This easy and healthy Skillet Spanakopita is my go-to healthy meal when I need something quick and nutritious. The filling goes right in the pan, and phyllo is piled on top for a great one pan vegetarian dinner. It’s loads easier than traditional puff pastry spanakopita, and the flakiness and crunch of the phyllo is a healthier swap.
This is my favorite one-pan, easy skillet meal. I adore Greek food, because I generally find it to be full of flavor and mostly healthy. It’s full of bright, fresh herbs (like dill and parsley) and feta provides a nice salty bite. There’s so much to love about Greek food.
But, let’s get real for a second. Cooking dinner every night is HARD, and when I want a certain type of food that I don’t make all the time (like, Greek food), I’m more likely to order take out or pick it up from my favorite restaurant.
But this version is so easy! We’re making the filling that’s typically inside spanakopita, and placing it right in a skillet. Then, instead of rolling and wrapping it up in sheets of phyllo, we’re just going to pile the phyllo on top and call it a day. A quick brush of butter makes the phyllo get just as crispy as if it were wrapped around the spinach and baked in the oven.
- Instead of rolling spanakopita in puff pastry into neat triangles (which requires more technical skill that I like to exert on a weeknight), we’re using crispy, light phyllo dough. It’s much easier to work with, because we’re literally just piling it on top of the skillet. The more wrinkles, the better, because each wrinkle is another layer to crisp up.
- Instead of tucking spanakopita filling into pastry parcels, we’re making it in one skillet, and then serving it in the same skillet! This is the biggest time-saving step of this recipe.
- If you didn’t know, phyllo dough is made of flour, water and a small amount of oil. Puff pastry is made with copious amounts of butter. This simple swap lowers the calories of spanakopita significantly. And in my opinion, the flavor isn’t sacrificed in any way.
Tips for Working with Phyllo Dough
If you’ve never worked with phyllo dough, it is a thin tissue paper-like dough. It can seem intimidating because it breaks easily. It’s okay for it to break a lot for this skillet spanakopita recipe, because breaks and crumbling dough just makes more flaky layers in this recipe. However, if you’re making a precise dessert using phyllo, like baklava, it can be tricky to work with.
The most important thing when working with phyllo (or filo) is to not let it dry out. After you pull off one layer, cover the remaining layers with a damp kitchen towel. To break up the layers, unroll the dough completely from the box, and then gently lift off each layer. If it breaks, you can cobble it back together with butter in the final dish.
Is phyllo dough vegan?
So, my husband is vegan, so this is something I was wondering! While this recipe for skillet spanakopita isn’t vegan by any means (hello, cheese and eggs), phyllo dough itself is usually vegan! It’s traditionally only made with flour, water and a small amount of oil. I have seen recipes that use vinegar, too. Watch out for frozen phyllo sheets that have unnecessary dairy products in them. Traditionally, phyllo dough is vegan.
What is phyllo dough (or filo dough) made of?
Like I mentioned above, phyllo dough is made of flour, water and a small amount of oil, usually olive oil. Some brands use butter or other dairy products instead of oil to bring the dough together. Check your labels.
Ingredients for Skillet Spanakopita
- Unsalted Butter. We need half a stick, some for sautéing the filling and the rest for brushing on the phyllo dough to create a crisp crust.
- Onion. One small yellow or white onion, finely diced.
- Frozen Chopped Spinach. We need a whole 20-ounces of frozen chopped spinach. I usually have to buy multiple bags, because 20 ounces is a lot! Defrost it in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for a few hours before making this recipe.
- Ricotta Cheese. We only need one cup of whole-milk ricotta cheese. I don’t prefer part-skim ricotta cheese for this recipe, but if you’re watching calories, you may use it.
- Eggs. Three large eggs to hold the filling together. This is a high-protein satisfying vegetarian dish.
- Feta Cheese. I like to say this recipe needs 1/4 cup of crumbled feta, but truly, you can use up to 1/2 cup. The salty, tangy bite of feta is so lovely. If you increase the amount of feta, watch the salt in the recipe because feta brings so much salt to the dish.
