Crispy Turkish cheese rolls, known as sigara boregi (or cigarette borek), are made from thin phyllo dough and an herby cheese filling. These savory Turkish borek can be prepared ahead and are great served as mezze (appetizer) or snack. You can shallow fry them in olive oil or bake them in the oven; this easy recipe gives you both options.

close up of sigara boregi rolls on a blue plate.

What are sigara boregi?

Sigara boregi (pronounced see-GAR’-ah BUHR’-ay-ee) or sigara borek, are a delicious Turkish appetizer or snack made with flaky dough like phyllo and stuffed with a bold and herby cheese filling.

These crispy cheese rolls are a type of borek, which is a popular Turkish food genre that refers to a family of savory pastries made with thin dough called yufka and can be stuffed with any number of fillings from cheese to potato and even meat (similar to my Egyptian phyllo meat pie).

The word "sigara" means cigarette, and that's where these thin, cigarette-shaped pastries get their name.

This sigara boregi recipe is easy to prepare ahead, it freezes well, and you don't have to thaw it before cooking! It's the perfect finger food for a party, and I love serving it as an appetizer next to things like Piyaz salad or to elevate a mezze party platter.

Table of Contents
  1. What are sigara boregi?
  2. What pastry dough to use?
  3. Cheese filling for sigara boregi
  4. How to make sigara boregi (Step-by-step)
  5. Quick Tip: Prevent phyllo from breaking
  6. Sigara Boregi: An Easy Make-Ahead Appetizer
  7. Can You Freeze Uncooked Borek?
  8. More Phyllo Recipes
  9. Sigara Boregi (Turkish Cheese Rolls) Recipe

What pastry dough to use?

Traditionally, savory borek pastries such as sigara boregi are made with Yufka pastry dough. Yufka is a bit thicker than phyllo dough, and typically sold in some Turkish or Middle Eastern grocery stores. Don't fret, you can make sigara boregi with phyllo dough or even Chinese spring roll pastry sheets. Both come frozen and should be thawed in the fridge ahead of time.

  • Phyllo dough. When I make Sigara Boregi, I usually use phyllo dough which gives me crispy, flaky results. Plus, phyllo (or fillo) is readily available in most grocery stores in the frozen food section. It's usually next to things like frozen pie crust and puff pastry. This sigara boregi recipe only takes three sheets of phyllo, so the next time you make baklava, you can save three sheets of dough and make this savory appetizer as well!
  • Spring roll pastry or wrappers. For some, spring roll wrappers are more convenient to use because they often come in small square-shaped sheets. You can find them in some grocery stores in the freezer, refrigerator sections or in Asian grocery stores. Be sure to use the kind made of wheat and not rice for this recipe. You'll need to use 12 squares of spring roll pastry in this recipe.
Sigara boregi rolls on a blue plate.

Cheese filling for sigara boregi

You'll find different cheese filling options for these borek cheese rolls, mine is a simple one made with feta cheese, grated parmesan, and herbs including parsley, fresh thyme, and scallions (both white and green parts for big flavor). Shredded mozzarella is also a good option.

To mix the cheese filling, you'll need a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil (our Arbequina olive oil is good for a simple recipe like this one). No salt needed, since the feta and parmesan are salty enough, but I love to bring flavor and a little bit of heat with a dash of red Aleppo pepper flakes.

ingredients for sigara boregi including parsley, phyllo dough, parmesan cheese, feta cheese, scallions, thyme and olive oil.

How to make sigara boregi (Step-by-step)

These Turkish borek rolls with feta filling are easy to make, and you can fry or bake them (I give you both options here). I'm sharing photos so you can see what they look like, but the print-friendly recipe is just below.

sigara boregi filling of feta cheese, parmesan cheese, scallions, parsley, thyme and red pepper flakes in a glass bowl with a spoon.
  • Make the filling: In a medium bowl, combine the cheeses, scallions, parsley, and thyme. Add the pepper flakes and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
sigara boregi filling being rolled in phyllo dough.
  • Prepare the cheese rolls. Lay the phyllo sheets flat on a cutting board, using a sharp knife, cut the phyllo sheets into 4 equal strips. Work with 1 strip of phyllo at a time, spoon about 1 ½ tablespoons of the feta in a straight line along the bottom edge that is closest to you (leave a little room on either side for the filling to expand). Roll tightly about 4 or 5 times away from you, tucking the sides in, so that the filling is now encased into a roll.
Ten sigara boregi rolls on a baking sheet.
  • Repeat and brush with oil: Repeat until the phyllo strips and filling are all used up. Brush the outside of the phyllo cheese rolls with extra virgin olive oil.
Twelve cooked sigara boregi rolls on a sheet pan.
  • To bake: Assemble the rolls on a large sheet pan in a single layer and bake on the center rack of the heated oven for about 10 minutes or so, watching the rolls and turning them over halfway through cooking, until they are crispy and golden brown on all sides.

