This vegan spanakopita is easy to make with a couple of store-bought shortcuts to save you time, but no one will ever know that it’s not 100% homemade! Filled with an extremely flavorful mixture of spinach, fresh parsley, garlic, onions, and almond ricotta sandwiched between crispy layers of filo dough, this spinach pie is simply spectacular!
Ever since my first bite of spanakopita at my family’s favorite Greek restaurant in Tarpon Springs, I was hooked! I loved the creamy spinach filling and the super flaky layers, it was so delicious and such a treat! When I went vegan, I created this veganized version of spanakopita and it’s just as tasty! I usually serve this dish as a main course for Christmas and Easter dinner because it’s a beautiful presentation and my non-vegan family loves it!
I call this a semi-homemade vegan spanakopita because I use a couple of store-bought shortcuts which make it super quick and simple to assemble. Using store-bought vegan ricotta, frozen spinach, and premade filo dough will save you a lot of prep time and it makes this delicious meal a snap to put together!
Can Vegans Eat Filo Dough?
Vegans can eat filo dough as long as it doesn’t contain any butter. Some brands of premade filo do contain butter, so it’s important that you check the ingredient label before you buy it. A few brands of filo are accidentally vegan because they use oil instead of butter. I really like the Fillo Factory frozen filo dough.
To keep this semi-homemade vegan spanakopita recipe super simple and easy to make, it’s important that you use the following premade ingredients:
- Filo Dough
- Dairy-Free Ricotta
- Frozen Chopped Spinach
How to Make It – Step by Step Instructions
First, saute the diced onion in a large pan until it’s soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and let it cook until fragrant (Photo 1). While the onions and garlic are cooking, put the thawed spinach in a piece of cheesecloth or a thin lint-free towel, twist it into a ball to seal the top, and squeeze firmly to drain any remaining water. You should end up with a softball-sized ball of dry spinach (Photo 2).
Combine the cooked onions and garlic, spinach, fresh parsley, vegan ricotta, lemon zest, nutmeg, and black pepper in a large mixing bowl until all the ingredients are evenly distributed (Photos 3 & 4). Lay the thawed filo in between two lightly damp towels so it doesn’t dry out while you’re assembling the spanakopita (Photo 5).
In a 9×13 casserole dish, brush the bottom with olive oil and then line it with 12 sheets of filo, brushing every other layer lightly with olive oil (Photo 6). The edges will hang over the dish, that’s ok because you will fold them in later. Add the spinach and ricotta filling to the casserole dish and gently spread it out in one even layer (Photo 7).
Top the filling with 5 sheets of filo (brushing every other layer with oil), fold in the egdes, lay the last piece on top, and tuck the edges in. Generously brush the top layer with oil, score the spinach pie into 12 pieces (only cut through the top layers) (Photo 8), and then bake the spanakopita until the top is lightly browned and crispy.
This vegan spanakopita makes a beautiful and impressive main course. Any of the following side dishes would be good to serve with it:
- Lemon Tahini Courgette Salad
- Arugula Avocado Tomato Salad
- Pomegranate Wild Rice Salad
- Salad with Vegan Ranch Dressing
Can Spanakopita Be Made in Advance?
You can assemble the spanakopita the day before but don’t bake it. Cover it so it’s airtight and refrigerate it until you’re ready to bake it the next day. Then follow the baking instructions.
How Long Does it Last in the Refrigerator?
Store any leftover spanakopita in an airtight container in the fridge and it will stay fresh for 2-3 days. After that, the filo starts to get a little soggy.
Can I Freeze It?
You can freeze a whole unbaked pie or individual baked portions of the vegan spanakopita in an airtight, freezer-safe container in the freezer for 2-3 months. If it has already been baked, the filo may not be as flaky once it is defrosted and baked the second time.
How to Reheat It
From the Fridge: You can warm individual portions in the microwave but it won’t make the filo crispy again. The best way to reheat the spanakopita so it gets a crispy crust like you baked it fresh, is to put it in an oven-safe dish, cover it with a piece of parchment paper to protect it from burning, and bake it for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees or until it’s warmed through (depending on how big the slice is).
From the Freezer: If you freeze portions of spanakopita that have already been baked, it’s best to defrost it in the fridge for 24 hours before reheating the oven or microwave so it doesn’t get dried out. If you froze a whole unbaked pie, you can bake it straight from the freezer at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until it’s warmed through. If the top starts to get too dark, cover it with parchment paper to protect it.
Spanakopita can also be enjoyed as an appetizer or finger food! Instead of layering the ingredients in a casserole dish, you can make vegan spanakopita triangles. To do this, cut the sheet of filo into 3-inch x 10-inch strips. Work with one piece at a time and cover the remaining pieces with plastic wrap and a damp cloth so it doesn’t dry out.
Brush the strip lightly with oil and then put a generous spoonful of the spinach filling in the bottom of the strip. Fold it up into a triangle shape and keep folding until you use the whole strip. Repeat until you run out of filling. Arrange the triangles on a parchment-lined baking tray and lightly brush each triangle with oil. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until they’re golden and crispy.
Substitutions & FAQ
- Spinach Substitutions: Thinly sliced kale can be used instead of spinach.
