In addition to being a country of great importance, Greece is responsible for having world-famous foods such as Moussaka, Spanakopita, Feta Cheese, and Frappes. Greece is widely known for using its fresh ingredients to create some of the most tantalizing Greek dishes.
25 Traditional Greek Foods You Must Eat in Greece!
Their Mediterranean cuisine is heavily influenced by Italy and other close by countries. This has certainly made an impact on traditional Greek cuisine. Fresh vegetables, seafood, and fish play a significant role in the dishes mostly because of Greece’s long coastline. The flavors of Greek food changes as the seasons and geography change.
And I certainly don’t mind if you call me crazy, but before I traveled to Greece I had no idea how delicious Greek food would be. By my second trip to this Mediterranean country, I formed a deep love for the tasty traditional Greek cuisine. Each day I would walk those Greek streets searching for dishes of fried cheese known as Saganaki, Souvlaki, feta cheese, and olives.
Honestly, my belly couldn’t be happier with Greek food in it!
Their food is not only something that is nutritious to your body, but also to your soul. A Greek meal is supposed to have you taste not only the yummy flavors but also enjoy the traditional meal with friends and family. Now that I have been talking up a storm about Greek food you must eat in Greece, I think it’s time to learn some things about Greek cuisine, Greek recipes, and age-old Greece traditions.
Here are some of my favorites not to be missed when traveling through Greece:
1. Feta Cheese
To be honest, the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word “Greek food” is feta cheese. I know that might sound somewhat clique of me, but it’s true. In the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, I learned that the most common words used in the English language come from Greek words, like feta. The word ‘feta’ comes from the word ‘pheta’ which means ‘slice’, so there you go!
Feta cheese was traditionally made in Ancient Greece and supposedly eaten and mentioned in the poem, The Odyssey by Homer. Feta comes from goat and/or sheep milk that has been pickled, drained, salted, and aged. It is the perfect Greek staple to have in your fridge and goes perfect on bread or in a salad.
I have also tried the dessert version known as Feta Mi Meli. The feta is wrapped in a filo pastry before oven-baked with honey is drizzled over it. The balance between the salty feta and the sweet honey creates a memorable taste.
Recipe >>> The Spruce Eats
2. Olive Oil
Although Olive Oil is more of a dressing than a food, it is still a huge staple among Greek food. Greece is the third-largest producer of olive oil and you can tell that the Greeks know their stuff. It was around 3,500 BC that the first olive tree was planted in Crete. From there, the blessed olive oil was created and exported to the mainland of Greece and other surrounding countries.
Recipe >>> My Recipes
Although originally from the Ottoman Empire, baklava is one of the most heavily linked desserts to Greece traditional food. It is a rich dessert that is composed of layers of phyllo dough that are combined together by honey. The origin of the baklava can be traced back to the 1650s and it has been linked to countries such as Turkey, Algeria, and Ethiopia. It is probably the most popular food item among all Greek desserts.
Recipe >>> Simply Recipes
4. Yiaprakia Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
One of the simplest, but delicious Greek foods is the Yiaprakia stuffed cabbage rolls. This is a traditional Greek dish that dates back to the Moreas peninsula. This dish is created by using Mediterranean herbs and spices such as dill, cumin, and parsley. The true star of the dish is the minced meat that is packed into the white cabbage.
Recipe >>> My Greek Dish
5. Christopsomo or Christmas Bread
In Greece, this bread is commonly referred to as ‘Christmas bread’. As this dish is usually only made during the Christmas holiday. The main ingredients are flour, butter, milk, sugar, milk, walnuts, and eggs (that have been dyed red). The name of this bread translates to “Christ’s bread”, which is very fitting given the time of year it is consumed.
It is always decorated with an “X” on it. This is the Greek letter Chi and happens to be the first letter in the word “Xριστος” which is Greek for Christ. So remember when you see “Xmas” instead of the full word “Christmas”, you are really seeing the Greek abbreviation!
Recipe >>> Mostly Greek
6. Melomakarona Cookies
I just can’t get away from the Greek desserts, especially the melomakarona “honey” cookies. They are another dessert that has grabbed my attention. These cookies are simple, yet satisfyingly delicious. They are made with sugar, olive oil, flour, and honey. These cookies are often made during the Christmas season and shared with loved ones.
