Cheese Börek with Spinach

By Lee Jackson ↣ Published on: January 21, 2024

Last Updated: January 22nd, 20240 Comments on Cheese Börek with Spinach

This beloved coiled pie recipe is enjoyed across the Balkans, Europe and The Middle East. Thin layers of crunchy filo or yufka pastry wrap around salty cheese and earthy spinach. A magnificent combination of texture, fragrance and flavour. Learn how easy homemade Turkish börek is to make yourself.

A coiled Turkish Börek on a baking sheet, scattered with sesame and nigella seeds.

If, like me you're a fan of pie then Turkish börek may well just be the most delicious recipe you'll ever encounter. Thin layers of pastry are filled with salty cheese and earthy spinach, rolled into sausage shapes then coiled and backed to crisp perfection.

This cheese börek features a delicious blend of Turkish cheese (peynir). I use a regular Piknik Peynir, which is the Turkish equivalent of Feta, so it's completely fine to use Feta too. I also pair it with an aged peynir called Erzican Tulum, a tangy crumbly sheep cheese (typically aged in a sheep stomach (sounds gross, tastes sensational). You can use all feta if that's easier - just combine the weights in the recipe for quantity.

The results are a wonderful combination of salty cheese, earthy spinach and the crisp, buttery pastry. Fantastic as a snack or portable lunch and completely addictive! I also love a warm slice for breakfast.

What's Ahead?

A coiled Turkish Börek on a baking sheet, scattered with sesame and nigella seeds.

What is Börek?

Börek is a savoury pastry with Turkish origins, enjoyed for its versatile fillings and flaky layers of thin pastry. Typically made with yufka or filo sheets, the dish features a variety of fillings such as minced meat, cheese, spinach, or a combination of these ingredients.

Börek's preparation involves layering the pastry with the chosen filling, creating a spiral, coiled, or layered. Börek is widely enjoyed in Turkey and the broader Balkan, Middle Eastern, and Central Asian regions.

The pie originates from the Ottoman Empire and its vast geographical region created many variations. It goes by many names from, North Africa, to the Middle East, Balkans and Central Europe, including: Burek, Byurek, Böreği, Börekas, Banitsa, Brik, Börekpogača, Boereg, Burma, Börik and Tiropita.

Why it works?

It's easy - Don't let the appearance fool you into thinking this is a difficult recipe. It's super easy - if you can roll a sausage with the thin pastry, you're all set.

The texture - The crisp yufka (or filo) pastry creates a wonderfully flaky texture like a super refined puff-pastry, and the salty, earthy flavours of cheese and spinach are something else!

The ingredients for a Turkish cheese börek pie with cheese and spinach: two types of Turkish cheese, yufka pastry, spinach and more.

Stuff You'll Need

Introductory sentence + ingredients

  • Yufka pastry - yufka pastry is a thin wheat pastry from Turkey and can be found in many Middle Eastern delis (typically frozen if outside of Turkey). If you can't get hold of yufka, use filo pastry but use two sheets as it's thinner than yufka.
  • Cheese (Peynir) - I use a combination of two Turkish cheeses Beyaz Peynir, which is very similar to feta cheese (often labelled Piknik Beyaz Peynir) and Erzican Tulum Peyniri, an aged sheep's cheese which is crumbly and tangy in flavour. Fear not if you can't find these cheeses - you can use all feta cheese too.
  • Spinach - feta and spinach are a tried and tested power-couple. They have a very happy marriage!
  • Onion - For a little sweet savoury, a bit of onion adds some backbone to the filling.
  • The slick - a mix of melted butter, yoghurt and milk that I call 'the slick'. We 'Jackson Pollock' it all over each yufka sheet to help create crisp separation of the layers (much like butter in puff-pastry does). It ensures that the layers don't just clump together, creating a splendid crunchy texture.
  • Egg, sesame seeds and Nigella seeds - a quick egg wash and sprinkling of seeds are traditional.
Frying onion in a pan
Wilting spinach in a pan with soft onion.
Combining two types of Turkish cheese and cookked spinach.
Yufka pastry scattered with a mixture of melted butter, yoghurt and milk.
Making a row of cheese and spinach on top of yufka pastry that has been scattered with a mixture of melted butter, yoghurt and milk.
Rolling up the yufka pastry stuffed with cheese and feta into a thin sausage shape.
beginning to coil a sausage of stuffed yufka pastry to make a Turkish börek pie.
Coiling sausages of pastry stuffed with cheese and spinach then scattering with sesame and nigella seeds

