Greek Custard Pie (Galaktoboureko)

It’s funny, I do so much baking and have a never-ending list of recipes that I want to try and experiment with, but on some days it’s like I hit a total roadblock. I’m not sure what I want to make, nothing sounds good to me on that particular day, and I’m just sort of stuck. Enter my Chief Culinary Consultant. He’s awesome at thinking outside of the box and coming up with great ideas that often times elude me. So was the case right after New Year’s when I was doing some planning for the month of January and everything was just feeling “eh” to me. I was staring at a mile-long list of food ideas, but wasn’t feeling anything. He hopped on his phone, did some Googling, and started throwing out some new and fresh ideas. I could barely write them down fast enough. One of the ones he threw out was this Greek custard pie. He stumbled upon a recipe for it and after reading the ingredients, knew immediately we would love it. I couldn’t get to the kitchen fast enough for this one, and his intuition was definitely spot-on – we adored this!

In addition to the delicious factor, I was excited about my first-ever experiment with an authentic Greek dish in my kitchen. I have always enjoyed traditional Greek foods when eating out, especially spanakopita, moussaka and baklava, and had no doubt I would enjoy this. After checking out numerous recipes online, many of them being similar, I settled on this one because of the back story. The blogger actually ate this at the home of her in-laws in Greece and received the recipe from a cousin. Nothing warms my foodie heart quite like an old-fashioned family recipe.

As with any recipe that involves working with phyllo dough, the preparation takes some time but the end product is no doubt well worth it. Layers of crispy, buttery, flaky pastry that is light as air. Absolutely worth it. The custard in this dish actually has a very similar flavor to the filling of a sfogliatelle (the Italian pastry that I still have yet to master) – both use semolina as a thickening agent and have a faint citrus undertone. I always keep semolina on hand for dusting my pizza peel when I make homemade pizza; I usually find it at a local Italian grocery store.

All-in-all this is not a difficult recipe, but it includes a few steps and layering phyllo dough can be slightly time-consuming. Trust me, it’s a small price to pay for the the wow factor this dessert delivers. For some step-by-step photos of the assembly process, be sure to check out Whipped (link is below the recipe) – she did a great job.

Do you have a favorite Greek recipe (sweet or savory)?

One year ago: Nut Rolls
Four years ago: Banana Muffins

Greek Custard Pie (Galaktoboureko)

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes


6 cups whole milk
1 cup fine semolina
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
Zest of 1 orange

Pie Assembly:
1 package phyllo dough, about 12 to 16 sheets
1 cup unsalted butter

Citrus Syrup:
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
¼ cup orange juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Have your pan ready to go - either a 16-inch round cake pan or a 10x13-inch lasagna dish. The phyllo should be room temperature or slightly cooler. Open the package right before using it so the sheets do not dry out.

2. Stir the milk, semolina, ½ cup of the sugar, the butter, and vanilla in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Stir the mixture gently but constantly until it becomes thick like pudding. This may take up to 15 minutes or so. Remove the pan from the heat and cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Beat the eggs with the remaining ¼ cup of granulated sugar in a small bowl and then stir it into milk mixture. Stir in the orange zest.

3. Melt the butter and begin by brushing the the bottom of your pan with melted butter.

4. Layer the bottom of the pan with about half of the phyllo, liberally brushing with butter between each layer. Lightly press the sheets into the sides and corner and let the edges hang over the top; you will fold them over later. (Do not skimp on the butter! You should use half on the bottom layers and half on the top.)

5. Pour the slightly cooled custard over the bottom sheets and spread to the sides. Layer the remaining sheets of phyllo on top of the custard as you did the bottom, continuing to brush melted butter between layers until you have used all the phyllo. Then, brush butter on the overlapping sides and roll the edges down creating a “rim” around the edge of the pan. Liberally brush the top and the edge with the rest of your butter.

6. Bake until the top is golden brown all over, 30 to 45 minutes. (I suggest checking early and often, as you don't want the phyllo to burn.)

