Layers of thin, buttered phyllo sandwich a unique custard made with fine semolina and dotted with bright, orange rind. Then, it is all soaked and rests in a sweet, citrus syrup.


Each summer when I travel to Greece to visit my in-laws, I enjoy my favorite traditional desserts that do not resemble anything from the American kitchen. Usually, I savor the sweet treats during the annual visit, convinced that I could not reproduce them at home.

This year is different. Our cousin Sophia spoiled us with all of our favorites and then took the time to handwrite her recipes for me. She promised that the sweet pies were very easy to make. My husband translated the precious code and for the past few weeks, I have tested the recipes, adjusting slightly for American ingredients or measurements.

The key to both Galaktoboureko and Bougatsa (recipe coming soon!) is the fine semolina in the custard. It may be hard to find for many of you. Luckily, we have a grocery store just blocks away that sells Greek food and ingredients needed for common dishes. The fine semolina (available online here)  is also called farina and reminded me of Cream of Wheat breakfast cereal I ate as a child.


Do NOT be afraid of working with phyllo. Often people complain that it is difficult and perhaps if you are making small pies and let it get dry, it will get finicky. But, if you are making large pies like this with full sheets, it is no trouble at all. Don’t skimp on the butter between the sheets. I use a large basting brush. Or, I should say, Mini Whipped uses the large pastry brush. (Brushing the butter between layers is a fun and easy job for kids.)


Though I usually find that traditional foods taste best in the location of their birth, our brood was quite pleased with our first, stateside Galaktoboureko. The enormous pan of sweet, caloric custard called to me hourly, like a Siren to the rocks. Sliver by sliver, I repeatedly convinced myself that I was just “evening out” the slices. So, I brought the rest of the pan to work and shared it with my office mates and clients. The reviews were positive.

Greek desserts, welcome to the Whipped kitchen!

Cousin Sophia’s Galaktoboureko

6  cups milk
1 cup fine semolina
¾ cup sugar
3 eggs
1  teaspoon vanilla
orange rind from 1 orange, finely grated
1 package phyllo (about 10-14 sheets)
2 sticks (1 cup) + 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Citrus Syrup:
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
orange juice from ½ an orange, about ¼ cup

Put milk, ½ cup sugar, vanilla, semolina and 1 Tablespoon butter in a sauce pan on medium heat. When it starts heating, keep stirring until it becomes thick like pudding. Take it off the fire and let it cool for 5-10 minutes. Beat eggs with the rest (1/4 cup) of the sugar and stir it in to milk mixture. Stir the orange peel in.

To make the pie, the phyllo should be room temperature or slightly cooler. Open the package right before using it so the sheets do not get too dry. Melt two sticks of butter and start by brushing the butter on the bottom of your pan. In Greece, they use a large round pan about 16 inches in diameter. I used a lasagna dish, which works well (about 10 x 13 x 2). If you only have a traditional 9 x 13, you may not fit all the custard in the dish.

Lay down about 5-6 sheets phyllo or half of your package. Lightly press the sheets into the sides and corner and let the edges overlap on top. You will fold them over later. Do not skimp on the butter! You should use half on the bottom layers and half on the top.


Pour the slightly cooled custard on the bottom sheets and spread to the sides. Then layer another sheet on top. Mini Whipped has decided to name this process “putting the custard to bed.” We even told our custard a nice story, which I am quite sure added to its deliciousness in the end.

Continue brushing butter between layers until you have used all the phyllo, approximately 6 sheets on bottom and 6 on top. Then, brush butter on the overlapping sides and roll the edges down creating a “rim” around the edge of the pan. Liberally brush the top and the edge with the rest of your butter.

Bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees or until the top is light brown all over.

While the pie is baking make the syrup by boiling the sugar, water and juice together for about 5 minutes. When you remove the pie from the oven, let it cool for about 15 minutes. Then, pour the syrup over the entire pie. Over time, it will seep in to the pie. Wait at least an hour before serving. Store the pie in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and continue to enjoy!

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27 Responses to “Galaktoboureko: Greek Custard Phyllo Pie in Citrus Syrup”

  1. Jane Says:

    I love ANYTHING made with phyllo. This looks absolutely delectable!

  2. heather @ chiknpastry Says:

    YUM. I am a huge fan of greek desserts. i know what you mean though – sometimes they just seem better when they’re made in their native country :).

  3. Jessica Says:

    Being married to a Greek I am always nervous about making the traditional sweets — but as it turns out I am great at galaktoboureko :) Yours looks super as well… makes me hungry!

  4. Galaktobourkeo,Greek Custard Pie Recipe & Instruction :: Whipped | Honeymoon Across Europe Says:

    [...] Go here to read the rest: Galaktobourkeo,Greek Custard Pie Recipe & Instruction :: Whipped [...]

  5. irene Says:

    This is one of my all-time favorite desserts! I cannot wait to try it in my own kitchen. Thank you for sharing the recipe and the storytelling tip–I bet that is the real secret to the custard’s deliciousness!

