Fatayer are Middle Eastern savory stuffed pies, filled with spinach, cheese, and sometimes meat. They're soft, delicious and filled with flavor.
This post and recipe is dedicated to one of my best friends, because every time I make these, she is the one person I think of, and I thank her for giving me the courage and will to ever try making something like this.
Let's rewind just a little though. I was vising my husband in Malaysia and on my first morning there, my sister in law made a beautiful breakfast spread for us. Included in that spread were Spinach Fatayer that she had made from scratch. When we arrived at the house to eat breakfast, she was still in the kitchen making the last few Fatayer. And to this day, I still have memories of how beautiful the dough looked and how she made them with such ease!
Later that evening, I asked her where she got the recipe and she sent me a link. When I got back to the US, I tried to make them myself by following the recipe and video and I failed. I still didn't know the first thing about dough making and I had no idea what dough was supposed to feel like, look like, etc. I thought I just needed to follow the recipe exactly and it would all work out. I didn't give up though. I kept trying and eventually I figured out how dough worked and fell in love!
Since then, I've been making Fatayer from scratch (tweaking recipes here and there), and I've come up with what I think is a delicious and soft dough, paired with flavorful fillings.
Ingredients for Fatayer Dough
- Instant Yeast
- Olive oil
Milk vs. Water
I've tried this recipe with milk, as well as with water, and milk wins every single time. The milk produces such a soft dough and I think it's essential. If you don't have milk on hand and really want to make this recipe, you can use water and it will still make a delicious Fatayer. However, if you don't have allergies or intolerances to milk, and you have it in your fridge, use it. It's worth it!
Ingredients for Spinach Fatayer
- Frozen spinach
- olive oil
- spices: sumac, paprika, all spice
Frozen vs. Fresh Spinach
I will be the first to admit that I am lazy and I would rather use frozen spinach for this recipe any day of the week. I buy my frozen spinach already chopped so I literally don't have to do any work. I have never tried fresh spinach but I know it works great. You may need to do some math to figure out how much you need.
Ingredients for Cheese Fatayer
- Fresh Mozzarella
- Bulgarian Sheep Cheese
- Dried oregano
- Dried Basil
If you can find Bulgarian sheep cheese anywhere, I HIGHLY recommend it. I usually pick it up at our local Middle Eastern store. Feta will work too, but there's a difference in taste and I personally love Bulgarian sheep cheese more.
How to Make Fatayer
For the Dough
This is an easy dough. You're almost just tossing everything in a bowl and kneading for 5 minutes. Once it comes together, place it in an oiled bowl and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. It doesn't need to rise for over an hour.
For the Spinach
In a large pot, heat olive oil and add the onions and cook, stirring, until they're almost translucent. Add the tomatoes and cook a couple more minutes. Add the spinach and cook some more. Then add the spices, lemon juice, and cilantro, stir and cook a few more minutes. Turn off the heat and add olive oil and stir.
I highly recommend you make the filling at least an hour before shaping the Fatayer. The fillings needs to be at room temperature and not warm at all.
For the Cheese
Make sure the cheeses are chopped and then combine them with the spices in a bowl and stir them until they're all incorporated.
How to Shape Fatayer Dough
Making Fatayer can be a little intimidating at first. It could look difficult but I promise it's not. Make the little triangles are quite easy and I've created some GIFs to demonstrate.
Fold the top sides of the circle closed.
Pinch that seem closed very tightly.
Bring the bottom part of the dough to meet the top and pinch it closed very tightly!
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the Fatayer. Add an egg wash, or milk wash. Sometimes I like to use milk instead of using up the eggs. Sprinkle nigella or sesame seeds and bake for 15-20 minutes. The Fatayer should come out golden brown.
How to Store Fatayer
If you have any leftover, store them in an airtight container or a ziploc bag. They should stay soft and fresh for a few days.
You can eat them at room temperature or warm them up in the microwave or in the oven for a few minutes.
These Fatayer will make a delicious appetizer, breakfast meal, or even an addition to your Ramadan menu.
If you try the recipe, let me know what you think by leaving a review!
If you want to try other dough recipes, follow along because I have lots more to come. In the meantime check out my Homemade Bagels recipe.
Fatayer (Spinach and Cheese)
- 3½ cups (420g) All Purpose Flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1¼ cup warm milk
Spinach Filling (Makes 8-10)
- 10 oz. Frozen spinach, chopped thawed
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ large onion (or 1 small) finely diced
- 2 small tomatoes (or 1 large tomato) finely diced
- ½ teaspoon sumac
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon all spice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ lemon
- cilantro finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Cheese Filling (Makes 8-10)
- 2 oz. Fresh Mozzarella - chopped see notes
- 6 oz. Bulgarian Sheep Cheese (or Feta) - crumbled see notes
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp dried basil
- 1 egg
- Nigella seeds
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment, combine dry ingredients and whisk.
- Add the warm milk and olive oil and knead for 5 minutes.
- Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
- ***Try to make this at least an hour ahead***
- In a large pot, heat olive oil and then add the onions. Let cook a few minutes until translucent, making sure to stir.
- Add the tomatoes and cook an extra couple minutes, then add the spinach and cook 3-5 minutes. Add the spices, lemon juice, and cilantro and cook another 2 minutes before turning off the heat. Add tablespoon of olive oil and stir. Taste to make sure it doesn't need anymore salt, or lemon.
- Let cool completely before filling.
- Combine cheeses and spices in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
- If the cheeses aren't mixing very well, make sure they're both completely chopped into small pieces.
Making & Baking The Fatayer
- Once rested, divide the dough into 16 pieces and roll into balls.
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Roll out each ball into a flat circle. Fill the with desired filling, and then shape into a triangle (see post for details). Don't overfill pies and make sure to pinch the edges closed really well.
- Place them on a baking sheet and brush with egg wash (sprinkle with nigella seed if desired) and bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and place them on a wire rack to cool before enjoying.
- I personally love Bulgarian or Feta cheese, so I choose to have a higher ratio than Mozzarella cheese.
- If you aren't a fan of the salty cheese, try this ratio instead: 4 oz. mozzarella to 4 oz. salty cheese.