14 Greek Side Dishes & 6 Tips on Serving
Who hasn’t dreamt of dining under the stars in Athens, right next to the Parthenon, devouring authentic Greek dishes? This guide takes you on a culinary journey filled with the wonders of Greek side dishes and how to serve them. Are you ready to set sail?
Everyone knows Greek food is tasty, but the real treasures lie in Greek dishes. They’re the unsung heroes of the Greek culinary scene.
Some are hearty, like Avgolemono Soup, a warm, lemony delight for chilly days, others are light and refreshing, like a traditional Greek Salad.
And let’s not forget the magic of Spanakopita, where spinach and feta make beautiful music in a golden brown phyllo dough casing.
What to Know about Greek Cuisine
One look at Greek food, and it’s easy to see why it has enthralled food enthusiasts all over the globe. The typical Greek dish is an amalgamation of freshness and simplicity.
It’s all about fresh ingredients, fragrant herbs, and distinct flavors combining to give you a taste of Mediterranean life.
At the heart of Greek cuisine, you’ll find typical ingredients that give Greek dishes their unique flavors. Fresh vegetables, grains, and olive oil are staples in any Greek dish.
Add to that the earthiness of herbs, the piquancy of feta, and the tang of lemon, and you’ve got yourself a one-of-a-kind gastronomic experience.
And nothing gets one’s mouth watering like the tantalizing smell of grilled meats. Greece has a love affair with grilling, be it lamb, pork, or chicken. These grilled delights often complement the Greek side dishes, from warm pita bread to a refreshing salad recipe with feta and olives.
Typical Ingredients in Greek Dishes
Greek gastronomy is a symphony of vibrant colors and rich flavors involving a mix of art and science. The tunes created by the sumptuous Greek recipes are played on an orchestra of traditional ingredients.
In the center stage lies the 'golden brown' grilled meats, seared to perfection. The melodic harmony of these beautifully roasted pieces can awaken your taste buds, hinting at the deliciousness that comes next.
Phyllo Dough and Feta Cheese
Adding depth to the melody are the quintessential phyllo dough and salty feta cheese, which form a 'feta pie.' Greek masterchefs skillfully layer the dough, fill it with crumbly feta, and then bake it to a crisp, golden brown.
The dish is a quintessential offering at any Greek feast, with its flaky crust and creamy, tangy filling.
Kalamata Olives and Cherry Tomatoes
Painting the gourmet canvas next are fresh, deep indigo kalamata olives and sun-kissed cherry tomatoes. These two are the stars of a classic salad recipe aptly named 'salad with feta.'
Imagine ruby red tomatoes nestled among emerald green lettuce, scatterings of quaint kalamata olives, and chunks of feta. That’s a rainbow in a bowl, all set to charm your palate.
Then come sesame seeds, which add a bit of crunch and nuttiness to various Greek dishes. These tiny seeds take the humble 'falafel' from ordinary to extraordinary.
Made with chickpeas and aromatic spices, these deep-fried delights are often dusted with sesame seeds before being served.
And who can resist Greek baked beans cooked in one of these? Soft, tender beans baked in a rich tomato sauce with a hint of rosemary and thyme. Despite its simplicity, it’s a dish that can easily steal the show.
Last but certainly not least, we have the subtle, underlying notes of the piquant virgin olive oil. It’s the heart and soul of any Greek dish, tying all the other ingredients together.
An excellent example is the 'tzatziki sauce,' a creamy, tangy concoction made with cucumbers, dill, and, you guessed it, virgin olive oil. It’s a refreshing dip that complements any grilled meats and is a standard accompaniment in the spread of any Greek feast.
Greek Meal Structure
Just as a piece of music has a base, mid-tone, and a grand finale, so does a traditional Greek meal. It’s like a symphony of flavors that fills the belly and delights the senses. A typical Greek meal follows a tried-and-true structure that food enthusiasts will find intriguing.
Any Greek feast would feel incomplete without the generous offering of side dishes. Classic Greek potatoes are a crowd-pleaser with their tasty, crispy edges and creamy center.
These babies are easy to whip up and pair with various main dishes, Greek or otherwise. With hundreds of five-star reviews, it’s no wonder they often steal the show at dinner parties.
Now, for those who are unfamiliar, Greek meals often incorporate eggplant moussaka and Greek chicken as the stars of the show. The eggplant moussaka is an ever-loved classic, savored for layers of char-grilled eggplant, fragrant tomato sauce, and a creamy béchamel on top.
Talk about a mouth-watering explosion of flavors. Intricately spiced and prepared, Greek chicken dishes exemplify the embracing of simple ingredients to create extraordinary flavors that will have your taste buds doing a happy dance.
One should note that a Greek meal isn’t reserved exclusively for dinner. The Greek meal structure extends to all meals of the day.
