This delicious Borek (or burek) with Meat and Spinach recipe is one of the many traditional Turkish borek recipes. They are made of thin filo pastries filled with a spicy lamb (or beef) & spinach filling. These scrumptious Turkish pastries are an absolute crowd pleaser!
The savoury filo pies called "borek" or "burek " has been popular throughout the reign of the Ottoman Empire and continue to be a staple in Turkish cuisine today. There are many shapes and sizes of borek and recipes that vary by region.
This delicate yet flavoursome meat&spinach borek is a family favourite. And we love eating them as finger food, snack on the go or for breakfast/brunch. In this recipe, I used filo pastries instead of Turkish yufka sheets.
Ingredients and Substitutes
- Filo Pastry - Filo is a very thin unleavened dough used for making pastries such as baklava and borek in Turkish and Mediterranean cooking. I used 2 packs of filo dough, 20 sheets in total. You can substitute with 3 pieces of Turkish yufka sheets.
- Mince - I use beef or lamb, or a mixture of both. Try and use mince with a minimum of 15-20% fat for extra flavour. Mince with high-fat ratio releases enough fat to saute the onions when you brown them, therefore, you don't need to add any olive oil!
- Onions - You can use yellow or brown onions. They add umami flavour and sweetness to the mince and spinach filling.
- Chilli - It is optional and should be adjusted to your taste. You can use flaked chilli or chilli powder instead of fresh chillies.
- Spinach - I use baby spinach leaves. Always wash the spinach thoroughly before using it for cooking or salads. Dry them using a salad spinner or leave them on a colander until the leaves are dry. You can use frozen spinach instead, just make sure you squeeze the water out.
- Tomatoes - Use nice fresh and ripen tomatoes or substitute them with a tablespoon of tomato paste.
- Seasoning - Adjust the amount of the seasoning to your taste. Add any other spices you like to create your version.
- Eggs - They give colour as well as flavour to the borek. You can omit and add extra oil and/or yoghurt to the sauce.
- Oil - It adds an extra crispness to the borek. You can substitute it with melted butter, olive oil, sunflower oil or rapeseed oil.
- Soda water - It gives crispness to the pastries. You can substitute it with sparkling water or melted butter.
Please see the recipe card below for exact quantities.
Step by Step Instructions
Making these spicy lamb & spinach pastries is easier than you think. To achieve the best results, you need to follow a few simple steps:
- Prepare the filling - Put a frying pan on medium heat and add the mince. Cook it until brown, breaking it down into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Add olive oil and the onions to the pan, sauté until soft and translucent. If you use lamb mince or beef mince with some fat, you might not need olive oil for the onions. Add the garlic and chilli, sauté for another minute before adding the tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes for a few minutes and then add chilli, black pepper, paprika and salt.
Add the spinach and then sauté until soft, let the water evaporate if there is any. Add the chopped parsley, give it a good stir and then remove the pan from the heat. Let the filling cool down for 10 minutes.
- Prepare the sauce and build the borek - To make the sauce, place the egg whites, yoghurt, oil, salt and soda water in a jug or bowl and whisk until combined. Preheat the oven to 180 °C and then line two sheet trays with silicon paper. Lay one sheet of filo on a clean work surface and then drizzle 1-1 ½ tablespoon of the sauce, spread it evenly using a brush. Lay another sheet of filo on top and then drizzle some more sauce, spread it evenly. Repeat the same steps until you have four sheets of filo. Place ⅕ of the meat & spinach filling on the long side of the filo sheets and then start rolling them tightly into a log shape. Cut the log into four equal rolls using a sharp knife.
Transfer the borek rolls on a paper-lined tray. Repeat the same steps for the rest of the filo sheets. You should have 20 pieces of borek rolls in total. Brush the borek rolls with egg yolk and then sprinkle on sesame seeds or nigella seeds (or both). Bake the pastries in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until they are golden and crispy. Serve them warm or at room temperature.
It is very easy to reheat the borek and you can reheat them straight out of the freezer without defrosting. Simply wrap them in tinfoil and place them in a preheated oven (180° C) for about 10 minutes, or until they are piping hot in the middle. Give extra 5 minutes for frozen boreks. Alternatively, you can reheat them in a microwave for a couple of minutes but they would lose their crispness.
Meat and Spinach Borek is very versatile and can be served for breakfast/brunch, lunch or even dinner. They are also great as a snack or party food. There are many ways to enjoy these delicious savoury pies. Try them with a bowl of soup such as Ezogelin Gelin Corba, Thermomix Pumpkin Soup or Red Pepper and Tomato Soup. If you want to serve them as a light lunch, they go perfect with a bowl of salad such as Rocket and Parmesan Salad, Tabbouleh or Austrian Style Potato Salad. If serving them for breakfast, a cup of Turkish tea or freshly cut cucumbers & tomatoes is all you need!
If you love borek, check out my other Turkish borek recipes.
Top Tip From the Chef
You can make the borek pastries in advance and keep refrigerated for up to 3 days before baking or freeze them uncooked and keep them in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Equipment you might find handy
Borek With Meat and Spinach
For the Mince and Spinach Filling
- 500 g minced beef or lamb
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium onions (finely chopped)
- 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
- ½ red chilli (or ½ teaspoon chilli flakes)
- 2 medium tomatoes (finely diced)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 500 g spinach (washed thoroughly, dried and chopped)
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
For the Sauce
- 130 g yoghurt (½ cup)
- 90 ml vegetable or sunflower oil (½ cup)
- 1 cup soda water or sparkling water
- 2 egg whites (yolks to be used for egg wash)
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the Borek
- 2 packs filo pastry (20 sheets in total)
- 2 egg yolks
- Sesame seeds or Nigella seeds
Preparing the Meat and Spinach Filling
- Put a frying pan on medium heat and add the mince.
- Cook it until brown, breaking it down into small pieces with a wooden spoon.
- Add olive oil and the onions to the pan, sauté until soft and translucent. If you use lamb mince or beef mince with some fat, you might not need olive oil for the onions.
- Add the garlic and chilli, sauté for another minute before adding the tomatoes.
- Cook the tomatoes for a few minutes and then add chilli, black pepper, paprika and salt.
- Add the spinach and sauté until soft, let the water evaporate if there is any.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let the filling cool down for 10 minutes.
Making the Borek Rolls
- To make the sauce, place the egg whites, yoghurt, oil, salt and soda water in a jug or bowl and whisk until combined.
- Preheat the oven to 180 °C and line two sheet trays with silicon paper.
- Lay one sheet of filo on a clean work surface and then drizzle 1-1 ½ tablespoon of the sauce, spread it evenly using a brush.
- Lay another sheet of filo on top and drizzle some more sauce, spread it evenly. Repeat the same steps until you have four sheets of filo.
- Place ⅕ of the meat & spinach filling on the long side of the filo sheets and start rolling them tightly into a log shape.
- Cut the log into four equal rolls using a sharp knife.
- Transfer the borek rolls on a paper-lined tray.
- Repeat the same steps for the rest of the filo sheets. You should have 20 pieces of borek rolls ion total.
- Brush the borek rolls with egg yolk and sprinkle on sesame seeds or nigella seeds (or both).
- Bake the pastries in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until they are golden and crispy.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Don’t leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
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