Turkish Borek (Flaky Pastry)

Last Updated on March 5, 2024

Borek is a general Turkish term for filled pastries. Turkish borek comes in many forms: layered, rolled, or folded with endless fillings, and then baked, steamed, or fried. The most common filling is white cheese with parsley, apart from that you can find börek with ground beef, spinach, potatoes, pastrami, and more.

The base of most of the börek is the paper-thin phyllo dough called “yufka”. Although hard to make at home, some housewives in Turkey make böreks from scratch, which takes quite some time and effort. 

Börek can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack besides a glass of Turkish tea. It’s varied, versatile, delicious, inexpensive, and, in many of its forms, vegetarian. If your path crosses Turkey, don’t leave without tasting some of the different types of börek around the country. 

Turkish Borek Ingredient Index: 

  • Ispanaklı= spinach borek
  • Beyaz Peynir = white cow’s milk cheese (feta cheese)
  • Kıymalı= borek with ground beef or lamb
  • Karışık = mixed ingredients
  • Kaşar peynirli = melted yellow cow’s milk cheese
  • Patatesli = mashed potato filling
  • Pastırmalı= pastrami

Tepsi böreği

Tepsi böreği is a classic tray pastry. Mostly prepared at home, it is the easiest and quickest type of börek. Several sheets of phyllo dough are layered on an oven tray, halfway it is filled with any kind of filling, and finished by layering the same amount of sheets on top. Before putting it in the oven, an egg mixture is spread on top and finished off with a touch of sesame and black cumin seeds. 

Puf böreği

Puf böreği is a deep-fried, triangular-shaped puff pastry filled with white cheese and chopped parsley. Various fillings can be added, such as ground beef, or anything you desire. Being flaky and puffy, it is always delicious with a fresh cup of Turkish tea. 

Sigara böreği

As you can guess from its name “Sigara böreği” takes its name from its shape resembling a “Cigarette”. This cigar-shaped pastry is rolled with a filling of white cheese and chopped parsley. As it is made with a thin phyllo dough and deep-fried, it is a very crunchy type of börek. Perfect for breakfast, this Turkish pastry is especially a favorite among children.

Su böreği

Su” means “Water” in Turkish. Let’s come to why it is called water börek. Before placing the layers, the hand-rolled phyllo sheets are boiled one by one. After boiling, the layers are sprinkled with crumbled feta cheese and chopped parsley. As it is an egg-based dough, and boiled like pasta, it resembles a kind of Turkish lasagna. Traditionally it is baked on a fire stove, but home chefs can easily replace it with their oven. Once baked, it is cut into squares and served either hot or cold. Su böreği is often eaten at breakfast or as a snack. 

Çi börek

Çi börek is a thin pastry filled with a mixture of meat and onions. The filled pastry is deep-fried until golden brown and is best when freshly served. This half-moon-shaped pastry is best consumed with a cold glass of Ayran, a Turkish yogurt drink. Though not commonly found in every pastry shop, there are some great eateries specializing only in çi börek.

Gül böreği

What about a rose-shaped börek? “Gül” means “rose” in Turkish, which is where its name comes from. A phyllo dough, filled with a variety of mixtures, is rolled and turned up into a rose shape. There is no one specific way of filling this pastry, so one can be quite creative with it. Often, when home-cooked, gül böreği is served with a yogurt sauce, and topped with tomato paste oil. 

Kol böreği

Kol böreği is a tray pastry, taking its name from its long and curved shape resembling arms. Mostly preferred with ground beef or cheese, other fillings like potatoes or spinach can be found as well. This flaky, buttery pastry is freshly baked and served in small pieces. Sarıyer, a district in Istanbul, is best known for its Kol böreği, where they add some currants and pine nuts to the ground beef mixture. 

Paçanga böreği

Being one of the most flavorful böreks, Paçanga is a rolled fried pastry, resembling “Sigara böreği”. A mixture of pastrami, cheese, green pepper, and tomato is prepared. Compared to “Sigara böreği”, it is more generously filled, and shaped bigger. Before frying, the rolled pastry is dipped into bread crumbs. By doing so, the detail of bread crumbs adds a nice texture to it.

Kürt böreği

Kürt böreği, when compared to the other böreks, isn't as common. While all the other böreks are savory, this one is sweet. Plenty of sheets of phyllo dough are consecutively layered with butter and olive oil. Being a tray pastry, Kürt böreği is cut and served in cubes, topped with plenty of powdered sugar. 



-by Tom Brosnahan, updated by Julide Koca


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