Fatayer, pronounced “fat-tah-y-er,” are savory hand pies named for the Arabic word meaning “pastries” or “little pies.” Traditionally, this fatayer recipe is made and served for special occasions and gatherings, however, these healthy, freezable bite-sized snacks are perfect anytime of year!

An overhead photo of several Fatayer Spinach and Onion Hand Pies on a serving plate next to a blue cloth napkin. The fatayer on the top is cut in half, exposing the filling inside.
Photo Credits: Mariam Hamdy

This fatayer recipe is brought to you by Mama Dina, otherwise known as my wonderful mother-in-law! She makes these little pastry-triangles by the dozens, filling her freezer for whenever her five adult "kids" stop by. The pretty and comforting savory pies remind me of Greek tiropitakia, but with a distinctly Middle Eastern flavor. 

Once, on a short break from writing my cookbook, Mama Dina handed me a bag of about 40 frozen fatayer as we were getting ready to head home. I popped a handful of frozen pies right into my oven when we got back to Atlanta. As the smell of onions, sumac, allspice, and fresh dough filled my kitchen, I knew I had to share this healthy recipe with you!

To make them, you simply fill an easy yeasted dough with spiced spinach and onions and fold into rustic triangles. These savory pies freeze very well, so you can make a big batch ahead of holiday parties, or for a more general meal prep. They look fancy but are easy to make—you can even use store-bought pizza dough in a pinch!

Table of Contents
  1. Fatayer Recipe Ingredients 
    1. For the Basic Savory Dough (or substitute with store-bought pizza dough)
    2. For the Filling
  2. How to Make the Fatayer Dough
    1. By Stand Mixer 
    2. By Hand
  3. How to Make the Vegetarian Fatayer Filling
  4. How to Shape Fatayer
  5. Storage and Reheating
  6. What to Serve with Fatayer
  7. You’ll Also Like: Savory Hand Pies
  8. Fatayer (Spinach and Onion Savory Hand Pies) Recipe
Ingredients for Fatayer Spinach and Onion Hand Pies including flour, sugar, milk, yeast, grape seed oil, spinach, salt, olive oil, chopped onion, sumac, pepper, allspice, lemon juice, and 1 beaten egg.


Fatayer Recipe Ingredients 

Though these savory hand pies boast a vibrant Middle Eastern flavor, they’re made with mostly basic pantry ingredients and simple produce. You’ll need: 


For the Basic Savory Dough (or substitute with store-bought pizza dough)

  • Yeast: Make sure to use an active dry yeast that’s not expired. If it doesn’t bubble after activating it, your dough will likely stay flat. 
  • Seasoning: Sugar and salt enhance the flavor. 
  • Milk: Adds richness. 
  • All-purpose flour: A sturdy flour that will be both elastic and fluffy. I wouldn’t try to substitute with other flours here. 
  • Neutral oil: Use a high quality neutral oil, like grapeseed. Or substitute with a smooth, light- to medium-bodied extra virgin olive oil, like Arbequina


For the Filling

  • Baby spinach: I like to cook down fresh baby spinach, but you can substitute with thawed frozen spinach. Fresh or frozen, just be sure to wring it out very well so your fatayer don’t get soggy. 
  • Olive oil: Used to saute the vegetables. Use a high quality extra virgin variety for the best flavor. 
  • Onion: I like the sweetness of yellow onion, but red onion, white onion, or shallot would work in its place.
  • Seasonings: Ground allspice and sumac lend a distinct warming and bright quality and aroma that distinguishes these hand pies from their Greek cousin, tiropitakia. Kosher salt and ground black pepper enhance the flavor. 
  • Lemon: Adds acidity for balance. 
  • Egg: Brushed on the dough to give it its golden crust. If you avoid eggs, you can use whole milk or heavy cream in its place.
A close up of 23 Fatayer Spinach and Onion Hand Pies on a plate in front of a cup of tea, a cloth napkin and a serving plate with more of the hand pies.


How to Make the Fatayer Dough

The first step to making this fatayer recipe is to make the dough, which takes about 1 ½ hours to rise (or you can use store-bought pizza dough if you’d like). If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can knead the dough by hand (see below).


By Stand Mixer 

  • Activate the yeast. In a small bowl, combine 2 ¼ teaspoons of active dry yeast, scant 1 teaspoon sugar, and ½ cup of warm milk. Stir briefly. Set aside for about 10 minutes to activate (the mixture should bubble and develop a yeasty aroma). Yeast for the fatayer dough being activiated in a small white bowl.
  • Mix the dry ingredients. In the bowl of the mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine 3 ½ cups flour and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt using the lowest speed setting.
  • Add the wet ingredients. Slowly add the ⅓ cup oil, then the yeast mixture, and finally ½ cup more of warmed milk. Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough begins to form. If there are dry bits in the bottom of the bowl, add a tiny bit of additional milk or water (no more than 1 tablespoon at a time) as necessary as you continue mixing. Mix until the dough has formed into a smooth and slightly sticky ball, 3 to 5 minutes.a ball of fatayer dough in the bowl of a food processor.
  • Set aside to rise. Lightly grease a large mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon of oil. Form the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for the dough to double in size, about 1 ½ hours.fatayer dough set aside to rise in a bowl.


