How to Make Bourekas

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These flaky, cheese-filled pastries are easy to make and will disappear before you can say Chag Sameach!

If there’s one thing you can count on with any Jewish holiday, it’s that there will be lots of delicious Jewish foods on the table. That’s probably why my favorite memories of any holiday are associated with food, like the house filling with the smell of potato latkes on Hanukkah, or my fingers getting sticky from the honey cake my mom made for Rosh Hashanah.

Where do bourekas fit in? Every spring, seven weeks after Passover, is the lesser-known Jewish holiday of Shavuot. It commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai and celebrates the start of the grain harvest. It’s also a holiday where you eat a lot of dairy!

If you’re a cheese lover, you’ll be happy to hear that on Shavuot it’s traditional to eat things like cheese blintzes, cheesecake and comforting cheese bourekas.

What Are Bourekas?

Bourekas are popular Sephardic Jewish stuffed pastries, made from puff pastry or phyllo dough and often topped with sesame seeds. There are endless types of stuffing, but some popular ones are mashed potato, cheese, spinach and cheese, pizza and mushroom. I love bourekas alongside scrambled eggs and a salad for breakfast, and they’re a perfect late-night savory snack after a couple of cocktails. You can also prepare them ahead and freeze them, so they’re great for serving to guests since you can pop them in the oven when you’re ready.

How to Make Bourekas

This recipe makes 16 small pastries.

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet puff pastry dough*
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup packed grated Parmesan
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Flour, for dusting
  • Black and white sesame seeds

*Before you start this recipe, make sure your puff pastry is thawed and ready to go. You can’t use puff pastry directly from the freezer.

Tools You’ll Need

Directions

Step 1: Mix filling

bourekas Mix fillingJamie Thrower for Taste of Home

Leave your puff pastry in the refrigerator until it’s time to work with it.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, beat one of the eggs. Add feta, Parmesan and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Step 2: Roll out puff pastry and cut

bourekas Roll out puff pastry and cutJamie Thrower for Taste of Home

Dust flour onto a clean, flat surface. Lay out a sheet of puff pastry on the flour, dusting a bit more on top as well. (You can go pretty light with the flour, but you don’t want the dough to stick to the counter.)

Roll out dough to 12″ x 12″, using a ruler if you want to be exact, and use the pizza cutter to clean up the edges. Cut the dough into 3 inch strips horizontally and vertically, making 16 even 3″ x 3″ squares.

Step 3: Fill and close pastries

bourekas Fill and close pastriesJamie Thrower for Taste of Home

Get out a small bowl of water, two sheet pans lined with parchment paper, a fork and a pastry brush.

Drop a small spoonful of filling, about a heaping teaspoon, into the center of each pastry square. Dip your finger in the water and wet one corner of one square, then take the opposite corner and gently fold it over the filling, meeting the edges so they line up. Gently press down to seal the dough, dabbing with a bit more water if it’s not sealing. Take the fork and gently press along the two sealed edges so you can see the pattern. Repeat with remaining squares.

Step 4: Brush with egg wash

bourekas Brush with egg washJamie Thrower for Taste of Home

Scramble the second egg with a small splash of water to make egg wash.

Set bourekas onto the parchment-lined sheet trays, with a couple of inches between each pastry. Brush well with egg wash and give a generous sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Editor’s tip: If you want to freeze your bourekas, now would be the time. Place them in a single layer on the parchment paper with a bit of space between each one. Once they’re completely frozen, they can be bagged up and kept for up to 3 months in the freezer. No need to thaw them when you’re ready to cook, just pull from the freezer and bake.

Step 5: Bake and enjoy

bourekas Bake and enjoyJamie Thrower for Taste of Home

Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating at least once (both front to back and top to bottom). They should be golden brown all over and very hot. Remove from the oven and eat while they’re nice and warm!

Store leftover bourekas in an airtight container or zip-close bag. They’ll stay good for several days, but are best when fresh from the oven.

Tips for Making Bourekas

  • You can reheat bourekas at 375° for 7-10 minutes, or until very hot to the touch. They’re also tasty at room temperature.

  • You can easily double or triple this recipe when you’re preparing for a crowd.

  • You can try making the bourekas larger, in 4″ x 4″ triangles, or experiment with different shapes, like rectangles or squares. (Just make sure to add more filling for a larger piece of dough.)

  • Bourekas are delicious with so many different types of fillings! Mix some different ingredients into your cheese filling, like wilted spinach, mashed potato or caramelized onion.

  • I like the black sesame seeds because they look so beautiful on bourekas, but there are lots of different toppings you can enjoy. Like everything bagel seasoning, poppy seeds or za’atar. You can also put different toppings on different flavors to help differentiate them from one other.

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Risa Lichtman
Risa Lichtman is a chef and writer living in Portland, Oregon. She is the owner/chef of Lepage Food & Drinks, a small food company featuring Jewish seasonal foods, providing takeaway all around Portland. She has previously published poems in Poetica Magazine, the anthology The Art of Bicycling, Maggid: A Journal of Jewish Literature, and The Dos Passos Review. She lives with her wife Jamie, their dog Isaac, and their cat Sylvia. Follow her at @risaexpizza, or find her delicious food offerings on @lepagefoodanddrinks.