  6. EB Says:

    I can’t even explain to you how excited I am by this recipe!!! There’s a restaurant by me that serves this an it’s my favorite thing. Not just there, but you know… in life. It’s so good, the mgr said he had to lock it up because the waitstaff would sneak “bites” until the pan disappeared (every day)! I can’t wait to make my own.

  7. stresscake Says:

    you brought the extras to work?!?! Oh curses, that I wasn’t there!!!!!

  8. Kathryn | Dramatic Pancake Says:

    Haha, calories don’t count when you eat something in small bites! :) I’ve never had this before but I’m printing out the recipe…

  9. Deanna Says:

    My mom is Greek and I just wanted to share a tip – when I make Spanakopita instead of buttering between all of the layers of phyllo, I spray Pam! It’s much easier and quicker, especially if the phyllo starts to tear on you, and has the same effect. Opa!

  10. Galaktobourkeo,Greek Custard Pie Recipe & Instruction :: Whipped » Greek Recipes Says:

    [...] See the rest here: Galaktobourkeo,Greek Custard Pie Recipe & Instruction :: Whipped [...]

  11. Stolk Says:

    Jeez, girl, I don’t know how you find the time. Maybe we can make this together at Christmastime if I don’t get over my phyllophobia before that. I’m a bit intimidated…

  12. Carroll Says:

    Looks wonderful!

  13. GreenInOC Says:

    Can’t wait to make this it looks delish!

    Could you please clarify?

    The butter listed in the recipe calls for 1.5 sticks of butter (plus one Tablespoon but that’s irrelevant to my confusion!), but then the instructions state, “Melt two sticks of butter”.

    I’m leaning toward 2 sticks as being correct because, well, can you really ever go wrong with more butter?!

  14. Eva Says:

    This looks incredible. I love, love semolina puddings. Big props for “translating” the recipe, I always get told things like “1 pot” of cream or “a bag” of sugar or cook until the texture “looks right.” Really looking forward to the bougatsa recipe!

  15. Health Insurance Says:

    yummy food and beautiful all pics

  16. Procrastination Links « Kaprise! Says:

    [...] Galaktoboureko… a Greek custardy phyllo dessert that I’m just dying to make. [...]

  17. Greek Custard Pie Recipe (Galaktoboureko) | Brown Eyed Baker Says:

    [...] (Recipe adapted from Whipped) [...]

  18. Yiayia Says:

    Can you freeze galaktoboureko before baking?

  19. just like Yia Yia’s house … Greek Sunday Lunch « STRESSCAKE Says:

    [...] Galaktobourkeo:  My favorite part of this dish at Caroline’s house was listening to her sassy 4-year old pronounce it perfectly over and over and giggle when I tried to say it.  I love this pie – all creamy, fragrant with citrus and crunchy at the same time.  Honest to god, it was the mitigating factor in creating this menu in the first place.  The original recipe makes a huge pie – I cut it in half and used a 10” round shallow baking dish which could easily serve 10-12 people.  I also added a bit of orange flower water into the soaking syrup to pump up the flavor.  This was gorgeous coming out of the oven, all puffy and golden brown.  A real showy dessert – everyone wanted to know what was inside, like a big surprise. [...]

  20. Galaktoboureko | Blogeats Says:

    [...] Cousin Sophia. The original post, which includes some additional and helpful step-by-step photos, is here. It’s not a dish I knew, but it is one that makes me wish I, too, had a Cousin Sophia.  Here is [...]

  21. Love to bake Says:

    After drooling over this recipe for several weeks I finally decided to give it a go. I was a not very nice person at work on Friday and so thought this dish would make a good edible apology. I just took it out of the oven and if it tastes as good as it looks I should be in good shape. Thanks so much for sharing.

  22. Lisa Says:

    I have been searching for one that has the consistency I like. I am making this again for my birthday cake next month!!

  23. Lisa Says:

    This looks incredible! How wonderful to visit Greece every year! We just returned from our first trip a couple days ago and will definitely be back!

  24. Ina Says:

    I love galakto boureko, bougatsa and everything about Greece

  25. Royal gorden Says:

    A Wonderful part of reading. I love peoples when they share their idea and I appreciate you for taking your time to share the point you capable of. If you do not mind would you please share your thought on our new lunch aff site? it`s here Honestly it`s just a starter. I`ll make it better with your suggestion. Thank you in advance.

  26. Florence Says:

    This version of galaktoboureko looks delicious. I can’t wait to try it and thanks to you and Cousin Sophia! The round pan that they use in Greece is available in well stocked Greek bakeries in North America. It is called a “tepsi” and comes in many sizes. You can also use large cake pans sold in bakery supply shops which also come in many sizes (typically wedding cake pans). It is well worth the purcase especially if you make from scratch phyllo that requires stretching, its the only way to go.

  27. Coco in the Kitchen Says:

    I love those little hands, helping you!
    I often bake w my little one.
    I’m Armenian and one of my oldest friends is Greek. I recently heard of galaktoboureko and thought it would be difficult to make, but it wasn’t.
    I made it for my mom’s bday and everyone loved it.
    Now I have to try your Cousin Sophia’s recipe because family recipes are the BEST!

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