From breakfast with fresh cheeses and fruity conserves to a simple but hearty lunch of grilled meats and salads. And let’s not forget the afternoon meze, where small plates of various treats are served alongside drinks.
Best Greek Side Dishes You Need to Try
One of the joys of Greek cuisine is the variety of flavors it offers. From hearty, robust meat dishes to fresh, vibrant vegetables and salads, the Greeks know how to satisfy all palates.
However, the true beauty lies not just in the main dishes. It’s the side dishes that elevate a Greek meal to another level. Here are some Greek side dishes you should try.
First up is the Avgolemono Soup. It’s a delightful concoction of chicken, rice, and a burst of lemony brightness. Perfect for those chilly evenings. It’s creamy, warm, and comforting. The tangy lemon, combined with a hearty chicken broth, makes for a soup that’s more than just an appetizer.
Cure your maladies and warm your soul, Avgolemono is your go-to soup. Remember, it is traditionally served first, so don’t go filling up food in your belly before this golden delight has been scooped out.
Made from chickpeas, spices, and much love, Falafel is a staple on the streets of Greece. These little balls of goodness are fried to golden brown perfection and are perfect for dipping.
They’re crunchy outside, soft inside, and pair beautifully with creamy hummus or tangy tzatziki.
So, if you’re looking to pep up your typical side dish game, Falafel is your best pick. In 15 minutes, you could have a plate of these beauties ready to grace your table.
Flaky, savory, and delightful, Spanakopita is a must-try Greek side dish. Made from spinach, feta cheese, and the finest herbs, all wrapped in a blanket of crispy, golden phyllo dough, it’s a treat for the senses. Each bite is loaded with flavors that combine beautifully.
It’s a bit of work, we agree, but we promise you the result is well worth the effort. You could serve it as a main course, but it’s a side dish that could steal the show.
Greek Salad (Horiatiki Salata)
Now, if we were to talk about side dishes, the Greek Salad, or Horiatiki Salata, is a classic. It’s fresh, crisp, and oozes “summer” from every pore. Packed with juicy tomatoes, crispy cucumbers, tangy onions, briny feta cheese, and Kalamata olives, this salad is everything Greek in a bowl.
It’s a delicacy in its own right and is often served with pita bread, vegetables, or grilled meats. The Greeks know their salads well, and this one is a testimony to that.
Tzatziki Sauce may not seem like a side dish, but in the world of Greek cuisine, it is. Crisp cucumber, creamy Greek yogurt, zesty garlic, and sprigs of fresh mint or dill get together in this beautiful medley of flavors. It’s light and refreshing and a great dip for your flatbreads or grilled meats.
Moreover, it’s easy to make. So, if you’re looking for a side dish that packs a flavorful punch without much fuss, Tzatziki is the winner.
A mosaic of roasted vegetables including potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, onions, and bell peppers, Briam is summer in a dish. It pioneers the medley of flavors that Greek cuisine is famous for.
Serve it as a standalone for those lazy summer afternoons or a side dish for your grilled meats, either way, it’s a delight. Did we mention it’s healthy too? Now, that’s a side dish everyone can get behind.
Greek Vegetable Side Dishes
The world of Greek cuisine has plenty to offer besides just meat dishes. Let’s turn the spotlight on some of those tasty Greek side dishes that feature the lesser-sung heroes of this food culture – the veggies. Here we go.
Authentic Greek Salad
An authentic Greek salad is like a bright summer day on a plate. Ripe, juicy tomatoes meet crunchy cucumbers, sweet bell peppers, and a generous helping of feta cheese to create a delicious Greek side dish that’s truly refreshing.
Remember to top it all off with a simple dressing of olive oil and lemon juice. It’s easy to whip up in 25 minutes and perfectly served alongside your Greek dinner.
Greek Lemon Rice Recipe
Next up, we have a classic Greek lemon rice recipe. Now, this isn’t just any rice dish. The Greeks give it a fresh twist with the zing of lemon and the aroma of fresh dill.
Throw in some fresh garlic for an extra layer of flavor. Fluffy, tangy, and flavorful, this dish pairs perfectly with almost anything, particularly some scrumptious chicken gyros.
Roasted Greek Potatoes
Who doesn’t appreciate a good potato dish, right? These roasted Greek potatoes are a treat straight out of mom’s kitchen.
They’re golden brown, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and slathered in olive oil and a heavenly blend of spices. These potatoes taste like they’ve been kissed by the Greek sun itself.
Served alongside your main course, they’ll surely be the star of your Greek dinner.
Ever dunked into some halloumi cheese? Of course you have, it’s fantastic. But the Greeks take it up a few notches. They wrap it in flatbread or throw it on the grill and serve it hot with a squeeze of fresh lemon. This cheese dish is a famous Greek treat that’s versatile and delicious.
