Balkan Food: Easiest Croatian Burek Recipe

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Balkan Food: Easiest Croatian Burek Recipe

I have made burek loads of times along with many of these other Croatian recipes. Although, I had never made burek from scratch as I was scared to try to make the phyllo dough.

I had always wondered how to make burek like a real Croatian while I was living in Australia. Burek is made here in Croatia and also in many other Balkan countries plus a bunch of other parts of the world in its various forms such as Greece, Turkey, and the Middle East.

Burek, also known as bourék, byurek, pita, bourekas and cheese pie can be formed into horseshoe shapes, coils, cylinders or round pies and are variously eaten as appetizers or as a main course. No matter what you call it (or despute where it comes from), Croatian Burek is WAY better than any Australian pie I have ever had.

Burek for those of you who do not know, is filo (phyllo) pastry filled with either cheese, meat, potato, spinach, apple…. in fact almost anything.

Burek is the food you eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner or just as a snack. It’s not exactly very healthy, but on the upside, if you eat a big slice of burek, it is sure to fill you.That way you can skip your next meal. I personally never skip meals as someone once told me that’s bad for you (that’s my story and I am sticking to it) so I always find room for the next meal. But that’s a good tip for those of you who can’t skip meals.

Croatia Travel Blog_Croatian Recipes_Easiest Croatian Burek

Please do not judge me, knowing I always used to purchase the store-bought phyllo pastry when I made burek. I know, I know, it’s terrible – but it is oh-so-easy. While my cheese burek turns our great thanks to some great tips that Mr. Chasing the Donkey’s Baba (Grandmother) shared with me, it’s not anything like the REAL thing I buy every day as a hangover cure here in Croatia.

The thought of making the filo pastry from scratch always seemed so impossible. Many Croats kept telling me just how ‘teško’ (hard) it is to make – so, needless to say, I avoided even trying it. But then, I stumbled upon an easy peasy way to make the filo pastry.

Okay, it’s not as easy as unwrapping the store bought pastry, but he makes it look and sound so much better than that. As with all of the Croatian recipes I share, there are a gazillion ways to make the same thing, but this one to me is a standout!

And look, if the only difficulty you face is learning the technique of stretching and rolling the dough (or you are short on time), just buy the phyllo dough – no one will know.

How to Make Croatian Burek Recipe Idea

What You Will Need To Make This Croatian Burek Recipe

 

What You Need For The Burek Dough:

  • 500g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 300-350mls lukewarm water
  • Some Veggie Oil

What You Need For The Burek Cheese Filling:

  • 150g cottage cheese
  • 100g crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 large beaten egg

What You Need For The Meat And Potato Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 medium, diced onion
  • 300g lean beef mince
  • 1 potato cut into small cubes and boiled
  • 2 grated garlic cloves
  • Half teaspoon of chopped rosemary, fresh is best
  • Half tablespoon of smoke paprika,
  • Half tablespoon of salt

How to Make Croatian Burek Dough Recipe - Croatian Recipe

How To Make Burek Dough:

  • Take a large bowl and combine the flour and the salt
  • Add the water bit by bit, mixing until the mixture forms a dough
  • Knead the dough for around five minutes, until it turns quite stretchy
  • Split the dough mixture into batches of four and press down to flatten
  • You need to find a bowl or a pan which is large enough to hold the dough when it is piled up on top of each other
  • Add a little bit of vegetable oil to the pan or bowl and put the first flattened piece of dough inside
  • Add a bit more oil (not too much), and add another piece of dough – repeat until you’ve done the same with all four pieces
  • Add more vegetable oil on top of the last piece and place to one side to rest
  • Preheat your oven to around 200 degrees C
  • Add a little vegetable oil over your work surface – just a little!
  • Remove one piece of dough from the bowl and remove the excess oil
  • Flatten the piece of dough until it reaches a thickness of no more than around half a centimeter
  • Handle the dough and stretch it outwards, so that you pull it to around 1 meter in diameter – you might end up with a few holes but don’t worry about it too much. By the end, you should be able to see through the dough
  • Take one side of the dough disc and fold it over, towards the center
  • Repeat this process until you have a shape that resembles a pentagon
  • Repeat with the second piece of dough
  • Add your filling to the dough piece
  • Add the first piece of stretched dough into the middle of the second one, and cut away the thick edge of the second piece – you can throw this away, you won’t need it
  • Fold over the edges of the dough, so that you get a pentagon shape once more, and put it into a baking pan or tray
  • Put the pan in the oven and bake for around half an hour, until it is a golden color
  • Remove from the oven and let it cool down
  • Cut into 12 pieces
  • Repeat the process with the rest of the dough