Recipe >>> Akis Petretzikis
7. Phyllo Dough
The Phyllo dough is an ingredient that is used all over the world. The Greeks invented the phyllo dough in the Byzantine era and it was simply made from wheat and flour. Phyllo dough is very tricky to work with because it is very thin and can easily break. Instead of going for a homemade recipe, which can take time and great skill, I recommend buying phyllo dough at your local supermarket.
Purchase >>> Amazon
8. Mayeritsa soup
A traditional Easter dish is Mayiritsa soup. Most Greeks follow the Greek Orthodox church and have a ritual of fasting during Lent. Traditionally, this dish is eaten at midnight at Easter to break the fast. This soup is made with the remaining parts of the lamb or goat that is used to make an Easter meal. I recommend making this soup with the most traditional ingredients.
Recipe >>> Greece Is
9. Pita Bread
I don’t think I have ever walked into a Greek restaurant without having eaten pita bread. The Greek Pita flatbread is a real staple food among the Greek cuisine. The simple ingredients of flour, water, salt and yeast make the perfect combination to create the yummy pita bread.
Recipe >>> Half Baked Harvest
10. Greek Salad
You didn’t think I would miss the Greek typical food that is served worldwide known as the Greek salad, did you? To most English speaking countries, the Horiatiki is known as the traditional Greek salad. This salad is composed of tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, salt, pepper, olive oil and feta cheese. Depending on the region of Greece you are in, some Greek food examples might be Kalamata olives, bell peppers, or caper berries in your salad.
Recipe >>> The Endless Meal
One of the most famous savory pies in all of Greece is Spanakopita. The famous poet Philoxenos was the first to mention this Greek food in the literature that dates back to the 5th century. I think it is fascinating that after all these years, the Greeks have not lost sight of their origins and have kept these yummy dishes alive for years.
This scrumptious dish is made with spinach, herbs, feta cheese, and scallions that are nestled in-between phyllo dough layers and then brushed with butter or olive oil. If you are in the mood to eat Spanakopita and you are in Greece, then check out this restaurant. They have a wonderful list of Greek menu items to choose from.
Recipe >>> The Mediterranean Dish
12. Tiropita Pie or “Greek Cheese Pie”
As you may have guessed, phyllo dough is a true staple food among Greek food. It is also the front and center of the Greek pastry, tiropita pie. Unlike other Greek dishes, this dish banks from the ancient greeks of Sicily, Italy. The tiropita pie is typically served as an appetizer and can be stuffed with different cheeses and egg mixture, depending on the region you are in.
Recipe >>> Curious Cuisiniere
Another delectable Greek dessert is the Galaktoboureko. This dessert is made with semolina, custard, and filo dough. Similar to other desserts and pastries, the galaktoboureko is made in a large sheet pan and then cut into individual portions in order to get a delicious taste in every bite.
Recipe >>> Greek City Times
Easter seems to be the perfect time to make those special once a year food dishes. It appears that Greeks are real sticklers for their food traditions and that includes hearty Easter soups. Fasting for 40 days comes with the Greek Easter tradition and the best way to break the fast is with the Revithosoupa. This soup is made from chickpeas, onions, rosemary, olive, lemon, and black truffle oil.
Recipe >>> Kopiaste
One of the best Greek appetizers is the fried cheese known as Saganaki. Depending on the Greek region you are in, different cheeses are used to make this tasty dish. Such cheeses include graviera, halloumi, kasseri, feta cheese, and formaela cheese. This dish is prepared in a frying pan to get the best results possible for all the fried cheesy goodness. When you are in Greece, I recommend checking out this restaurant for a great Saganaki dish. They have a wonderful Greek menu.
Recipe >>> Olive Tomato
Possibly hailing from the Middle East and Asia, the gyro has been an essential food in the Greek culture. During the early 1920s, the gyro started arriving in Greece from places such as Istanbul, Turkey, and Armenia. A gyro is made on a vertical rotisserie that is prepared with pork, chicken, or beef. Once the meat is cooked it is stuffed in pita bread and then topped with tomato, onion, and a special sauce. This is a crowd favorite among tourists and locals alike.
