This golden, crispy and creamy Greek Galaktoboureko is a syrup-soaked custard pie made with layers of crispy filo pastry! It’s easy to make and serve up!
I’m so excited to share my version of this delicious dessert with you guys today. My Yiayia used to make it all the time and in testing the recipe (and there were 5 batches tested) I was aiming for a delicious creamy and soft custard filling that was still firm enough to hold its shape. All encased in crispy layers of buttery filo pastry that stays crispy even after the cinnamon and lemon syrup is poured on top!
What makes Galaktoboureko so delicious?
Galaktoboureko, pronounced: yala-kto-bou-reko, is a creamy custard dessert soaked in syrup and encased in crispy filo pastry. Like baklava, every Greek has their own way of making this. They use different ratios and ingredients. I developed a recipe as close as I could to my Yiayias, but slightly firmer so that it holds its shape.
The real star of the show is the unique custard filling. Unlike regular custards made of eggs and cream, this one has fine semolina and corn starch which helps it thicken enough so you can slice it up. If you use the right semolina, the custard is smooth and has a delicious flavor.
This is a two day recipe. Plan ahead!
Yep, this isn’t one you want to try and make in a day.
- Make syrup
- Make custard
- Bake Pie
- Overnight Set in the fridge
- Slice and serve!
You can make and bake the galaktoboureko and syrup in the same day, but it needs to sit in the fridge overnight to soak in the syrup and set properly. I know people say you can serve it warm, but honestly, the overnight setting time is important so that it doesn’t fall to an eggy, soft mess as you cut and lift up on your spatula.
Ingredients You Need To Make Galaktoboureko
Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.Jump to Recipe
- Granulated sugar -or caster sugar. Either will work.
- Honey – any type will work. Added for flavor and to lessen the chance of the syrup crystalizing as it cooks.
- Lemon – you’ll be using the peel and juice for the syrup. Both add flavor. Make sure you wash and dry your lemon before peeling.
- Cinnamon stick – this adds so much flavor.
- Finely Ground Semolina – also known as fine semolina or semolina flour is the type you want to use for this recipe. Not the course one you use for making pizza or breads.
- Corn flour – also known as corn starch. Typically, not an ingredient used in galaktoboureko, this is used to thicken the custard without having to rely on more eggs which can make the custard taste way too eggy.
- Caster sugar – also known as superfine sugar.
- Milk – I used whole-fat cow’s milk.
- Heavy cream – I’ve tried this recipe with cream and without cream and it’s just so much nicer and richer with the cream so I wouldn’t recommend leaving it out.
- Unsalted butter
- Vanilla Extract – Always use good quality vanilla extract when baking, it makes a huge difference. I have a great recipe here for it if you’d like to try your own!
- Eggs – make sure your eggs are at room temperature.
- Filo Pastry – this is a super thin pastry that when baked, becomes golden and super crispy. You can find filo pastry in the fridge or freezer section of your supermarket. If using frozen filo pastry, make sure you thaw it in the fridge. When you’re layering everything together, cover your filo pastry with a towel to stop it from drying out which can happen easily if it’s a warm day.
- Clarified Butter – I have a full tutorial on how to make clarified butter or ghee on this blog. I’ve made this with melted butter and the milk solids in the butter burned as it baked leaving little black bits on top of the galaktoboureko.
How to make Galaktoboureko!
- Add all of the ingredients into a pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool completely. I used a fork to take out the lemon peels and cinnamon stick.
- Mix the semolina and corn starch together. Set aside.
- Heat the milk, half the sugar and butter in a large pot.
- Add the semolina mixture slowly while whisking.
- It will thicken and bubble.
- Add to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool.
- Whip up the remaining sugar, vanilla and eggs until thick and pale, about 5-8 minutes.
- Fold the cooled custard and egg mixture together.
To Assemble And Bake
- Brush your 9×13-inch baking tin with clarified butter using a brush.
- Begin layering with filo pastry leaving some hanging over.
- Add semolina custard and spread evenly.
- Fold over filo pastry overhang
- Begin layering more filo pastry on top
- Score using a sharp knife
- Bake and pour cold syrup on top. Allow to chill in the fridge overnight before slicing and serving.
