Greek cuisine, known for its rich, hearty flavors and fresh ingredients, is undoubtedly one of the world’s most cherished. This guide will explore 25 of the best Greek gastronomy recipes. So, whether you’re a die-hard foodie or just looking for a new culinary adventure, keep reading for tips on what to eat in Greece during your next Greek experience!
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What to Eat in Greece: 25 Delights You Must Try
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When thinking about healthy summer nutrition, the minds of connoisseurs will subtly travel to the Mediterranean.
The Mediterranean diet, formulated around the summer season, brims with predominantly light yet moreish food options and is abundant in vegetable dishes without sparing any expense on the meat varieties either.
Balanced, well-rounded, flavorful, and simply delightful, Mediterranean cuisine is something worth traveling for.
One country that is able to provide travelers from far and wide with a truly unforgettable holiday experience, combining succulent gastronomy with sensational landscapes, is definitely Greece.
Let’s see what to eat in Greece during your vacation!
We’ll begin as any Greek meal would, with a few appetizers to get your appetite going.
Kalamarakia: A Taste of the Mediterranean
Kalamarakia, or fried squid, is a beloved Greek seafood dish you can find in almost any seaside taverna or restaurant. Yet, it’s a delicate dish that requires careful steps and timing. To make it perfect, the cook has to find fresh squids and clean them carefully before frying them to crispy perfection in Extra Virgin olive oil.
Fava: A Santorini Specialty
Fava is a traditional dish from the Greek island of Santorini, made from yellow fava beans, onions, garlic, and olive oil. You usually sample this simple yet flavorful dish as a dip or a side dish. You can find the plant Lathyrus Clymenum only on the island of Santorini, where they have been using it to make Fava for over 3,500 years.
Dolmades: Stuffed Grape Leaves
Dolmades is a typical Greek side dish. They are grape leaves filled with herby, lemony rice, folded into small parcels, and steamed. Some variations also include meat, making them a versatile complement to any Greek meal.
Greek Salad: A Summer Staple
A trip to Greece is incomplete without trying a Greek salad (or, as locals call it, horiatiki salata). Fresh tomatoes, crunchy onions, salty Kalamata olives, cucumbers, and a large piece of feta cheese combine to create this iconic dish. It’s the perfect way to start a meal, especially on a hot day.
Ntakos: The Cretan Bread Salad
Ntakos is a traditional Cretan dish with a twist. Although it was created to use leftover bread, Greeks have enjoyed it for generations. And for a reason! It’s essentially a salad served on a large, crunchy rusk made of barley or wheat bread. The rusk is then topped with diced tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, and sliced onions and drizzled with olive oil and vinegar.
Koulouri is a popular Greek street food. These large, soft bread rings are generously coated in sesame seeds and typically enjoyed on-the-go with a cup of coffee in the morning. It’s a classic breakfast item that encapsulates the Greek food culture’s simplicity and deliciousness.
Bougiourdi: A Fiery Greek Meze
Bougiourdi is a traditional Greek appetizer known for its fiery flavor. This simple yet delicious dish harmoniously blends feta cheese, tomato sauce, onions, and spices. And the best part? They are baked together in the oven until they become gooey and bubbly. Yummy!
Souvlaki: Grilled Meat Skewers
Souvlaki, grilled meat skewers, are famous worldwide and a local delicacy in Greece. Typically served hot off the grill, these pork skewers fit great with tzatziki, pita bread, salad, and tomato. An easy way to try this delicacy is to choose the marinated version, known in Athens as Kalamaki.
Saganaki: A Cheese Lover’s Dream
No Greek meze platter is complete without saganaki. This famous Greek appetizer contains various cheeses, including feta, kefalotyri, and halloumi. The cheese is fried in a hot saganaki, a small frying pan, until golden brown and crispy on the outside while remaining gooey on the inside. It’s a dream come true for every cheese enthusiast out there!
Keftethes: Greek Meatballs
Keftethes, or Greek meatballs, are usually made with lamb meat and served with a creamy yogurt sauce. You’ll love them because they’re crispy, juicy, and perfect to enjoy with salad or rice on the side.
Tzatziki: The Perfect Accompaniment
Tzatziki, made with Greek yogurt and cucumber, is often served as an appetizer or meze. You can also enjoy it as a sauce to accompany other dishes. Its tangy lemon and dill flavors will be a refreshing addition to any meal.
Greek Main Dishes
Ready for the main course? Served!
Kleftiko: Rustic Lamb Dish
Kleftiko is a traditional Greek dish that combines lamb, potatoes, and tomatoes, all cooked together for hours. Traditionally, Greeks cooked this dish in an underground fire pit, sometimes wrapped in parchment paper.
A variety of this dish is also a staple in Cypriot gastronomy.
Stifado: A Savory Stew
Stifado is a Greek meat stew perfect for colder months. It typically includes beef or rabbit, tomatoes, and small whole onions. Stewed for hours, this traditional Greek comfort food is a must-try on your culinary adventure.
