CNN Travel Lists 24 of the Tastiest Greek Dishes

Celebrated for its health benefits, Greek cuisine relies heavily on fresh, seasonal ingredients. CNN Travel lists 24 of the tastiest dishes and sweets.

Greek cuisine is renowned for its simplicity, fresh ingredients and mouth-watering, seasonal flavors. It’s also widely praised by nutritionists as one of the healthiest diets in the world. Low in processed foods and rich in vegetables, lean proteins and olive oil, it has long been associated with longevity and reduced risk of chronic diseases.

Traditional Greek cuisine is also deeply intertwined with the country’s history and culture. Many dishes have their roots in ancient traditions, and are passed down through the generations, creating a strong connection between food and communal heritage. And thanks to the enormous range of herbs, including oregano, mint and dill, Greek dishes are bursting with flavor and aroma!


In a recent article, CNN Travel listed 24 of the tastiest Greek dishes, “from moussaka to souvlaki.” Here’s what made the list:

Of the featured salads and dips, top billing goes to “taramasalata,” dubbed as “the worst tongue twister on a list of starters.” Made of cured fish roe, taramasalata is usually served with bread or sliced pitta, and is especially popular during the fasting periods in the Greek Orthodox ecclesiastical year – Clean Monday and throughout Lent.

Also featured is fava, a velvety purée made of yellow dried split beans and served with chopped onions, lemon juice, and a drizzle of olive oil. Packed with protein, nutritionists have long hailed this popular and easy-to-make dip as a “superfood.” Greeks have been eating fava for millennia. It’s especially good in Santorini. Check out our recipe here.


Taverna favorites “horiatiki”traditional Greek salad – and the savory yogurt-based dip “tzatziki” also, unsurprisingly, made the list, so too chicken soup (“kotosoupa”), made with rice and a creamy egg and lemon sauce (“avgolemono”), noted for its “curative properties,” according to the article.

Among the meaty dishes featured in the article, bite-sized meatballs (“keftedes”), lauded as a “children’s perennial party favorite,” and the more aromatic, cumin-infused “soutzoukakia,” are notable standouts. 

No list about Greek cuisine would be complete without moussaka – cited in the article as “the best known Greek dish internationally” – and souvlaki, skewered, grilled pieces of meat, served straight from the gill or wrapped in a pitta bread.


Several other, lesser known, meat dishes made the CNN Travel list, including “moschari kokkinisto,” veal casserole in tomato sauce, “spetzofai,” a delicious wintry stew of spicy sausage and green peppers (especially good in Thessaly), and “kleftiko,” (literally “stolen”), a slow, oven-baked lamb dish, made with vegetables and herbs, and wrapped in parchment paper.

Another baked meaty dish featured on the list is “pastitsio,” prepared with macaroni – one of the few types of pasta to be incorporated into Greek cuisine – minced meat, a creamy béchamel sauce and topped with cheese.

For fish eaters, the article includes “galeos skordalia” – a type of school shark, similar in taste to Atlantic cod – and traditionally served on March 25, Greece’s National Day, and the Feast of the Annunciation. Filleted and battered, the fish is served with a delicious garlic purée mixed with olive oil (“skordalia”)

Vegetarians reading this list won’t be disappointed. Traditional Greek cuisine has a rather unfair reputation abroad of being meat heavy, but there are plenty of tasty options that are meat-free.

An entire category of Greek cuisine in its own right, “ladera” dishes usually come in the form of a sumptuous vegetable stew, swimming in olive oil: green beans, ladies fingers, eggplants, zucchini, artichokes, you name it. Not only are these dishes filling and nutritious, they’re a staple diet for the Orthodox Faithful during Lent and other periods of fasting.


Other vegan/vegetarian pleasers on the list include “gemista,” stuffed vegetables with cooked rice, onions, and aromatic herbs, and “gigantes” – literally “giants” – a hearty dish made of large oven-baked beans in tomato sauce, a popular winter staple. “Dolmadakia,” stuffed vine leaves, is a nod to the influence of Turkish and Balkan recipes on Greek cuisine. The filling is usually made with minced meat and served in a hot “avgolemono” (egg-lemon) sauce, but a vegan filling of cooked rice and herbs works just as well.

Greek cuisine is also renowned for its pies (“pites”), both sweet and savory, and made with a variety of fillings – cheese, spinach, mushroom, chicken, ham, and so on – wrapped in a puff pastry. Another popular snack featured on the list is “koulouria,” a baked bread dough covered in sesame seeds. The article describes how this beloved fast food snack originated in Greece’s Jewish community, in Thessaloniki – a “southern version of the Central European pretzel.” 

A selection of traditional Greek sweets make up the remainder of the list, including “bougatsa,” filo pastry wrapped around a creamy semolina-based custard, honey-soaked Christmas cookies, “melomakarona,” and “loukoumades,” aka “Greek donuts,” fried dough balls soaked in honey and seasoned with cinnamon powder. 

Thanks to the enormous variety of fruits, vegetables and nuts available in Greece, spoon sweets are noted as being the traditional way of preserving things, in a rich, sugary syrup. Served as a symbolic gesture of hospitality, the article recommends trying them with yogurt, “to temper the sugar rush.”

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