This Greek-inspired spinach pie is the easiest and tastiest vegan spanakopita! The savory spinach and homemade dairy-free feta filling is tucked into a skillet lined with crisp, buttery phyllo pastry, and baked to perfection.
Thank you to Stahlbush Island Farms for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.
Vegan Spanakopita…Just Easier and Crispier in a Skillet
This meatless Greek inspired recipe is as perfect for a vegan weeknight dinner as it is for a beautiful holiday main. It’s easy, quick, flavorful, and nutritious. The spanakopita can be made ahead of time, frozen, and then popped into the oven just before guests arrive.
Traditionally, spanakopita can be made bite-size (pastry carefully folded or wrapped around bite-sized amounts of spinach filling), or the filling tucked and covered completely with phyllo in a large casserole dish.
Here we make spanakopita the lazier way. It’s prettier, too – simply layer the sheets of phyllo in a skillet, add the spinach and feta filling, and then scrunch the overlapping pastry partly over the side of the filling.
One of the best things about spanakopita is the crisp phyllo pastry. A heavy bottomed pan or cast-iron skillet guarantees a crisp pastry bottom every time!
Don’t have a heavy-bottomed skillet or cast-iron pan? No problem, you can use a springform pan or another 10″ (25 cm) baking dish.
What is Phyllo Dough?
Phyllo is a type of paper-thin, unleavened dough. It is made from wheat flour, water, a tiny bit of oil, and sometimes vinegar. As such, most phyllo dough is naturally vegan, just be sure to check the ingredient label. It’s usually sold in the freezer section in grocery stores, and needs to be thawed overnight in the refrigerator. Follow the package instructions.
On its own, phyllo dough is a bit dry and needs additional fat (in the form of oil or melted butter) to become the flakey, deliciousness it’s meant to be. Phyllo pastry dough is different than traditional pastry dough or puff pastry. Instead of incorporating fat right into the dough, we need to apply oil or melted butter to each of the phyllo dough sheets with a pastry brush or oil sprayer. Do this for each phyllo sheet, stacking them together as you go. This creates delicate, crisp buttery layers once baked.
Phyllo (aka filo or fillo) is derived from the Greek word for leaf. Whether it originated in Greece is up for debate with some saying it originated in Turkey and others claiming it actually came to be in China – check out this phyllo article to go down the phyllo rabbit hole!
If this is your first time making spanakopita and working with phyllo dough, read on to make working with this pastry dough a fun and stress-free experience!
Tips for Using Phyllo Dough
Have everything ready before beginning to work with the phyllo. Prepare your ingredients and work area before you open the plastic bag around the phyllo. As soon as you open that bag, the phyllo will begin to dry out…and quickly! Phyllo loses its flexibility becoming brittle and difficult to work with when it dries out. Once you’re set up for working with the phyllo, your spinach filling is ready, and the oven is preheated, you can begin assembling your spanakopita!
Dampen a couple of clean, lint-free kitchen towels. Open the package of thawed phyllo and gently unroll the layers of pastry dough. Place the pile of phyllo sheets on top of a damp towel, and then lay a damp towel on the top of the phyllo sheets. The damp towels will help prevent the phyllo from drying out. If your towels are too wet, the dough will become soggy. If you notice this happening, place another layer between the wet towel and the phyllo. You can use another dry lint-free towel or some paper towel. As you need a phyllo sheet, remove the top towel, take a sheet of a phyllo, and then place the towel back over your phyllo dough pile.
Work quickly, but don’t stress if the phyllo tears. The pastry is easy to overlap to hide tears. The top of this vegan spanakopita features a ruffled look made from the phyllo which is very forgiving. If your phyllo tears, take a deep breath and keep going – mistakes won’t be noticeable once baked!
Brush with olive oil or melted vegan butter. Use a pastry brush or oil sprayer to apply the oil to each phyllo dough layer. Do this to each sheet of phyllo dough laid individually into the skillet. The oil prevents the phyllo layers from sticking to each other during baking and creates lovely crisp buttery layers. Don’t worry about coating each sheet perfectly, and don’t go too thick or the pastry will be greasy. There shouldn’t be any pooling oil on the sheets as you work.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Usually found in the freezer section in most grocery stores, phyllo dough is fairly inexpensive. You can make it yourself, but using store-bought is faster and easier.
We enjoy the olive oil flavor in the spanakopita, but melted vegan butter is also a great option. Use the type of vegan butter that is sold in foil or blocks. Vegan butter that is sold in plastic tubs contain more water and less fat. The higher water content will yield a less crisp pastry.
I used Stahlbush Island Farms’ frozen cut spinach. Frozen chopped spinach makes short work of the spanakopita filling – simply defrost it and squeeze out the excess water. This step is critical so your spinach pie is not watery with a soggy crust.
If you only have fresh spinach on hand, you will need 2 lbs (1 kg) of fresh spinach for this spanakopita recipe. Chop the spinach (baby spinach does not need to be chopped. ) Sauté the spinach in a tablespoon (15 mL) of oil or water in a large pot until it is completely wilted, about 4 minutes. From there, let the spinach cool until you can squeeze the excess water from it with your hands, and then continue with the recipe as written.
