Yia Yia Bessie’s Spanakopita

Yia Yia Bessie came to visit, my beautiful and amazing mother.

Yia Yia Bessie

Yia Yia means grandmother in Greek, a title she’s earned with her 10 remarkable grandchildren.

The Legacy

Her trip turned out to be one of the most memorable times that the two of us have shared in a long time and I am savoring all the mama love.

We spent most of our days cooking our favorite Greek dishes… reminiscing about Yia Yia Bessie’s childhood memories.


Yia Yia grew up in a seaside village named Myrtia on the southern coast of the Peloponnese amongst the Greek ruins, rich with history intertwined with the awe of mythology.


We spoke about old friends and new friends and those who have left an impression on our heart.

We talked about all the things she loved while we sipped Greek coffee out of dainty demitasse cups;


growing up on a farm, harvesting the olive trees, her favorite wild flowers and traveling to other countries.

Yia Yia’s Dance – OPA!

She spoke of our family heritage rich in tradition that continues to grow, reflecting our way of life with dance, art and food, and how these have been have passed along for many generations.

Greek Dancing

We were silly and laughed, then we laughed some more – so hard that we almost peed out pants.  I think that was the most memorable moment for me, we laughed in a way that neither one of us have laughed in a very long time.  Laughter is really good medicine, though love is even better.

Yia Yia Bessie’s visit was extraordinary for me, because we got a chance to just be girls and spend time together.  I love that I get to write about how incredible she is and share all the wonderful recipes her mother, Yia Yia Angeliki, taught her.  We will pass these down from one generation to the other…leaving a beautiful legacy.

Our favorite Greek recipes will be featured in the next several post beginning with one of my all time favorites, Spanakopita (spinach pie).


Here’s what you’ll need…   9 x 11 Baking Dish and Pastry Brush, Oven Temp: 350 degrees, Bake time: 45 minutes.  This recipe makes approximately 27 pieces.

Spinach Pie

1 – 16 oz Package Phyllo Dough

3 – 10 oz Package of fresh spinach (clean & chopped)

2 – Bunches of Scallion Onions

1/2 – Cup of Fresh Chopped Dill Weed

1 – 8 oz Crumbled Feta Cheese

1 – 8 oz Large Curd Cottage Cheese

1 – Cup Olive Oil

3 – Large Eggs

1 – Teaspoon Salt

½  – Teaspoon Pepper

2 – Stick salted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread phyllo dough out on a dry work surface.  Be sure to completely cover with the phyllo dough with a towel to keep from drying out.  Take two stick of butter and melt, then let cool.

Chop and clean spinach, then strain with cheese cloth until all liquid is drained.  Finely chop the onion and dill into small pieces.  Place spinach, onions, dill, feta, cottage cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper into large mixing bowl and set aside.  Beat eggs lightly then add to mixture combining all ingredients well.

Mixing Bowl

Layer 15 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each sheet separately with melted butter.

Phyllo Dough First Layer

Spread the entire spinach mixture into the pan until phyllo dough is completely covered.  Fold the overlapping phyllo layers inward on top of spinach and brush with butter.

Overlapping Phyllo Layers

Use 10 to 12 sheets of phyllo for top layer, brushing each sheet with butter.  Cut the top layer of the phyllo dough into desired square pieces; be sure not to cut through to the bottom phyllo dough layer.

Pre-cut Phyllo

This dish needs no cover, place the pan in the oven and let bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until phyllo dough has a light brown color.  Let cool uncovered for 1 hour prior to serving.

Phyllo Dough Light Brown Color

23 thoughts on “Yia Yia Bessie’s Spanakopita

  1. Georgia, I’m so glad you got to visit with your sweet grandmother. She reminds me of my own grandmother–full of rich stories and cultural heritage. And on top of all that, you guys can cook something as awesome as Spanakopita together. It looks delicious! 🙂

    1. Hi Peggy,

      Thank you! Yes, you may make the spanakopita a day or a week ahead. Prepare spanakopita per instructions. Once spanakopita is prepared place into the freezer (not refrigerator). When you are ready to bake the spanakopita remove from freezer, this dish does not require to be thawed-out prior to baking. Also, no cover is needed during baking, place the pan in the oven and let bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until phyllo dough has a light brown color. Enjoy.

  2. Hi there! I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest and I’m excited to try it. Can you confirm that three bags of fresh spinach are needed? Seems like a lot…. Thanks!

    1. Hi there, Thanks for visiting. So happy you’re thinking of trying the Spanakopita. Yes, you can use 3 – 10 ounce bags of fresh spinach or substitute using 3 – 8 to 10 ounce bags of chopped frozen spinach. Enjoy!

  3. Hi, I’m planning to make this for our Christmas Eve party. It says to clean and chop the fresh spinach, but it doesn’t mention cooking it first. Yet, the picture of everything in the bowl makes it look like the fresh spinach is cooked. Do you need to cook the spinach before mixing it with all the other ingredients?? Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Alisa,

      I’m so glad you’re making the spanakopita, it’s such a great recipe. For the spinach there’s no need to cook the spinach prior to layering into your spanakopita. In my photo’s I used 10oz frozen spinach. I was in a hurry. You can use frozen spinach as well, just make sure your drain the spinach very well. I use a cheese cloth to ring out excess liquid. However, it’s best to go with fresh spinach, typically I use the 10oz bags of fresh spinach rinsed, cleaned and chopped. Let me know how it comes out. Happy holidays!

  4. What if I make this earlier in the day for a dinner. Can I store it in the fridge and warm it? I know it won’t be the same but my oven will be occupied later on in the day.

    1. Hi Suzy, Yes! It’s absolutely fine to make the spanakopita earlier in the day. Also, if you need more time you can make it the day before and reheat when you’re ready to serve. Enjoy.

  5. I am in the midst of making this and just noticed it calls for a cup of olive oil in the filling. I just want to make sure that is correct. Looking forward to supper

  6. I’m making this for Thanksgiving but I’m going to make it early. I’m making it today (Monday) but won’t eat until Wednesday for dinner. Do you recommend me freezing it and then baking it frozen before serving on Wednesday? Thanks!

  7. Last month I made your Spanikopita (so much fun to say!). Everyone loved it!!! Today I’m picking up a double amount and am going to my mother-in-law to make it with her. Absolutely DELISH! Thanks for sharing your family recipe

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