By Hand

This dough in this fatayer recipe is easy to make by hand, it just takes some patience to ensure it’s nice and smooth. To make it: 

  • Activate the yeast. In a small bowl, combine 2 ¼ teaspoons of active dry yeast, scant 1 teaspoon sugar, and ½ cup of warm milk. Stir briefly. Set aside for about 10 minutes to activate (the mixture should bubble and develop a yeasty aroma).
  • Make the dough. In a mixing bowl, whisk together 3 ½ cups flour and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Make a well in the center and add ⅓ cup neutral oil, the yeast mixture, and finally ½ cup more of warmed milk. Use your hands to incorporate the ingredients, kneading in the bowl for a few minutes to form a shaggy dough.
  • Knead. Turn the dough out onto a clean floured surface and knead for about 10 to 12 minutes, adding a tiny bit of milk or water if it appears dry (no more than I tablespoon at a time). You want a smooth and slightly sticky ball of dough. 
  • Set aside to rise. Lightly grease a large mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon of neutral oil. Form the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for the dough to double in size, about 1 ½ hours.
An overhead photo of several Fatayer Spinach and Onion Hand Pies on a serving plate next to a blue cloth napkin.


How to Make the Vegetarian Fatayer Filling

Make the filling for this fatayer recipe while the dough rests. This gives it plenty of time to cool before filling and folding.

  • Salt the spinach. Place 1 pound of roughly chopped baby spinach in a large colander and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Toss, then set aside for 5 minutes to help draw out its moisture.
  • Sauté the onion. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 1 finely chopped yellow onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it has softened and starts gaining some color, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and drain any excess liquid from the skillet.Chopped onions sautéing in a frying pan.
  • Wilt the spinach. Return the skillet to the stove and heat another tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the spinach, in batches if necessary, and cook, stirring frequently, until it just wilts, about 1 minute.
  • Dry the spinach. Return the wilted spinach to the colander to cool. When cool enough to handle, wrap the spinach in a clean tea towel and squeeze it over the sink to get rid of as much excess liquid as you can (this step is very important).Wilted spinach on a hand towel draped over a bowl after the excess liquid has been squeezed out.
  • Make the filling. Add the spinach to the bowl with the onion. Add 1 ½ tablespoons sumac, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, ¼ teaspoon ground allspice, and the juice of one lemon. Mix well to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.Filling for the Fatayer mixed together in a bowl.


How to Shape Fatayer

When your dough has doubled in size and your filling is ready, it’s time to make your fatayer! 

  • Roll the dough. Punch the dough down and knead briefly with your hands to deflate. On a clean, lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a ¼-inch thickness. Dough for fatayer rolled out onto a countertop.
  • Cut the dough. Using a glass or a 4-inch cookie cutter, cut the dough into circles. Collect any scraps and reroll to cut more circles. Cover the circles with a clean towel and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.The rolled dough for the fatayer being cut into individual circles.
  • Get ready to bake. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Lightly brush two 13×9-inch sheet pans with a thin layer of neutral oil.
  • Fill. Put 2 packed (flat, not heaping) tablespoons of the spinach mixture in the middle of each circle of dough.Filling for the fatayer added to the middle of a small circle of dough.
  • Fold. Set a small bowl of water beside the pans (you'll use this for wetting your fingers as you work with the dough). Bring up the edges at three points toward the middle to make a peak, forming a triangular package. Lightly wet your fingers and press the edges of the dough together firmly on the sides and at the top to seal.The dough circle for the fatayer pinched into a triangle shape around the filling.
  • Bake and enjoy. Arrange the pies in a single layer on the prepared sheet pans. Brush the tops with the beaten egg. Bake until lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.An overhead photo of several Fatayer Spinach and Onion Hand Pies on a serving plate next to a blue cloth napkin, three cups of tea, and a plate of 3 more of the hand pies.


Storage and Reheating

Fatayer freeze well, making them a sweet parting gift for out-of-town company, or to simply get ahead of a dinner party or mid-week meal plan. To store: 

  • Let the pies cool completely. 
  • Transfer to a sealable bag. 
  • Refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 6 months. 

To Reheat: Reheat both frozen and refrigerated fatayer in a 300°F oven until warmed through, about 10 minutes for fresh or 15 minutes for frozen. 

A close up of several Fatayer Spinach and Onion Hand Pies on a serving plate next to a blue cloth napkin. The fatayer on the top is cut in half, exposing the filling inside.


What to Serve with Fatayer

These savory hand pies are meant to be easy finger food for a holiday party, afternoon snack with black tea, or as part of a breakfast spread. You don’t need anything more! 

They also make for a great vessel for dips. They can be slightly delicate so creamy pourable dips or sauces like tahini, tzatziki, or toum work best.