Quick Tip: Prevent phyllo from breaking

Budget the time to thaw the phyllo properly in the fridge overnight. And to keep your phyllo (or fillo) dough sheets from drying out too quickly, simply lay them flat between two lightly damp kitchen towels as you work. And it never hurts to have a few extra sheets of phyllo, just in case.

Sigara Boregi: An Easy Make-Ahead Appetizer

I often prepare these rolls ahead of time and cook them just before company arrives.

  • Stuff and roll the sigara boregi a few hours in advance
  • Arrange them (uncooked) on a sheet pan in one single layer
  • Cover with plastic wrap
  • Refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Can You Freeze Uncooked Borek?

Yes! One of the best things about this Turkish borek recipe is that you can prepare them ahead and freeze for later.

  • Arrange the sigara borek on a large sheet pan in one single layer.
  • Cover and freeze for about 1 hour, then transfer to a freezer-safe container and return them to the freezer.
  • They will keep for 1 to 2 months in the freezer. I wouldn't let them go much longer than that to avoid freezer burn.
  • No need to thaw them! Just fry or bake the sigara boregi from frozen. If you are frying them, use a splatter guard though for safety.

Try our Arbequina EVOO in this recipe!

This delicious California extra virgin olive oil is made from Arbequina olives, which are native to Spain. It is fruity and milder tasting, which makes it great for every-day use.

bottle of arbequina extra virgin olive oil from the mediterranean dish.

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Sigara Boregi (Turkish Cheese Rolls)

Suzy Karadsheh
Sigara boregi rolls on a blue plate.
These delicious Turkish cheese rolls, known as sigara boregi, are made with crispy, flaky phyllo dough and an herby feta cheese filling. You can prepare them ahead and refrigerate or freeze for later. The recipe gives you 12 rolls, but if you are serving a larger crowd, feel free to double or triple the recipe. You will just need to cook them in batches so as to not crowd the pan. In the video, I do bake the sigara borek but if you like, you can shallow fry them in olive oil, which is the more traditional way to prepare them.
Prep – 30 mins
Cook – 10 mins
Cuisine:
Turkish
Serves – 12 people (up to)
Course:
Appetizer

Ingredients
  

For the cheese filling:

  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and chopped, both white and green parts
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or Aleppo pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil

Instructions
 

  • To bake: If baking the sigara boregi, heat the oven to 375°F, and position a rack in the middle. (If frying, skip this step)
  • Make the filling: In a medium bowl, combine the cheeses, scallions, parsley, and thyme. Add the pepper flakes and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Prepare the phyllo dough. Lay the phyllo sheets flat on a cutting board, using a sharp knife, cut the phyllo sheets into 4 equal strips.
  • Prepare the cheese rolls. Now, working with 1 strip of phyllo at a time, spoon about 1 ½ tablespoons of the feta in a straight line along the bottom edge that is closest to you (leave a little room on either side for the filling to expand). Roll tightly about 4 or 5 times away from you, tucking the sides in, so that the filling is now encased into a roll. Repeat until the phyllo strips and filling are all used up. Brush the outside of the phyllo cheese rolls with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Cook the sigara boregi:
    To fry: Heat ¼ cup of olive oil in a large pan until shimmering. Add the phyllo cheese rolls (do this in batches, if needed) and cook, turning regularly, until they are crispy and golden brown on all sides. Remove from the heat and put the rolls on a large plate lined with a paper towel to remove some of the oil, then serve.
    To bake: As I do in the video, assemble the rolls on a large sheet pan in a single layer and bake on the center rack of the heated oven for about 10 minutes or so, watching the rolls and turning them over halfway through cooking, until they are crispy and golden brown on all sides.
  • Arrange the sigara boregi on a plate and serve warm or at room temperature.

Video

Notes

  • Thaw phyllo dough ahead of time in the fridge: Phyllo package instructions will give you details, but typically, you would thaw the phyllo in the fridge overnight in its package. 
  • Prepare ahead tips: You can prepare the sigara boregi and roll them according to step #4, then arrange them on a sheet pan, then cover and refrigerate the pan for a few hours (up to 2 days) until ready to cook.
  • Freezing tips: Arrange the rolled, uncooked sigara boregi on a large sheet pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and freeze for about 1 hour or until they are hardened. Once frozen, transfer the rolls to a a freezer-safe container, cover and freeze for 1 month (some say 2 months, but I find that they do suffer freezer burn). No need to thaw before cooking, you can cook frozen sigara borek (if frying, use a splatter guard). 
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, spices, and more. 

Nutrition

Calories: 101.7kcalCarbohydrates: 4.3gProtein: 4.4gFat: 7.7gSaturated Fat: 2.3gCholesterol: 10.3mgSodium: 210.7mgPotassium: 33.2mgFiber: 0.3gVitamin A: 299.2IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 43.2mgIron: 0.4mg
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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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  1. This is not about recipes although I mostly really love them, even bought Suzy's cookbook. I just want to tell Suzy how sad I am for her to have a beloved relative pass away.
    I really enjoy your emails and often just cook the recipe presented to make dinner that day. Thank you!!!