Greeks are renowned for their love of food and sharing meals with others. The land of olive trees is one country where you can be sure you’ll never go hungry. And with the mouth-watering ingredients used in the Mediterranean-style dishes of Greece, it is easy to see why! Rich in olive oil, fresh veggies, and seafood, most people consider Greek cuisine to be one of the healthiest — and tastiest. Traveling to Greece is a great way to try many of the traditional foods they are best known for. However, with the right recipes, you can make some of the best Greek food dishes in the comfort of your own home.
When it comes to Greek food, there’s no denying that traditional recipes are some of the best. From hearty moussaka to tangy tzatziki, these dishes have been passed down through generations and are beloved by locals and tourists alike. Along with Spain, Greece made our list of the best countries to visit for amazing food. “The land of lamb gyros, endless seafood, funky farmhouse cheese, plenty of olive oil, and robust wines rarely leaves anyone hungry or unsatisfied with their options. Greece is also relatively small, especially if you’re comparing it to massive colonial empires in the Americas. That doesn’t mean the cuisine is one-note; more that it’s dialed in — based around the ideals of Mediterranean cuisine, with a heavy emphasis on fatty fish, fresh produce, plenty of dairy and olive oil, and all the wine you can drink,” says UPROXX, when naming Greek cuisine as some of the best food in the world.
Greek cuisine has barely changed in centuries. And what’s more? It also offers a plethora of health benefits! The Mediterranean diet, which is largely based on Greek cuisine, has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer. A recent study found that Mediterranean dietary programs were better than minimal intervention at preventing untimely deaths among those at intermediate risk of cardiovascular disease. According to another study, following the Mediterranean diet can slash a woman’s chance of dying by nearly 25 percent! The diet, which originates largely from Greece, is rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, fish, and extra virgin olive oil. According to one study, these foods contain many healthy components, including polyphenols, nitrates, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and certain micronutrients that help prevent cancers, like prostate cancer, and even speeds up recovery among men undergoing radiation treatment.
To top it all off, you can make this delicious and healthy food at home! To get you started, we have compiled a list of some of the best traditional Greek dishes worth trying out. We scoured the web for 10 expert sources, taking notes on what chefs and food lovers alike had to say about each recipe. Without further ado, here is the list of the top five best Greek food dishes that will make you say ‘Opa!’ If you have a favorite Greek recipe that did not make our list, let us know in the comments below!
The List: Best Greek Food Most Recommended by Culinary Experts
When it comes to Greek cuisine, Moussaka is undoubtedly one of the most popular dishes. This hearty casserole is made with layers of eggplant, ground meat, and a creamy béchamel sauce. It’s then baked to perfection, creating a deliciously rich and flavorful dish that’s perfect for any occasion. “Moussaka is a creamy delicious dish made of spiced meat (beef or lamb) cooked in tomato sauce and then layered with fried eggplant and béchamel sauce. This is one of the ultimate traditional Greek dishes,” says Chef’s Pencil.
What makes Moussaka so special is the combination of flavors and textures that come together in every bite. The eggplant adds a slightly sweet and earthy flavor, while the ground meat provides a savory and meaty taste. The béchamel sauce ties everything together, adding a creamy and indulgent element to the dish. Rough Guides adds, “Probably the most famous of Greek dishes, moussaka consists of layers of fried aubergine, minced meat and potatoes. That’s all topped with a creamy béchamel sauce and then baked until golden brown. Some Greek restaurants will also serve an equally delectable vegetarian version.”
“A staple in North America and abroad, Moussaka outside of Greece is almost akin to a Greek take on Italian lasagna,” writes Restaurant Clicks. “While Moussaka can resemble a lasagna, the dish opts for potato and/or eggplant, whereas the Italians would use pasta noodles. Inside you’ll often find mincemeat, most commonly beef. Other internal additions include tomatoes, béchamel sauce, and cheese. The dish is Greek through and through, but variations are prepared throughout the Balkans and North Africa.”
