Savory authentic spinach fatayer (savory hand pies) are a Levantine staple and popular throughout the Middle East and beyond. These portable pastries are delicious and can be enjoyed any time of day.
Whether you call this spinach fatayer, spinach hand-pies, Lebanese spinach pies, Middle Eastern spinach fatayer, fatayer bi sabanekh, or simply fatayer with spinach, these baked savory pies or pastries are a crowd-pleaser and incredibly popular around the world!
They are often served for breakfast alongside other classics like zaatar manakish, homemade labneh, cheese sambousek, Jerusalem bagels and of course hot tea. This recipe is featured in my What to Eat with Hummus (21 amazing ideas) post.
It’s actually not that difficult to make and once you get the hang of it, you’ll be making them over and over again, I promise you that! The dough for this recipe is based on my master dough recipe (Taboon) which can also be used to make Cheese Manakish, Za’atar Manakish and other variations of fatayer (cheese fatayer and Meat Fatayer).
This recipe comes together with staple pantry and fridge ingredients.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Flour: Authentic fatayer dough is made with all-purpose flour or unbleached flour. But nothing is stopping you from making them healthier by substituting some of the white flour for whole wheat. You can substitute up to 25% of the flour with whole wheat if you like. You may need to adjust the liquid amount to get a supple dough, so keep that in mind if you adjust the flour type.
- Yeast: I use and recommend instant yeast, but you can use active dry yeast. If you use dry active yeast, keep the quantity the same and pre-bloom it in the warm liquid before adding it to the dry ingredients. You can also use fresh yeast, but do adjust the quantity. When using fresh yeast instead of dry, use double the amount by weight.
- Milk: The warm milk helps keep the final product soft and pliable. If you want to keep this recipe vegan, you can replace the milk with an equal amount of water.
- Oil: Olive oil is my go-to choice here but you can use avocado or vegetable oil instead.
- Spinach: The classic recipe uses fresh spinach, but you can use frozen spinach blocks too. Make sure to let it defrost and squeeze out as much water as possible from it before adding it to your pan. You can also substitute spinach entirely here with Swiss chard or kale.
- Spices: the classic spices used here are sumac and Baharat (Levantine 7 spice blend). You can substitute the 7 spice blend for equal parts cinnamon, cumin and coriander.
- Lemon Juice: The lemon juice brightens up the spinach mixture and helps it retain its color. You can use a splash of vinegar in place of the lemon juice if you want.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
How to Make This Authentic Spinach Fatayer Recipe
I encourage you to read through all the steps first before you start to get a better feel for this recipe.
1. Mix. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the dough dry ingredients and mix well to combine. Add the warm water, milk and oil. Run the stand mixer with the dough hook until a ball of dough forms, about 5-7 minutes (Image 1).
2. Rise. Rub the dough ball lightly with oil on all sides and let it rise, covered, in the bowl of the stand mixer for 1 hour in a warm place (Image 2a and Image 2b).
3. Spinach filling. While the dough rises, prepare the spinach mixture. To a pan, add 2 tablespoon olive oil and the diced onions. Sautee for 2 minutes until translucent. Add the cleaned spinach in batches and wilt it down. Continue cooking until all the liquid has evaporated. Add the spices and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to come to room temperature (Image 3).
4. Divide and Shape. After the bread dough has risen to about double its original size, divide it into 12 pieces (for standard size) or 18 pieces (for minis). Shape each piece of dough into a tight ball and rest them on your kitchen counter for 10 minutes, covered, so that the gluten can relax (Image 4).
5. Flatten. Preheat your oven to 425F (220C). Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough balls into a ¼ inch (0.6cm) thick. Place the dough circles on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (Image 5).
6. Fill and Shape. Add some of the spinach mixture to the center of the dough circle. Pich the dough disk in a way to form a triangle shape (Image 6).
7. Egg wash. Place the hand pies on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush the dough with egg wash (Images 7a-7c).
8. Bake. Bake in a preheated oven until the dough is golden brown and serve warm or at room temperature (Image 8).
- Skip the mixer. You can mix this dough by hand in a large bowl if you don’t have a stand mixer. Make sure to knead it for a full 5 minutes after it comes together on your countertop.
