In the Bulgarian national cuisine, one of the traditional winter desserts is Banitsa “Tikvenik”, which has different recipes and methods of preparation in different regions of Bulgaria. It is usually made with a squash filling and thin hand-rolled sheets of homemade wheat dough and bread yeast or vinegar. The skill is in rolling out the thinnest possible sheets of dough. In people’s busy everyday life, homemade and hand-rolled dough sheets take a lot of time, that’s why they are often replaced in recipes with machine-made finely rolled wheat dough sheets, which are sold in all stores in Bulgaria. Usually, a version of Banitsa “Tikvenik” is necessarily prepared for the Christmas and New Year holidays.

My recipe for banitsa “Tikvenik” is healthy vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free! To make the traditional winter dessert, I use sheets of rice paper for gluten-free spring rolls that I buy from Chinese or health food stores. I mix shredded sweet squash with rice semolina and ground walnuts in the flour to thicken the filling, since the gluten-free rice leaves don’t absorb the moisture from the squash. I love desserts with sweet syrup, and since I don’t put granulated sugar in the filling, I make the sweet syrup for the banitsa with agave syrup! The amount of sweet syrup is enough to get a satisfying sweetness, but the roasted rice leaves retain their crispiness. The warm banitsa is hard to cut, so I wait until it cools completely and then cut it into small pieces. I carefully arrange the banitsa pieces in a box with a lid and store in the refrigerator – this way it can be stored for up to 3 days. I serve in suitable plates in several small pieces as a dessert or one piece together with warm tea or coffee.

Although the banitsa is healthy vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free, it is not low-calorie, and it is good not to eat it in large quantities!

If you want to prepare a smaller amount of Gluten-free banitsa ”Tikvenik”, halve the quantities of the ingredients in the recipe and use a baking tray with a diameter of 18 cm or 20 cm!

If you don’t like the aromas of cinnamon and cloves, you can replace them with 5 g of ground allspice and 2 g of ground star anise!

Gluten-free banitsa ”Tikvenik”

Course: Desserts, Recipes









Rice banitsa with winter squash and walnuts


  • 50 g ricе paper with a diameter of 22 cm
    /rice paper for spring rolls/

  • 500 ml warm water for soaking the rice paper

  • 30 g grape seed oil

  • – a tray with a diameter of 30 cm

  • – baking paper

  • stuffing
  • 260 g sweet winter squash

  • 120 g raw walnuts

  • 80 g rice semolina

  • 10 g Ceylon cinnamon powder

  • 2 g ground cloves

  • syrup
  • 100 ml agave syrup

  • 200 ml filtered water


  • I wash and dry a small sweet winter squash. With a sharp knife, I cut the winter squash into 8 parts along the length of the squash, remove the seeds from the inside and carefully peel the skin. With a kitchen scale, I weigh the required amount for the recipe and grate the winter squash using a grater. And I cut the remaining squash into medium cubes, put it in a box with a lid and put it in the freezer.
  • I put the attachment for nuts on the electric grater and grind the walnuts into coarse flour. If you don’t have an electric grater, you can grind the walnuts using a chopper.
  • In a bowl, I put the ground walnuts and rice semolina, add the spices and the grated squash. I mix carefully until all the ingredients are completely mixed.
  • I cover the tray with baking paper, pour grape seed oil and spread it carefully with a brush over the entire surface of the paper. I use a measuring cup to measure the exact amount of agave syrup and filtered water, put them in a bowl and stir until they are completely mixed, set aside.
  • In a deep dish with a diameter larger than the diameter of the rice paper for spring rolls, I pour warm water inside. I take a rice paper, submerge it completely in the warm water and wait 30 seconds for it to soften. I take it out carefully and spread it on a metal tray, take it from the squash mixture with a spoon and put it at one end of the crust in the form of a thin roll. I fold the end of the crust over the filling and roll it into a medium tight roll, fold one end of the roll inward and roll the rest around it. I take the carefully rolled roll and place it on the baking paper in the center of the tray. I take the next rice paper and roll it in the same way along with the squash mixture. I carefully lift the rolled up roll and wrap it around the placed roll in the tray. I do the same with the rest of the rice papers on a roll and wrap around the placed roll in the pan until I fill the inside of the pan. I put the tray on the middle level in a preheated oven at 180°C with a fan and bake for 20 minutes or until the roll on top is slightly red. I turn off the oven and remove the tray.
  • I carefully prick the warm pie with a fork or a sharp knife and pour the sweet syrup on top. I wait for it to cool and absorb the liquid from the sweet syrup. I carefully remove the rice cake and place it on a beautiful metal platter.
  • Cut into pieces and place in appropriate plates – serve as a dessert after a main course or together with warm tea or coffee between main meals.


  • Nutritional value per 100g. product:
  • Energy value – 192.58 kcal
  • Proteins – 2.64 g
  • Carbohydrates – 19.91 g
  • Fat – 11.12 g
  • Fiber – 2.46 g