Cheese Sambusak Recipe from The Jewish Cookbook

After our in-depth review of Leah Koenig’s The Jewish Cookbook, we’ve  shared two great recipe from the book so far; Moroccan Flaky Chicken and Almond Pie and Yeasted Pumpkin Bread. Today, we share our third and final recipe from this comprehensive book, Cheese Sambusak.

Cheese Sambusak

These gorgeous individual pastries are perfect for all occasions, from picnics to lunch boxes, and at any time of the day.

Cheese Sambusak
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5 from 3 votes

Cheese Sambusak

Popular throughout the Middle East, these savory, handheld turnovers get stuffed with a variety of fillings including a mix of sharp and salty cheeses. Traditionally deep-fried (many home cooks today bake them instead), they are commonly served on Shabbat morning and also on Hanukkah, when fried foods are customary. But they are also great for lunch or as a tote-along snack.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 24 pastries
Author Leah Koenig


For the dough:

  • 120 ml (½ cup/ 4 fl oz) vegetable oil
  • 120 ml (½ cup/ 4 fl oz) water
  • 1 egg
  • tsp sea (kosher) salt
  • 280-350 g (2½ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour

For the filling:

  • 225 g (8 oz) crumbled feta cheese
  • 115 g (4 o) parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp onion powder, optional
  • ¼ tsp sea (kosher) salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

For assembly:

  • Flour, for dusting
  • Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • Sesame seeds for topping, optional


Make the dough:

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, water, egg, and salt until well combined and foamy. 
  • Stir in the flour, a little at a time, until a soft dough forms (you might not use the full 350 g). 
  • Form the dough into a disc, wrap with plastic wrap (cling film), and let sit at room temperature while making the filling.

Make the filling:

  • In a food processor, combine the feta, parmesan, eggs, onion powder (if using), salt, and pepper, and pulse until a thick paste forms.

Assemble the turnovers:

  • Pinch off a walnut-size piece of dough and roll it into a ball. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll it out into a 4-inch (10 cm) round. Place a heaping tablespoon of the filling into the middle of the round. Fold one side of the round over to the other to make a half-moon, pinching it tightly to seal the filling inside. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

Bake the sambusak:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C/ Gas Mark 4). 
  • Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and dived the turnovers between them. Brush the tops of the turnovers with a little egg wash (you might not use all of it) and sprinkle with sesame seeds (if using). 

Bake until golden brown, 30–35 minutes.

    Set the baking sheets on wire racks to cool.

      Alternatively, fry the sambusak:

      • Line a large plate with two layers of paper towel. 
      • In a large saucepan, heat 2 inches (5 cm) vegetable oil over medium heat. Gently slip the turnovers into the hot oil in batches of 4 or 5 and fry until golden brown, flipping once halfway through, 4–5 minutes. 
      • Transfer the fried sambusak to the paper towels to drain.

      If you decide to buy this book after reading our content, please consider clicking through our affiliate link, located within the post and in the footnote below.

      The Jewish Cookbook by Leah Koenig retails at £35. Recipe image courtesy of Phaidon Press.

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      14 Comments to "Cheese Sambusak Recipe from The Jewish Cookbook"

      1. Alison

        These are one of my favourite things in the world but my figure does not improve with cheese and pastry. I’m not sure if I love you or hate you for publishing the recipe!

      2. Emma

        Goodness me – these look so tasty (and my sister-in-law will LOVE this cookbook, that’s Christmas sorted, whoop whoop!)

      3. Orit Rehany

        The Sambusak came out exactly like the picture. It is the best Sambusak I have ever made. The cheese doesn’t leak and the pastry is very tasty.

      4. miriam omphroy

        These are spectacular, I made them and they came out perfect in the taste and texture but during baking they opened, any ideas why?


        It could be a couple of things, one would be if a lot of air got trapped inside, and expanded as it steamed, it may have pushed them open from inside. The other possible I’d that the seals weren’t firm enough. I can’t be certain though.

      5. Hilda and Rachael

        My sis and I used this recipe yesterday, hoping yours would approximate the ones our mom was famous for – there were Saturdays she would spend all day making them, my Dad helping her at the kitchen table, they’d make hundreds to give to friends who loved them and couldn’t wait for the next batch, We hadn’t had any since she passed years ago and miss her every time we remember how good they were. We called them also “macbus”(sp?.) My nephew can still remember how much he loved “Granma’s cheese puffs”. Tho your recipe seemed different from hers, the puffs turned out just like the ones we remember (the look, the smell the taste!!!!) – (we used parm, feta and mozzarella cheese mostly). Cannot tell you how happy you’ve made us! Sorry for the extended msg – just want to say THANK YOU!


        This is so lovely to read. I must make it clear though that this recipe is not one of my own (as the author of this website) but republished with permission from the publisher of Leah Koenig’s The Jewish Cookbook. So she is the one who had given you back your mum’s cheese puffs!🥰


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