I chose to use a blend of fresh dill and parsley for this vegan spinach pie. I find dried dill and parsley taste very different than fresh herbs, so I have not substituted them in testing.
Generally, the rule of thumb is to use a third less dried herb than you would fresh herb. So, in this case, you could try using 1 tablespoon (3 grams) of dried dill weed in lieu of the fresh dill.
Silken tofu works best in this egg-free spanakopita recipe. Its texture is very similar to eggs which are traditionally in this Greek-inspired dish. However, other types of tofu will work, too. Crumble them coarsely with your hands before being added to the spinach mixture.
Nutritional yeast offers a nice cheesy, umami flavor to this veganized spanakopita. It helps make up for the umami loss when not using eggs or dairy-based feta. If you don’t have nutritional yeast, you could throw in a handful of your favorite white shredded vegan cheese.
Lemon Juice & Zest
For some acidity to compliment the sweetness of the spinach and to brighten the favors, lemon is hard to beat!
Nutmeg adds a touch of warmth to the spinach and feta filling, but may be omitted.
As a vegan Greek-inspired spinach and feta pie, this spanakopita needs some type of feta! When I first began testing this recipe, vegan feta was not available in stores. I made my own quick vegan feta recipe for the filling – it could not be easier, just pop the ingredients into a food processor! This homemade vegan feta does not require baking ahead. It’s creamy, salty, tangy, and rich just like feta should be!
The Easiest Way to Make Spanakopita
In just a few easy steps, the best vegan spanakopita will be hot and ready for devouring!
- Blend the ingredients together for the Quick Vegan Feta.
- Sauté the onions and garlic, then mix in with the rest of the spinach filling ingredients and the feta.
- Layer the phyllo dough sheets in the same skillet you used to fry the onions. Brush each layer of phyllo with oil, rotating the angle of the phyllo sheets as you go so their ends drape all around the skillet (and not just over two sides.)
- Spoon the spinach filling into the phyllo lined skillet, scrunch the ends of the phyllo sheets partly over the filling, and bake!
How to Serve Vegan Spanakopita
Spanakopita is best served warm, but is also great at room temperature, or even chilled.
A bit like a spinach crostata or galette, skillet spanakopita pairs well with a variety of different sides:
- Vegan Tzatziki
- Crispy Smashed Potatoes
- Roasted Vegetable & Kale Salad with Caesar Dressing
- Grilled Vegetables with Avocado Chimichurri Sauce
- Crispy Baked Curry Potato Wedges
Storage & Make Ahead Suggestions
Store leftover spanakopita in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Leftovers can be frozen, however the phyllo will be difficult to re-crisp and so the pastry will be softer.
To reheat leftovers, preheat the oven to 350°F/177°C/gas mark 4. Place slices of the spanakopita on a baking tray and heat in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until hot throughout. Avoid reheating spanakopita in the microwave – the phyllo will become soft and chewy.
There are a couple of options for making this spanakopita or its components ahead of time:
Assemble the spanakopita and then freeze unbaked. You may chose not to use a cast-iron skillet in this case. You could use a springform pan or freezer/oven-safe baking dish/pan. Be sure to wrap the spanakopita airtight, and store it in the freezer for up to 6 months. Bake the spanakopita from frozen (do not defrost first, it will become soggy), adding approximately 15 minutes to the baking time, and tenting the top with aluminum foil at 30-40 minutes so the pastry on top does not burn.
Prepare the spinach filling, then assemble to bake the spanakopita another day. The spinach filling can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days, and then the skillet assembled later. As the filling will be chilled, you may need to add 5-10 minutes onto the baking time to heat through.
More Vegan Mediterranean Recipe Ideas
- Cauliflower Gyros
- Baked Greek Lemon Chickpeas and Rice
- Herby Farro Salad with Grilled Vegetables and Hummus
- One-Skillet Greek Orzo and Chickpeas
- Vegan Italian Wedding Soup
If you make this Vegan Spanakopita Skillet, please give it a rating in the recipe card and leave a comment below! Follow along on Instagram and Facebook where you can tag me in your creations using my recipes! For vegan recipe inspiration, follow me on Pinterest. Thank you for reading!
Vegan Spanakopita Skillet
For the Phyllo Pastry
- 9-11 sheets phyllo pastry dough, defrosted per package instructions
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, or melted vegan stick/block butter (Don't use tub style vegan butter.)
For the Quick Vegan Feta
- 1 cup cashews, soaked and drained (See Notes for soaking options.)
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp miso (I use light miso. Darker varieties work nicely, too, producing a stronger flavor.)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp salt
For the Spinach and Feta Filling
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 bunch green onions or scallions, thinly sliced (green and white parts)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 20 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (See Notes if you only have fresh spinach.)
- ⅓ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh dill, finely chopped
- 1 cup silken tofu, drained (See Notes for substitutions.)
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast (Or/and a handful or two of shredded white vegan cheese.)
