Saganaki Recipe (Fried Greek Cheese)

Picture this: you’re perched on a balcony overlooking the Aegean Sea, the sun setting in a blaze of orange and violet hues. Laughter mingles with the scent of salt and grilled meats, and in your hands rests a sizzling pan filled with golden-brown, melty cheese. This is the magic of Saganaki, a quintessential Greek dish that embodies the warmth, simplicity, and bold flavors of the Mediterranean.

Photo of a Saganaki Recipe from Zeus Throne in Corfu

Our first encounter with Saganaki was at Zeus Throne, a beautiful oceanview restaurant perched on the cliffs in Afionas, Greece. As we watched the glimmering ocean waves, we savored the warm, salty cheese, its crispy exterior giving way to a creamy, gooey center. It was a revelation, a taste of Greece that stayed with us long after our vacation ended.

But why wait for a trip to the Greek islands to experience this deliciousness? With this recipe guide, you can recreate the magic of Saganaki right in your own kitchen. So, grab your pan, crank up the Greek tunes, and let’s embark on a journey of cheesy goodness!

A History of Flavor: Saganaki’s Origins

Saganaki’s exact origins are shrouded in mystery, but its presence in Greek cuisine stretches back centuries. The name itself likely derives from the “saganion,” a small, cast-iron pan traditionally used to cook the dish. Traditionally made with local hard cheeses like Kefalotyri or Graviera, Saganaki’s simplicity is its beauty, showcasing the unique flavors of the cheese in a fiery, yet comforting way.

Zeus Throne: Saganaki Fit for God

From your table at Zeus Throne, you’ll enjoy sweeping views of Porto Timoni and the Ionian Sea. And just a short walk down shore, you’ll find one of the most beautiful beaches in Corfu, Greece. We started our day here at the restaurant before making the trek down the trail, which runs behind the restaurant.

We got to the restaurant between breakfast and lunch, so we ordered a nice iced cappuccino followed by a Prosecco. Why not?

When looking at the menu, we asked for our waiter’s recommendations. He was quick to suggest their Saganaki, which was perfect for sharing before our trek down to the beach.

photo of fried cheese saganaki recipe

The waiter told us that an authentic Greek Saganaki recipe uses one of several cheeses, which provide a nice stringy texture when fried in the light batter. Some typical cheeses used in this dish include graviera, kasseri, kefalotyri or kefalograviera cheeses. A halloumi — and possibly provolone or mozzarella — will also work if you can’t find the Greek cheeses.

authentic greek saganaki fried cheese with salad and lemon wedge

The Art of Simplicity: Key Ingredients and Ratios

While variations exist, the core of Saganaki remains the same: high-quality cheese and a touch of heat. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cheese: Opt for a semi-hard cheese like Kefalotyri, Graviera, or even mozzarella or halloumi. Choose a wedge that is at least 1 inch thick for a satisfying bite.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour coats the cheese, creating a crispy crust.
  • Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil adds richness and flavor to both the coating and the pan.
  • Lemon: A fresh lemon wedge is the perfect accompaniment, offering a refreshing counterpoint to the richness of the cheese.
  • Optional: If you like it spicy, add a pinch of dried oregano, red pepper flakes, or even a drizzle of ouzo, the iconic Greek anise-flavored liqueur.

The Golden Ratio

Remember, this is your culinary journey! While some prefer their Saganaki extra crispy, others enjoy it softer and gooier. A good starting point is to use:

  • 1 tablespoon flour per 1-inch thick cheese slice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Feel free to adjust the amount of flour and cooking time based on your desired level of crispness.

Leaving Afionas

Before heading down the trail, we took a few photos in Afionas, which is a charming village that will soon host the cast and crew of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3.” We actually got to talk to the former mayor of Afionas, who shared his stories and pride for the city while shuttling us back from the beach to our car.

If you like this recipe, be sure to check out some of my other Greek recipes on the website. They include this authentic Greek Salad, Baked Feta Dip or Greek Chicken Souvlaki. If you try this recipe, please do leave a comment below and let me know how it turned out!

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Photo of a Saganaki Recipe from Zeus Throne in Corfu

Greek Saganaki Fried Cheese

Recipe by Jason Hill – CookingSessions.com
Looking for an authentic Saganaki recipe? This easy Greek Saganaki cheese recipe is inspired by our visit to Zeus Throne in Corfu. Serve it with a light green salad and fresh lemon wedges. You can use graviera, kasseri, kefalotyri or kefalograviera cheeses in this recipe. A halloumi — and possibly provolone or mozzarella — will also work!
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Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 2

Ingredients
  

  • 4 ounces Greek graviera cheese cut into a 4×4 block about 3/4-inch thick
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon cut in half
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil for frying the cheese

Instructions
 

  • Place the flour in a shallow dish. Add a little salt and pepper.
  • Run the cheese under cold running water and then coat on all sides with the flour. (You won’t use up all the flour). Shake off the excess.
  • Heat the oil in a pan. When hot, fry the cheese on both sides until golden brown. You want the cheese to be gooey inside but not completely melted.
  • Serve immediately with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a side salad.
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Notes

Note: Saganaki can be made with graviera, kasseri, kefalotyri or kefalograviera cheeses. A halloumi — and possibly provolone or mozzarella — will also work if you can’t find the Greek cheeses.
Keyword cheese, Greek food
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AboutJason Hill

Hi, I’m Jason Hill, host of YouTube’s “Chef Tips” series. I graduated from culinary school in 1998, and gained my experience working the lines in Southern California. I launched my cooking videos in 2007. I love sharing quick and easy recipes that get people back in the kitchen.

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