- Dill. You can use 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped dill OR 2 teaspoons of dried dill for this recipe. I like to use the freeze-dried dill for best flavor, often found in the produce section of the grocery store, near the salad dressings. It’s bright and fresh, but lasts much longer than real fresh dill.
- Phyllo Dough. Sometimes spelled filo dough. Look for this in the frozen section of the grocery store, often near the puff pastry or near the pre-made whole desserts. Scan the ingredient list to be sure the only ingredients are flour, water, oil, and maybe a touch of vinegar. It shouldn’t have much else in it. It’s very delicate, and needs to be defrosted at room temperature for 1-2 hours before using.
How to Make Skillet Spanakopita
- Gather ingredients to make your skillet spanakopita: the frozen spinach (defrosted), ricotta, feta, eggs, onion, butter, spices, and box of phyllo dough.
- Preheat the oven to 375. In a skillet with a 10″ cooking surface, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, take the defrosted spinach and start wringing out the water. Use your hands to gather it and squeeze as hard as you can to remove excess water. You can also pile it all into a kitchen towel and ring it over a sink. You want to remove as much water from possible from the spinach. Then, in a large bowl, stir together the squeezed-dry spinach, ricotta, eggs, feta, dill, salt and pepper. Stir in the diced onion and the drippings from the skillet. Next, scrape all of the mixture back into the skillet.
- Stir everything together very well, and then add the cooked onion from the skillet.
- Stir again, and then scrape the mixture back into the skillet in which you cooked the onion.
- Now, begin to drape the individual pieces of phyllo dough over the spinach filling. Melt two tablespoons of butter, and have it ready. Then, layer on one piece of the dough. It’s okay if it tears or wrinkles. The more bumps and edges, the better. Repeat with each layer, brushing butter in between each layer. When all of the layers are on, drizzle all remaining melted butter on top. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the phyllo dough is crisp and golden brown.
Other recipes that use phyllo dough:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
- 1 small onion, diced
- 20 ounces frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 3 large eggs
- heaping 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 teaspoons dried dill
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 5 sheets frozen phyllo dough, defrosted
- Preheat the oven to 375, and gather all ingredients to make the dish. Ensure the spinach and the phyllo are defrsoted
- In a skillet with a 10" cooking surface, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, squeeze the water from the defrosted spinach. Do this very well--I used a potato ricer, or you could squeeze a handful at a time between your fists. Water is not your friend in this recipe. In a large bowl, stir together the squeezed-dry spinach, ricotta, eggs, feta, dill, salt and pepper.
- Stir in the diced onion and the drippings from the skillet. Next, scrape all of the mixture back into the skillet.
- Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small dish and have ready with a small pastry brush. Layer one sheet of phyllo dough on top of the spinach in the skillet (keep the rest of the phyllo dough covered to prevent drying out while you work). Brush the layer with butter. Next, layer another sheet of phyllo in the opposite direction to fully cover the spinach. Again, brush with butter. Repeat with all 5 layers of teh dough. The more crumpled the top, the more flaky layers there will be. Drizzle the remaining butter on top.
- Bake in the oven 35-45 minutes, until the dough is golden brown and crispy. Serve hot or warm.
Frozen Chopped Spinach: Defrost the spinach in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for a few hours before making this recipe.
Ricotta Cheese: I prefer whole-milk (full-fat) ricotta for this recipe.
Feta Cheese: You can use anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup of crumbled feta for this recipe. The salty, tangy bite of feta is so lovely. If you increase the amount of feta, reduce the salt in the recipe because feta is so salty.
Dill: You can use 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped dill OR 2 teaspoons of dried dill for this recipe. I like to use the freeze-dried dill for best flavor, often found in the produce section of the grocery store, near the salad dressings. It's bright and fresh, but lasts much longer than real fresh dill.
Phyllo Dough: Sometimes spelled filo dough. Look for this in the frozen section of the grocery store, often near the puff pastry or near the pre-made whole desserts. Scan the ingredient list to be sure the only ingredients are flour, water, oil, and maybe a touch of vinegar. It shouldn't have much else in it. It's very delicate, and needs to be defrosted at room temperature for 1-2 hours before using.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 275Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 132mgSodium: 668mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 3gSugar: 1gProtein: 14g