Learn to Make Bourekas for Shavuot

Bourekas with cheese

Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai thousands of years ago. One tradition embraced by many families in the Jewish diaspora is to enjoy sweet, dairy-based treats, like cheesecake and ice cream, as part of the day. One theory suggests that eating dairy is connected to the idea that reading the Torah is nourishing; another says that it’s a nod to Israel as “the land of milk and honey.” If your family’s palette leans a little bit more savory than sweet, try making bourekas for Shavuot.

What Are Bourekas?

Bourekas or burekas are delicious, savory, pastry pockets. They’re a popular street food in Israel and a snap to make at home (especially if you use store-bought puff pastry or filo dough). A boureka is usually filled with cheese, but potatoes, mushrooms, spinach, and onions are also popular fillings.

Bourekas as a side dish evolved from the Turkish börek. (Fun fact, boureka is a Ladino adaptation of this word). Over time, as populations migrated, and culinary techniques evolved, bourekas developed distinct regional variations. In Jewish cuisine, particularly in Sephardic and Mizrahi communities, bourekas became a staple dish, often filled with ingredients such as cheese, spinach, potatoes, or meat. These pastries were traditionally served during holidays, celebrations, and family gatherings.

Although these pastry pockets can be enjoyed any time of the year, they make an especially good Shavuot snack or meal. Find a basic recipe for a simple cheese variation below — and let us know if you try out any other fillings.

Basic Recipe


  • One package of puff pastry dough
  • Your favorite cheese or cheese blends, shredded or crumbled
  • One egg, beaten for egg wash (or margarine for a nondairy version)


  • Preheat your oven per the instructions on the dough package
  • Lay out the dough sheets, cutting them into rectangles (about the length of your hand)
  • Add one tablespoon of cheese to half the rectangles
  • Top each filled rectangle with another dough rectangle
  • Use a fork to seal the pockets
  • Lightly brush with egg wash
  • Bake per the instructions on the package

TIP: For a dairy-free version, use dairy-free butter or olive oil.


The Story Behind Bourekas via Tablet Magazine
How to Make Bourekas via The Nosher
PJ Library’s Shavuot Hub
Why Kids Love Shavuot (and You Will Too)