What are Some Examples of Greek Cuisine?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Seafood such as squid is a common element in Greek cuisine.
Seafood such as squid is a common element in Greek cuisine.

Like all Mediterranean cuisines, Greek cuisine is characterized by the use of lots of olive oil, fish, fresh vegetables, and whole grains. Because Greece is so close to the Middle East, many of its dishes have Middle Eastern influences, and common Greek dishes like stuffed grape leaves and baklava could be considered Turkish as much as they are Greek. Traditional Greek cuisine has lots of hearty flavors and it is typically incredibly varied, encompassing the bounty of the sea and the land.

A bowl of Greek yogurt.
A bowl of Greek yogurt.

Greece particularly favors the production of sheep, chickens, and goats. Beef and pork are fairly unusual in Greek cuisine, with the majority of Greek cheeses being made with sheep or goat milk. Both sheep and goats tend to be more flavorful and dark when cooked, and these meats are often grilled in the form of souvlaki to bring out their natural flavors, or baked in rich casseroles which also include seasonal vegetables such as okra and eggplant. Chicken is also a common ingredient for meals and soups, with avgolemono soup being a popular Greek chicken soup.

Containers of olive oil.
Containers of olive oil.

Seafood is also a common element in Greek cuisine, especially creatures like octopus and squid, which are grilled and served both warm and cold. Fish may also be poached or fried and served with olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper. Produce on land in Greece is also quite varied; olives are used to make olive oil and cured olives, which are ubiquitous at every Greek meal, and Greece is also a great growing climate for grapes, fresh herbs, tomatoes, okra, beans, squash, cucumbers, and potatoes, all of which feature heavily in Greek cuisine.

Fried calamari.
Fried calamari.

Some of the most well known examples of Greek cuisine are meze, or appetizers. Dolmades, cheeses, light salads, pastries with phyllo dough like spanakopita, and a wide assortment of cheeses are common Greek appetizers. Meze may also include purees and dipping sauces made from ingredients such as beans, eggplant, garlic, potatoes, and yogurt, and a platter of appetizers is usually served with lemon wedges and wine, raki, or ouzo.

A gyro sandwich.
A gyro sandwich.

Greek desserts are quite distinctive, since Greek cuisine places a heavy emphasis on the use of honey for a sweetener, rather than sugar. Greek desserts can be almost painfully sweet, running the gamut from delicate buttery kourambiedes to rich, sweet breads. Desserts may be served with Metaxa, a sweet Greek brandy, and they are often surprisingly light, beyond their sweetness.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

anon24782

what makes kourambides stick to the roof of your mouth...my family loves it like that, is it the butter or sugar...any measurement suggestions?

ivanka

A few times I had octopus salad and it tasted very good. Different, but good.

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    • Seafood such as squid is a common element in Greek cuisine.
      Seafood such as squid is a common element in Greek cuisine.
    • A bowl of Greek yogurt.
      A bowl of Greek yogurt.
    • Containers of olive oil.
      Containers of olive oil.
    • Fried calamari.
      Fried calamari.
    • A gyro sandwich.
      A gyro sandwich.
    • Greece offers an ideal climate for okra.
      By: s4sanchita
      Greece offers an ideal climate for okra.
    • Some Greek dishes, such as souvlaki, are similar to Turkish food.
      By: Kalle Kolodziej
      Some Greek dishes, such as souvlaki, are similar to Turkish food.
    • Greek salad with feta, olives, and romaine lettuce.
      By: Denis Tabler
      Greek salad with feta, olives, and romaine lettuce.
    • Meat and milk from sheep are common to Greek cuisine.
      By: Alexey Stiop
      Meat and milk from sheep are common to Greek cuisine.
    • Greek cooks often marinate lamb chops in a blend of yogurt, rosemary, and garlic before grilling the meat.
      By: sattriani
      Greek cooks often marinate lamb chops in a blend of yogurt, rosemary, and garlic before grilling the meat.
    • Greek yogurt mixed with honey is a light dessert that may follow a heavy Greek dinner.
      By: asife
      Greek yogurt mixed with honey is a light dessert that may follow a heavy Greek dinner.