Today's recipe is straight from my mother’s kitchen: phyllo meat pie recipe (aka Egyptian goulash). Layers of flaky phyllo with a tantalizing meat mixture nestled in between. If you've been looking for things to make with phyllo dough, this easy recipe is a great one to try!
If you've had baklava, you've had phyllo! A popular ingredient in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking, phyllo is made of unleavened paper-thin pastry dough and is used in both sweet and savory recipes. You can find phyllo dough in most grocery stores in the freezer section near things like puff pastry and pie crust. I use phyllo to make all sorts of delicious dishes, like tarts and savory pies -- and I've even used it as a crispy pizza crust!
It can be intimidating to work with phyllo, but it's easier to use than most people think (I have some tips for you below).
One of my favorite phyllo recipes is my mother's Egyptian goulash. This is not the goulash you may know as macaroni noodles with a beef sauce; Egyptian goulash is something entirely different and so worth a try!
Savory Meat Pie (Egyptian Goulash)
This Egyptian-style meat pie replaces your typical pie crust with phyllo dough! It is basically made of layers of flaky phyllo dough with a ground beef mixture, seasoned with baharat and onions, nestled in between. This pie is known as Egyptian goulash, and it's my favorite meat pie of all time!
The recipe is fairly simple to put together, and if you've ever made lasagna or assembled a casserole dish with several layers, making this savory phyllo meat pie is not much different. You'll spread several phyllo sheets and brush them with a mixture of olive oil and butter (or olive oil only, as I do most of the time). You'll add a layer of cooked ground beef, and then finish with a few more phyllo sheets. That's really all there is to it!
Tips for working with Phyllo Dough
When working with phyllo, first, be sure to thaw it properly overnight in the fridge. You'll also want to take it out of the fridge and set it at room temperature for about 1 hour.
But the biggest secret to working with phyllo dough, as you will see in the step-by-step, is to lay the phyllo sheets between two very lightly damp towels. This will keep them moist and prevent them from breaking as you work to assemble the pie. Also, don't skimp on brushing the phyllo layers with olive oil, this is what helps cook the phyllo to crisp perfection!
Ingredients you need for this savory phyllo meat pie
This phyllo recipe comes together with just a few ingredients. Here's what you'll need to make it:
- Phyllo dough - You'll need 1 16-ounce package of frozen phyllo dough, thawed overnight in the fridge in its packaging.
- Egg - Whisk 1 egg into 1 cup of milk.
- Extra virgin olive oil - To generously brush the phyllo dough to keep it from breaking. You can also use ½ cup olive oil combined with ½ cup melted butter.
- Spiced meat filling - Chopped onions, lean ground beef, baharat, and garlic powder.
How to make meat pie with phyllo
While working with filo dough can seem intimidating, it is actually quite simple if you follow my simple tips! Here's how to make Egyptian goulash (print-friendly recipe below):
- Prepare the phyllo dough. To keep the phyllo pastry moist and pliable, lay the thawed phyllo sheets between two clean, lightly damp kitchen towels.
- Make the meat filling. Heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a large nonstick pan. On medium-high heat, saute 1 cup chopped onions briefly. Add 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef. Cook until fully browned, tossing regularly. Remove the pan from the heat briefly and drain any fat, then return back to the stove. Add in the spices (1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 ½ teaspoons baharat, kosher salt, and black pepper), and stir to fully combine. Remove from the heat.
- Assemble the Egyptian goulash. lay three to four sheets of phyllo dough on the bottom of a lightly greased 9 ½ x 13 x 2 ¼ inch baking pan. Fold any excess dough in. Brush the top phyllo sheet very generously with extra virgin olive oil. Repeat this step as you lay three to four sheets of phyllo at a time in the baking pan until you have used up ½ of the phyllo sheets.
Now, as you have a nice base for your pie, spread the meat filling evenly on top of the last phyllo sheet.
Layer the remaining sheets on top of the meat repeating the same process as before (again, three or four sheets at a time, fold excess phyllo and butter the top sheet) until the phyllo sheets are used up.
Brush the top sheet very generously with EVOO. With a sharp knife, cut the phyllo pie into 12 squares. Season the prepared milk and egg mixture with kosher salt and black pepper and pour evenly over the pie.
- Bake the phyllo meat pie. Place the phyllo meat pie on the middle rack of a 350 degrees F heated-oven for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until cooked through. It should turn a nice golden brown. Be watchful so that the pie does not over bake or burn. Remove from the oven, and serve warm.
Serve it with
Egyptian goulash is a filling meal by itself, but I like to add a big fresh salad alongside for some crunch.
