Monday, March 08, 2021

Gibanica - (Serbian) Cheese Pie

In researching foods from Montenegro, Serbia, and this general area on the internet, I went down many rabbit holes. There are bunches of variations of this cheese pie that is basically phyllo or the slightly thicker yufka dough, layered or rolled or scrunched in a dish, with a thin mixture of dairy products, that bakes up into this beautiful creation that is halfway between macaroni and cheese and lasagna, kind of. It is the perfect thing to do with that extra roll of phyllo you end up with after a project, but if you do that, make HALF this recipe please. The recipe I followed most closely comes from the Where is My Spoon? blog, a woman living in Germany. I say most closely because there is a wide range out there and I substituted some ingredients, and only had half the phyllo, so I just made it work. I think I used ricotta instead of cottage cheese and maybe half yogurt, half sour cream. 

Gorgeous browning top of the gibanica

I should warn you that on every post about this dish, there are people from other countries in the region claiming it for their country. I don't know where it comes from or who first made it, but I do know it is tasty.



  • 750 g/ 1.6 lb phyllo or yufka dough
  • 350 g/ 12.3 oz cow milk feta
  • 200 g/ 7 oz/ about ¾ cup sour cream
  • 200 g/ 7 oz/ about ¾ cup cottage cheese
  • ½ liter/ 17 fl.oz/ 2 cups whole milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • fine sea salt to taste 

Slice side view, not pretty, but delicious comfort food



  1. Roughly mash the feta cheese with a fork in a large bowl.
  2. Add the lightly beaten eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, whole milk and add salt to taste. The amount of salt you need depends on how salty the feta cheese is, you should definitely try the mixture and add salt accordingly.

Assemble the gibanica:

  1. Grease the baking dish (approximately 30x22 cm/ 12x9 inches) with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  2. Open the packet of dough, take out two sheets of dough, while keeping the rest covered at all times. Cover the dough you are not working with with a damp towel to prevent it from drying out. Work quickly.
  3. Place the first two dough sheets in the greased baking dish. The dough sheets should hang over the edges of the baking dish, when you are finished with filling the pie, you will seal it using these overlapping pieces of dough.
  4. Place the bowl with the cheese slurry next to the baking dish. Take one dough sheet out of the packet, crumple it a bit (it doesn't matter if it breaks a little) and dip and run it through the cheese mixture.
  5. Press it lightly into your hand to give it a rough round shape and place this crumpled dough into the baking dish.
  6. Make sure to keep two last sheets of dough to close the pie, but otherwise use as many pieces of dough as needed to fill the baking dish.
  7. Pour the remaining cheese mixture over the crumpled dough in the dish.
  8. Fold the overlapping sheets of dough over the pie.
  9. Take the last two sheets of dough and place them over the pie as well.
  10. Mix together the remaining olive oil and 2 tablespoons hot water. Brush the top of the pie with this mixture and leave it to soak on the counter while you preheat the oven, my convection oven needs about 10 minutes to get hot.
  11. Preheat the convection oven to 170 degrees Celsius/ 340 degrees Fahrenheit or a regular oven to 190 degrees Celsius/ 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  12. Bake the gibanica for about 45 minutes or until golden brown and set.
  13. Serve hot or cold as suggested above.


Notes from JennyBakes:

You can interchange some of the dairy ingredients, but feta is a pretty important flavor. When you put it in the oven, it is fairly liquidy but if you scale up and down with the amount of phyllo/yufka, you should also scale up and down the other ingredients. That said if you've fit all you can fit and you just put in what looks right, it's hard to ruin this dish. The original recipe's pictures looks smoother than mine but I went a little rogue. 


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