Greek cuisine is some of the finest of Mediterranean food. Who can deny the hearty comforts of a bowl of
moussaka—the Greek eggplant casserole—or the unmatched snack-ability of tender, bite-sized dolma?
But finding great Greek food or creating a great Greek menu is not just about switching to Greek yogurt,
mastering the meze spread, or putting feta on everything. From city to city and island to island, the lot of Greek cooking is full of unique techniques to master and mealtime traditions to uphold. One of our favorites? Learning how to make dolmas (true obsessives, like us, can even shell out for a dolma roller.
From to tzatziki, here are our very best simple Greek recipes to bring some of the country’s flavors and flair to your table.
These crustless tarts, adapted from Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick’s book Soframiz, are inspired by a yogurt and semolina custard that is traditionally baked inside cooked grape leaves in Greece. The authors say that, even though the grape leaves aren’t rolled and filled cigar-style, the filled tarts are still a version of a dolma, a word that means “stuffed” in Turkish and Greek. “I love this version because the grape leaves get crispy and a little caramelized,” Sortun says. They work equally well in ceramic ramekins, fluted or non-fluted tart pans, muffin tins, or small cast iron baking dishes.
Get the recipe for Spicy Lamb and Grape Leaf Tarts With Orzo and Feta »
The Greek dish_ garides saganaki,_ a bubbling concoction of shrimp, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and feta spiked with a shot of ouzo, was invented in the 1950s, most likely at a restaurant in a seaport like Thessaloniki.
Get the recipe for Garides Saganaki (Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta) »
These savory fried cheese pies are named for their spiral shapes. Sariki, a Turkish word meaning “turban,” is also the name of a traditional headdress still worn by Cretan men at celebrations.
Get the recipe for Sarikopitakia (fried mizithra cheese pastries) »
Dark leafy greens are the predominant vegetables in Crete, where more than 100 types grow and they are often paired with beans in sautés, stews, and pies.
Get the recipe for Cretan Bean Stew with Spinach »
In Crete, boureki is a rich, layered dish typically consisting of potatoes and squash, often topped with a generous amount of cheese before baking. Boureki may be eaten at room temperature, but it is especially irresistible when the cheese is still warm.
Get the recipe for Layered Pumpkin and Cheese Gratin Squares (Boureki) »
These traditional Cretan handheld cheese pies are often served as an Easter treat.
Get the recipe for Cretan Cheese Pies with Thyme and Honey (Kalitsounia) »
You can make the major components of this classic Italian casserole in advance, from the red sauce to the fried eggplant, or even assemble the whole dish ahead of time.
Get the recipe for Greek Grilled Eggplant Spread (Melitzanosalata)
This simple dessert is an excellent vehicle for showcasing the peculiar, piney flavor of mastic. Undissolved bits of the resin might get stuck in the sieve; to clean, submerge the strainer in boiling water until the resin melts away.
Get the recipe for Mastic Panna Cotta »
Goat’s milk is used widely in local cheeses. But this simple dish from Stelios Trilirakis of Dounias restaurant represents a traditional Cretan preparation of the meat, slow-roasted for hours in a clay pot over a wood-fired oven.
Get the recipe for Roasted Goat with Potatoes and Onion »
This meze is made in Macedonia with sweet Florina peppers, though Fresno or Anaheim chiles (the former being hotter than the latter) can be substituted.
Get the recipe for Peppers Stuffed with Feta (Piperies Gemistes me Feta) »
Get the recipe for Keftedes »
With a bit of fire for show.
Get the recipe for Greek Fried Cheese »
In Greece, these flatbreads are traditionally cooked on a hearthstone set over hot coals (a cast-iron skillet on the stove works well, too) and served with tomato sauce or sautéed zucchini and feta.
Get the recipe for Flatbreads with Two Toppings (Laganes) »
Soaked in honey syrup and garnished with a spiced walnut mixture, these traditional Greek cookies are often served around the holidays.
Get the recipe for Greek Honey Cookies »
Get the recipe for Tyrokafteri »
Dolmakadia, the Greek word for stuffed grape leaves, is one of the most iconic recipes of Greek cuisine and, although there are many varieties, the meatless version is the most common. In the warmer months, try to find and use fresh grape leaves; they are more tender and flavorful than the jarred types. Out of season, jarred leaves are a fine substitute (we prefer the Orlando brand).
Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves With Rice and Herbs (Dolmadakia)
This Greek bread is traditionally baked for January 1st, the Greek Orthodox St. Basil’s saint’s day, but even in the days after January 1st, baking it is a fitting way to celebrate good things to come. Cinnamon gives the rich yet fluffy bread spicy warmth, while mastiha, a resinous spice, adds piney notes for depth.
Get the recipe for Greek New Year’s Bread (Vasilopita) »
A good moussaka—a baked casserole of eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and minced lamb or beef under a lush layer of béchamel sauce—is one of the most fabulous things you can eat.
Get the recipe for Moussaka »
Adding eel to this traditional Greek fish soup lends body and flavor to the broth.
Get the recipe Greek Fish and Vegetable Soup (Kakavia) »
Grated cucumber marries with chopped herbs and aromatics in this iconic Greek yogurt condiment.
Get the recipe for Cucumber Yogurt Dip (Tzatziki) »
Greek Easter Soup
Artichokes and Fava Beans
Made with a simple egg batter, this feta-studded tart hails from the region of Epirus in southeastern Europe.
Get the recipe for Epiran Feta Tart (Alevropita) »
Tangy feta and crunchy veggies get extra body from rotini in this classic Greek-inspired pasta salad.
Get the recipe for Greek Pasta Salad »
Greek Salad (Horiatiki)
Get the recipe for Horiatiki »