Galaktoboureko from Ioannina

The traditional Ioannite version of one of the most beloved Greek syrupy pastries.
Ηπειρώτικο Πρωινό-Galaktoboureko from Ioannina
Before cooking...

The city of Ioannina has known long periods of economic and cultural prime that deeply affected its gastronomy. The region’s abundant raw materials from the mountains, the lake, and the close-by coast have been documented in the memoirs of many European travelers hosted by the local rulers. It’s where the saying “like a pasha at Ioannina” originated, and that’s exactly how you feel when you indulge in the city’s famous syrupy desserts.

Galaktoboureko from Ioannina


The proper galaktoboureko must have a very thin and crunchy crust, which is hard to achieve with handmade traditional filo pastry. The filo used in galaktoboureko (and similar recipes) is called “filo kroustas” in Greek, and it’s much thinner than traditional filo pastry. You could make your own, but it’s best to avoid the fuss. Instead, use readymade ultra-thin filo pastry and focus on making a great galaktoboureko cream instead.

For the pie:

  • 500 g readymade ultra-thin filo pastry
  • 2 l milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 glasses sugar
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 glass fine semolina
  • 200 g fresh butter
  • 2 vanilla extract tubes

For the syrup:

  • 4 glasses water
  • 3 glasses sugar
  • Zest and juice from ½ lemon
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1 stick of cinnamon

Note: Alternatively, you can replace the 2 vanilla extract tubes with zest from 1 lemon.


  1. Place a saucepan on medium heat and mix the ingredients for the syrup beside the lemon juice (water, sugar, lemon zest) until the sugar melts. Bring the mix to a boil and cook for 7-8 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice, and stir well. Leave the syrup aside to cool.
  2. Dissolve the flour in a glass of milk.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the eggs until mixed.
  4. In a cooking pot, heat the rest of the milk. Add the vanilla extract, the sugar, half the butter (100 g), and the semolina, and stir gently. When the mixture becomes creamy, add the milk and flour while mixing thoroughly to prevent the cream from lumping.
  5. When the cream thickens, remove from the heat. Wait 10 minutes for the cream to cool, and add the beaten eggs while mixing thoroughly.
  6. Set the oven to “upper and lower heat” and preheat it to 180 °C.
  7. Brush a baking pan with butter. Lay a filo sheet and brush it with butter. Repeat for ⅔ of the filo sheets in the package. Spread the cream evenly, and cover it with the remaining filo sheets, brushing with butter in between.
  8. Place the pan on the lower rack and bake for 1 hour (approximately) until the top is golden brown.
  9. Pour the syrup over the pie surface, wait for it to absorb, and serve.

Today, we mostly buy our galaktoboureko from the store, and many Greek pastry shops boast of making the absolute best. Still, as we learned from our grandmothers, nothing beats a hearty homemade pastry!

After cooking...

On the western bastion of the Its Kale citadel, in the Castle of Ioannina, there’s a unique museum where visitors are introduced to a magnificent centuries-old art form. Across the rooms of the Silversmithing Museum unfolds the exciting history of the famous local artisans. The men from Ioannina and Kalarrytes took Epirote silversmithing to the highest level, and their masterpieces were revered across Europe.

Ηπειρώτικο Πρωινό-After cooking...