One of the most delicious things ever, but definitely a labor of love.
You can go right ahead and blame the phyllo dough for this one. It’s one of those mystery doughs – I have no idea how they get it like that, but I’m not going to question it. The ONE THING you need to remember when working with phyllo dough is: BUTTER. And a damp towel. So ok, maybe TWO THINGS.
If you don’t keep phyllo dough moist, it cracks. Like into crispy shards. It’s some kind of dark magic. So you need to cover the phyllo dough with parchment paper, then a damp kitchen towel on top of that. See video below.
It takes a minute or two to get into a rhythm with it but once you do, it’ll be easy! To that end, highly recommend a pastry brush with real bristles for buttering the phyllo – the silicone kind will rip it apart while brushing. Not a good look. Check them out here on my Amazon store.
My secret ingredient for spanakopita is a little bit of cream cheese. Pause for reaction and gasps from my fellow Greeks. Listen. It’s tangy and creamy, what’s not to like? A lot of people use eggs as a binder but I don’t really like that texture unless I’m making it in pan form (because it holds up better). Plus, if you don’t use raw egg, you can save any leftover spinach/feta mixture to make omelettes or dip or whatever! Win win.
Last note: DON’T use the packaged feta crumbles. They’re usually dry and spongey. Buy the real feta cheese (the kind that sits in water) and crumble it with clean hands. Trust me, it makes a big difference!
Air Fryer Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)
- 3 packages (10 oz each) frozen, chopped spinach
- 3 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 5-6 scallions, chopped
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill (or 1 tsp dried dill weed)
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt (more if needed)
- 4 oz (1/2 package) cream cheese
- 8 oz (1/2 lb) feta cheese block, crumbled and divided
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 package phyllo dough (Athens brand is good)
- Leave your phyllo dough in its protective sleeve on the counter to thaw at room temperature for a couple hours, or in the fridge (but will take way longer in the fridge).
- Over medium-low heat, add the water and frozen spinach blocks to a large skillet/pan. Cook until all the spinach is thawed out. You can also just let the spinach sit out in their packages and thaw at room temperature. Turn off heat and put it into a mesh strainer over a bowl to drain out some of the water. Wait for it to cool a bit and wipe out the skillet.
- Once it’s cool enough to handle, use a clean towel and, working in batches, squeeze the liquid out of the spinach. I do this by grabbing handfuls of the spinach, placing it in the middle of the towel, and wringing it out. Again, a bit of a process, but necessary! Put the dried clumps of spinach in a bowl and set aside.
- In the same skillet, add the 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp butter over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions. Cook for 4-5 minutes until translucent. Add the scallions and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Add oregano, nutmeg, dill, and salt.
- Add the spinach to the pan and stir to combine with the onion/scallion mixture. Add the cream cheese and spread around with the back of your wooden spoon (as you can see above in the TikTok video). It should start to look creamy and a bit lighter in color.
- Add 1/2 the feta cheese to the pan and stir into the spinach mixture and add the parm if you’re using it. I like to melt in the first half of the feta cheese, then turn off the heat and wait a few minutes before adding the rest. This way you get nice little chunks of feta in your spanakopita! If you don’t care for that, add it all in at once. No judgment.
- Phyllo time! Unroll your phyllo dough carefully. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of it, then a damp kitchen towel on top of the parchment. Pull back the towel and parchment (again, work quickly!) to cut the phyllo dough into thirds. You want long pieces, about 2-3 inches thick to make triangles. Cover the phyllo with the parchment and towel whenever you’re not using it.
- Melt the stick of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, being careful not to burn or turn it into brown butter.
- Lay out a piece of parchment paper on your counter to work with the phyllo dough (so you don’t get butter all over your countertop or cutting board). Makes for easy cleanup!
- Grab 2 strips of the phyllo dough and lay them on top of each other on the parchment. 2 pieces is usually good for me, but you can use 3 (I like less phyllo/more filling). Brush all the way down, carefully, with butter. Grab a heaping tablespoon of the spinach/feta filling and place at the bottom of the phyllo strip. Starting at the bottom right corner, fold over to the top left corner (this is the “flag fold”), then up, then over to the opposite corner. Kind of hard to explain in writing but it’s actually very easy, so just check the video above!
- Continue working through the phyllo and the spinach mixture until you’ve used it all and have roughly 20 or so triangles. I usually have leftover spinach but I use it to make omelette fillings or just have as a side!
- Pop 4-5 triangles into the air fryer and cook at 400 for 5-6 minutes. Work in batches until you’re done, or you can freeze the rest and save for another day!
This recipe can easily be adapted for the oven if you don’t have an air fryer! Bake at 375 on a sheet pan until golden brown, about 15-20 mins.
Thanks as always to FreshDirect for the ingredients! #fdambassador