Gyros: A Greek Sandwich
Gyros is one of the first words you’ll learn in Greece. They consist of rotisserie-cooked meat pieces (usually chicken, pork, lamb, or beef) wrapped in flatbread or pita, along with salad, onions, and various sauces. Vegetarian versions often include grilled halloumi or feta cheese. This is the king of Greek street food!
Pastitsio: Greek Lasagna
Like Italian lasagne, Pastitsio is a comforting dish made by layering ground beef or lamb with small macaroni and béchamel sauce, often flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, and Greek herbs. Although you won’t always find it in taverns, keep an eye on daily menus. If luck strikes you, prepare for a treat of the senses!
Giouvetsi: A Tasty Baked Dish
Giouvetsi is a baked dish with Kritharaki pasta (similar to orzo) and lamb meat or seafood. To make it, stew pasta and meat in a clay pot and add cheese before serving.
Moussaka: A Greek Classic
Moussaka is arguably the most famous dish in Greek cuisine. It’s a layered casserole that typically includes thin slices of eggplant, minced meat, and potatoes, topped with a creamy béchamel sauce and baked until golden brown. The vegetarian version is equally delicious, replacing the meat with various vegetables. Here, you can find my recipe!
Papoutsakia: Stuffed Eggplants
Papoutsakia, which means Little Shoes in Greek, are eggplants scooped out and stuffed with eggs, bell peppers, minced meat, tomatoes, lemon, and olive oil. To make the most of this hearty dish, top it with local salty cheeses and let your taste buds explode!
Fasolatha: A Hearty Bean Soup
Fasolatha might not be well-known globally, but it’s a staple in Greek households. This traditional bean soup is simple yet hearty, featuring white beans, crushed tomatoes, and a medley of vegetables like onions, carrots, and celery. Herbs like thyme, parsley, and bay leaves add a unique flavor.
Yemista: Stuffed Vegetables
Yemista (or Gemista), which in Greek means Filled With, features fresh local vegetables like tomatoes or peppers stuffed with rice and roasted until tender. Some versions also include minced meat, making it a versatile dish for vegetarians and meat lovers.
Spanakopita: Greek Cheese Pie
Spanakopita is one of the most classic Greek pies. It features layers of phyllo pastry filled with feta cheese and spinach, flavored with dill. Another favorite is Tyropita, a savory cheese pie wrapped in crispy phyllo pastry.
Do you have room for dessert? Keep reading to check out Greece’s tastiest treats.
Baklava: A Sweet Pastry
Baklava, found all over Greece, Turkey, and the Middle East, is a sweet pastry soaked in honey-like syrup and layered with crushed nuts like almonds, walnuts, or pistachios. It’s a must-try for anyone with a sweet tooth.
Amygdalota: Almond Cookies
Amygdalota, or Greek Macaroons, are crunchy and chewy almond cookies. They are typically sweetened with orange blossoms or rose water and pair perfectly with coffee in the afternoon.
Loukoumades: Greek Doughnuts
Loukoumades are one of Greece’s most beloved sweet treats. These small, fried doughnut-like balls are drenched in honey syrup, sprinkled with cinnamon or crushed walnuts, and typically shared among friends and family.
Galaktoboureko: A Sweet Custard Slice
Galaktoboureko is a sweet custard pie served in slices, made with layers of flaky phyllo pastry and sprinkled with cinnamon. Best eaten warm and straight from the oven, it’s a dessert worth traveling to Greece for.
Final Thoughts about What to Eat in Greece
As you’ve probably noticed, Greek cuisine is as diverse as it is delicious. Whether you’re a seasoned food lover or a culinary novice, Greek gastronomy offers something for everyone.
So why wait? Start planning your Greek food adventure today, and savor the flavors of this incredible Mediterranean nation.
Read more about Greek Gastronomy
- The Best Vegetarian Food in Crete That You Must Try on the Island
- Kid-Friendly Greek Food: Best Things to Eat in Greece for Picky Eaters
- Not Your Usual Greek Food Guide: What to Eat in Crete + 20 Authentic Local Dishes!
- Foreign Cuisine in Crete: 15 International Restaurants to Dine in Chania and Heraklion
- The Best Food Tours in Crete: Guide to the Most Delicious Activities in Every Region of the Island
Written by Dimitrios Tsevremes
Passionate about travel, spirituality, and sports, I have lived in 5 countries and traveled to more places than I have counted. Writing, for me, is a way to express myself and my creativity. Whether I write for my blog or a freelancing gig, I always fall in love with the process and often lose my sense of time. If you want, you can check out more about me and my work here.
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About my blog:
I moved to Crete in 2016. During these years, I learned much about the island.
In Crete, I juggle being a solo mom, hosting culinary tours, and writing for several travel media.
I’ve written for Greek Reporter, published travel guides about Greece, co-authored DK Eyewitness Top 10 Crete, and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person could ever handle.