For The Cheese Filling:

  • Take a mixing bowl and add in both kinds of cheese, combining together
  • Add the egg and combine once more

For The Meat & Potato Filling:

  • Take a large pan and heat up the oil over a medium heat
  • Add the onion and cook until soft
  • Now, add the mince and cook for around 2 minutes, stirring regularly
  • Now, add the potato, the rosemary, the garlic, and the paprika, and stir to combine
  • Add the salt and continue to cook, ensuring the beef mince is cooked through
  • Once cooked, drain the beef with a sieve to get rid of any excess oil and press down to dry it out
  • Allow the burek to cool completely

Have you ever tried any another burek recipe? If you try this recipe, I’d love for you to share with us (inc. photos) in the comments below.

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Comments (122)

  1. It is very nice of you for representation of Croatian kitchen but must tell you that the ” burek” is not from Croatia. It is from Bosnia. The ” burek ” is originaly from Turkey. Bosnia was under Ottoman empire for 400 years.

    1. Best burek in Australia is in cringila a suburb of Wollongong, the burek shop on the hill, if your lucky enough to try a piece, not always open and when it is he is sold out by 7am if not earlier, by the way he is Macedonian and a legend for burek, nobody holds a candle to this man….simply the best, by the way I am not biased and not a macadonkey and I was born in Zadar and am Croatian

  2. Hi! I love your blog! I just wanted to let you know that pita and burek is not the same thing. Pita is only considered a burek if it has only meat in it. If it has anything else, it is only called pita. Just wanted to let you know. Keep doing such a great job!

    1. Sorry, but you’re wrong. Burek comes from Turkey and means any food made from stretched dough and filled with meat, cheese, potatoes, apples and so on. Pita on the other hand also comes from Turkey and is food that is made from crumbled dough (prhko tijesto).

  3. Well, I googled ‘burek’ hoping to find the Cretan recipe involving potatos and courgettes . . . But this page took me back to Athens forty years ago and revelling in burek filled with feta cheese, yoghurt or cottage cheese and rigani, I think Anyway, I made both the cheese version and the meat version (using lamb and diced carrot with dill) with store-bought filo I will admit, and they were wonderful even though I folded the filo wrongly and they leaked! Never mind, the recipients were happy and I’ll do it right next time.
    Interesting to note that burek ranges across from Greece to Iran . . . and that samosas take over from there from Pakistan to Bangladesh.

      1. Thank u for your excellent site. My dad was croatian but i was born in sydney. Tried my hand at making kipfel today. They turned out ok but never will match the wonderful cakes we ate as kids, made with love by the croatian ladies. Such great memories. They showed us that homemade is always best!
        Ann

  4. It’s not easy!
    A lovely little Croatian lady tried to show me how it was amazing how she stretched it out as thin as a bubble gum bubble!
    But I was too clumsy, kept getting holes in it!

    1. Chasing the Donkey Croatia my mother in law told me that she would get holes all the time, but it doesn’t matter because once you roll it up no one knows the difference and it still tastes good! If you are persistent you get better and better at it and also the oven settings made a difference…no fan just heat to get it crunchy

    1. I was born in Zadar, but my family is from Kukljica. I left when I was 5 (OMG! That was 60 years ago!) for America via France. I took my husband and 30 year old son last summer so they could see where I was born. We stayed at this wonderful Airbnb on Siroka Ulica and they tried burek for the first time and fell in love. Now I can attempt to make them my own! Puno ti hvala!

