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Saganaki: The Irresistible Greek Cheese Delight

Greek cuisine is a treasure trove of delightful flavours, and one dish that stands out as both delicious and unforgettable is saganaki. Saganaki is a quintessential Greek appetizer that celebrates the rich and savory flavours of cheese, making it a beloved favourite among locals and tourists alike.

A Brief History

“Saganaki” refers to the small frying pan or skillet traditionally used to prepare the dish. While saganaki can be made with various ingredients, including shrimp, mushrooms, or vegetables, the most famous version features cheese. This incarnation of saganaki is believed to have origins in the mid-20th century, with the exact origins shrouded in culinary folklore.

One popular story attributes the creation of saganaki to a Greek tavern owner who accidentally dropped a piece of cheese into a hot skillet, resulting in a delicious melted cheese dish. Regardless of its origin, saganaki has become an iconic appetizer in Greek taverns and restaurants worldwide.

The Cheese

The star ingredient of saganaki is typically a firm, salty cheese like Kasseri, Graviera, or kefalograviera. These cheeses are perfect for saganaki because they hold their shape when heated, forming a delectable golden crust while remaining gooey and delicious. The cheese is often cut into thick slices or wedges, lightly dusted with flour, and then fried in olive oil until it turns a beautiful golden brown.


Saganaki is remarkably simple to prepare, making it an ideal choice for both home cooks and professional chefs. Here’s a basic recipe:


200-250g of firm Greek cheese (Kasseri, Graviera, or kefalograviera)

All-purpose flour for dusting

Olive oil for frying

Lemon juice (optional)

Fresh herbs (such as oregano) for garnish (optional)


Cut the cheese into thick slices or wedges, ensuring they are dry.

Lightly coat the cheese pieces with flour, shaking off any excess.

Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.

Once the oil is hot, carefully add the cheese slices and fry until they develop a golden crust on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the saganaki to a serving plate.

Optionally, squeeze fresh lemon juice over the saganaki and garnish with herbs.

Serve immediately while the cheese is still hot and gooey.

Serving and Enjoying Saganaki

Saganaki is best enjoyed straight from the skillet and is often served with a slice of fresh bread or pita for dipping. The combination of crispy, golden crust and melty, salty cheese is irresistible, creating a satisfying contrast in both texture and flavour. The optional lemon juice adds a zesty brightness that cuts through the richness of the cheese, making each bite a delightful explosion of taste.

Saganaki is a popular meze (appetizer) in Greece, often enjoyed with a glass of wine or ouzo, a traditional Greek anise-flavoured liquor. Its simple yet flavourful preparation makes it ideal for sharing with friends or as a starter before a more extensive Greek meal.

Saganaki is more than just a dish; it’s a celebration of Greek culinary heritage. Its rich history, simple preparation, and irresistible flavours have earned it a special place in the hearts of food enthusiasts worldwide. While staying at any of the Louis Hotels in Corfu, Zante, Kefalonia, and Rhodes, you can taste many traditional Greek dishes.