Whether you’re looking for a hearty meal to serve your family or a dish to impress your guests, Moussaka is a must-try. So, if you’re looking for the best Greek food dishes, be sure to add this classic casserole to your list.
Souvlaki is another absolute must-try Greek dish! This popular street food is made by grilling small pieces of meat on skewers and served with pita bread, tomatoes, onions, and tzatziki sauce. The meat used for Souvlaki can be chicken, pork, or lamb, but the most traditional version is made with pork. The combination of juicy meat, fresh vegetables, and creamy tzatziki sauce is simply irresistible.
Food & Wine writes: “There are sandwiches, and then there’s souvlaki. As one of the more popular Greek dishes, it’s something you’ll easily find no matter where in the nation you visit, and it’s pretty easy to recreate yourself. The wrap is typically made with a marinated meat like pork, chicken, beef, or lamb grilled on a skewer, then placed in a warm pita or over a salad, smothered in tzatziki sauce, and if you’d like, it can come stacked with a few French fries, too.”
Not only is Souvlaki delicious, but it’s also a convenient and affordable meal option. You can find Souvlaki stands all over Greece, making it the perfect on-the-go snack or meal. Plus, it’s a great way to experience the local culture and cuisine. “Chicken Souvlaki – Sometimes, all you need is a few simple ingredients to create some amazing flavors. These Greek skewers are one of those recipes.
These chicken skewers are known as “gyros” in Greece, however, any meat can be used to create Souvlaki. Souvlaki is a very popular Greek food available in street side restaurants. The dish is well cooked with seasoned meat and then flavored with tzatziki sauce. In Greek language, Souvlaki stands for ‘meat-on-a-skewer’. Most Greek people call any type of pita wrapped meat a Souvlaki,” says Bucket List Journey.
So, if you’re looking for the best Greek food dishes, don’t miss out on trying Souvlaki. It’s a classic dish that’s sure to satisfy your taste buds and leave you wanting more.
Speaking of tzatziki, this creamy dip is made from yogurt, cucumber, garlic, and dill, and it is the perfect accompaniment to many Greek dishes. Whether you’re enjoying a gyro, souvlaki, or just some pita bread, tzatziki adds a refreshing and tangy flavor that can’t be beat. Plus, it’s a healthier option than other dips or sauces, as it’s low in calories and high in protein.
“Probably the most well-known traditional Greek dish is Tzatziki. I know it was the first thing I ever ordered on the Danforth in Toronto’s Greek Town,” writes The Planet D. “This classic Greek dish combines yogurt and cucumber and is so refreshing with pitas. Add garlic, extra virgin olive oil (a staple for any Greek recipe), herbs like mint and dill, lemon juice and a dash of salt and you have a creamy spread or dip that everyone will love.”
Greekality explains the origin of this delicious dip. “Creamy, tangy and spicy, tzatziki is the cool king of Greek summer and the most traditional Greek food. Known mainly as the main souvlaki sauce, tzatziki is not only that. This versatile cucumber – garlic dip accompanies every meze on our table, whether it’s meat, like keftedes, vegetarian, like dolmades or simply bread or paximadia (Greek rusks). Tzatziki is based of course on Greek yogurt, known to Greeks since ancient times by the name ‘oxygalo’, acid milk. Υogurt was popularized by the Turks during Ottoman times. Before they settled down in our area, Turkish nomadic tribes made yogurt as a food suitable to travel and last longer.”
Not only is tzatziki delicious, but it’s also easy to make at home. With just a few ingredients and a food processor or blender, you can whip up a batch of this tasty dip in no time. “This yogurt-cucumber sauce pairs well with gyros, grilled meats, and roasted vegetables. Just slather the sauce on your sandwich, and you’ll be in for a treat! This light yet creamy dip is traditionally made with goat or sheep yogurt, but you can make things easy by using plain Greek yogurt,” adds Insanely Good Recipes.
So, if you’re looking to add some Greek flavor to your meals, be sure to try tzatziki – it’s a classic dish that never disappoints.