  5. Hi there! Your burek (photo) looks like typical burek made in Croatia. Burek in Bosnia is a bit different, And in Bosnia, there is no other burek but burek with meat. There is a story that, if you go to Sarajevo (capital of BiH) and order burek sa sirom (cheese burek) you will get burek (meat) and a piece of cheese. And do not worry for the pastry! 🙂 It is easier, faster and with no big difference to buy it. Well, I have never tried to make it. Too risky; 🙂 Well I talk and talk and talk… Sorry… Have a nice day 🙂

  6. I’ve tried (and loved) Burek in #Croatia, #Bosnia & #Montenegro – will try the #Slovenian version next month 😀

    1. Actually, I believe burek did originate from Turkey, rather. Though is very popular in all Balkan countries. I will say that prefacing the word with whichever country’s “style” of burek makes sense, as many countries do things a little differently.

  7. No, no no no and NO! Burek=PASTRY AND MEAT! Do not even try to order, for ex in Sarajevo, “burek sa sirom” ! You might get burek and some pieces of cheese together. 🙂 All other equally wonderful thins are- zeljanica-spinach pie, sirnica-cheese pie, krompirusa-^potato pie, …

    1. I am not in Sarajevo, I am in Croatia and all of the signs say burek sa sirom ili burek sa mesom….

  8. Well, I would not say that burek typical for Croatia… OK, everybody is allowed to prepare it, but in Croatia’s households ….I do not think that it is their speciality. Yes, it is possible to buy it almost everywhere, but the same is with pizza, soparnik, McDo and so on. On the contrary, in Bosnia & Herzegovina, one can find it almost everywhere, And it is something ….. Heaven on Earth, I still remember the taste of burek, zeljanica, sirnica, krompirusa i Sarajevo, 15 years ago. And it has nothing to do with any burek i have ever tasted in Croatia (Dalmatia).

  9. My mother inlaw has just passed away and took the recipes with her dose any have it I loved watching her but she went very fast making even my boys they are both chefs and would love to have it a big thankyou if you can help

      1. Sorry my heart was sad how do you make pita not the bread she made it each Sunday for us there was apple ,meat ,pumpkin or anything my would love if you could help

  10. I used your recipe to make burek for a Eurovision feast yesterday & it was amazing! Thank you Mrs CtD ! Xx

    1. Yay!!! Thats so cool. I am so glad John allowed us to share his recipe – seems everyone loves it.

    1. So why here in Croatia do all of the shops sell ‘Burek’? It’s listed like that on all of the labels.

      1. SJ. As a matter of fact, our Bosnian neighbours do name it burek only if it is made with meat. All others are called pita. In Croatia it’s a different story. Burek can be made with whatever filling, but mainly cheese and meat, I was also surprised when I ordered cheese burek in Mostar (Bosnia) and was told that this is called cheese pita in Bosnia.

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  12. Great I have some phyllo dough left in the freezer, burek here I come! Thanks for the recipe, next time I’ll just make my own dough.
    Katie

  13. I love your recipes! Your meat mixture is so well seasoned! Sometimes when I’m lazy, I omit the potatoes and mix in shredded hashbrowns at the end to the meat mixture. So good!

    I’m dying to make a great Spinach one that doesn’t taste like spanakopita. What do you put in yours?

  14. Thanks SJ for sharing this. Especially the step-by-step process. If you google images for ‘filo pastry’, all you get is store-bought filo. Doing it from scratch is not scary but it’s definitely an art. My grandma never knew exact measurements for the flour and water. She would just say: ‘add as much as the dough will take’. 🙂 My favourite is gibanica – it’s made with courgette, cottage cheese and poppy seeds.

    1. It certainly can be done with apples. I don’t have an exact recipe as I have never done it. I’ll ask around and see if I can’t find one for you – stay tuned.

  15. SJ, I had to come look at your site for some Croatian cooking inspiration. I’ve made my “American” borek, many, many times but never have tried making the actual pastry. I’m so intrigued, and I can’t wait to try it. I did see a baker in Zadar stretching his pastry a few weeks ago…He made it look easy!

  16. Burek is not Croatian meal. It is Bosnian. And burek is made only with meat. Everithing else is cheese pie. Croatian meal similar to this are “štrukli”.

    1. Burke is Turkish in origin. It travelled to Bosnia during the 500 years of Ottoman rule. Eastern Croatia was under Ottoman Rule as well as Serbia. Each nation adapted the basic recipe into many forms: pita, burek, strukli, etc. Everyone I tasted in all the nations were delicious. Thank goodness food has no boundaries….

