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Greek Orange Pie (Πορτοκαλόπιτα)

Updated: Jan 20

Prep: 20 min // Wait: 1-2 hrs // Bake: 40 min

Greek orange pie - portokalopita

What is it?

Portokalopita (Portokali = Orange and Pita = Pie) is a traditional and very authentic Greek dessert made of oranges, yoghurt and shreds of dried filo pastry, all soaked into a mellow sweet and fragrant syrup. It is so intensely orangey, moist, and spongy, every single bite blows my mind. No wonder it’s on my top 5 (if not #1) of favourite Greek desserts. Although one would argue the nutritional value of Greek yoghurt and whole oranges, I would not classify this dessert as "healthy". But just for this one, I always make an exception.


Greek orange filo pie - portokalopita

Although it looks lengthy in execution, I don't think it's complicated or requires any precise technique (like baklava for example). In fact, it’s a so easy mix-all-in-one bake that doesn't even get your hands dirty! All you need is a good large food processor. You can speed up the process even further as a few of these steps, like the preparation of syrup and the shredding of filo pastry, can be done way in advance. Not to mention your little helper would be more than happy to do the heavy but fascinating labour. I usually prepare the filo and syrup early in the morning or the night before, and prepare the pie filling and bake later (lunchtime or dinner).


Now, this recipe is very traditional and comes from my old school Greek grandmas. There are a few variations across different regions in Greece, for instance, some use milk instead of yoghurt or flour instead of filo or just juice and zest instead of whole oranges. My version is with yoghurt (because I just love it and is super nutritious) and whole oranges because they lift off the flavour (and vitamin intake). My other tweaks are mostly related to reducing the sugar (and supplementing the sweetness with fresh orange juice) but also infusing matching flavours like vanilla and cinnamon and sometimes (optionally) orange blossom water. Family and friends that have tried this recipe have described it as the perfect balance of sweetness, moisture and flavour, and quite light to digest. Good luck!


A pot and a pan, food processor, a medium sized and deep baking tin (I prefer plain, non-stick like this: cake won't stick and you can cut it with knife straight from the tin), 2 mixing bowls

Ingredients (8-10 servings)

For the syrup:

  • 200g unrefined caster sugar

  • 350ml water

  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks

  • (Optional) Half vanilla bean (or 1/2 tsp vanilla powder)

  • 3 sweet oranges, juiced (or a good quality store-bought orange juice)

For the cake:

  • 2 sweet oranges (tip: get the most aromatic you will find)

  • 420-450g filo pastry

  • 200g Greek yoghurt (tip: I recommend Total or Kri Kri brands - and avoid using 0% fat for this recipe)

  • 150g unrefined caster sugar (I like dark muscovado as it adds more flavour depth)

  • 200ml sunflower oil

  • 3 eggs

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 tsp vanilla powder)

  • 1 tsp (heaped) baking powder

  • 1 tsp (heaped) baking soda

  • 1 tsp Orange blossom water (optional)


  • Wash the 2 oranges for the cake thoroughly and cover them with water in a pot with a matching lid. Bring to boil and simmer on low heat for 1 hour. That will effectively reduce the bitterness of the pith but also wash the wax off their skins.

  • While the oranges are boiling, separate the filo pastry leaves from each other and lay them flat over a big table. Leave them for at least an hour (do it when oranges are boiling) or until they are completely dry and break when touched.

  • Prepare the syrup (10 min). Squeeze the juice of the 3 oranges and combine them with the 200g sugar, 350ml water, vanilla and cinnamon stick in a saucepan. I also like to add a couple of orange peels to the mix. Bring to a hard boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from fire and set aside to cool down and for the aromas to infuse. The syrup has to be as cold as possible before poured onto the pie so you better prepare it first.

  • When the 2 oranges are boiled, remove them from heat, drain the water and let them cool down. Cut them in quarters, remove any pips and stalks, toss them in a food processor and blitz until they are completely mashed.

  • Preheat your oven to 160c (or 150c fan).

  • Test the filo to see if it’s dry enough to break and start breaking it. Layer all of them on top of each other and start pressing with your hands until you end with confetti shreds of around 1-2cm. Put them all in a big bowl and set them aside. If you felt there were bits not dried enough, put them in the oven for a brief drying (for up to 5 min). Watch them carefully because they burn quickly.

  • If your food processor is big enough, add all the rest of the cake ingredients (except the filo) and pulse until everything is combined to a silky yellow custard. This will save you time and effort both from mixing and cleaning. Otherwise, mix using an electric mixer in a big bowl or pudding basin. Pour the mixture into a bowl and set it aside.

  • Grease your baking tin with butter or sunflower oil. I suggest tin and NOT Pyrex or any other ovenproof baking tray, as that could result in a half baked pie at the sides.

  • Now the most important step. Grab a large handful of filo 'confetti' from the bowl, fluff it up with your fingertips to separate the shreds and add it into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Slowly mix with a spatula. Follow the same process until all shreds are mixed in. Adding little by little will prevent the creation of sticky clots in the pie.

Greek orange pie - portokalopita
  • Pour the mix into the baking tin, flatten the top with the spatula and bake at 160c for 40 min or until it's lightly browned at the top. Remove from the oven and pour the cold syrup through a sieve on the hot pie straight away (cake has to be piping hot). Let the cake absorb the syrup completely before serving.

  • I usually serve it with a scoop of ice cream on the side. It will keep well in a food container in the fridge for 5 days.


Looking for kitchen utensils and electrical appliances? Check my Kitchen Essentials Post.

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