Make ahead tips
To work ahead, prepare the recipe as written until the step where you cut up the phyllo meat pie. After cutting the pie into 12 squares, cover it tightly and refrigerate. When you are ready to bake the pie, pour the egg and milk mixture over. Do not prepare this pie more than one night in advance.
Leftovers and storage
Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees F until warmed through. Or you can freeze leftover Egyptian goulash in a freezer-safe container, and reheat from frozen.
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Phyllo Meat Pie (Egyptian Goulash)
- 16 ounce package of frozen phyllo dough, thawed in its package
- 1 egg, whisked in 1 cup of milk
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, (OR ½ cup olive oil combined with ½ cup melted butter)
For the meat filling
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
- 1 ½ teaspoon baharat
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Carefully lay the thawed phyllo dough sheets between two lightly damp kitchen towels.
- Begin with preparing the meat filling. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick pan. On medium-high heat, saute the chopped onions briefly. Add the ground beef. Cook until fully browned, tossing regularly. Remove the pan from the heat briefly to drain any fat, then return back to the stove. Add in the spices and stir to fully combine. Remove from the heat.
- Now, to assemble the phyllo pie, lay three to four sheets of phyllo dough on the bottom of a lightly greased 9 ½ x 13 x 2 ¼ inch baking pan. Fold any excess dough in. Brush the top phyllo sheet generously with olive oil (or oil and butter mixture). Repeat this step as you lay three to four sheets of phyllo at a time in the baking pan until you have used up ½ of the phyllo sheets.
- Now, as you have a nice base for your pie, spread the meat filling evenly on top of the last phyllo sheet.
- Layer the remaining sheets on top of the meat repeating the same process as before (again, three or four sheets at a time, fold excess phyllo and brush with the olive oil) until all phyllo is used up.
- Brush the top sheet with olive oil (or oil and butter mixture). With a sharp knife, cut the phyllo pie into 12 squares.
- Season the prepared milk and egg mixture with salt and pepper and pour evenly over the pie.
- Place the phyllo meat pie on the middle rack of the 350 degrees F heated-oven for about 30 to 45, or until cooked through. The phyllo should be crispy and it should turn a nice golden brown. Be watchful so that pie does not over bake or burn.
- Serve warm with a side salad! Enjoy!
- Phyllo tips: Be sure to thaw the phyllo overnight in the fridge. Do not skimp on brushing the phyllo layers as indicated above. Make sure you drizzle or brush a generous amount of olive oil so that each layer is well coated.
- Prepare-ahead option: To work ahead, prepare the recipe as written until the step where you cut up the phyllo meat pie. After cutting the pie into 12 squares, cover it tightly and refrigerate. When you are ready to bake the pie, pour the egg and milk mixture over. Do not prepare this pie more than one night in advance.
- Leftovers and storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees F until warmed through. Or you can freeze leftover Egyptian goulash in a freezer-safe container, and reheat from frozen.
- Visit our shop to browse our spices, olive oils, and more!
I have made this a lot. Even very fussy eaters love it and have asked me to make it again and again. I've even had to take portions of it to neighbours!!
Wouldn't change a thing, it's perfect as it is- thank you!
One of our favorites. Thanks so much!
Yay! Glad to hear it!
Oh for crying out loud this recipe was amazing! I am honestly stuffed as is the rest of my family! Thank you for this recipe ❤️
Lol! So glad you enjoyed it!
I just did this recipe and it was amazing! I just wanted to know how to store it in the fridge? and for how long?
Hi, Courtney! You can store leftovers in the fridge for 3-4 days, tightly covered.
Delicious! This was so easy and very enjoyable to make. Has a beautiful rustic look when done, and is very satisfying. Will be making again and again. Thank you for the great recipe!
Yay! Love to hear it!
This is good, but making the phyllo dough yourself is better!
Also, meat and dairy don’t mix well together! I would skip that!
This is comfort food for me and this recipe is great (made successfully several times). I would like it less crispy at the end and softer if possible. Would you recommend any adjustments, such as covering it while baking for part of the way or cooking it a shorter amount of time? Thanks!
Hi, Tim. I've never tried to make this one less crispy, so it's hard to say, but covering it might help a bit.
Wonderful! An easy recipe, although a bit time consuming, as is the nature of phyllo, and a great result. My family raved over it! It was a lovely side to our holiday meal!
Awesome! Thanks, Kelly!
I've enjoyed several of your recipes. Most recently, the mujadara. So simple, but very delicious.
Question about the meat pie - is it possible to freeze it?
Thanks for your kind words, Sylvia! Yes, it is possible to freeze this Phyllo Meat Pie. I recommend dividing it into portions and store in freezer safe containers that are tightly closed. When ready, simply heat in the oven from frozen.
