What Foods Are Traditionally Eaten In Greece?

What Foods Are Traditionally Eaten In Greece?

Planning a trip to Greece and wondering what to expect from the cuisine? We’ve got you covered. 

Despite boasting a phenomenal food scene, the country’s dazzling islands and coastlines often steal the limelight. This leaves many wondering what the traditional foods in Greece are while organizing their vacation.

From rich pasta dishes to refreshing stuffed grapevine leaves and zesty yogurt dips, expect the cuisine to be second-to-none in this picturesque part of the world. To give you a flavor for the kind of dishes to expect during your trip, we have created a list of traditional Greek foods to try.

Souvlaki (Gyros)

An absolute classic when it comes to traditional foods in Greece, souvlaki otherwise known as gyros, is extremely popular amongst tourists and locals alike. It consists of bite-size pieces of meat that have been grilled on a skewer. 

Sometimes souvlaki will just be served as it comes but it often arrives wrapped in pita bread with tomatoes, lettuce and onions, or plated up alongside tzatziki and french fries. Whether you want a quick bite on the go or a sit-down meal, this versatile dish caters to any and all occasions. 

The meat itself is traditionally prepared with pork or chicken but these days you will find plenty of different options including beef, goat, lamb and vegetarian alternatives. Those visiting Athens might see this famous dish come under a different name, kalamaki. 

The reason behind this is that souvlaki has evolved into a more colloquial, general term for any kind of pita wrap. Yet, it refers to exactly the same dish. If you’re on the lookout for traditional Greek street food, be sure to sample some souvlaki during your trip.

Kolokithokeftedes (Fried Zucchini Balls)

Kolokithokeftedes are a delicious local appetizer that cannot be missed during any vacation to Greece. The dish consists of grated or pureed zucchini blended with dill, mint and extra virgin olive oil. Feta is also often added for an extra layer of flavor.

The ingredients are then combined into a patty and lightly fried to produce a scrumptious, golden crust. Kolokithokeftedes are then served alongside tzatziki or a plain yogurt dip. Light and refreshing with a crispy texture, this is certainly one of the tastiest traditional Greek vegetable dishes.

If you’re wanting to try authentic cuisine during your vacation, be sure to start your meal off on a high note with one of these scrumptious plant-based fritters

One of the most unique aspects of this winery is its underground cellar. Built with a clay floor and covered with marble, this provides the perfect conditions for the constant fermentation of its red wines.

Dolmades (Stuffed Grapevine Leaves)

Dolmades are another fantastic example of delicious traditional Greek vegetable side dishes. One thing to bear in mind with this one, however, is that it is likely to be served in a completely different way everywhere you get it. It’s just one of those recipes that everyone likes to put their own spin on. 

No matter how they are served to you, prepare to be left impressed. Picture grapevine leaves stuffed with lemon-flavored rice, fresh herbs and spices. Once the filling has been added, the leaves are folded over to create little parcels and then boiled until tender. 

Fear not meat lovers, you will also find carnivorous versions containing ground beef. Dolmades are often served with a side of tzatziki, yogurt dip or kept simple with a wedge of lemon. 

Despite being one of the most famous traditional Greek dishes, the name ‘dolmades’ actually derives from the Turkish word for ‘stuffed’.  However, the country certainly doesn’t lose any of the credit for these tasty bites!

Greece still gets all of the glory as the food itself stems from an ancient Greek dish called “thria” which was made using fig leaves.


One of the most well-known traditional foods from Greece, moussaka is an absolute must-try for anyone visiting this beautiful part of the world. The dish is made of layers of sautéed eggplant, minced meat, fried puréed tomato, onion, garlic and cinnamon.

The ingredients are then layered with a generous helping of cheese and bechamel sauce which consists of white flour and milk. The creamy dish is then baked in the oven until it turns golden brown which signifies that it is ready to be eaten.

Moussaka is traditionally layered with lamb but you will also often see it filled with beef. These days, you will also find plenty of vegetarian options with eggplant and zucchini. A truly iconic meal within Greek cuisine, moussaka is on the menu of nearly every taverna in Greece.

An alternative version that you might come across during your vacation is papoutsakia which contains whole eggplants stuffed with minced meat and topped with bechamel. However, for anyone wanting to get a feel for the traditional foods of Greece, there are few better options than a hearty slice of moussaka.

Choriatiki (Greek Salad)

Choriatiki, otherwise known as Greek salad, has become something of a household name. While you are likely to have come across this traditional Greek food many times in the past, there is nothing quite like trying it in its home ground.

A staple of local cuisine, choriatiki is served alongside almost every dish in traditional Greek restaurants. Slices of tomato, olives, cucumber and feta cheese come together to create a plate of refreshing goodness. Don’t fret if choriatiki ever arrives at your table undressed.

The dressing is often left to customer discretion. This is why you’ll find an array of salt, pepper, vinegar and olive oil sitting on your table that you can add to taste. You are likely to come across variations of this local speciality throughout your visit. 

