Greek Food: 24 of the Most Popular Dishes and Recipes

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Maybe what you don’t currently know is that Greece is known for some incredible food that both locals and tourists love to enjoy when residing on one of the islands.

Greek cuisine, very much like Mediterranean cuisine, is based on olive oil, fresh vegetables, seafood, bread, and wine along with many other ingredients that make this cuisine one of the most delicious in the world. From phyllo dough to Greek yogurt to tzatziki sauce there's a Greek dish for everyone's palate.

We’ll be taking you through the 24 most popular dishes in Greece to give you some inspiration for your next feast or to get your taste buds tingling for your next trip.

Amygdalota

If you’ve ever visited a Greek home, then you would have probably been served some amygdalota alongside a hot tea or coffee. They are classic Greek almond cookies that have a simple yet delicious recipe, although there will be many variations depending on where you go across Greece.

They are very commonly found at Christmas time and are great for serving any potential guests you may have.

Kolokithokeftedes

Kolokithokeftedes is a popular Greek appetizer that consists of blended zucchini, feta cheese, mint, and olive oil and is often served alongside some homemade tzatziki. They’re one of the go-to appetizers on a Greek menu for vegetarian diners.

Many Greeks put spring and red onion into their Kolokithokeftedes to give them an extra kick. They take less than half an hour to make and will only need around 3 minutes in the frying pan before they are crispy and golden.

Tirokroketes

Tirokroketes are fried cheese balls and are a popular meze that you’ll find in most restaurants wherever you go in Greece. They’re often served as an appetizer or as a side dish and never fail to get the whole table making appreciative noises due to the 3 kinds of cheeses oozing out of the golden-brown crust.

They take around 20 minutes to prepare and cook, so if you’re looking for some picky Greek dishes to serve to your dinner guests, then this will surely be one of the highlights of the night.

Moussaka

Moussaka is one of the most traditional Greek foods you can get and is often compared to lasagne due to the similar ingredients and cooking methods used.

Moussaka is made with spiced ground meat (normally lamb or beef) cooked in a rich herby tomato sauce and then layered with either fried eggplant or potatoes topped with a rich layer of bechamel sauce.

Moussaka is normally served as the largest meal of the day and is often accompanied with a greek salad and some cuts of crusty bread for dipping.

Whether you’re in mainland Greece or vacationing on one of the stunning islands, you’ll want to make sure you at least try some delicious moussaka.

Baklava

If there’s one thing you’ll need to try when visiting Greece, it’s the layered pastry dessert baklava that is filled with diced nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey.

The sweetener is poured all over the pastry and is absorbed to create this rich aromatic flavor. Fruit extracts like lemon and orange are often used as part of the filling but that is not according to the traditional recipe.

Baklava is made up of over 40 sheets of phyllo pastry so it does feel an honor being able to enjoy a traditional serving from a Greek cafe.

Fasolatha

A simple yet delicious recipe that anyone can recreate at home to give their family a taste of Greece is fasolatha, a white bean, and tomato soup.

The recipe is vegan and gluten-free and can be adapted to include any additional well-loved ingredients like carrots or celery. The key to a mouth-watering fasolatha is lots of herbs like oregano, thyme, and fresh parsley to compliment the richness of the tomatoes.

Bougatsa

Bougatsa is one of Greece’s favorite desserts or sweet mid-day snacks and is made up of phyllo pastry and semolina custard, topped with cinnamon and icing sugar. You’ll often find these pastries served in Greek cafes and are best enjoyed fresh.

Papoutsakia

Papoutsakia meaning little shoes is stuffed eggplants with cooked ground meat cooked in a tomato topped with cheese and bechamel sauce, the ingredients are nearly identical to what is used in a moussaka but the difference is in the shape.

Feta Me Meli

Feta Me Meli is quite similar to saganaki as the main ingredient used is cheese. However, what makes feta me meli different is that it is wrapped in oven-baked phyllo pastry and drizzled in honey. It can be served as both an appetizer and a dessert due to the perfect salty and sweet combination of feta and honey.

Souvlaki

Souvlaki is one of the most popular dishes you’ll find in Greece and can be served for both lunch and dinner or even as a snack throughout the day. Souvlaki is marinated meat and vegetables cooked over an open fire and then eaten straight off the skewer whilst it’s still hot.

There are so many renditions of Souvlaki you can have as the meats and vegetables used for the recipes can all vary, however, the marinade is often made up of olive oil, paprika, oregano, garlic, cinnamon, and coriander, but it’ll depend on where you’re dining.

It’s often served with a small bowl of freshly made tzatziki that helps balance out some of the rich and spicy marinades of the meat and vegetables.

Loukoumades

Loukoumades are hugely popular, especially with young children thanks to their bite-sized shape and ultra-sweet flavor. Lokma is what they are casually known as deep-fried flour balls smothered with honey, nuts, and even sprinkled with cinnamon.

Koulouri

Koulouri is Greece’s version of the typical bagel and is made from all-purpose flour, yeast, sesame seeds and is perfectly soft on the inside and a slight crunch on the outside.

Pastitsio

Pasitsio is often called the Greek lasagna and is made up of pasta, minced beef, tomato sauce, bechamel sauce and topped with some delicious Greek cheese.

The major differences that contrast a traditional Italian lasagna with a traditional Greek one are that instead of using pasta sheets, Greeks use bucatini pasta and it’s topped with Greek cheese whereas the Italian dish will use ricotta and mozzarella cheese.

