Greece is a paradise filled with beautiful landscapes and crystal clear blue water. However, as gorgeous as Greece’s beaches and historical landmarks are, they aren’t the only thing worth getting excited about. Greece is also home to a variety of mouthwatering Mediterranean dishes that’ll satisfy any foodie.
Having been born and raised in Greece, my family is exactly like My Big Fat Greek Wedding. They’d always make me eat whenever they saw me, which I’m thankful for because I got to try so many great dishes that’ll always be part of my Greek culture. Here’s an in-depth list of 25 iconic Greek foods you have to try at least once in your lifetime!
Moussaka is kind of like a casserole that has layers of cheese, eggplant slices, spicy meat, and a drizzle of béchamel sauce (which is a creamy and delicious sauce made up of butter, flour, milk, salt and a little nutmeg). This is a perfect filling dish after a long summer day on the beach.
#SpoonTip: You can make this dish vegetarian if you skip the meat.
This is a staple Greek soup that includes white beans, olive oil, and vegetables of your choice. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this dish because it’s extremely flavorful. I love dipping fresh bread into the soup!
Gemista is stuffed tomatoes or pepperes with white rice, tomato sauce, meat, vegetables, and spices. It’s topped with shredded bread crumbs and Parmesan and is typically served with baked potatoes. If you’re a vegetarian, you can make it without meat.
My amazing yiayia (grandma) makes the best gemista full of love to make her family happy. I’ll always remember how she specifically made gemista just for me and my cousins at every lunch and dinner she had. Find yourself a sweet grandma full of love like mine to make these for you, and it will also become your must have dish.
Spanakopita is spinach pie, but it’s not a sweet dish. It is made with spinach, eggs, feta, onion and filo (pie crust)—it’s that simple. In Greece, there are many bakeries and Greeks typically eat spanakopita for breakfast or as a mid-day snack.
Spanakopita is one of my favorite Greek foods, and weirdly enough I grew up loving spinach and always crave the morning freshness of the spanakopita from the bakery. It’s a dish that I still make even now that I live in America and it will forever be my #1 Greek dish.
Tzatziki is made with plain Greek yogurt, shredded cucumber, olive oil, and a lot of garlic. It’s used in gyros (souvlaki) and as dip for bread and fries. It’s really healthy and is best made with Greek Total Yogurt by Fage, in my opinion.
Amygdalota are almond sugar cookies made with flour, egg whites, butter, lemon or orange juice, and are topped off with an almond on each cookie.
Baklava is a pastry made with many layers of filo (pie crust) with chopped nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and honey. This is another dessert that’s brought to most gatherings. I never liked it when I was younger because it’s so sweet, but as I got older my sweet tooth learned to like new things.
Bougatsa is a breakfast pastry made with many layers of filo filled with custard and topped with powered sugar. It is made and sold at the local bakeries, along with many other delicious breakfast foods.
Tyropita means cheese pie, and it’s similar to spanakopita. Who would’ve ever thought that a cheese pie would sound so good? It’s made with filo is filled with a cheese and egg mixture. Every morning before school, my mom would take my twin and I to the bakery for my twin to get a tyropita and for me to get a spanakopita. It was always such an exciting stop before school!
Dolmades are grape leaves rolled up with rice and herbs and can be made with or without meat. I never liked them growing up, but as I got older and got interested in healthier eating I started to love the taste for them.
11. Fasolakia Lathera—ΦΑΣΟΛΑΚΙΑ ΛΑΔΕΡΑ
Green beans and tomato sauce? Yes, please! The ingredients are olive oil, pepper, garlic, tomato paste, dill, and a tablespoon of sugar to bring out the tomato flavor. It’s served with feta on top and bread on the side to dip into the tomato juiciness. This is a dish that I still ask my mom to make for me when I go home.
Galaktoboureko (gah-lahk-toh-BOO-reh-koh) is a dessert made with filo and filled with semolina custard in the middle and honey on top. This is one of my favorite Greek foods and is served at most family gatherings, courtesy of my grandma. The creaminess on the inside is to die for.
A frappe is the traditional Greek iced coffee made with instant coffee, water, milk, sugar, and ice. It’s the most consumed coffee in Greece. It’s cheap, delicious, and easy to make. Greeks are known for their endless time at the coffee shops, and what keeps them chatting is this coffee.
The famous Greek salad, choriatiki. Tomatoes, cucumbers, green pepper, onion, and feta is drizzled with olive oil and a dash of oregano. This salad is the first course of a Greek meal. It’s served with fresh bread from the bakery to dip into the olive oil. Once you try the Greek feta, there’s no turning back to the American feta.
Gyros are like the Greek version of a burrito, only cheaper and healthier. If you’re traveling on a budget, gyros are the food to keep you going. They’re only 2 euros (around 2 dollars) per wrap. The meat (traditionally pork) is cooked on a vertical rotisserie and gets wrapped in pita. You can add anything from tomatoes, fries, lettuce, onion, peppers, tzatziki, or a mustard sauce. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can skip the meat and the sauce and it’s just as good.
Loukoumades are fried donuts drizzled with honey or chocolate sauce and topped with chopped walnuts. They’re consumed more during the holidays when people are fasting. Every Easter after church, my family and I would go for coffee and we always ordered loukoumades and they would be gone in minutes.
Souvlaki is meat/anything on a stick. Greeks are famous for their souvlakia and gyros. A souvlaki can be made with chicken and pork with vegetables in between each small piece of meat.
Ravani is a semolina coconut cake soaked in simple syrup. It’s garnished with lemon and rosewater syrup, and is super moist and fluffy.
Saganaki is another appetizer brought out with the Greek salad. It’s cheese (typically halloumi) fried in a pan and served with a slice of lemon. Saganaki and feta are the best cheeses served in Greece, so enjoy every bite. You could even add the saganaki into your pita wrap if you’re a vegetarian.
Keftedes are meatballs made with ground beef or lamb, red onion, parsley, eggs, salt, pepper, and then mixed in a separate bowl of bread crumbs. These Greek meatballs are served with tzatziki sauce and pita and can also be added to the traditional Greek gyros.
Kataifi is another famous Greek dessert made with shredded filo filled with almonds, sugar, ground cloves, and syrup. Kataifi, along with most desserts, are sold at most bakeries.
Halva is a semolina pudding that can include nuts and raisins. Though Arabic in origins, Greeks serve halva during fasting periods because there are no eggs or dairy in it.
This is the traditional Greek coffee made out of a briki, a small pot only made and used by the Greeks. This coffee is made on a stove with coffee grounds and water.
Circular bread covered in sesame seeds, what more do you need in your life? Head over to the bakery and give the koulouri a try. Koulouri can also be made with chocolate chips, filled with cheese, tomatoes and peppers, or turkey and cheese. It’s a great cheap, delicious breakfast food.
If you’re looking for some hot food, give this egg lemon soup a try. It’s usually made with chicken, onion, parsley, orzo, eggs, and rice and topped with lemon juice.
If you ever make it to Greece, you have to try these Greek foods along with many more tasty dishes. Greeks cook to fill the stomach, but most importantly the heart. The only reason these dishes taste as good as they do is because of the love each Greek has for cooking to make their families and friends happy. You’ll notice that so many restaurants are family-owned and employed. Greece is the place to go!