Portokalopita (Πορτοκαλόπιτα)

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Portokalopita is a traditional Greek syrup cake made with phyllo and infused with orange flavour 

As far as desserts go, this is a weird one.  Phyllo, which is a staple in Greek cooking both in savoury and sweet recipes, is usually used to hold things together.  Think of the spinach in spanakopita or the creamy custard in bougatsa, delicious fillings wrapped in phyllo.  Phyllo used this way is lovely, convenient, and typical.  Although intimidating at first, working with phyllo in these recipes is easy when you get the hang of it.  Still, you always have to be careful not to dry it out or tear it.  Truth be told, phyllo can be a little finicky.


In a portokalopita however the phyllo finds a new use and everything that you have worried about gets tossed out the window.  Here, the phyllo is purposefully dried out and intentionally torn.  Yes!  It’s true!  The phyllo is then mixed in with the other ingredients and it essentially replaces the flour in the cake batter.  How curious!  Looking at a portokalopita you would never even know that phyllo had been used to make this syrup-soaked cake.

Portokalopita belongs to a class of desserts known as siropiasta, which essentially refers to any dessert which is soaked in syrup.  In this regard, portokalopita is similar to karydopita (walnut cake), baklava, and pantespani, another lovely orange-flavoured cake.  It is a dense, sweet cake which goes beautifully with a bit of vanilla ice cream or thick Greek yogourt.  It also tastes great all on its own!

Helpful hints

The easiest and quickest way to dry out your phyllo is to bake it at a low temperature; this is much more efficient and you will get better results than leaving it open to air.  Each sheet of phyllo should be scrunched up and placed on a baking sheet before being placed in the oven.  You can read the complete directions in the recipe itself.


We like to use freshly squeezed orange juice in this recipe, but if prefer you can always use a good quality orange juice that you purchase.


Portokalopita is a dessert that keeps quite well; in fact, one of us enjoys it much better 2 – 3 days after it is baked.  At the same time, the other one of us prefers this dessert the same day it is made, after it has cooled and soaked in the syrup for a few hours.  We think you should have at least one piece every single day, to see how you enjoy it best.  We call that research. 🙂

If you enjoy syrup-y desserts, try these!


Karydopita (Walnut cake)


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5 from 15 votes


A syrup cake made with phyllo and infused with orange flavour.
Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
Total Time1 hour 35 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: Portokalopita
Servings: 14 servings
Author: Mia Kouppa


  • 13 x 9 inch baking pan



  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) water
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) orange juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water optional


  • 450 grams Phyllo sheets
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
  • zest from two oranges
  • 1 cup (250 mL) Greek yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (250 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) orange juice
  • vegetable oil for greasing baking pan


  • Start by preparing the syrup.  Combine the water, sugar, orange juice, the cinnamon stick and the orange blossom water, if you are using it.  Bring the ingredients to a boil;  once it starts boiling, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.
    1 1/2 cups (375 mL) water, 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar, 1/3 cup (80 mL) orange juice, 1 cinnamon stick, 1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water
  • While the syrup is being prepared, you must dry out the phyllo.  We have found that the best, and easiest way to do this is to bake it.  Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Open up your phyllo sheets, and one by one, scrunch them up, starting from the short side.  After scrunching a sheet, place it on a baking pan and continue until you have used the entire pack of phyllo.  You will need 2 baking sheets to accommodate all of your phyllo.  Bake in the middle and bottom racks of your oven for 10 minutes.  After the 10 minutes have passed, flip each phyllo sheet over and bake for an additional 8 minutes this time altering the position of each baking tray (so the one which started in the middle goes to the bottom rack and vice versa). Turn off your oven and leave the phyllo in the oven. Keep the oven door open slightly (you can use a folded kitchen towel or oven mitt to do this) to further dry out the phyllo. Once completely dry use your hands to crumble the phyllo into small pieces, and set them aside.
    450 grams Phyllo sheets
  • Note: We usually buy fresh phyllo sheets; however, if frozen is all you can find, go for it.  Simply defrost your phyllo in the fridge overnight.  Be sure to defrost the phyllo in the refrigerator as doing so on the counter will result in soggy phyllo sheets.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In the large mixing bowl of a stand mixer combine the eggs and the sugar and beat for 3 – 4 minutes, until it is a pale yellow colour.  Alternatively you can use a hand mixer.
    4 eggs, 3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
  • Add the orange zest, Greek yoghurt, vanilla extract, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and mix until just combined.
    zest from two oranges, 1 cup (250 mL) Greek yoghurt, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Next add the oil and the orange juice to the bowl, and mix to combine well with the rest of the ingredients.
    1 cup (250 mL) vegetable oil, 1/2 cup (125 mL) orange juice
  • Using a rubber spatula begin to incorporate your dried out and torn phyllo into the cake batter, a little bit at a time.  If you put all the pieces in at once, they will clump together. (Note: we like to pour the liquid ingredients into a bowl much larger than our stand mixer bowl – this just makes folding in the phyllo easier, but it is not necessary).
  • After you have incorporated all of your phyllo into the batter, pour the mixture into a greased baking pan (we use a glass 9 X 13 baking pan).  Bake for 50-60 minutes in the middle rack of your oven until your portokalopita is a nice golden colour. 
  • Once your portokalopita is baked remove it from the oven and immediately pierce it in several places with a long clean skewer.
  • Pour your cooled syrup onto the hot cake, one ladle at at time.  Allow each ladle to be absorbed into the cake before adding the next one.  Repeat until all of the syrup has been used.
  • Let your cake cool before cutting, to allow the syrup to be fully absorbed.
  • Enjoy!