7. While the pie is baking, make the syrup. Bring the sugar, water and orange juice to a boil in a small saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes then remove from the heat. Off the heat, stir in the vanilla extract; set aside.

8. When you remove the pie from the oven, let it cool for 15 minutes. Then, pour the syrup evenly over the entire pie. Allow the pie to sit for at least 1 hour before serving so the syrup can be absorbed. Store leftover pie in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

(Recipe adapted from Whipped)


95 Responses to “Greek Custard Pie (Galaktoboureko)”

Comment Pages 1 2
  1. Michelle on January 11, 2012 at 12:10 am

    My favorite dessert ever! Thank you so much for the recipe! :)))


  2. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on January 11, 2012 at 1:02 am

    Wow this looks glorious! I love the glowing amber color…so tempting and delish looking!

    My fave greek dessert is…baklava. Or this…i have to try it!


    • Diane on August 26th, 2013 at 3:50 pm

      ONLY rival is creme de brulee – can not decide – BOTH heavenly!!


  3. What katies baking on January 11, 2012 at 2:08 am

    I can relate to the picking recipes and then having off days where nothing sounds good. It looks like you picked the right one though because this sounds and looks delicious. Yummy!


  4. Molly on January 11, 2012 at 2:25 am

    Whenever I see a recipe from the Mediterranean my palms start to sweat as I get nervous around filo dough. It’s a fear I have yet to concur. Perhaps this glorious dessert — which I have definitely enjoyed in Greek restaurants — will be the key to unlock and disarm my fear.


    • Kathy Gray on September 26th, 2012 at 9:34 am

      I don’t know if you have a Safeway near you, but their phyllo dough is the best. I use it all the time and have never had a problem with it drying out or cracking.


  5. Choc Chip Uru on January 11, 2012 at 3:40 am

    I have never heard of this before but it looks exquisite :)
    Very exotic!


  6. linda on January 11, 2012 at 4:50 am

    your photographs have the wow factor as well!
    your greek custard pie looks delicious.


  7. jess desserts on January 11, 2012 at 5:23 am

    This is my absolute all time favorite greek dessert! I havent made this since pastry school and now I cant wait to make it again!! Thanks :o)


  8. Kiri W. on January 11, 2012 at 5:56 am

    I love galaktobouriko! When I was in Greece as a child I stuffed my face with it! Your’s looks amazing, I’ll definitely have to try this one :)
    My favorite Greek recipe would have to be avgolemono.


  9. Rodzilla on January 11, 2012 at 6:27 am

    Not that your chief culinary consultant ins’t doing excellent work, but I’m very envious of his job..these look great.


  10. Lori on January 11, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Michelle, Leave it to you. You always come up with something delicious and different. I have always had this dish served in their individual rolls. I like this idea better…seems easier. I will make this when I have my parents over for dinner. My dad worked 24 years for a greek newspaper in NYC.


  11. Seemingly Greek on January 11, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Here is my recipe for moussaka, it is wonderful

    Also, I love a veggie pastitsio every once in a while too

    Your photos turned out great! We love this dessert too, but only make it when we have friends to share with :)


    • Martha on January 14th, 2012 at 11:07 am

      Saw your recipe and would love to try it. My father in law is a vegetarian and I wondered if I could double either the eggplant or the potatoes (or maybe add an additional veg like zucchini) to this recipe. He does eat dairy and unfertilized eggs.


  12. Katrina on January 11, 2012 at 8:19 am

    I also love classic home recipes from other places! Greek recipes are so lovely. I worked with a Greek guy for a summer and he opened my eyes to so many unique and tasty foods! Can’t wait to try this! My favorite greek dish is spanikopita!


  13. Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables on January 11, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Wow, this sounds awesome! I’ve never even heard of this, I love that bloggers always introduce me to new foods :)


    • Melissa @ Kids in the Sink on January 11th, 2012 at 9:22 am

      I feel the same way! I’ve never heard of this either but it sure does look interesting.