Greek Lettuce Salad
A green salad is an essential part of any meal, but in Greek cuisine, it becomes a culinary masterpiece. A Greek lettuce salad combines crunchy romaine, ripe tomatoes, fresh cucumbers, and green peppers with olives and feta cheese.
The dressing? A simple mix of olive oil and lemon juice. If you’re looking for a side salad that will brighten up your table, this is the one to make.
Here’s one for the cucumber lovers. This cucumber salad is a light, refreshing dish for hot summer days. It’s a blend of thinly sliced cucumbers and fresh dill, with a zingy dressing made from olive oil and lemon juice.
It might sound simple, but let me tell you – it’s delicious. Served alongside a spicy dish, it provides a welcome cool contrast.
Side Dishes with Zucchini
If you’re a zucchini fan, you’re in for a real treat. Zucchini is a beloved veggie in Greek cuisine, and it stands in the spotlight in many tasty Greek side dishes.
Whether it’s sautéed with olive oil and herbs, baked into a fritter, or stuffed with a savory filling, zucchini is a versatile vegetable that adapts to many Greek recipes.
Homemade Greek Flatbread
Last but not least, get a load of this homemade Greek flatbread. It’s easier to make than you might think, and it’s the perfect accompaniment to almost any Greek dish.
Soft, fluffy, and slightly charred, Greek flatbread is delicious or used as a scoop for dips and sauces. Trust us: once you’ve tasted homemade Greek flatbread, you’ll never return.
So, next time you’re planning a Greek dinner, don’t forget to include one or two of these on your table. We guarantee they’ll be a hit.
Tasty and Famous Greek Appetizers
Now, where better to start a delicious Greek feast than with some remarkable appetizers? Let’s roll up our sleeves and dive into these mouthwatering starters.
Regarding Greek appetizers, the first one to roll off many tongues is Tzatziki. Made from a base of yogurt, this dish is creamy and flavorful. Blend in cucumbers, garlic, and dill, and magic happens.
Whether used as a dip or a spread, Tzatziki is loved and revered far beyond the borders of Greece.
A traditional Greek dish that’s simple, Saganaki consists of cheese fried to perfection. With only two main ingredients and a cooking time of less than 10 minutes, this appetizer is a delight to make and even more delightful to consume.
The result? A crispy, golden brown outside gives way to warm, melted cheese on the inside. What’s not to love?
Spanakopita is the classic Greek spinach pie. Combining feta cheese and spinach encased in flaky phyllo dough, this appetizer is a dream come true for those who appreciate the finer things in life. Served warm, each bite of Spanakopita guarantees a mouthful of flavor and texture that’s addictive.
The next stop on our Greek appetizer journey is Dolmades, stuffed grape leaves. They might look small, but they pack a mighty punch.
Inside each carefully wrapped grape leaf lies a mix of rice, herbs, and often meat. While they are time-consuming to prepare, their unique, tangy flavor makes every minute worth it.
An assortment of small dishes designed to tickle your taste buds, Meze can consist of anything from dips and cheeses to seafood and veggies. Part of the fun is the combination of tastes and textures, and if there’s one thing you can bet on, it’s that no two Meze platters are the same.
For seafood enthusiasts, Taramosalata is not to be missed. A rich and creamy dip made from fish roe, this appetizer scores high on texture and flavor. Don’t be fooled by the pinkish hue; the taste is savory, with a hint of the sea. Best served chilled, Taramosalata adds a touch of elegance to any table spread.
And who can forget the Greeks' gift to the salad world? The Horiatiki Salata, or Greek salad, marries simple but potent ingredients like feta cheese, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, and onion.
Tossed lightly with olive oil and seasoning, this salad is a refreshing palate cleanser between heavier appetizers.
Kalamarakia, or fried squid, is quite a common sight in most Mediterranean cultures and is a crowd-pleaser.
The squid are usually cut into rings and are lightly floured before being fried until golden brown. Crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, Kalamarakia is excellent with a squeeze of lemon and a side of aioli.
While not an appetizer, the humble Pita bread deserves a mention. Ideal for scooping up dips and mopping up oils and sauces, this soft and fluffy bread is the perfect accompaniment to almost every appetizer mentioned above.
The Pita bread is like the unsung hero of the Greek appetizer brigade.
For those that like a bit of spice, there’s Ktipiti, also known as Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Dip.
As the name suggests, this tangy dip consists of roasted red peppers and feta cheese blended, along with a touch of heat from red pepper flakes. The perfect balance of sweet, salty, and spicy, Ktipiti is a great way to kick off any meal.
Perfect Drinks for Greek Dishes
Imagine having a meal in a lemon grove overlooking the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean. The fancy spread of Greek dishes on your table isn’t complete without that perfect drink. Now, you’re probably wondering, what would that be? So, let’s dive in.