- Filo Substitution: If you can’t find vegan filo dough, you can use vegan puff pastry instead.
- Almond Ricotta Substitutions: Instead of vegan ricotta, you could use vegan feta (I love Violife feta) or you could make homemade vegan tofu feta. In a pinch, I’ve even used Kite Hill plain vegan cream cheese and it was delicious! Not as tangy as the ricotta, but it was still very creamy.
- Can I use fresh spinach? You can definitely use fresh spinach, but I found it easier to use frozen because it’s already chopped and all you have to do is thaw it and drain it. If you use fresh spinach, you’ll need about 2 1/2 lbs.
- The filo is too dry and crumbly! How do I fix it? If the dough has been exposed to the air for too long, it may dry out and tear when picked up. If this happens, just patch the pieces together in the bottom of the casserole because nobody will see it. Instead of trying to piece the topping together, you can just crumple each piece (like you would crumple a piece of paper) and put it on top of the pie filling. I’ve done this with old filo that I re-froze and defrosted and it turned out beautifully! Just make sure generously brush all the nooks and crannies and tips of the dough with olive oil before baking.
- Do I have to use oil? Oil is necessary to use to make the filo crispy. However, if you’re oil-free, you can use aquafaba as a substitute, but it won’t create the same dark color and crispiness as oil does.
- Gluten-Free: To make this recipe gluten-free, you’ll need to use gluten-free filo dough. If you want to make it from scratch, try this recipe. There is a brand of vegan gluten-free filo called Schar, but I haven’t tried it.
- Take the frozen spinach and filo dough out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw for 24 hours. Move the filo to the counter 1-2 hours before you’re making the spanakopita so the dough will be at room temperature, soft, and pliable when you’re ready to use it.
- It’s very important to drain the spinach extremely well because you don’t want the pie to be soggy from excess water. If the spinach still has ice crystals when you take it out of the fridge, warm it in a pan to melt the ice before you strain it.
- When you’re assembling the vegan spanakopita, keep the layers of thawed filo in between two slightly damp dish towels so it won’t dry out. Don’t open the sealed bag that the dough sheets are in until right before you’re ready to assemble the pie.
- Don’t worry if the filo tears when you pick it up. Just put it in the casserole dish and match it up the best you can with the other pieces. Brush it with a little bit of olive oil and nobody will be able to tell once it has been baked.
Want More Delicious Vegan Spinach Recipes?
Semi-Homemade Vegan Spanakopita
- Large Pan
- Large Mixing Bowl
- (2) Hand Towels
- 9-inch x 13-inch Casserole Dish
- 2 lbs frozen chopped spinach
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 3 medium garlic cloves minced
- 1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley roughly chopped (mostly leaves, but small stems are ok if finely chopped)
- 16 oz vegan ricotta (I used (2) 8 oz packages Kite Hill almond ricotta)
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb vegan filo dough thawed (I used an 18-sheet package of Fillo Factory filo dough)
- Take the frozen filo and spinach out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to defrost for 24 hours. If you forget to do this the day before, you can warm the frozen spinach in a pan on the stove (right before you make the dish) until it's fully thawed.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large pan, saute the diced onion until soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic cloves and let it cook for 1 minute. It will smell very fragrant.
- While the onions are cooking, drain the spinach. Put the thawed spinach into a piece of cheesecloth or a thin dish towel, twist it into a ball to seal, and squeeze any remaining water out. You want the spinach to be as dry as possible.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked onions and garlic, drained spinach, almond ricotta, lemon zest, chopped parsley, nutmeg, and black pepper. Mix well to combine all the ingredients. Taste the filling and add salt to taste if necessary.
- Take the thawed filo dough out of the package and lay it between two slightly damp dish towels so they don't dry out. Don't open the package and expose the sheets to air until you're ready to assemble the pie.
- Add the spinach filling and use a spatula to smooth it out evenly. Top with the remaining pieces of filo dough (brushing every other layer with oil), but reserve 1 full sheet for the top. Fold in (or trim off) all of the edges that are hanging over and then brush the corners generously with olive oil so they will get crispy. Lay the last piece of filo on top to cover the sloppy edges you just folded in and tuck the edges in.
- Score the pie (only cut through the top layers of filo) into 12 pieces. It's much easier to cut it now before it's crispy. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top layer is lightly brown and crispy. Let it rest for a few minutes before removing slices from the pan. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
- Take the frozen spinach and filo dough out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw for 24 hours. Move the filo to the counter 1-2 hours before you're making the pie so the dough will be at room temperature, soft, and pliable when you're ready to use it.
- It's very important to drain the spinach extremely well because you don't want the pie to be soggy from excess water. If the spinach still has ice crystals when you take it out of the fridge, warm it in a pan to melt the ice before you strain it.
- When you're assembling the spinach pie, keep the layers of thawed filo in between two slightly damp dish towels so it won't dry out. Don't open the sealed bag that the dough sheets are in until right before you're ready to assemble the pie.
- Don't worry if the filo tears when you pick it up. Just put it in the casserole dish and match it up the best you can with the other pieces. Brush it with a little bit of olive oil and nobody will be able to tell once it has been baked.
*This recipe was originally shared on 4/18/18, but I updated it on 9/5/20.