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Lamb pastillas

Updated: Wed, 12 October, 2022

Pastillas are crispy filo pastry cigars, and the best possible use of leftover roast lamb. Or chicken. Or duck.

lamb pastillas

What's a pastilla?

Pastilla is a kind of pie. Moroccan, or Moorish in origin (everything Moorish is so moreish! Excuse the pathetic pun), it's meat-filled, filo, brik or werqa pastry covered cigar shape.

It's usually flavoured sweet and salty which means heaven in taste.

That's not what we imagine when thinking of a pie in the UK - I'll leave the Americans alone this time not to create pie confusion.

A delicate, elegant and crisp pastilla is quite different to a stodgy steak and kidney pie. Not, of course, that there’s anything wrong with a steak and kidney, when you’re in need of a bit of stodge.

Cigar - the only pastilla shape?

The pastilla should classically be baked as a round large pie, then sliced into wedges.

Very often though you see recipes for, or are served individual pastillas, rolled and shaped like cigars. It is much easier, I guess. And you get more pastry per serving.

moroccan lamb pastillas

Pastilla filling for a frugal chef

It's an absolutely great way to use leftover roast.

Chicken, beef or pork can be happily eaten cold the following day or made into sandwiches. Lamb – not as much, especially fattier cuts like the shoulder.

So unless you’re very dedicated and want to use the roast meat by embarking on a big project like dumplings or ravioli, pastilla is the way to go.

pastillas ingredients

Lamb is not the only filling

Lamb, chicken, pork, game, duck – anything goes happily into the filo pastry wrapper.

I wouldn’t cook the meat specially for the pastillas though, unless to make them is your heart’s desire and you don’t have any leftover meat. It's the typical 'waste not, want not' dish.

How to make the pastilla lamb filling

It couldn't be easier. Simply shred your meat or chop it up roughly, removing very fatty or gristly bits.

Sweat a little onion, a little garlic, spices and herbs and toast the meat in the mix.

Add some cooked couscous, crumble in some feta cheese and drop in a few sultanas, just to feel decadent.

lamb filling for pastillas

How to handle filo pastry

It dries out as you look so it always needs to be covered with a tea towel, except for the sheet you're currently working with. And working means brushing with fat, be it melted butter or oil.

I prefer butter personally because it makes the pastry crisper. But if you want to make these pastillas vegan, use oil. Haha! Bad joke.

The filling is lined up at the shorter end of a sheet, and you roll up the filo over it, folding the sides over a third of the way up. Like old fashioned butchers wrapping the mince.

rolling pastillas

The already rolled pastillas need to be covered with a cloth while waiting for the remaining mates to join them on the tray, and then it's done, ready for the oven.

By no means skip the cinnamon sugar dusting! It makes the pastillas heavenly, instead of merely delicious.

My recipe borrows heavily from Matty, who borrowed from Jamie Oliver. Matty’s website is nicer.

rolled pastillas

More filo pastry recipes

Another leftover lamb solution: Greek lamb, spinach and feta filo pastry pie. A spanakopita bulked out with shredded roast lamb, this pie can be lunch, dinner, snack or a party dish.

Fondue Savoyarde meets a Greek pie – it must be Ottolenghi. My mushroom and fondue filo pie is based on Yotam’s recipe from NY Times Cooking.

Baked spinach and cheese empanada, with the filling wrapped in filo pastry. A cross between spanakopita and empanada? Maybe, but at least no need to make empanada dough from scratch.

More lamb recipes

Baked yellow courgettes stuffed with minced lamb and tomatoes, topped with grated cheese. That’s a great idea for those large yellow zucchini!

Classic Greek moussaka with potato slices and minced lamb and beef meat sauce. Moussaka layers are potatoes, aubergines, minced lamb and the topping of thick béchamel. It’s a great dish easy to make in large quantities.

Homemade lamb doner kebab from Tom Kerridge is made in the oven, served in a tortilla wrap and devoured in seconds. Who said you can’t make street food at home?

filo and lamb baked pastilla cigars

Lamb pastillas

Servings: makes 4 pastillasTime: 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 50g (13 cup) couscous
  • 50ml (13 cup) boiling water
  • a drizzle of olive oil, for frying
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 130-150g (5-6 oz.) leftover cooked lamb, shredded finely
  • 30g (2 tbsp) feta cheese
  • 30g (2 tbsp) sultanas
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 sheets of filo pastry
  • olive oil or melted butter, for brushing
  • For the topping:
  • flaked almonds
  • sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp icing sugar mixed with 12 tsp ground cinnamon
  • For the dip:
  • 4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp rose harissa
  • a drizzle of olive oil


1. Pour the boiling water over the couscous, cover with cling film and leave for 10 minutes.

2. In the meantime, heat up the olive oil in a pan large enough to fit the onion, garlic and the lamb. Add the spices and garlic and cook gently until it only just starts to sizzle and swirl. Add the onion and cook for 10-15 minutes until soft. Add the lamb and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

4. Transfer the lamb mixture to a large bowl or use the pan you cooked it in, if large enough. Crumble in the feta cheese, add the couscous fluffed up with a fork, the sultanas and season very well with salt and pepper. Set aside.

5. Place a sheet of filo on a wooden board, keeping the other sheets rolled up and covered with a tea towel to stop from drying out. Brush the pastry sheet with olive oil or butter (the latter makes it more crispy).

6. Place a quarter of the filling alongside the shorter, bottom edge which should be closest to you (turn the board around if it isn’t). Roll it up a third way up, fold the sides over the filling and continue rolling up like a cigar.

7. Place the pastilla, seam side down, on the prepared tray and cover with another tea towel while you roll up the remaining ones.

8. When ready to bake, brush the pastillas on the tray with more oil or butter, sprinkle with almond flakes and sesame, and sift the cinnamon icing sugar over each one.

9. Bake for 25-30 minutes until crispy and golden.

10. In the meantime prepare the dip: place the yoghurt in a small bowl, drizzle with olive oil and spoon the harissa into the middle. Swirl into a ripple with a small spoon, without mixing it through.

11. Serve with green or Greek salad, the pastillas are also nice at room temperature.

Originally published: Fri, 29 April, 2016

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Edith-Kerrie Halprin
@Edith-Kerrie Halprin
Thank you!
5 years ago
Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Kerrie - I'm not so sure about freezing them before baking as I've never tried to cook filo pastry from frozen but you certainly can freeze them after baking. When you want to serve, just heat them them up in warm oven.
5 years ago
Can I freeze them before or after baking?
5 years ago

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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