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- zest from one lemon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- black pepper to taste
- 1 batch Quick Dairy-Free Feta (see recipe above)
- vegan tzatziki, for serving, optional
- Make sure your phyllo dough has been defrosted (if frozen) according the package instructions.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/177°C/gas 4.
For the Quick Vegan Feta
- Add all of the feta ingredients to a food processor and pulse until the mixture comes together but before it becomes completely smooth. The goal here is to still have a bit of texture from the cashews.
For the Spinach and Feta Filling
- Add the oil to a large 10” (25 cm) cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add the green onions and garlic cooking for another minute.
- Place the onion mixture in a large bowl with the spinach, parsley and dill. Mix well. Add the silken tofu, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, zest, nutmeg and pepper. Stir gently to combine, leaving some chunks of tofu intact.
- Spoon the feta into the spinach mixture – stir but leave small clusters of feta here and there.
To Assemble the Vegan Spanakopita Skillet
- Have your oil or melted butter ready, and a pastry brush out. Wipe the skillet* clean and generously oil the bottom and sides. (*See Notes for other bakeware options.)
- Lightly dampen two lint-free kitchen towels. Place one evenly over a baking sheet. Take the phyllo out of the package and unroll onto the towel lined baking tray. Cover the pastry with a second damp kitchen towel. The towels will help keep the pastry from drying out, breaking, and becoming very difficult to work with. If the dough is becoming soggy, the towels are wet (instead of damp) – place a dry towel or paper towel between the wet towels and the pastry.
- Working quickly, lift one sheet at a time into the skillet, brushing the top of each lightly with olive oil – there will be over-hang, try to keep it even on each side of the skillet. Gently even out the pastry to prevent pockets of air. Repeat with 8-10 more sheets of phyllo pastry, rotating as you go so the overhanging pieces fall all around the skillet.
- Spoon the filling into the skillet and spread it out evenly. Take the top layer of overhanging phyllo and fold it over the filling toward the center of the skillet, brushing the phyllo with lightly oil. Don't lay it flat, but rather crinkle it a bit so that it's ruffled – this helps the pastry crisp up while it bakes. Repeat with the rest of the sheets of phyllo and oil. Don't worry if the pastry breaks a bit.
- Place the skillet spanakopita on the middle oven rack. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the phyllo is golden brown and the filling is hot. Check at around 30 minutes – if the phyllo is golden enough, place a piece of foil loosely on the top to prevent burning.
- Let stand for 10-15 minutes to firm up a bit. Slice into pie shaped pieces, and serve with vegan tzatziki if desired. Great served warm or at room temperature!
Soaking CashewsSoak cashews 4 hours or overnight. If you’re short on time, quick-soak the cashews by covering them with water in a small pot, and simmer them for about 15 minutes, then drain well.
Skillet and Baking Pan OptionsIf using a larger skillet, the phyllo pie will naturally be thinner and the baking time may be shortened by about 15 minutes. If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, you can prepare the filling in a stove-top pan and then assemble and bake the spanakopita in an oiled springform pan, or in another 10″ (25 cm) baking dish.
Don’t Have Frozen Spinach?If you only have fresh spinach on hand, you will need 2 lbs (1 kg) of fresh spinach for this spanakopita recipe. Chop the spinach (baby spinach does not need to be chopped), and then in a large pot, sauté it in a tablespoon (15 mL) of oil or water until it is completely wilted (about 4 minutes.) From there, let the spinach cool until you can squeeze the excess water from it, and then continue with the recipe as written.
Substituting Silken TofuSilken tofu (any firmness although I prefer extra-firm) works best in this recipe because its texture is so close to that of eggs which are traditionally in this Greek dish. However, other types of tofu will work as well so long as it’s just coarsely crumbled before adding it in with the spinach mixture (to maintain some texture.)
The Nutrition Information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the Nutrition Information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Yes, spanakopita can be made ahead of time and baked later. The filling can be made and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. An assembled spanakopita (unbaked) may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in the refrigerator before baking. Be sure your spinach is squeezed completely dry – if the filling is wet, the pastry will become soggy and won’t crisp up as nicely during baking. As the filling will be chilled, you may need to add 5-10 minutes onto the baking time to heat through.
Make sure the spinach is thawed and squeezed dry completely before adding it to the filling. If you’re using fresh spinach, sauté (or blanch) it until wilted, cool and then squeeze dry. Drain the tofu completely before adding it to the filling. Grease the skillet well, and brush each sheet of phyllo with oil or melted butter, which helps create a crisp, flakey crust. Use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is heating to the correct temperature.
Yes, you can use a springform pan or another 10″ (25 cm) baking dish.
Yes. Be sure to wrap the unbaked spanakopita airtight, and store it in the freezer for up to 6 months. Bake the spanakopita from frozen (do not defrost first, it will become soggy), adding approximately 15 minutes to the baking time, and tenting the top with aluminum foil at 30-40 minutes so the pastry on top does not burn. Baked spanakopita may be frozen in the same way but the crust will not be as crisp, even after heating.
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