- Skip the dough. Not a fan of making your own homemade dough? No problem. Use store-bought pizza dough instead. It won’t be exactly the same but it will be close enough.
- Grease the work surface. If you find that the dough is sticking to your work surface, use a bit of oil instead of flour to keep things loose and moving. If you use flour, it could change the consistency of the dough.
- Flip the disk! You'll find that after rolling out the disk, the bottom of it will be sticky whereas the top will be smooth. By flipping it upside down (sticky side up), it will be a lot easier for you to seal the seams!
- Use a pizza oven! If you have one, use a woodfired or gas pizza oven to bake the pastries. This will give it a more authentic flavor. You’ll have to adjust the recipe directions accordingly.
A toaster oven, an air fryer, or a standard oven is the best way to reheat fatayer. If you use a microwave they may become mushy and unappetizing.
If you’re looking to save some time, you can make the dough 1 day ahead of time and let it rise in the fridge overnight. This longer, slower rise is actually beneficial in many ways and the result will be a much easier-to-digest bread for those with gluten sensitives. Just use half the amount of yeast if you plan to let the dough rise in the fridge overnight.
These spinach hand-pies can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 5 days. Though I am not a fan of freezing, they can also be frozen in a freezer bag for up to 6 months and reheated in a toaster oven.
If you make this Spinach Fatayer (Levantine Savory Hand Pies) or any other baking recipes on Urban Farm and Kitchen, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe.
Spinach Fatayer (Levantine Savory Hand Pies)
For the dough
- 3 cups All purpose flour - 360 grams
- 2 ¼ teaspoon Instant yeast - 7 grams
- 1 tablespoon Sugar - 12.5 grams
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt - 5 grams
- ½ cup Water, warmed - 120 grams
- ½ cup Milk, warmed - 120 grams
- ¼ cup Olive oil - 53 grams
- 2 tablespoon Olive oil - 30 ml
- 1 Medium onion - Finely chopped
- 16 Ounces Fresh spinach - Bagged spinach typically comes in 8 oz bags. You will need 2 bags.
- 1 Lemon - Juiced
- 2 tablespoon Sumac
- ½ teaspoon Baharat spice Blend (Optional) - You can use equal parts cinnamon, cumin and coriander spice
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 Egg - Beaten
- Mix. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and mix well to combine. Add the warm water, warm milk and olive oil. Run the stand mixer with the dough hook until a ball of dough forms, about 5-7 minutes. If you find the dough is sticking to the sides, add more flour, one tablespoon at a time.
- Rise. Rub the dough ball lightly with oil on all sides and let it rise, covered with a tea towel, in the bowl of the stand mixer for 1 hour in a warm place.
- Spinach filling. While the dough rises, prepare the spinach mixture. To a pan set on medium heat, add 2 tablespoon olive oil and the diced onions. Sautee for 2 minutes until translucent. Add the cleaned spinach in batches and wilt it down. Continue cooking until all the liquid has evaporated, 5-8 minutes. Add the spices and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. It should be slightly sour. Set aside to cool.
- Divide and Shape. After the bread dough has risen to about double its original size, divide it into 12 pieces (for standard size) or 18 pieces (for minis). Use a kitchen scale here if you want your fatayer to be evenly sized. Shape each piece of dough into a tight ball and rest them on your kitchen counter for 10 minutes, covered, so that the gluten can relax.
- Flatten. Preheat your oven to 400F (205C). Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough balls into a ¼ inch (0.6cm) thick. Place the dough circles in one layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. You may need to do this in steps or using multiple baking sheets. NOTE: You'll find that after rolling out the disk, the bottom of it will be sticky whereas the top will be smooth. By flipping it upside down (sticky side up), it will be a lot easier for you to seal the seams in the next step!
- Fill and Shape. Add 1-2 tablespoons of spinach mixture to the center of the dough circle. Pich the dough disk to seal it to the middle and then bring the other side of the disk to the center to form a pyramid or triangular shape. Pinch the seams well so that they don’t open while baking (Take a look at the photos above).
- Egg wash. Brush the pastry with a beaten egg.
- Bake. Bake in a preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until the dough is golden brown. Keep an eye on your oven, you may need to adjust the time and or temperature to avoid burning. Serve warm.