We love to serve this cake with some vanilla ice cream on the side, or some Greek yoghurt.  
We used freshly squeezed orange juice for this recipe, however, you can replace it with a good quality store bought orange juice.
Any leftovers should be refrigerated.  You can then either heat the cake up prior to eating it, or serve it cold or at room temperature.  Experiment with what you prefer!

55 responses to “Portokalopita (Πορτοκαλόπιτα)”

  1. popsiclesociety Avatar

    Oh wow 😮 with phyllo? This is interesting! And it looks so damn delicious 😋Oh wow really mouthwatering! I know phyllo pastry from baklava which I love it too 😊😋 but definitely not easy to work with. 😊

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      It is easy to work with phyllo in this recipe…because the whole point is to dry it out and tear it up 🙂 🙂

  2. Cooking For The Time Challenged Avatar

    This looks amazing! Is it heresy if I adapt it to using leftover bread? For some reason I am exploring how to use leftover bread right now.

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hmmm.. that sounds interesting. Not sure how it would turn out, but if you give it a try, let us know! 🙂

      1. Cooking For The Time Challenged Avatar

        I might try this week. It will not be the same texture but it might have a similar taste.🙄

  3. Megala Avatar

    Awesome! Love this soft & succulent cake.

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Oh it is!! Hope you give it a try 😉

    2. miakouppa Avatar

      Thank you so much Megala! It’s a great little dessert 🙂

  4. Wendy Henderson Avatar
    Wendy Henderson

    Calorie count?

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Sorry Wendy, we don’t do calorie counts. Our motto is, everything in moderation 🙂

  5. Nick @ GreekBoston.com Avatar

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. It’s truly unique and may look strange at first, but it delivers a big flavor!

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      It is a great dessert that’s for sure! May raise some eyebrows at first because it’s quite unusual isn’t it…with the phyllo inside. But one taste, and you’re a convert 🙂

  6. Priscilla Gregory Avatar
    Priscilla Gregory

    Loved it! I was a bit worried a the start because the idea of using phylllo like this, without any flour, kind of made me concerned but wow! perfection!! Thank you!

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Priscilla we are so happy to hear that! It’s amazing how this dessert turns out isn’t it?? We are so happy you were happy with our recipe and thank you for taking the time to let us know. 🙂

  7. Denise at thecraftyledger.blog Avatar

    I made this for a large group while we were on vacation at our cabin and it was so good and different. I was concerned that the dried Phyllo would all fit into my mixing bowl, but it just kept absorbing in when added a little at a time. Thanks for all the hints.

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Oh wow!! Thanks for sharing Denise, and for trusting our recipe for your crowd 🙂 It is a different recipe isn’t it?! We are thrilled that you enjoyed it, and that you found our helpful hints…helpful 🙂

  8. besslinzmeyer Avatar

    My mom brought back a recipe when visiting Greece in 2006 passed down from an aunt. They didn’t have a name for it so hey called it zounari because it looked like a belt ζώνη . Ha ha ha. Your name makes much more sense . The only difference is that my moms recipe omitted the yogurt and she buttered every phylo. Assembly was the same. She would also add cloves on top to infuse the flavor in the cake. Everyone who has tried this cake loves it and can’t get enough.

