Fine Desserts

How to Make Greek Galaktoboureko

4.86 from 7 votes
Galaktoboureko is a delicious Greek dessert with gorgeous phyllo dough, a creamy custard filling, and an unbelievable syrup, made with sugar, water, honey, cinnamon, and lemon zest!
Slices of Galaktoboureko on dishes.

Hi Bold Bakers!

Galaktoboureko — hard to pronounce, easy to make (and even easier to eat!) Galaktoboureko is one of the most beloved Greek desserts, and its variants are popular in Turkish and Syrian cuisines as well. And while Google can help you learn how to correctly pronounce galaktoboureko, I’m more than happy to help you learn how to make this delicious, crispy, creamy dessert! 

Galaktoboureko is a delicious dessert made with phyllo dough, a creamy custard filling, and an unbelievable syrup, made with sugar, water, honey, cinnamon, and lemon zest, that soaks into the pastry that, to me, is the real tour de force of this recipe! 

If you’re a fan of baklava, then you have to try this recipe! Galaktoboureko is everything you love about baklava, just not as heavy and less sweet! Which means you can have two or three pieces, right?

This is one of my Bold Baking Worldwide recipes! Also try a few of my other recent dishes too: Blancmange, Baklava, and a Portuguese Custard Tart.

Galaktoboureko in a pan with a few slices missing.

What Is Galaktoboureko? 

While not as well known as baklava, galaktoboureko is a popular Greek dessert, and every bit as delicious! 

Galaktoboureko, also known as “Greek Custard Pie,” is also known as “Milk Pie,” which makes sense when you break down the translation. “Galakto” is the Greek word for “milk,” while “boureko” is Turkish for something stuffed in phyllo. Galaktoboureko origins go all the way back to ancient Greece, where a barley pudding, not unlike the custard in this dessert, was often served. 

Beyond phyllo dough and the delicious syrup galaktoboureko soaks in, the key ingredient is semolina. Instead of a smooth custard that you are familiar with, semolina gives this custard a little grit. Without that texture, you can’t call it a proper galaktoboureko! 

What You Need To Make Galaktoboureko

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • 2 Medium saucepans
  • Electric mixer
  • Mixing Bowls
  • 9×13-inch (23x33cm) pan

Two dishes of Galaktoboureko next to a pan full of Galaktoboureko.

How To Make Galaktoboureko

Making galaktoboureko is very easy! Here’s my step-by-step guide for perfect galaktoboureko (and don’t forget to get the full recipe with measurements, on the page down below.):

  1. First, you want to make the syrup, so it has time to cool before you pour it on your finished product. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water, honey, cinnamon, and lemon zest. Heat and stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves and then transfer it to a measuring cup with a pour spout to cool.
  2. To make the custard, bring the milk, cream, and ½ cup (4oz/115g) of sugar to a boil in a saucepan.
  3. Once boiling, immediately add the semolina and whisk until the mixture has thickened. This will take about 5 minutes. Make sure you are using a whisk to avoid any lumps!
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the butter, vanilla, and lemon zest. Let it cool until it is warm and not too hot to touch, about 10 minutes.
  5. Use an electric mixer to beat the eggs and remaining ¼ cup (2oz/57g) sugar until fluffy in a large bowl. Then, add the cooled semolina mixture and mix until it is well combined. Set aside while you assemble the pastry.
  6. Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
  7. Unroll the phyllo dough and cover it with a damp towel to prevent it from drying out while you assemble the layers.
  8. Lightly brush a 9×13-inch (23x33cm) pan with butter and lay a sheet of phyllo dough in it, allow the excess of the dough to hang over the sides. Brush it lightly all over with butter and repeat until you have 10 sheets of phyllo dough, each brushed lightly with butter.
  9. Spread the custard evenly over the dough. Then, fold the excess dough over the custard.
  10. Top the custard with the remaining phyllo sheets, brushing each layer all over with butter and allowing the excess to hang over the edges.
  11. Once done, tuck the excess dough into the edges of the pan to seal in the custard. Brush the top of the pastry generously with butter.
  12. Using a sharp knife, cut the pastry into 12 equal portions and bake for about 1 ½ hours until the pastry is a deep golden brown.
  13. Remove from the oven and immediately pour the cold syrup evenly over the hot pastry. Let the syrup soak into the pastry for at least 4 hours before serving. 

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips For Making Galaktoboureko

  • When working with phyllo dough, make sure to keep the layers you aren’t working with under a damp towel to keep them from drying out and becoming brittle.
  • Only use a light (but thorough) brushing of butter between the layers to keep the pastry from being too heavy.
  • Make the syrup first, so it has a chance to cool completely before you pour it on the hot pastry. It is the difference in temperature that keeps the layers crispy.
  • Orange works lovely with this pastry. You can add a teaspoon of orange zest to the semolina custard. In the syrup, replace a ½ cup (4floz/115ml) of the water with orange juice.
  • Galaktoboureko is best the first 2 days after it is made. If this recipe is too large to be consumed in that time, you can easily halve the recipe! 

