Phyllo Rolls with Beef and Kale

When quarantine began I made a list of things I already had in my pantry and freezer so that I could make an attempt at smart meal planning. For some reason I had two boxes of phyllo dough. No doubt I’d planned on making these spanakopita but never got around to it.

After I made that list I started brainstorming and looking for recipes that used those ingredients. Pasta sauce for lasagna, italian sausage and sundried tomatoes for this simple skillet pasta, cream of chicken soup for Poppyseed chicken, etc.

As I was browsing I found this recipe from Fine Cooking that could use up some of the phyllo. I have now made it twice and we love these rolls! The second time I added some finely chopped kale to the filling. The kale had come in a produce delivery and I needed to use it quickly! I love being able to sneak in veggies.

The recipe says to serve with either tzatziki or marinara sauce. The warm weather calls for a cool and tangy tzatziki in my opinion, plus I just love a yogurt based sauce, but I can see how these would be good with either sauce.

Give yourself time to make these, they’re slightly time consuming with the phyllo layering. Once you can socialize with others again, grab a friend to help and then you can assembly line these babies. You can make the filling ahead of time, up to a couple of days if you want to. Make sure to keep your phyllo covered when you’re not using it so that it doesn’t dry out, but don’t get it too wet or it will get sticky and tear. Phyllo is high maintenance. The best way I’ve found to do this is to unroll your phyllo on its original paper, cover with a sheet of waxed paper or parchment (I find plastic wrap to be a bit of a pain) and then cover that with a damp (not soaking) tea towel. Uncover to get what you need, then cover right back up.

Here are some step-by-step pics if you find that helpful.

Lay out the phyllo layers then cut into 4 equal rectangles.

Place 1-2 tablespoons of filling on the long edge of one rectangle.

Roll it up…then repeat and repeat…

Place seam side down on the baking sheet, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with salt.

Bake until a lovely golden brown.

These were a huge hit with Ben and me, and even the kids ate them (which is a big deal if you know my kids!). If you have leftovers, they reheat really well in the oven on a pizza stone.

Phyllo Rolls with Beef and Kale

From Fine Cooking


For the filling

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small bunch of kale, trimmed and very finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • salt and pepper

For the rolls

  • 18 sheets phyllo dough (9×14 inches), thawed if frozen
  • 4-6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • Flaky sea salt
  • Tzatziki Sauce or Marinara for dipping


Make the filling

  1. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up any chunks, until cooked through, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add the kale and cook, stirring, until kale becomes bright green, a couple of minutes.
  5. Add the cumin, cinnamon, paprika and 1 tablespoon water and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 2 minutes. Add in 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Let cool slightly before using.

Assemble and Bake the Rolls

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Set up your sheets of phyllo on a clean work area covered with the damp cloth. Have a large cutting board, knife or pizza cutter, filling and melted butter ready to go.
  3. Remove 2 sheets of phyllo and place them on the cutting board.
  4. Lightly brush the top sheet with melted butter. Cover with a third sheet of phyllo and brush with melted butter.
  5. Using a pizza cutter or pastry wheel, cut the layered phyllo in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into fourths, creating eight equal-size rectangles.
  6. Working quickly, spread a heaping tablespoon of filling along the top of one of the long sides of each of the phyllo rectangles.
  7. Roll up the phyllo and gently press each end to seal. Transfer seam side down to the baking sheet.
  8. Lightly beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Brush the egg wash on top of each roll and then sprinkle with the flaky salt. Repeat with the remaining sheets of phyllo and filling.
  9. Bake until golden brown, about 14 minutes.
  10. Allow to cool slightly, then cut each roll in half on a bias.