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Your mom’s version sounds delicious! And we love the name 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  9. Anthea Caffrey Avatar
    Anthea Caffrey

    Hi why no eggs in your recipe please confirm x,

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hi Anthea. There are eggs in the recipe; 4 of them in fact. They are listed in the ingredient list second, right after the phyllo sheets. Hope that helps. Thanks.

  10. Maria Maria Avatar
    Maria Maria

    Having just come back from a Greek island where I had this delicious cake, I had to make it! This recipe delivered! I made it over the weekend and it was out of this world delicious. The only thing I changed is that I made extra syrup (one cup sugar/one cup water) to make it extra moist. Fabulous! My husband asked if I can make it again next weekend!

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hi Maria!! Your comment has made us so happy! We are thrilled that you and your husband enjoyed our portokalopita and that it gave you a taste of Greece 🙂 As for the extra syrup – that’s great if you wanted your cake more syrupy; love that you made it your own. The orange blossom water adds an extra dimension of flavour, but would not have made up for the extra syrup that you wanted. 😉 Hope you find more to love here!

  11. Maria Maria Avatar
    Maria Maria

    in my comment above – I forgot to mention that I didn’t use the orange blossom water, so maybe that’s why I needed to add extra syrup 🙂

  12. Gerard Wilson Avatar
    Gerard Wilson

    I just discovered Portokalopita on a trip to Greece and wanted to recreate it when I got home. I read all the recipes I found online, this is the second one I tried and this is definitely the one! Everyone who tried it loved it, will definitely make it again

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Oh amazing!! Thanks so much Gerard for trusting our recipe and for leaving a comment. We are thrilled that our recipe is a keeper and that everyone loved it 😉 We hope you find more to love here, and more that will remind you of time spent in Greece! xoxo Helen & Billie

    2. Slicey Avatar

      Thanks for saying that! Baking is usually a science, but every single recipe I’ve looked up online for this dessert is different. It makes me nervous when trying to make it for the first time which one will actually turn out well. This one has the most ingredients in it and sounds good, but nice to know someone else has compared a couple of recipes.

      1. miakouppa Avatar

        We hope that you love it! 🙂 xoxo Helen & Billie

  13. Alba Avatar

    This orange cake is the best.I swear I could eat the entire pan,that’s why I buy it only during the holiday season at my local bakery.I was wondering,could we do it using kadayif dough which is already shredded to pieces ?
    I want to try and make it at home 🙂

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hi Alba! So sorry for the delay in responding. We’ve never heard of using kadayfi dough in this recipe, but we suppose it could work – although it may be cut too thinly and this may impact the texture of the final product. We can’t know for sure, because we’ve never tried it ourselves, so if you do try it this way, let us know! Hope you enjoy our recipe 🙂

  14. Maria Avatar

    Merry Christmas!
    Does the percentage of fat in the yoghurt matter in this recipe?

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hi Maria! We usually use a reduced fat (but not no-fat) yoghurt in this recipe, but we don’t really think that it will make a difference. Happy baking and let us know how you enjoy the recipe!! xoxo Helen & Billie

      1. Maria Avatar

        Happy New Year!
        It is delicious!! Thank you for sharing the recipe. I’ve been wanting to make this ever since I tried it at a psarotaverna in Greece a few years ago. It was a hit at our New Year’s table 😋

      2. miakouppa Avatar

        Amazing!! So glad that you tried our recipe, and that you loved it. Thank you for including us in your New Year’s celebration. Happy 2021 to you and your family. xoxo Helen & Billie

      3. Electra Avatar

        Hi! I normally use low fat or full fat yogurt when I make this recipe—which, by the way, everyone raves about it when I make it— but this time when I made it for Christmas I only had 0% fat Fage yogurt and it still turned out delicious! And no one was the wiser!