You’ll Also Like: Savory Hand Pies

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Fatayer (Spinach and Onion Savory Hand Pies)

Suzy Karadsheh
An overhead photo of several Fatayer Spinach and Onion Hand Pies on a serving plate next to a blue cloth napkin. The fatayer on the top is cut in half, exposing the filling inside.
Fatayer, pronounced “fat-tah-y-er,” are savory hand pies named for the Arabic word meaning “pastries” or “little pies.” This recipe inspired by the same vegetarian treats Mamma Dina, my mother-in-law, typically hands me as a parting gift when we go to visit. Traditionally served on special occasions and gatherings, these freezable bite-sized treats are perfect for holidays, lunches, afternoon snacks, and beyond! And you can replace the easy yeasted dough with store-bought pizza dough if you're short on time.
Prep – 30 minutes
Cook – 15 minutes
Resting Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total – 2 hours 15 minutes
Cuisine:
Middle Eastern
Serves – 20 Pies
Course:
Appetizer, Entree or Side Dish

Ingredients
  

For the Basic Savory Dough (or substitute with store bought pizza dough)

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons (one ¼-ounce package) active dry yeast
  • Scant 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm whole milk, or more if needed
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • cup grapeseed or other neutral-tasting oil, plus more for greasing

For the Fatayer

  • 1 pound fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sumac
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • Juice of 1 large lemon (about 4 tablespoons)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Instructions
 

To Make the Dough (see notes for how to make this dough without a stand mixer)

  • Activate the yeast. In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, and ½ cup of the warm milk. Stir briefly. Set aside for about 10 minutes to activate (the mixture should bubble and develop a yeasty aroma).
  • Mix the dry ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour and salt using the lowest speed setting.
  • Add the wet ingredients. Slowly add the ⅓ cup neutral oil, then the yeast and milk mixture, and finally the remaining ½ cup of milk. Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough begins to form. If there are dry bits in the bottom of the bowl, add a tiny bit of additional milk or water (no more than 1 tablespoon at a time) as necessary as you continue mixing. Mix until the dough has formed into a smooth and slightly sticky ball, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Set aside to rise. Lightly grease a large mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon of neutral oil. Form the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for the dough to double in size, about 1 ½ hours.

To Make the Fatayer

  • Salt the spinach. Place the spinach in a large colander and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Toss, then let rest for 5 minutes.
  • Saute the onion. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and gaining some color, about 5 minutes. Remove to a medium bowl and drain any excess liquid from the skillet.
  • Wilt the spinach. Return the skillet to the stove and heat another tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the spinach, in batches if necessary, and cook, stirring frequently, until it just wilts, about 1 minute.
  • Wring out the spinach. Return the wilted spinach to the colander to cool. When cool enough to handle, wrap the spinach in a clean tea towel and squeeze it over the sink to get rid of as much excess liquid as you can (this step is very important).
  • Make the filling. Add the spinach to the bowl with the onion. Add the sumac, black pepper, allspice, and lemon juice. Mix well to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  • Roll the dough. Punch the dough down and knead briefly with your hands to deflate. On a clean, lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a ¼-inch thickness. Using a glass or a 4-inch cookie cutter, cut the dough into circles. Collect any scraps and reroll to cut more circles. Cover the circles with a clean towel and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Get ready to bake. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Lightly brush two 13×9-inch sheet pans with a little olive or neutral oil and set aside.
  • Fill and fold. Set a small bowl of water beside the pans (you'll use this for wetting your fingers as you work with the dough). Put 2 packed (flat, not heaping) tablespoons of the spinach mixture in the middle of each circle of dough and bring up the edges at three points toward the middle to make a peak, forming a triangular package. Lightly wet your fingers and press the edges of the dough together firmly on the sides and at the top to seal.
  • Bake and enjoy. Arrange the pies in a single layer on the prepared sheet pans. Brush the tops with the beaten egg. Bake until lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Video

Notes

  • The milk should be about as warm as bathwater but not hot. Make sure it bubbles–if it does not bubble it may be expired. 
  • To knead the dough by hand: 
      • Activate the yeast, then combine the dough ingredients in a large bowl and stir.
      • Knead by hand in the bowl for a few minutes, until the mixture begins to form a shaggy dough, then turn it out onto a clean floured surface and knead for about 10 to 12 minutes, adding a tiny bit of milk or water if it appears dry (no more than I tablespoon at a time). 
      • You want a smooth and slightly sticky ball of dough. Follow the rest of the recipe from step 3.
  • To Store: Let the pies cool completely, then transfer to a sealable bag and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 6 months. 
  • To Reheat: Reheat both frozen and refrigerated fatayer in a 300°F oven until warmed through, about 10 minutes for fresh or 15 minutes for frozen.
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams, and spices.

Nutrition

Calories: 131.9kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 3.8gFat: 4.6gSaturated Fat: 0.7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2.7gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.8gTrans Fat: 0.001gCholesterol: 9.6mgSodium: 142.8mgPotassium: 184.3mgFiber: 1.3gSugar: 1.2gVitamin A: 2159.1IUVitamin C: 6.8mgCalcium: 44mgIron: 1.7mg
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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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