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Croatian Burek—crisp and rich, exploding with sumptuous flavour

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

Croatia has bakeries at every bus stop, bustling square, market and supermarket. They all feature a Baltic pastry called burek. I first tried mine in Zagreb and I was not dissapointed. This flaky pastry is made with layers of dough filled with cheese, meat, spinach, or potatoes. It comes in many shapes and sizes.

A burek, half eaten in a paper bag
Croatian Burek—crisp and rich

The story

Croatia is a surprising melting pot of cultures. Their food has Italian influences from the west, the Turkish influences from the east, the Mediterranean from the south, and the Hungarian from the north, Croatia lies at a crossroads of cuisine that cooks up a memorable medley of flavors.

Burek originated in the Ottoman Empire, where it was popular among the lower classes as an economical meal. It is believed that the dish first appeared in the 15th century and spread throughout the Balkans, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.


The recipe


1/2 pack filo sheets/phyllo (250g)

Oil/ water mixture

1 1/2 cup of water

2 tablespoons oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

Meat Filling:

500g beef mince

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

2 teaspoons of garlic and ginger paste (optional)

Beef stock (optional)

100g of Parsley

2 onions chopped

4 cloves of garlic crushed (optional)

Oil for frying

Cheese Filling:

150 g cottage cheese (2/3 cup)

100 g crumbled feta cheese (2/3 cup)

1 large beaten egg

Instructions for meat borek

Preheat your oven to 375F. 190C

Mix oil and water mixture. This is for later to drizzle over filo sheets. Set aside.

Preheat pan, add oil and cook onions. Add garlic, ground beef and the rest of the ingredients for the filling. When cooked, drain the oil out as much as you can still leave some in so the pie is not dry. Set aside!

Oil the baking pan and lace 2 sheets of filo in a round tin so they overlap and are hanging 5 to 6 inches over the baking pan edge.

Spoon in meat mixture and place over the filo sheets. Now, cover with another 2 sheets, and dab with water-oil, just a few tablespoons all over. Continue layering until you are out of ground beef. Make sure to drizzle with water-oil each time you place a new sheet over the ground beef. This will keep it nice and moist.

The last step is to take those overlapping sheets and cover over the pie, so no meat is visible. Place an additional two sheets over that. Drizzle well with water and oil mixture just to make sure that the top of the pie is well soaked.

Press lightly, but just lightly. It is easily breakable.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the pie looks golden brown.

Take it out and cover with a kitchen towel for 5 minutes.

Slice and enjoy.

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