Another traditional Mediterranean dish is dolmades. These stuffed grape leaves are a staple in Greek households and can be found on menus in Greek restaurants worldwide. The filling typically consists of rice, herbs, and sometimes ground meat, all wrapped up in a tender grape leaf. Dolmades are often served as an appetizer or meze, and can be enjoyed hot or cold.
“Each region in Greece – in fact, each household – has its variation on dolmades, whether it’s the classic vine leaf parcel, or hollowed out vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and courgettes, stuffed and baked in the oven. The stuffing often consists of minced meat with long-grain rice, or vegetarian versions boast rice flavored with heady combinations of herbs like thyme, dill, fennel and oregano. Pine nuts can also be used,” says BBC Good Food.
“Stuffed vine leaves are a dish that appears in multiple cuisines across the Mediterranean region. Dolmades are the Greek version of this classic,” adds Restaurant Clicks. “You can find vine leaves stuffed with many fillings, but the most common Dolmades from Greece contain meat, rice, and spices.” What makes dolmades so special is the combination of flavors and textures. The tangy grape leaf pairs perfectly with the savory filling, while the soft texture of the rice contrasts with the slight crunch of the leaf. Dolmades are also a healthy option, as they are low in fat and calories, and are a great source of fiber.
“Just writing out the word ‘dolmades’ made my mouth water; it’s a true Greek delight. The dish usually begins with grape leaves, laid flat and ready to be stuffed. The stuffing typically includes rice and herbs, and sometimes can include minced meat, so be careful if you’re a vegetarian ordering the dish,” writes Food & Wine.
Last, but not least, you must have heard of the delicious Spanakopita. This dish is a savory pastry that is made with spinach, feta cheese, and phyllo dough. Spanakopita is a popular dish in Greece, and it is loved by locals and tourists alike. The combination of spinach and feta cheese makes this dish a healthy and flavorful option. The phyllo dough adds a crispy texture to the dish, making it even more enjoyable.
“The Greeks love their pies and you can find many varieties, from those made with enriched dough to those made from flaky phyllo (also filo) pastry and filled with anything from aubergines or meat to greens or cheese,” says Rough Guides. “The most classic is the spanakopita – phyllo pastry layered with feta cheese and spinach and flavored with dill. Another favorite is tyropita – crunchy phyllo pastry wrapped around a savory cheese filling.”
Spanakopita is perfect as a snack or as a main course. It is also a great option for vegetarians. “Spanakopita is one of the most common filo encased foods and is savory, unlike some dessert options we know and love,” adds Restaurant Clicks. “Spinach and cheese are combined and spiced before being encased in filo. The butter needed to activate the filo, and cheese present in the filling, make this vegetarian dish substantially richer than it looks. It can be served as an appetizer or even a main course with a side or 2. I enjoy Spanakopita most when it’s sliced into rectangles and served with Greek coffee, but a common way to find it in cafes and restaurants is coiled in a snake-like filo spiral. Rectangular or circular, Spanakopita freezes well, so it’s an everyday pre-made staple at Greek grocery stores and outlets. Try some on the town, or bring some back for your freezer and try it later!”
“Greeks have been making the dish for centuries, layering phyllo dough with butter or olive oil and intermittently filling the layers with a mixture of spinach, scallions, feta cheese, and eggs before browning it all in the oven,” writes Food & Wine. “It’s usually served as an appetizer, but you won’t get in trouble for making it your entire meal.”
These dishes not only taste delicious, but they also offer a glimpse into Greek culture and history. So, if you’re looking to experience the best of Greek cuisine, be sure to seek out these traditional recipes and savor every bite.
You might also be interested in:
- Best Mediterranean Cookbooks
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- Best Vegan Cookbooks For 2023
- Best Olive Oils For 2023
- Food & Wine
- Rough Guides
- Chef’s Pencil
- Restaurant Clicks
- BBC Good Food
- Insanely Good Recipes
- The Planet D
- Gypsy Plate
- Bucket List Journey
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