Vegan Gibanica Recipe (Serbian Cheese Pie)

This cheese pie (aka gibanica, pita, gužvara, burek) would have to be one of the most famous traditional dishes in Serbia. Depending on who you speak to, they have a name for it.

From my understanding and the research that I did, it’s best known as gibanica (pronounced ghee-BAN-itsa) and this is my vegan gibanica recipe. 

My mum made a different version of this that wasn’t as doughy, and I grew up knowing it as burek. Burek is a slightly different version of a traditional pie but has different fillings.

Gibanica is known for only having cheese and other dairy such as cream, sour cream, yoghurt or milk. You’ll also see anywhere from 3-10 eggs added to the traditional version.

Vegan Gibanica Recipe (Serbian Cheese Pie)

The cheese can also vary depending on the recipe that you choose, but the base will typically be either ricotta or feta. I have taken the general concepts of some of the non-vegan versions of this dish that I found online, and also from my own experience eating this delicious Serbian cheese pie before becoming vegan. 

If you’re anything like me and see images of recipes like this and freak out because you’re nervous about working with pastry, I want to assure you not to worry!

You either don’t have the time or the confidence to make your own, or you simply feel overwhelmed by something that looks simple but may end up being quite complicated. 

Vegan Gibanica Recipe (Serbian Cheese Pie)

I had no idea that most recipes out there (unless it’s your baka (aka grandma) making it) use store-bought fillo/phyllo pastry and get a great texture and finish.

So, don’t be frightened when you see that lovely layer of dough on the inside. It’s effortless to achieve! You’ll be pleasantly surprised.  

The beauty of this dish is that you can have it hot or cold. It’s traditionally known to be a breakfast recipe that would be whipped up the morning of or the night before. If you have time in the morning, go for it! 

But like most people that are trying to get out the door first thing in the morning and don’t have a minute spare to whip up a cheese pie, make it the day before. 

It’s also great as a lunchbox addition, or a take to work meal. Really, you can enjoy it whenever.

Vegan Gibanica Recipe (Serbian Cheese Pie)

How to serve this vegan cheese pie? 

It pairs great with any of the following additions (or simply have it on its own):

  • Ajvar (a roasted red pepper relish). Here in Australia, you can find it in most supermarkets. My husband Michael has fallen in love with it! It can also be made with a mix of peppers and eggplant (aubergines). 
  • Vegan yoghurt. I’d recommend a plain, unsweetened yoghurt. It’s traditionally served with the runnier kind, that you’d pour into a cup and drink rather than a thicker variety. You can also substitute this with kefir if you can get a vegan version. 
  • Vegan sour cream. I used to spread sour cream on the top of the pie. It’s a lovely addition, especially if it’s still warm. 
  • Gherkins. Need I say more?
  • Raw chopped onion with salt. This is a traditional way to enjoy it but be warned to have this maybe when you’re either on your own or with a loved one that doesn’t mind the aftermath of raw onion. 
  • A simple salad. I’d generally do a cucumber, tomato, and red onion salad with a generous seasoning of salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar. 

Vegan Gibanica Recipe (Serbian Cheese Pie)

This fillo pastry with vegan ‘feta’ is super simple to make, soft and creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside. 

I think I’ve perfected the flavours and textures of the non-vegan version of this traditional Serbian gibanica. I’m happy with how it has turned out, and I’m confident that you’ll fall in love with it too! 

Vegan Gibanica Recipe (Serbian Cheese Pie)

Can vegans eat store-bought fillo/phyllo pastry? 

A lot of vegans get confused and unsure of whether or not they can eat fillo pastry. The answer is yes. Most supermarket brands will not use butter in their pastry as it’s more expensive to produce and opt-out of using it. This is the brand that I’ve been using and is accessible in most supermarkets here in Australia. 

This variety of pastry is thinner than some of the ones that you’ll find in other countries, especially the traditional one that is used, which is a medium thickness. I can’t get access to that and imagine that most other people wouldn’t be able to either. 

If you live somewhere, where it’s accessible, go for the medium thickness instead. However, the thin kind will work just as well! 

Vegan Gibanica Recipe (Serbian Cheese Pie)

A few tips for making this vegan Serbian cheese pie

  • If you’re using a frozen pastry, make sure to thaw it out completely before you start using it. 
  • Any baking dish will work here—a stainless steel one, ceramic or glass. Just make sure that the size will fit the whole pie. I wouldn’t use a dish smaller than 26cm (10.2in).
  • Also keep in mind if you use a different sized dish, that the baking time will vary. This will also vary if you use a ceramic dish vs a stainless steel one. 
  • If you’re making a thicker pie, make sure to bake it for longer. In contrast, if it’s a thinner one (using a large baking dish), it will bake faster. So make sure to keep an eye on it and aim for the same outcome of look based on my pictures. With time, you’ll get a better gauge for it. 
  • If you have a super deep smaller dish, you’ll have to take it out midway through baking and flip it onto a flat baking tray so that the bottom bakes evenly.  

Vegan Gibanica Recipe (Serbian Cheese Pie)

I’ve purposefully left out using vegan versions of traditional dairy in this dish because I wanted it to be as accessible as possible. I don’t buy things like vegan feta, vegan ricotta, vegan sour cream etc. so I didn’t want to use them. 

Don’t get put off by the fact that this dish uses tofu. You’ll be pleasantly surprised that it tastes very similar to the traditional version and nothing like tofu!

Vegan Gibanica Recipe (Serbian Cheese Pie)

This vegan version of a traditional gibanica is also healthier for you. With the use of organic tofu, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and aquafaba (chickpea water), it has less fat and all the nasty things that come along with consuming dairy (if you’re interested in learning more about the dairy industry, check out this video).