  14. leslie on January 11, 2012 at 8:55 am

    I have never made a Greek dessert. This sounds delightful and looks absolutely beautiful!


  15. Marty on January 11, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Can’t wait to make this, looks delicious!


  16. Nomi on January 11, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Stuffed grape leaves. Time consuming, but delicious and there are so many variations that you can usually please the palates of most diners.


  17. Eleni on January 11, 2012 at 9:20 am

    My fave Greek dessert!! my godmother makes the BEST ive ever had, but of course the recipe is all in her head!! I’m excited to give this a try!


    • Karen on January 18th, 2012 at 9:42 am

      Eleni–Get her to make it while you are there and you measure and write it down! My grandmother died with all her recipes in her head. My mom says they were great. So when my aunt got cancer and was making cabbage dolma, my cousin and I went and watched, measured and wrote down. It may be the only way….


  18. Cookbook Queen on January 11, 2012 at 9:35 am

    So GORGEOUS!! Phyllo dough + Custard is a glorious combination!!


  19. Beth V. on January 11, 2012 at 9:55 am

    I had this on Christmas for the first time and loved it! I’m so happy that I can make it myself now!!


  20. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on January 11, 2012 at 9:56 am

    I am the worse when it comes to working with Phyllo dough, I guess I should keep practicing. This greek pie looks amazing!!


  21. Brooke on January 11, 2012 at 10:15 am

    My absolute favorite dessert! I’m so excited to try this!


  22. Lynne @ 365 Days of Baking on January 11, 2012 at 10:30 am

    !ooh, anything Greek and I’m THERE!! I think I must have been Greek in a previous life, either that or Italian.
    This is bookmarked to try REAL soon! Thanks, Michelle!


  23. Tykisha Pulliam on January 11, 2012 at 10:38 am

    OMG…Thank you for this recipe! I have been obsessed with this dessert since the 1st time that I tasted it at the Greek Festival last year.


  24. Charlie on January 11, 2012 at 10:43 am


    I know what you mean, only sometimes I have to throw in “no motivation to cook”

    Do you think your CCC could do some planning for me??

    You are so fortunate to have him!



  25. Katie on January 11, 2012 at 11:38 am

    That looks divine! I love greek food and we have a huge greek culture with tons of restaurants here in MI. Moussaka, lemon rice soup, this amazing lamb in tomato sauce (can’t remember the name!) and a good greek salad with chicken are my favorites. I am not a huge honey fan and usually don’t get dessert, but I will look for this on the menu next time! Or try making it myself :)


  26. Cristina on January 11, 2012 at 11:40 am

    This is one of my all time favorites. And your recipe is dead-on. The only thing I do different is cutting the top layer of the phyllo dough before I bake the gallaktobureko. Makes it easier to cut once baked (without the crumbling of the phillo).
    And yes, whilst it might be a bit time consuming, the result is definitely worth your while :)


  27. CouponClippingCook on January 11, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Ok…this looks seriously delicious. Your pictures are beautiful and it has all of my favorite ingredients. Great post! Another bookmark for me!


  28. Ally on January 11, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    That pastry looks perfect! The citrus syrup sounds divine…


  29. Wanda on January 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    This sounds so yummy, but when you are trying to lose weight, this would not be good!!


  30. Anita on January 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Gosh I wish I lived close to you!!! Who does all this food go to when you make it?


    • Michelle on January 11th, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      Aw, thank you! It makes its rounds – family, friends, my mom takes a lot to share with her coworkers, etc.


  31. Brian on January 11, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks! – bri <3


  32. Melinda on January 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Pastitsio is a favorite around our house, but we can’t seem to find a definitive “best” recipe for it. We keep trying new recipes and modifying and combining the best parts of each recipe. Hopefully someday we’ll find just the right mix of spices, etc for all the elements of this dish, but until then it’s fun to taste test our efforts!