Tips and Tricks For Recipe Success!
- Use clarified butter for this recipe. Melted butter will leave little black burnt bits. Clarified butter has no milk solids in it.
- You can use a stand mixer or hand beater to whip up the eggs and sugar. The hand mixer will take longer.
- You’ll need a really big mixing bowl to make the custard, it’s a lot!
- When folding the egg mixture and custard together, use a spatula and do it gently to make sure you don’t get rid of the air in the egg.
- When scoring the layered galaktoboureko, use a sharp knife and cut all the way through the top layer of pastry to the custard.
- Make the syrup first before anything to make sure it has enough time to cool before pouring on the hot custard pie.
- You can make a smaller version of this recipe by halving the ingredients and baking in a 9×9-inch baking tin.
Frequently Asked Questions about Galaktoboureko
What does it taste like?
This is a syrup soaked dessert which is sweet. There’s no way around that other than to eat a smaller piece haha. This dessert has notes of cinnamon, lemon and honey with a creamy and rich custard, all encased in a crispy filo pastry!
How do I store this?
Store in the fridge for up to 3 days. This dessert can not be frozen.
Can I halve the dessert?
Yes! You can make a smaller version of this recipe by halving the ingredients and baking in a 9×9-inch baking tin.
More Greek Recipes!
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @thescranline on Facebook and Instagram!
- 1 1/3 cups (335 ml) water
- 2 3/4 cups (575 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 lemon peeled using a peeler
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 1 1/3 cups (240 g) finely ground semolina (see notes)
- 4 tbsp corn flour/starch
- 1 1/2 cup (315 g) caster sugar divided
- 6 cups (1.5 liters) whole milk
- 4 cups (1 liter) heavy cream
- 1/4 cup (60 g) unsalted butter
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 large eggs
- 375 g (375 g) filo pastry (see notes)
- 1/2 cup (125 g) clarified butter melted
- Add all the ingredients into a large pot, stir, then place on medium high heat and bring to a boil. Turn down to medium heat and allow to bubble for 5 minutes. Take off the heat, use tongs to take out the cinnamon stick and lemon peel and allow to cool at room temperature completely. You want the syrup to cooled when you pour it over the finished custard pie.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the semolina and corn starch and use a whisk to combine. Set aside.
- To a large non-stick pot, add half the sugar (3/4 cup / 160g), all the milk, cream and butter. Heat on medium heat without stirring. As soon as little bubbles appear around the sides, begin adding the semolina/corn flour mixture about 203 tbsp at a time while using a whisk to. Once it’s all in there the mixture with thicken and begin bubbling. Continue mixing for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
- To a large mixing bowl add the eggs, vanilla extract and remaining sugar (3/4 cup (160g)) and beat on high speed until it thickens and turns pale, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add 1/3 of the whipped egg mixture into the cooled custard and fold through in circular motions. Then repeat with another 1/3 until all the egg mixture is combined.
To Assemble And Bake
- Preheat your oven. Fan Forced: 160C / 320F, No fan: 180C / 355F.
- For this recipe you will need a 22x33cm / 9x13-inch baking tin with 5cm / 2 inch sides. Use a pastry brush to brush the bottom and sides with melted butter. Set aside.
- Line the bottom of the baking dish with one layer of filo pastry. Drizzle (don’t brush) with a little bit of butter. Add a second layer of filo pastry going up the sides letting some hang over the sides. Then drizzle with more butter and add another layer of filo pastry. Drizzle with butter. Then add another 3 layers of filo pastry on the bottom, drizzling with butter each time.
- Add the custard filling and spread around evenly. Fold over the excess pastry and drizzle with butter. Then add another 6 layers of pastry on top, drizzling each layer with butter. Brush the final layer of pastry with a generous amount of butter.
- Use a sharp knife to cut into 3 x 4 cubes to end up with 12 pieces. Bake in the middle rack of your oven for 90 minutes. The pastry will be a deep golden color.
- As soon as he Galaktoboureko comes out of the oven, pour the cooled syrup over the pastry. Set aside to let it soak the syrup and serve warm or my favorite, cooled in the fridge for a couple hours!