Have you had a Serbian cheese pie before? What did you think? Would love to know how this one compares!

Other recipes you’ll love:

  1. Three Incredibly Simple Silverbeet Recipes
  2. Sauerkraut and Bean Stew (Slovenian Jota)
  3. Quick and Easy Sauerkraut Pasta
  4. Serbian Baked Beans (Prebranac)
  5. Easy Vegan Baked Ziti

If you try this recipe, let me know! I would love for you to leave a comment and rating below. If you want to go that extra mile, tag us on Instagram, or share your photo of the recipe on Pinterest. Or Pin It for later!

Vegan Gibanica Recipe (Serbian Cheese Pie)

Vegan Gibanica Recipe (Serbian Cheese Pie)

Yield: 10 slices
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

This vegan gibanica recipe is a traditional Serbian savoury cheese pie. A perfect and easy dish to put together and enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Ingredients

  • 400g firm tofu - preferably organic
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice (half a lemon)
  • 2 tsp good quality salt
  • ½ cup aquafaba (chickpea water)*
  • ⅓ cup nutritional yeast
  • ¼ cup + 1 tsbp neutral oil (I used rice bran)
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 250ml water (warm-room temperature is best)
  • 375g pack of fillo dough

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, crumble the tofu quite fine using your hands.
  2. Add in the lemon juice and salt and stir well. Set aside for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 200C (390F).
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the aquafaba until you get a nice white foam. This will take around 1-2 minutes. Set aside.
  5. Once 20 minutes has passed, add in the whipped aquafaba, nutritional yeast, the 1/4 cup of oil, baking powder and water to the tofu mixture and stir to combine well.
  6. Grease your baking dish with oil on the bottom and the sides.
  7. Open and unfold the dough and lay it to one side of the baking dish. Making sure to work quite quickly as the fillo will dry out and start to crack as it's now exposed to air.
  8. Layer two sheets on the bottom of the baking dish, one in each direction. Creating an + shape (see images above).
  9. Crumple one sheet of pastry into the tofu mixture and make sure it's immersed in the filling. Bring the dough over to the baking dish and start to fill it with the soaked sheets, tightly packing them next to each other.
  10. Repeat this process for one sheet at a time until you have only two sheets of fillo left. If you have any extra filling, pour this evenly over the top.
  11. Bring in the overhanging filo from the sides of the baking dish over the pie. Wrapping it like a parcel.
  12. In a small bowl, mix 1 tbsp water and the other 1 tbsp of oil. Lay one of the sheets of the remaining fillo, brushing it with the liquid mix, tucking it in to make sure that it completely covers the top. Do the same with the last sheet of fillo and brush the remaining liquid mix over the top.
  13. Place in the oven to bake for around 45-50 minutes or until golden brown on the top (if your dish is bigger, it will need less time).
  14. Remove from the oven and let it cool for about 15-20 mins before cutting and serving. You can also wait for it to completely cool. The slices will hold their shape better (all images were photographed when the pie was cold).
  15. Serve with suggested sides or on its own.

Notes

* Aquafaba is the liquid from a can of chickpeas. Strain the chickpeas and store for later use. You want the liquid from this to whip. It acts in a similar way to egg whites.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 173Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 677mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 2gSugar: 0gProtein: 9g

Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated automatically. The accuracy of this information is not guaranteed.

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Vegan Gibanica Recipe (Serbian Cheese Pie)

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12 thoughts on “Vegan Gibanica Recipe (Serbian Cheese Pie)”

  1. I made this dish tonight and served it with a green salad and roasted veggies. This is such an easy and delicious recipe! Thank you for this and all your other great posts.

  2. This looks really good. I have a Serbian friend I will be able to test it on but I think I will have to wait until the video as I’m a bit confused too. Also I’m wondering if I could somehow use flaxmeal instead of the aqua faba as I just can’t bring myself to use the liquid I drain off the tin of chick peas and even thoroughly wash the drained chick peas.

    1. Hi Pamela, sorry about that. Which part are you confused about? I hope I can clarify it for you! The flax meal won’t be suitable in this recipe. I promise you that you won’t be able to taste the aquafaba at all! 🙂

      1. This is the oart I’m not sure about.
        “Crumple one sheet of pastry into the tofu mixture and make sure it’s immersed in the filling. Bring the dough over to the baking dish and start to fill it with the soaked sheets, tightly packing them next to each other.”
        I first read crumple as in smash it up a bit but I think you mean keep tgd sheet whole but get it covered in tge tofu mix.

        1. About the aqua faber, I always feel it has unwanted chemicals in it!! Sorry about typos in last reply.

        2. You’re right! So take one sheet of the fillo and scrunch it up in your hand. Take it over to the tofu mix and dip it in the mix (covering completely in mix). Now take it over to the baking dish and pack it in nice and tight. Repeat the process until you have used all but two sheets of fillo. I hope that helps! Sorry, we haven’t had a chance to post the video yet. If you even just type in “Gibanica recipe” into YouTube, most of them use this method to make it. Let me know how you go 🙂

  3. I must be missing something. I’m confused at the point where you indicate “fill it with the soaked sheets”. When do you begin adding the filling?

    1. Hi Laura, I’m sorry if the instructions are confusing. The filling is the soaked sheets of fillo. So the tofu mix is what you add the individual sheets of fillo to and then add them one by one (soaked) to the baking dish. I hope that clarifies it for you! Please let me know if you need further instruction. We will be adding a video for this recipe shortly so hopefully, that will help to clear some things up 🙂 Hope you enjoy it!

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