Different regions always put their own twist on a Greek salad. You can come across it served with capers, sea fennel, xinomyzithra (a ricotta-like cheese) or juicy cherry tomatoes depending on where you are in Greece!

 Along with being a traditional Greek side dish, choriatiki is also often offered as an appetizer. So, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to sample this delicacy during your trip!


One of the most commonly used Greek dips, it will be almost impossible to avoid a helping of tzatziki during your vacation to Greece. Thankfully, this is a good thing as this versatile sauce is utterly delicious.  

Tzatziki consists of thick strained yogurt, garlic, cucumber, olive oil, a dash of dill and a squeeze of lemon. It is often served alongside meat, kolokithokeftedes, dolmades and bread. 

While the Greeks are the ones to thank for this gorgeous dip, it was in fact the Turkish that spread the news of its goodness and in turn, made it so popular during the times of the Ottoman Empire. 

Offering bursts of creamy freshness with a zesty punch, tzatziki is sure to top the charts as one of your favorite traditional Greek foods during your vacation. So, be sure to make the most of it while you’re there.

Pastitsio (Greek Lasagne)

Pastitsio is Greece’s answer to the Italian lasagne. It is a delicious dish involving baked layers of pasta filled with juicy ground meat, bechamel sauce and tomato sauce. The ingredients are then garnished with a handful of cheese before being placed in the oven to bake.

The main difference between this Greek masterpiece and its Italian cousin is the type of pasta used. While The Boot serves lasagna on pasta sheets, pastitsio is made with small macaroni. The meat used tends to vary between beef and lamb. The dish is flavored with spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.

To create a perfect balance between the meal’s hearty richness, pastitsio is often served with green salad splashed with wine and olive oil. A real feast of flavors, this meal is a terrific example of traditional Greek comfort food at its finest. 

Pair a tasty plate of pastitsio with a glass of red wine and sit down to a sublime meal by the gorgeous beaches that line this country’s turquoise coastline.

Loukoumades (Greek Donuts)

Scrumptious golden puffs, loukoumades are almost always the highlight of the meal! Frequently referred to as Greek donuts, they are made of fried dough that has been drizzled with sweet syrup and sprinkled with walnuts and cinnamon. 

Crispy on the outside but fluffy and airy on the inside, these are thought to be one of the oldest recorded pastries in the world. In fact, they were originally made to be served at feasts held in honor of saints.

 It comes as no surprise why they have stood the test of time, they are certainly one of the most delicious traditional Greek food dishes.

Loukoumades are often served on a large plate for everyone to share together. A favorite amongst adults and children alike, you are not going to want to miss out on these scrumptious bites during your visit.

Soutzoukakia (Greek Meatballs)

Another of the most popular traditional dishes in Greece is Soutzoukakia. The iconic meal is based on braised meatballs in a spiced tomato and wine sauce. The sauce tends to be garnished with an assortment of spices to give it a hearty kick, the most predominant of which being cumin.

The meat used varies between veal and a mixture of ground pork and beef. The way soutzoukakia is served varies throughout the country. In some areas, the meatballs will be served on top of square-shaped egg pasta while elsewhere you’ll find them placed on a bed of white rice.

A warming dish, soutzoukakia makes the perfect comfort meal after a busy day of exploring the best things to do in Greece. Bursting with depth and flavor, do not miss out on sampling this tasty Greek traditional food during your trip.


Kleftiko is a sensational Greek recipe involving slow oven-cooked lamb infused with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. Translating to “stolen”, it is said that the cooking method used to make this dish traces back 500 years to a group of bandits known as the klephts.

They fought the Ottoman empire in the Greek War of Independence. The klephts would steal animals from the markets and run off with them. When they reached a safe area, they would then dig a hole in which they would ignite a fire to create a secret, make-shift underground oven. 

Doing so allowed the klephts to hide the smoke and suppress the smell of the meat. Thankfully, you won’t need to take this approach to enjoy some kleftiko these days. Instead, you will find this divine traditional Greek food in the majority of tavernas throughout the country.


As you can see, there is an exceptional array of divine local delicacies to try in Greece. Along with lots of traditional plant-based delights, you will find plenty of meat dishes and ones that have vegetarian-friendly versions. The country caters to meat lovers and vegetarians alike. 

Dreaming of sampling the traditional dishes of Greece for yourself? Take a food and wine tour and discover the miraculous breadth of flavors on offer in this Mediterranean gem. From the wine-making traditions of Santorini to the cheeses of Naxos, this gourmet adventure is sure to transport you to foodie heaven.

Craving a taste of Greece’s traditional foods? Contact one of our experts at Unforgettable Greece who will organize you a personalized trip to this picturesque part of the world. From private tours to small ship cruises, we have an exceptional selection of experiences and food and wine tours to choose from.

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