upside Down
Remove the Banitsa from the oven and carefully flip it over. It’s easier if you rest the pan on a couple of dishes, leaving a gap between the pan and the counter while it’s upside down. You can forgo flipping the Banitsa over, but it will deflate and lose its fluffiness.
Let it Cool For 20 Minutes
Allow it cool for 20 minutes upside down before eating and enjoy!
Banitsa usually goes with yogurt. Some people enjoy it for breakfast with boza, a fermented sweet wheat beverage popular in Bulgaria. Banitsa can also be served for lunch or dinner with a fresh salad.
Banitsa is a dish that everyone will enjoy, regardless of how it is served. You can even make it at home with this simple recipe! Enjoy!
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Jadranka Y. and Pero K. Foodies, lovers. Jadranka is the queen of pastries and sweets, whereas Pero is the prince of meat and potatoes.
They met at 15, while working in the kitchen of a famous chef here in the Balkans, and have been together ever since.
But they still love each other and are faithful till death or until one messes up their dish. Which happens quite often if you ask anyone of them.
Love is a battlefield and Jadranka and Pero decide who wins, in the kitchen.