Undiscovered tastes #5 – A recipe for burek… the traditional Balkan pastry with many names

Let’s get gritty with the real source of controversy in the Balkans… what to call a cheese pastry.  The humble burek has various names across the region. Get it wrong and you risk being laughed out of the bakery (like we were in Bosnia). It’s the Balkan equivalent to the whole barm/bap/cob debate in the UK. 

Nevertheless, it’s a must try when visiting this region, which is why we’ll always make time in our itineraries for a piece or two… or three. 

Perhaps you’re already one of our burek converts and you want to try making it at home? Or maybe you’ve stumbled across our blog in search of traditional foods to try on an upcoming trip to the Balkans? Either way, read on.

Love discovering new tastes on your travels? Our Albania food and culture holiday was created with foodies in mind. 

What is burek?

Burek is layers of filo pastry containing savoury fillings wrapped in a spiral and baked in a hot oven. Some of the most common fillings are spiced meat, feta-like cheese, cheese & spinach, and spiced potato. It has been enjoyed across the Balkans since it was introduced by the Ottomans in the 14th century.

Burek is a traditional pastry enjoyed in the Balkans

This stodgy staple makes for the perfect hangover cure or a hearty breakfast to fuel a day of hiking and kayaking. Better still, wrap up the leftovers and eat them on the go.

Burek is eaten morning, noon and night throughout the year, but it also appears on special occasions like New Year’s Eve, when families write down a wish and tuck it into the pastry wrapped in tin foil before baking.

Our first go at this on NYE 2023 was a success and we dare say somebody’s wish for a kitten came true (welcome to the family, Winston). Hold on to that wholesome image while we admit to serving our burek with Heinz baked beans. We have no regrets.

More from undiscovered tastes:

Burek’s many names

If you’re in Croatia, Montenegro or Serbia, ask for Burek sa Sirom while in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it’s Sirnica you’re looking for. And in Bulgaria and Macedonia, it’s called Banitsa sas Sirene. 

Confused yet? We haven’t even discussed the Greek and Turkish variations! Whatever you call it, find a basic recipe for cheese burek below.

Burek recipe – how to make cheese burek

Serves 8

We each wrote down a wish for 2024 and baked them into the borek on New Year’s Eve

There are as many ways of making this savoury treat as there are names for it. But the key ingredients are filo pastry, soft, white cheese, eggs and butter. 

Hardcore burek makers go ‘na oko’, meaning they guess the quantities of cheese and butter until they achieve the desired effect (hint: the more, the tastier). But until you reach that level, follow our recipe.


  • 800g filo pastry 
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 500g good quality feta cheese
  • 200g plain yoghurt (optional)
  • 5 eggs


  1. Preheat your oven to 200℃ and line a large baking tray (preferably round if you have one) with greased baking paper.
  2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and crumble the cheese in. Fold in the yoghurt if you’d like a creamier mixture, but you don’t have to.
  3. Lay one sheet of phyllo out and coat with butter (as generously as you like) and place another sheet of phyllo on top. Spread on some of the cheese mixture.
  4. Roll the two sheets and mixture up and wrap round into a spiral. Coat with butter. 
  5. Repeat step 3 and roll up, each time wrapping the pastry around the first spiral.
  6. Continue until you run out of pastry and mixture and make sure it’s evenly coated in butter. Tip – Once you’ve used up all of your mixture, swill the bowl with half a glass of sparkling water and pour it, followed by the remaining melted butter, over the burek. 
  7. Optional step for New Year’s Eve – get each family member to write down a wish and wrap it in tinfoil. Poke the wishes into the gaps between the pastry before baking.
  8. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.



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