I have follow thr recipe as written and I have tweaked. You can't go wrong no matter what you add.
I'm confused about your make-ahead instructions as it says to go all the way to step 11, but there's only 10 steps in total. Assuming I'll just cut the pie and wait on the egg-milk mixture.
Sorry about that! You are correct. When making ahead prepare all the way to step 7 ahead, and then continue with the process when you're ready to bake.
Is there a good way to reheat this at all??
Hi, Andrew! Sure! I typically reheat mine in the oven for just a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Can I add cheese to this recipe in the meat layer? I didn’t want the saltiness of feta so I bought ricotta, but haven’t tried it yet. I’m a little worried I’ll lose some crispiness in the phyllo but willing to risk it for cheeeeeese.
I've never added cheese to this one personally, Zelda, so I'm not exactly sure how it would turn out.
My family loved this dish. I’m a vegetarian so we used Impossible meat substitute and I added mushrooms and spinach to the filling. So good. Be sure to not overtake, as the bottom crust can get hard to cut through. Almost everyone had seconds. They want a spinach and cheese filling next. This was my first time using phyllo dough and I’m obsessed! Thanks for the recipe. Served with mashed potatoes and mixed veggies.
So glad you enjoyed it!
My husband loves this and already asked me to make it again. So crispy and 45 min was perfect in my oven. Thank you!
You're very welcome, Lisa!
Your spinach/cheese version is Spanakopita!!! Suzy has an awesome recipe for that!!! (HINT: Spray sheets of phyllo with non-stick cooking spray instead of brushing with butter or olive oil... Saves a bazillion calories and turns out BEAUTIFULLY!!! Traditional Spanakopita doesn't have the "custard" layer of egg/milk, but it's also delish with - my family loves it!!! IDK if you're into foraging, at all, but I make Spanakopita all the time with Dandelion Greens instead of spinach, or use a mix... I guess that makes it more of a "Radikiokopita" or an "hortakopita?" lol
Either way, it is SCRUMPTIOUS! It doesn't have to have a name, past, "Delicious!"
Thank you for the insight of putting 5 layers of phyllo dough and then butter (instead of each layer as in Spinach Pie). In lieu of allspice, I pulled out my pasticcio spices which is cinnamon and nutmeg Oh and two Tbs tomato paste. I cut them into hearts for Valentines dinner at home! Great success. Thanks again.
Awww! Cute idea! 🙂
Delicious!!!! I used half amount meat and rest chopped portobello mushrooms and added frozen peas/carrots/green beans to optimize our veggie intake. Will make again. Seems like a you have a lot possibilities for flavors and combinations for fillings.
Thanks for sharing your veggie adaptation, Kate! Great idea!
This was delicious; I made it a few years ago and I'm so glad I found the recipe again! So so good.
Hello, I want to try out this recipe but I am confused when it comes to layering the phyllo dough. basically the base and top of the pie will have 6 to 8 phyllo sheets? and do we use butter between each sheet or only at the beginning and the end of placing 3 to 4 sheets?
Yes... the base and top will have around 6-8 sheets in total. It really depends how many sheets are in the package of phyllo you purchased. Half of the package should be used on the base, and half on the top. You don't need to butter between each sheet. Only after each set of 3-4 sheets. Hope that helps!!
It was good but not very flavorful - on the bland side. I did not have allspice and used Lowery seasoned salt instead but I cannot imagine it making that much difference.
Thanks, Suzanne. I do hope you'll try it with quality allspice as indicated; it does make a big difference in flavor and it is the reason your phyllo meat pie was not as flavorful.
Love it and will make this monthly! For Life!
What a wonderful recipe! Made this while staying with my brother while he was ill. Such a treat! Not difficult, so flavorful, and the phyllo crunch was fantastic. First time I’d used phyllo. Total success. Thank you for sharing! Probably going to move on to phyllo meat and feta rolls now...
I'm so glad you enjoyed this! Hope you're brother is doing better!
Hi Suzy, if I'd like to avoid dairy, what can I substitute the milk with? I'm thinking tomato sauce may turn out good.
How using about a non-dairy "milk"? Like almond or soy milk?
Hi, I'm Egyptian and would advise to replace it with broth or chicken or vegetable stock, you will still get the rich flavor.
Thanks for sharing!
That's a great idea! I was trying to think of a way to replace the milk. I'm glad stock is acceptable, super easy. Would you still add the egg if using stock? My instinct says no, but thought to ask.
I recently learned how to make pyllo dough by hand (even had a nice dowel on hand, I had so much fun watching it work) and I am very excited to try this recipe!