Step by Step

Making Cheese Börek is FUN! You can't fail to enjoy rolling and coiling this pastry, and you needn't worry about being too perfect - rustic is absolutely fine.

Not shown in the pictures is a pre-step of mixing together the melted butter, yoghurt and milk to create 'the slick' (I forgot to photograph!).

  1. Step 1 - Fry off a little onion until lightly golden.
  2. Step 2 - Add the spinach and let it wilt. Remove from the pan and let it cool. Tip onto a clean tea towel and squeeze out the excess water then add to a bowl.
  3. Step 3 - Using your hands, mix the spinach with the crumbled cheese and a little pepper
  4. Step 4 - Unroll a sheet of yufka (see the section below on how to best deal with this paper thin pastry) and splash randomly with the slick.
  5. Step 5 - make a thin row of cheese mixture near the bottom of the pastry sheet.
  6. Step 6 - Loosely roll the pastry upwards to create a sausage shape.
  7. Step 7 - On a 14" round baking sheet (a pizza tray) create a coil from the centre outwards.

Repeat this process until you've used up all the cheese. Join the sausage shapes together as best you can. Finally, tuck the end of the last sausage under the finished coil.

I used two sheets of yufka but they come in different shapes and sizes so you may use more or less. Filo pastry tends to be smaller, so you will use more. As I mentioned earlier, if you're using filo, brush one sheet with the slick and then place another on top and brush or splash over more of the slick.

A close up of a Turkish Börek on a baking sheet, scattered with sesame and nigella seeds.

Pro Tips - working with and surrendering to Yufka pastry.

Thin pastry like yufka or filo can be a bit of a nightmare to deal with. You need a very delicate touch to avoid it being utterly destroyed. Here's the deal though, it doesn't matter! This recipe is rustic and yufka pastry is in credibly forgiving. Being rolled means that any breakages to the surface no matter how drastic they are, will be OK when rolled into a pie.

Drying out is the biggest problem with yufka, so here are a few tips to make your life somewhat easier.

  1. Defrosting - defrost the pastry overnight in the fridge. This helps a lot.
  2. Tea towel - Have a damp tea towel to cover the remaining yufka sheets when you're working. Not wet, just lightly damp.
  3. Gentle touch - try not to get too frustrated when it tears or breaks up. I generally have one sheet that looks like an old treasure map, but NEVER throw it away, patching and rolling will be fine, in fact yufka that breaks up often adds to the crunchy texture.
  4. Work quickly - don't take the pastry out and then begin the recipe. Take it out exactly when you need it and work at a good pace.

Serving Suggestions

Cheese Börek is a great snack on its own or as a light lunch with a simple salad. I enjoy mine both at room temperature or hot. You can serve it straight from the oven but I actually think börek is better reheated in the oven. Cut it into the slice you want and reheat in a hot oven for 5-10 minutes. The pie will be even crunchier than before.

I like to serve a slice of börek as a breakfast, brunch or lunch. If I'm eating a slice a lunchtime, I'll serve a simple green salad on the side.


  • Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days and reheat in a 200ºc/400ºF oven for 5-10 minutes when needed.
  • Freeze the pie before cooking and cook from frozen (add the egg wash and sesame at this stage too) - add 10 minutes to the cooking time.
  • Freeze after cooking and reheat for 10-15 minutes (lightly covered with foil) in a 200ºC/400ºF oven.
A close up of a Turkish Börek on a baking sheet, scattered with sesame and nigella seeds.

Ready to get cooking?

