Portokalopita (Πορτοκαλόπιτα)

Thanks for sharing!


A 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 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 purpose 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 essentially replaces the flour in the cake batter.  How curious!  Looking at a portokalopita you would never even know that phyllo had been used in 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. 🙂




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A syrup cake made with phyllo and infused with orange flavour.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Resting time2 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 45 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: Portokalopita
Servings: 14 servings
Author: Mia Kouppa



  • 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.
  • 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 rack of your oven for 10 minutes.  After the 10 minutes have passed, flip each phyllo sheet over and bake for an additional 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let sit for at least another 20 minutes, to further dry out the phyllo. With your hands, start tearing the phyllo into small pieces, and set them aside.
  • 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.
  • Add the orange zest, Greek yoghurt, vanilla extract, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and mix until just combined.
  • Next add the oil and the orange juice to the bowl, and mix to combine well with the rest of the ingredients.
  • 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.
  • 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 for 2-3 hours 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!

39 thoughts on “Portokalopita (Πορτοκαλόπιτα)

  1. 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. 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 🙂

  2. 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. 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. 🙂

  3. 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. 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 🙂

  4. 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. 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.

  5. 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. 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!

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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. 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

  8. Hello
    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. 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 🙂

    1. 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. 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. 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

  9. 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. 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

    1. 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

  10. 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. 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.

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