A close up of the phyllo and custard interior of Galaktoboureko.

How Do I Store Galaktoboureko? 

You can store leftover galaktoboureko in the refrigerator for up to 3 days! 

Make More International Recipes!

And don’t forget to buy my Bigger Bolder Baking Cookbook!

Full (and printable) recipe below!

Greek Galaktoboureko Recipe

4.86 from 7 votes
Galaktoboureko is a delicious Greek dessert with phyllo dough, a creamy custard filling, and an unbelievable syrup!
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 12 servings
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Galaktoboureko is a delicious Greek dessert with phyllo dough, a creamy custard filling, and an unbelievable syrup!
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients

For the syrup

  • 2 cups (16oz/450g) granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups (12floz/340ml) water
  • cup (7½oz/213g) honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Zest of one lemon

For the Custard

  • 2 ¼ cups (18floz/507ml) whole milk
  • 1 ¼ cups (10floz/282ml) heavy cream
  • ½ cup (4oz/115g) plus ¼ cup (2oz/57g) granulated sugar (divided)
  • ¾ cup (4 ½ oz/128g) semolina
  • ½ cup (4oz/115g) cold butter (diced)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 4 large eggs

For the Pastry

  • 1 pound (16oz/450g) phyllo dough
  • 1 cup (8oz/225g) butter (melted)

Instructions

Make the Syrup:

  • In a medium saucepan combine the sugar, water, honey, cinnamon, and lemon zest. Heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved and then transfer to a measuring cup with a pour spout and let cool.

Make the Custard:

  • In a saucepan, bring the milk, cream, and ½ cup (4oz/115g) of the sugar to a boil.
  • Immediately add the semolina and whisk until thickened, about 5 minutes. (make sure to use a whisk to avoid any lumps.
  • Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, vanilla, and lemon zest and let cool until it is warm but not too hot to touch, about 10 minutes.
  • In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the eggs and the remaining ¼ cup (2oz/57g) sugar until fluffy, then add the cooled semolina mixture and mix until well combined. Set aside.

Assemble the Pastry:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • Unroll the phyllo dough and cover it with a damp towel.
  • Lightly brush a 9x13-inch (23x33cm) pan with butter and lay a sheet of phyllo dough in the pan, allowing the excess to hang over the sides. Brush lightly all over with butter and repeat until you have 10 sheets of phyllo dough, each brushed lightly with butter.
  • Spread the custard evenly over the dough and fold the excess dough over the custard.
  • Top the custard with the remaining sheets of phyllo, brushing each layer all over with butter and allowing the excess to hang over the edges.
  • When you are done, tuck the excess dough into the edges of the pan to seal in the custard and generously brush the top of the pastry with butter.
  • With a sharp knife, cut the pastry into 12 equal portions and bake for about 1 ½ hours, until the pastry is a deep golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and immediately pour the cold syrup evenly over the hot pastry. Let the syrup soak into the pastry for at least 4 hours before serving. Store and leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Submit your own photos of this recipe

0 Images
guest
17 Comments
most useful
newest oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Carol sara
5 months ago

Hi, Gemma. I tried a different recipe and the custard was prepared differently. These ingredients were used: 4 cups milk 3/4 cup sugar 3/4 cup fine semolina ​3 tablespoons corn starch 2 whole eggs 2 egg yolks zest of an orange or lemon 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon salt The steps were the following: Beat the eggs, yolks, half of the sugar, salt, semolina, and corn starch until thick and pale yellow. About 3 minutes. In the meantime warm up the milk in a saucepan with the remaining sugar until scalding hot. Temper the egg mixture by adding some… Read more »

Aditi
Aditi
2 months ago

Hi Gemma,
Can i substitute the phyllo dough with your puff pastry

Mila
Mila
5 months ago

Hi gemma and everyone here! You can also make these individual rolls like spring rolls, and place them in tin next to each other leaving no space and bake. No fuss cutting portions.

Sheila Harvey
Sheila Harvey
5 months ago

Hello Gemma, So I have no idea what semolina is lol. I had to google it because as I read the recipe and then the instructions I thought maybe I could figure it out,I’m a beginner baker and well I had no clue what this ingredient was!! After googling I learned it is a type of flour well kinda lol!! My question is can ap flour be a substitute here or do I have to have semolina? If I do can I get it at my local market(wal-mart) or can I order it online? Sorry I live in a really… Read more »

Ilona212
5 months ago

Question, please.
Cut through bottom layers, too, before cooking? Is the custard so thick, it will not seep out through bottom and scorch?
(I’m thinking of making these individual, too, like volcanoes / sachets with a space for steam to escape.)

Menik
5 months ago

Hi chef what if in my country i can’t find semolina and phyllo dough. What else ingredients for substitute. Thankyou very much

Deedee Ortiz Arias
Deedee Ortiz Arias
5 months ago

Can we sub something out for the semolina?

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere! No matter your skills, I have you covered. Sign up for my FREE weekly emails and join millions of other Bold Bakers in the community for new recipes, baking techniques, and more every week!