  33. Michele on January 11, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Mmmmmm….that looks so good! I already have everything needed except the Semolina. Having recently gone on the hunt for Semolina for some Basbousa, I need to clarify- is this Semolina of Semolina Flour? It’s all Greek to me. (pun intended) :)


    • Michelle on January 12th, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      Hi Michele – It is semolina, it sort of looks like what you would use for pastina – a fine porridge type of breakfast cereal.


      • Karen on January 18th, 2012 at 9:44 am

        Cream of Wheat type thing?


        • Michelle on January 18th, 2012 at 10:07 am

          Yes, although don’t use Cream of Wheat!


  34. christina @ ovenadventures on January 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    this looks beautiful. i am a sucker for custard. i know weird but i love it. I have never even heard of galakoboureko. That’s one thing i love about food blogging you hear about food you never would have heard about otherwise.


  35. Cookin' Canuck on January 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Your chief culinary consultant definitely came through with flying colors on this one. It looks fantastic, Michelle! I love your lighting in these photos.


  36. Isabelle @ Crumb on January 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    I love, love, love, love, love Galaktoboureko. I live in a predominantly Greek neighbourhood, so there’s there’s a local bakery that makes an absolutely addictive version of it (along with some other amazing savoury pies and a kind of honey-soaked fritter that is beyond heavenly).
    I’ve been too wussy to try making it at home, seeing as I can get a great ready-made version whenever I want, but it really does look quite easy… might just have to give it a go next time I feel like fussing with some phyllo dough. :)


  37. Connie the Cookie Monster on January 11, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    this looks so good! especially the flaky top. i have the same problem sometimes. my to-bake list is sooo long but i still dont know what to bake!


  38. Becki's Whole Life on January 11, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Wow, this looks so amazingly good. I love custard by itself, but with the phyllo and syrup on top this looks just divine.


  39. Ann on January 12, 2012 at 2:33 am

    This looks absolutely delicious! I LOVE the idea of a citrus syrup on it! My favorite Greek food is savory -spanikopita – but I’ve never made it!


  40. GourmetGetaways on January 12, 2012 at 5:51 am

    This looks so delicious, I love Greek food, I Mr GG and I were really into making Baklava there for a while only we had to stop while our clothes still fit us. This is on my “must make list”


  41. Anita at Hungry Couple on January 12, 2012 at 6:11 am

    Interesting. Just this past Sunday, Brian and I took his mother out to lunch at a Greek restaurant and she ordered this for dessert. I’d never tried it so I tasted hers and it had an anise flavor to it which I didn’t care for. Your recipe sounds more to my liking. Thanks :)


  42. Kara on January 12, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I have never heard of thism but it looks really interesting! In a good way! I think i’ll have to make it!


  43. Diane on January 12, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    I cannot WAIT to make this! I’m making a whole Greek meal next week for my family (who are Italian, not Greek – but close). I found a great pastitsio recipe (Greek Lasagna) if you’re interested…She has a lot of great authentic Greek recipes!


  44. Ryan on January 12, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    I totally get like that too. I have ALL these recipes I want to try, and then I go to pick one out and nothing is ever interesting. Those days are lame. This looks totally awesome though! I love Greek food!


  45. Jen @ Coconut Oil Cooking on January 13, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Yum! This is my favorite Greek dessert!! I have always wanted to make this. Thanks for the great recipe. I hope it stands up to my boyfriends family’s recipe!


  46. Jany@SuperCuteCookies on January 13, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Thank you for sharing I will definitely have to try this recipe!


  47. Alyce@culinarythymes on January 13, 2012 at 11:43 am

    This sounds amazing and I’d never heard of it before. I LOVE baklava, and here’s my recipe for it:
    It’s made with pistacios. Have a great weekend and thanks for posting this recipe!


  48. Caitlin on January 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    the flaky custard goodness is making me want to forget my january diet and dig in!


  49. Chef Yumyum on January 15, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Nice recipe! :)


  50. jules on January 15, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    This looks delicious. I am a massive fan of custard tarts, but never had something like this. Must try this.


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