If someone doesn’t mention Ouzo when speaking of Greek drinks, you have to wonder where they’ve been. This anise-flavored drink is a Greek classic.
Poured over ice and served with a splash of water, it transforms from a clear liquid to a milky white. It’s potent and gets you tipsy before you realize it.
This turpentine-like intoxicant is the golden brown of Greek spirits. It perfectly complements Greek appetizers like Spanakopita or a hearty Avgolemono soup.
This white or rosé wine, infused with the essence of pine, is more of an acquired taste thanks to its unique flavor. The Greeks serve it chilled, the go-to choice for any hearty, greasy dish. The slightly resinous touch cleanses your palate, leaving it fresh for the next bite.
Pair Retsina with dishes swimming in olive oil, like Briam. The wine’s freshness cuts through the greasiness, much like parmesan cheese does with pasta—just one sip, and bam. You’re transported to the sunny Mediterranean shores.
Another popular Greek drink, Tsipouro, is a liquor made from grape pomace. Some people find it similar to Italian grappa, but purists would tell them where to get off.
Whether you drink it straight or on the rocks, Tsipouro is great for washing down Greek meat dishes. It’s perfect with grilled lamb or hearty beef stew.
The strong, heady aroma of this liquor enhances the flavor of the meat. It’s like a dance, with the food leading and the Tsipouro following.
Lastly, let’s talk about the smooth operator of Greek liquors – Metaxa. This amber spirit blends aged brandy, sweet wine, and botanicals. It’s a smoother, sweeter tipple compared to Tsipouro and Ouzo, and that’s why many people love it.
Pair it with dessert, such as the sticky-sweet Baklava. The sweetness of Metaxa matches the honey-laden treat, while the brandy’s robustness stands up to the rich, flaky pastry. The combination is all you need to experience Greek indulgence on an epic level.
Tips for Serving Greek Dishes
If you’re going to do Greek cuisine right, you have to understand that Greek style isn’t just about the food.
It’s about serving it up like you’re in a bustling Greek restaurant filled with clinking glasses, hearty laughter, and warm, welcoming vibes. Below are some tips for serving Greek dishes.
Set the Right Atmosphere
When setting a Greek table, think of fresh ingredients and abundant food.
A large bowl of classic Greek dish, Greek Salad (Horiatiki Salata) served in the middle of the table, a plate of crispy golden brown Greek meatballs, roasted green peppers stuffed with rice pilaf, and homemade Greek yogurt are surefire bets.
Add some Greek spinach rice, eggplant in spicy tomato sauce, and a bowl of Gigantes Plaki, a vegetarian dish of giant beans in tomato sauce, for a healthy side.
A Greek-style dinner would not be complete without popular stuffed grape leaves. A spread of this nature doesn’t just feed the stomach, it feeds the soul and sets the stage for a great Greek-style dinner party.
Keep your guests guessing with a combination of fresh tastes. Complement the cool, creamy Greek yogurt dip with hot, spicy feta dip and Greek pita chips on the side.
The zesty tang of feta against the cool freshness of the yogurt dip is a match made in Greek heaven. Pair the roasted green peppers with a light yet robust Greek potato salad, or the vegetarian meal with a serving of roast lamb.
The contrasts keep things exciting and make each mouthful a surprise.
Serve in Proper Order
In Greece, meals often start with mezes. A traditional Greek spread, meze is the perfect appetizer to whet your guest’s appetite.
Assemble a mezze platter with favorites like spanakopita (spinach and feta cheese in flaky pastry), olives, hummus, tzatziki (Greek yogurt with cucumbers and herbs), and bite-sized cut Greek pita.
These little nibbles are a delicious and unique way to kickstart a beautiful Greek meal.
The Greeks have a saying: "We eat with our eyes first." Presentation is an essential part of any Greek feast. Make the dish stand out with a sprinkle of fresh mint, a dust of Greek seasoning, or a drizzle of olive oil. Make your table look like a Greek banquet, and watch your guests’ faces light up.
Cheers It with Greek Drinks
No matter how scrumptious the food is, a Greek feast isn’t a feast without a good Greek drink. Be it a classic ouzo, a fruity wine, or a simple chilled Greek beer, make sure you’ve got your guests' glasses filled.
Trust us on this: nothing says 'successful dinner party' like well-fed guests with good drinks in their hands.
Include a Dessert
Now, who can resist a sweet ending? Top off your Greek feast with a lovely dessert – baklava or honey yogurt is always a winner. Or try a simple but super delicious combination of fresh Greek yogurt, honey, and roasted nuts.
Greek culture is about enjoying the food, the company, and the moment. So, raise your glass, say ‘Yamas’ (that’s ‘cheers’ in Greek), and dig into your Greek feast. Remember, there is no rush; just savor the food. That’s the true essence of a Greek meal.