      4. miakouppa Avatar

        Hi Electra! That’s great to know, thanks! We’re so happy that this recipe is loved by those who try it! Yay!! Happy New Year! xoxo Helen & Billie

  15. Lilly Rinaldi Avatar
    Lilly Rinaldi

    Hello! Love this recipe and will be making it for my grandson’s 5th birthday in a few weeks. He does not like frosting but loves cake and pita sa sirom, Serbian feta cheese pita. His favorite flavor is lime! So I will be making your pita except with freshly squeezed lime juice. I hope you are not cringing 😣 Can’t wait to see how it turns out! I am a fairly confident cook, especially with an outstanding recipe like yours!! Many thanks and by the way my best friend since high school is a 100% Greek girl!

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Not cringing at all!!! We think that it will be lovely with the lime! Did you already make it? Did your grandson enjoy it? Happy birthday to him by the way. xoxox Helen & Billie

  16. Olga Avatar

    What brand of vegetable oil do you prefer?

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hello Olga, we use Mazola corn oil 🙂

  17. Tina Avatar

    What about cooled melted butter in place of the oil?

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hi Tina! You could definitely try making that substitution. It may be a little rich, and perhaps a little heavy – but also, it may be delicious!! You could also consider using 1/2 oil and 1/2 melted butter. Experiment until you come up with a recipe that is perfect for you. The recipe instructions will be the same whether you use butter or oil. Happy baking, and keep us posted! xoxo Helen & Billie

  18. Evi Avatar

    Hi! I love this recipe! Just a question – when I mixed in the phyllo, the mixture got very thick. It does not look like your photo. Any reason why?

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hi Evi, We’re so sorry for the late reply. The only reason we can think that this happened is that the phyllo you used was thicker. Phyllo comes in different thicknesses. We used the thinner kind. Hope this helps.

  19. Andrea McAvoy Avatar
    Andrea McAvoy

    I love this recipe. I previewed it with half recipe baked in an 8×8 for shorter time. I just made the full recipe and it is FABULOUS. And it’s really fun. I dried out the phyllo night before and that worked out really well. Delicious!

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Amazing! We’re so happy to hear that you tried our recipe and loved it. Thanks for letting us know Andrea! Hoping that you find more to love here. xoxo Helen & Billie

  20. Kathryn Hughes Avatar

    You never cease to amaze! I’ve made this several times and it is fantastic! It is on the top of my glyka list. I may not wait for a special occasion to make it again and just indulge! Ευχάριστο παρά πολλή!

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      That is so nice of you to say Kathryn!! Thank you so much, and we are thrilled that you are excited by, and love this recipe! Yay!!! xoxo Helen & Billie

  21. Yiorgos Sergakis Avatar
    Yiorgos Sergakis

    Call me crazy or call me Greek! Τη να σου πω? But this is hands down the best recipe for orange pita. The crazy part, I really love to take each piece and squeeze fresh lemon on it, give it a try as the tartness adds a special “Greekness” to it! Opa!

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      🙂 🙂 Your message has made us smile!! How about we call you both….a Crazy Greek! 🙂 We are thrilled that you love our recipe, and your tip with the fresh lemon juice…sounds great!! Hope you continue to find much to love here! xoxo Helen & Billie

  22. Larry Basem Avatar
    Larry Basem

    So glad I found this recipe and your site. I’m not Greek but there is a great Greek bakery downtown Chicago near where I live. Fell in love with the portokalopita and decided to find a recipe The attention to detail in your recipe is terrific I tried it and it actually turned out pretty darned good.
    Maybe too darned good.
    Passed the recipe – and info about your site – to a Greek high school friend.

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hi Larry,
      Thank you SO much for your message, and for helping to spread the work about Mia Kouppa. Also, thrilled that you loved the portokalopita (and thanks for your kind word about the attention to detail – we try to make our recipes as easy to follow as possible, so glad it’s working!) Hope you continue to find much to love here 🙂 xoxo Helen & Billie (also, sorry for the delayed response – we launched our new website and had some kinks to work out).

  23. Kaye Avatar

    Could I substitute satsuma juice and zest for the Orange?

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Yes you can! It will give a different, untraditional flavour, but should still be lovely. Enjoy! xoxo Helen & Billie

  24. Slicey Avatar

    Do you ever make this with olive oil instead of corn oil? Or with a combination of both?

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hi there! We haven’t, although it should work out just fine! The flavour will be different (olive oil has a stronger flavour) but the texture will be okay! Let us know now that works out if you do try it 🙂 xoxo Helen & Billie

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