  17. It looks so, so tasty! Will have to ask the husband if he had any while in Croatia and perhaps we’ll give it a go ourselves. xo

  18. YUM! Might have to give this a go myself!

    Croatian burek is delish, but you haven’t eaten pie until you’ve sampled the Bosnian stuff MY GOD it was a revelation!

    Krompiruša was my favourite.

  19. I adore these in depth posts with all the pics – stretching the dough looks so clever. Thanks so much for linking up with #recipeoftheweek. I’ve Pinned & Tweeted this post and there’s a fresh linky live now. Hope you join in 😀 x

  20. 1. A rolling pin can help you to get thin dough to work with – then add oil to the work surface.

    2. Instead of placing your filling in one single piece, it’s better to scatter it over the dough.
    3. You can drizzle it when it’s half baked, too. Instead of water, you can drizzle it with milk+water or milk+sour cream.

    1. Ohhh sour cream, now that is a nice addition. When you make it, lemme know I’d love to come over and eat it..

  21. I LOVE burek, had plenty in Slovenia but I have never thought about trying these at home. Hmm. Should give it a go!

  22. That looks delicious! And I am also intimidated by phyllo dough. This method looks doable, except I have no idea where I’d put a meter of dough in my tiny Barbie dream house kitchen. I think I’d have to scrub the floor as it would be the only surface large enough!

    1. ROLF…. Barbie does not have it all made huh? Perhaps you can make it at a friends house.. and drink their wine as you make it 🙂

  23. I love burek! I haven’t had it in Croatia, but I’ve tried it in Slovenia and Serbia which were completely different from each other. What makes the Croatian one unique?

    1. YOu know what Adelina, I have not had either of those so I actually have no idea BUT You have inspired me to try and find Out….

      1. The Serbian one was pretty similar to what you’ve made above I think. Judging based solely on appearances I think they have a couple more layers of dough inside, but I don’t know for sure.

  24. Delicious! I just discovered your blog and had to say that I absolutely love burek. Embarrassingly enough, of all the Croation language I tried to take in during my visit, what stays with me is “Daj mi jedan burek!”

  25. This looks delicious – I’m practically drooling. Good thing it’s lunchtime, because now I’m off to eat something. =)

  26. Yeah this is WAY too much work for me. But CHEbureks are VERY popular in Russia, for good reason – they are delicious! Are there deep-fried things that arent? 🙂

  27. Great post SJ !!!
    At last I know how to do it, or at least know how théy do it.
    Did you know burek stayed after the Ottomans (Turks) left.
    It’s a typical Turkish dish, sold in every village/town in Turkey still today.
    Anyway, now I know how to prepare it myself, as the explanation and pictures are excellent.
    Poz. Pim.

  28. It looks delectible and as for making phyllo – well I once watched Julia do it… a lot of butter, rolling, butter, rolling. Not my idea of fun but now I know why phyllo is so flakey and wonderful. Kudos to you for trying and congrats for your success.

    1. Julie does it best 🙂
      In this case it was John who did the hard work – I just shared it. I hope to make this later in the month.

  29. I’m a chef – and I always used store-bought phyllo. Until I’m able to make a perfect pie crust, my own phyllo will simply have to wait

      1. If I had time waiting out a bura, I’d probably give it a shot. But maybe I’ll try it later this winter, anyway. Still – no shame at all in using store-bought. It’s a great benefit of the time we live in. I always skip store-bought pizza dough and all Italian sauces, but buy phyllo and puff pastry.

  30. This was the one and only time i made burek, so I can safely say the dough is beyond easy to stretch and you don’t need experienced hands. I’ve never worked with pastry with such elasticity! I really is fun.

    Thanks for featuring my recipe!

  31. looks delicious but probably easier to eat than to make!! 😉 that pastry does not look easy to stretch and needs experience hands

  32. HA! Have to hide this from my husband unless I want to wind up making burek on a daily basis. xD, just kidding, maybe he decides he wants to give it a go

      1. He hasn’t had the chance yet to try and make it, but I did make burek once before, not completely from scratch (like you I used the store bought philo dough). He enjoyed it and wishes I would make it more often. Sadly kids don’t enjoy burek at all (blasphemy!) but oddly enough they liked my soparnik experiment

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