Cheese Börek is one of the tastiest and simplest pie recipes ever. The pastry is the star of the show, but the salty cheese comes a very close second. A slice of börek takes me back to Turkey and all the wonderful fillings like ground meat, potato, egg, lentils, pumkin, olives and more.

The cheese börek with spinach is my most favourite and making it at home is something I do regularly. Keep your eyes peeled for Yufka pastry, but filo is easy to find and a good alternative when the sheets are doubled up. Hope you enjoy the recipe.

A  slice of a coiled Turkish Börek on a baking sheet, scattered with sesame and nigella seeds.
A coiled Turkish Börek on a baking sheet, scattered with sesame and nigella seeds.

Any Questions? (FAQ)

Have a question about Börek? Let me know in the comments.

What is Turkish Börek?

Turkish Börek is a pastry filled with ingredients like cheese, spinach, or meat, enveloped in thin dough. It's popular in Turkish cuisine for its diverse fillings.

How is Börek traditionally served?

Börek is often served in various shapes, such as rolls or layered sheets. It can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature, commonly as a snack or meal.

Can Börek be made with sweet fillings?

Yes, sweet variations of Börek exist, featuring ingredients like sweetened cheese or nuts. These versions offer a delightful blend of sweet and savoury flavours.

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A  slice of a coiled Turkish Börek on a baking sheet, scattered with sesame and nigella seeds.

Cheese Börek with Spinach

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5 from 1 vote
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Recipe by Lee
Course Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Turkish
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 6
Calories (per serving) | 614



  • Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF
  • Heat olive oil and fry onion until translucent. Add the spinach and wilt. Cool, tip onto a clean tea towel, then squeeze out excess water. Set aside to cool.
  • Mix the cooled spinach with the cheeses and pepper. Set aside.
  • Melt the butter then whisk in the yoghurt and milk. Season lightly with salt.
  • Spread out one sheet of yufka pastry and splash all over with the yoghurt mixture and brush to coat the sheet.
  • Using the cheese mix, make a long thin sausage (about 2” wide) along the bottom edge of the pastry and then roll upwards to make a long sausage.
  • Coil the sausage from the centre of a round baking tray (a pizza tray).
  • Make another sausage from a sheet of yufka and cheese. Begin coiling again from where you left off to create a larger circle. Continue to add more pastry sausages to the pie until the cheese mix runs out. Tuck the final end under the coil a little.
  • Brush generously with the beaten egg then sprinkle the börek with sesame and nigella seeds and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
  • Rest for 10 minutes before serving. You can also serve at room temperature.


  • Reheat börek slices for 5-10 minutes in a 200ºC/400ºF oven.
  • Freeze uncooked (without the egg wash or seeds added). When ready, brush with the egg wash and seeds and cook in a 200ºC/400ºF oven for 45-50 minutes.
  • Freeze cooked - Reheat in a 200ºC/400ºF oven lightly covered with foil.
Leftover börek will stay fresh in the fridge for 5-6 days, covered in foil or plastic wrap. You can eat it cold, but it will lose the crunchiness. A quick reheat in the oven will bring the börek back to life.
Alternative fillings are varied. The key as with any pie is to keep an eye on the moisture content. The wetter the ingredients, the more you run the risk of a soggy börek. I make börek with a varied array of ingredients. Try:
  • Cooked lentils with olives and cheese and herbs
  • Ground lamb or beef or chopped chicken cooked with cumin, cinnamon, pine nuts and spinach or cavolo nero cabbage
  • Flaked salmon with feta/peynir dill and pine nuts or chopped walnuts.
There are so many options and there's no wrong combination. Have fun and experiment, just remember to keep the filling fairly dry.


Calories: 614kcal (31%) | Carbohydrates: 57g (19%) | Protein: 21g (42%) | Fat: 34g (52%) | Saturated Fat: 17g (106%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 106mg (35%) | Sodium: 1597mg (69%) | Potassium: 395mg (11%) | Fiber: 3g (13%) | Sugar: 1g (1%) | Vitamin A: 4340IU (87%) | Vitamin C: 13mg (16%) | Calcium: 485mg (49%) | Iron: 5mg (28%)
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