Recipe >>> Greek Boston
Souvlaki is considered to be the world’s first form of fast food. Ancient Greeks made souvlaki by grilling meat on a spit and then served it with bread. In Athens, this type of fast food is also called Kalamaki. This ever-popular Greek cuisine is often eaten right off the skewer and served with fried potatoes and lemon, on a piece of pita bread.
Recipe >>> Masterclass
18. Moussaka or Greek Lasagna
Another Greek famous dish that was inspired by the Arabas is the Moussaka. It wasn’t until 1910 that the famous chef, Nikolas Tselementes, made this dish using a bechamel sauce on top. Bechamel is a French sauce that is made from butter, flour, and milk. If you want to prepare this hearty dish, then set aside a couple of hours and use the recipe below. Moussaka is considered a Greek specialty food.
Recipe >>> RecipeTinEats
Although the word might seem Greek, “Calamari” is actually the Italian word for squid. The Greeks were so impressed by the name and preparation of calamari that they started incorporating it into their cuisine. Fried calamari can be found in almost all fish restaurants in Greece such as a Psarotaverna (which serves fish and seafood dishes). All you need to make these friend critters is patience.
Recipe >>> Fifteen Spatulas
I have yet to talk about a Greek pasta dish and now is the chance with the Pastitsio. Similar to the reinvented Moussaka by chef Nikolas Tselementes, this Italian-inspired baked ziti has become a Greek food favorite. The main ingredients in this dish are Greek ziti, Kefalotiri cheese, ground beef, and Bechamel sauce. This is a Greek Mediterranean food that most people love.
Recipe >>> Recipe Girl
Another well-known and traditional Greek dish is Yemista or Gemista. The main ingredients in this dish are olive oil, peppers, tomatoes, rice, and vegetables. It is a dish that was first introduced to the Greeks during the Greek-Turkish War when the Turkish used to stuff their dishes. I love this Greek-style stuffed pepper.
Recipe >>> Lazy Cat Kitchen
Greece is bordered by two different seas and it seems appropriate for Greeks to have fresh fish on a daily basis. One of the traditional Greek delicacies is Grilled Lavraki. This fish has been caught by fisherman since ancient times, but has always been a difficult catch and is considered one of Greek’s delicacies when you can get it. This fish dish is based on the Greek sea bass and includes tomatoes, garlic, white wine, and olive oil.
Recipe >>> Scrumpdillyiscious
23. Domadakia or Stuffed Grape Leaves
If you are looking to try something unique and different, then you must eat the Domadakia (stuffed grape leaves). These stuffed grape leaves are an interesting alternative to a stuffed pepper or spanakopita. Most recipes include ground beef, rice, parsley, a lot of onions, and eggs. You can substitute the ground beef for pork. This photo is a great example of a Greek food dish fill ed with fava beans and stuffed grape leaves.
Recipe >>> Dimitri’s Dishes
24. Taramasalata Spread
If you are a fan of spreads and fish, then you must try the Taramasalata. The main ingredient of this spread is cured cod, which is called “tarama” in Greek. Whenever you are in the mood to eat this fish spread then you can always look up Greek food near me.
Recipe >>> Nourished Kitchen
25. Kolokithokeftedes (Courgette or Fried Zucchini Balls)
Vegetables are a staple ingredient in the Mediterranean diet, which translates into why the Greeks love them! A traditional veggie dish is Kolokithokeftedes, better known as “fried zucchini balls” or “Courgette balls”. The secret to making the perfect zucchini ball is making sure it is creamy in the middle, but with a crunchy exterior. To make the perfect zucchini balls, check out the recipe below.
Recipe >>> A Seasoned Greeting
All this talk about food in Greece has given me a craving for some baklava or tiropita, and even a Greek Salad, just maybe not in that order. Once you taste any of the Greek foods on this list, you are sure to want more. So be sure and make a greek food list before going to the grocery store! Taste by taste and bite by bite, you might just eat everything listed above. As they say in Greek, απολαύστε το φαγητό, or “enjoy the food”.