The dish is an indulgent food and is best served in smaller portions accompanied by a fresh side salad and some bread to dip into the bechamel sauce.

Stifado

Stifado is a traditional Greek rich beef stew that is slow-cooked for hours with a variety of herbs and spices to be beautiful, aromatic, and succulent. It’s normally made with chuck steak, onions, tomatoes, vinegar, red wine, and cinnamon, however, many Greeks will have their own particular recipes of this traditional dish.

It can be eaten on its own, but many choose to pair it with some fluffy rice, roast potatoes, or some crusty bread. This is a typical Sunday comfort food and is hugely popular in the winter months of Greece.

If you’re going to recreate this recipe at home then you’ll want to set aside a solid 6 hours to achieve that tender beef that oozes flavor.

Greek Salad or known as Choriatiki

If you’ve ever been to Greece, then you probably or we hope you would have tried a Greek Salad at least once whilst you were there. Salads are a staple of Greek cuisine, especially during the hot summer months as it is light and refreshing and can be used as a side dish alongside a main or even a lunch-time meal.

A traditional Greek salad is made up of cucumber, olives, tomatoes, green pepper topped with lots of feta cheese. Some restaurants will serve olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper with a Greek salad, but the golden rule is that it should never come with any lettuce or any other type of leafy greens.

Halvas

Halvas is a simple yet effective authentic Greek dessert that contains no dairy or eggs, but only the ingredients oil, sugar, water, and semolina (with the occasional drizzle of honey to top it off). You can also use nuts and raisins to complete the recipe to give it extra dimension however it’s well-loved for the traditional and simple recipe.

Tzatziki

Tzatziki is an authentic greek dip that is often served as an appetizer or as a side dip alongside meals. It’s made from salted strained yogurt, olive oil, cucumber, dill, and lemon juice and commonly paired with pita bread to start a meal.

It’s also the perfect dressing to smother gyros with and is great when paired with spicy dishes as the yogurt and cucumber will lessen the heat.

Giouvetsi

Giouvetsi is a traditional Greek pasta or casserole dish that has the main ingredients of red wine, orzo pasta, tomato sauce, feta cheese along with plenty of shallots or onions cooked in garlic. The dish can be made with chicken, lamb, or beef and is the perfect recipe to make for the entire family.

Dolmades

Even though seafood and meat are hugely popular in Greece, most locals will eat at least one vegetarian dish throughout the day so there are always lots of vegetarian options on the menu when you go out to a restaurant.

One of these dishes will be dolmades, which are stuffed grapevine leaves that contain fluffy lemon rice served with herbs and spices. You’ll sometimes find non-vegetarian dolmades that contain ground lamb, beef, or seafood.

Sometimes the grapevine leaves are substituted for cabbage and they can be served both hot and cold. Dolmades are normally served as an appetizer and are often accompanied by some thick greek herbed yogurt.

Saganaki

A very popular appetizer dish in Greece is Saganaki which is pan-seared cheese and flour, perfect for dipping your favorite pita bread into. The dish is often served with a wedge of lemon on top and is traditionally made up of graviera, kefalograviera, or kefalotyri cheeses which all have a mild yet nutty flavor to them.

If you can’t find any of these cheeses in your local Greek deli then you can use any other kind of cheese that is firm enough to hold up well against the heat on the outside whilst still going gooey on the inside.

Kleftiko

If there’s any sort of meat that the Greeks know how to cook well, then it’s most definitely lamb.

Kleftiko is a traditional lamb dish that entails the meat cooking slowly in the oven with lemon juice, olive oil, and plenty of garlic. Sometimes red wine vinegar, cherry tomatoes, or white wine is also used as additional ingredients to give the lamb a richer and fuller flavoring.

The lamb needs to cook for 5 hours and is then normally served with herby rice or some roasted potatoes.

Spanakopita

Spanakopita is a Greek spinach pie that typically contains feta cheese, olive oil, and fresh herbs all inside a crispy phyllo pastry. The dish can be served as both an appetizer and a main meal and is enjoyed throughout the year. It can be eaten hot or cold and is paired beautifully with some tzatziki dip.

Gyros

Gyros are some of the most delightful yet indulgent dishes that come from the Greek culture. A gyro consists of vertically roasted meat (lamb, beef, chicken) which is then put inside a pita along with a sauce (sometimes tzatziki), onions, salad, tomatoes, and the best bit… fries or potato chips.

They’re perfect for grabbing on the go and easy to prepare to take with you for your lunch overnight as long as you wrap it up in the foil to keep all the goodies inside.

Gyros are now so popular that you can find them being served as a fast food option everywhere across the world.

Gemista or Yemista

Gemista, or elsewhere known as Yemista depending on what area of Greece you’re visiting, is a vibrant and healthy dish that is made up of all sorts of stuffed vegetables whether that be peppers, zucchini, or even tomatoes with some rice, herbs, and even meat.

The vegetables used will depend on what is best in season at that time, but tomatoes are always the main component of this recipe as they’ll keep everything nice and moist.

Tiropita

Tiropita is known as the Greek cheese pie and is often eaten as a breakfast or brunch food. The main ingredients are feta, ricotta, eggs, and buttered phyllo pastry.

The dish takes less than an hour to make and can be eaten both hot or cold after it has been cooked in the oven. Most tiropita recipes will also contain herbs like mint or dill to give the cheese a fresh taste.

If you’re after a traditional breakfast in Greece, then you’ll find most coffee shops offering a slice of tiropita paired with a hot coffee as a combo deal. 

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community.
She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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