Greek pastries are some of the most delicious treats visitors can taste in Greece. Here is a guide to the most popular Greek pastries, both savory and sweet.
Traditional Greek pastries
If you are ever fortunate enough to visit Greece, the food is sure to take your breath away! The Greek cuisine is very diverse, and offers an incredible range of flavors and dishes. One of the most popular types of delicacies in Greece are pastries, both sweet and savory.
Greek pastries have a long and rich history. Some of them go back to the times of the Ottoman Empire, while others have their roots in Ancient Greece!
Traditional Greek pastries contain a dough which is made of flour, water, and some sort of fat, traditionally butter, olive oil, or vegetable oil. There’s usually some sort of leavening agent, such as yeast or baking powder. Some pastries may include eggs and milk.
Depending on the type of filling, Greek pastries can be either sweet or savory. So, while some people might use the word “pastry” to indicate a dessert, this is not always the case.
And now, let’s explore the fascinating world of traditional Greek pastries!
Greek sweet pastries – Popular Greek desserts
Let’s have a look at sweet pastries first. There are many traditional Greek desserts which fit under the pastry category, and they are all iconic and delicious!
Here are some of the most popular sweet Greek pastries:
1. Baklavá – The best known traditional Greek pastry
If you’ve only heard of one type of Greek pastry, it’s probably baklavá. This pastry is common throughout the region of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, and it’s been around for millennia.
Greek baklavá is made with layers of filo pastry, filled with chopped nuts such as walnuts, almonds and pistachios. The pastry is sweetened with a honey syrup, which is flavored with various spices.
You will usually find baklavá served as a dessert. Often, it’s served with kaimaki ice cream, a thick, aromatic ice cream, sometimes made out of buffalo milk.
Best baklavá in Athens: Mitropolitikon
2. Kataífi – Made with shredded phyllo dough
Kataífi is another delicious dessert, which is similar to baklavá. The main difference is that, rather that normal phyllo pastry, it is made with shredded phyllo pastry, which is shaped like very thin pasta.
It also contains chopped pistachios, almonds or other nuts, and a lot of good quality melted butter. You can have it as a dessert, as a snack throughout the day, or along with your Greek coffee.
Due to the delicate texture of the shredded pastry, kataífi is notoriously difficult to make. This makes it an extremely popular traditional Greek dessert.
Best kataífi in Athens: Kosmikon
3. Galaktoboúreko – Greek custard pie
Galaktoboúreko is a scrumptious traditional Greek pastry made with layers of filo dough, creamy semolina custard, and a thick sugar syrup. The custard cream contains milk and eggs – so, galaktoboúreko is the Greek version of a custard pie.
This delicious Greek dessert is usually flavored with lemon zest and cinnamon. You can enjoy it warm or cold, at any time of the year.
Best galaktoboúreko in Athens: Triantafyllou
4. Bougátsa with cream – Greek milk pie
Another popular Greek pastry is bougátsa. It is somehow similar to galaktoboúreko, as it is made out of layers of filo pastry, and a thick, sweet custard cream.
The main difference is that bougátsa doesn’t contain syrup. It is sweetened with icing sugar, and flavored with lots of cinnamon, and sometimes chocolate syrup or whipped cream. It’s an ideal sweet treat for breakfast, or to accompany your Greek coffee.
Best bougátsa in Athens: Savvas
Note: The best bougátsa in Greece comes from Northern Greece, for example Thessaloniki.
5. Portokalópita – Greek orange cake
Literally translating to “orange pie”, portokalópita is a traditional Greek moist cake. It contains phyllo pastry, sugar, eggs, orange juice, Greek yoghurt and a sweet syrup flavored with orange zest.
Some recipes substitute the phyllo pastry with flour, or a mix of plain flour and semolina flour. The end result is more like a sponge cake.
Portokalópita is often served with vanilla ice cream, or kaimaki ice cream. For a unique combination, try it with dark chocolate ice cream.
Best portokalópita in Athens: Fysis
6. Karydópita – Greek walnut pie
Karydópita is a traditional Greek walnut cake containing chopped walnuts. It is sweetened with a thick, sugary syrup.
There are many recipes for Greek karydópita. Some of them contain filo pastry, while others contain flour or semolina. Other ingredients may include eggs, butter, olive oil, butter and orange juice.
Best karydópita in Athens: Nancy’s Sweet Home
7. Loukoumádes – Greek doughnuts
Loukoumádes are similar to doughnuts, and they are a very popular sweet treat in Greece. They are deep fried dough balls, topped with syrup and cinnamon. Sometimes, they are served with chocolate syrup, and even whipped cream.
Best loukoumádes in Athens: Ktistakis
8. Díples – Fried pastry sheets
Díples is another delicious Greek dessert. They are made out of deep-fried pastry sheets, which are then coated with a thick syrup, chopped nuts and sesame seeds.
Díples originally come from the beautiful region of the Peloponnese. They are a popular treat during weddings, at Christmas time, and on other Greek religious holidays.
Best díples in Athens: Stani – They are super famous for their amazing Greek yogurt, so try that too.
These are only a few of the best sweet pastries in Greece. There are many more, and you can read more about them in this article: Best Greek desserts.
Savory Greek pastries – Popular pies in Greece
Apart from those traditional desserts, Greek cuisine is famous for its savory pastries. You can find them in most Greek bakeries, tavernas and restaurants.
The area of Greece that is more famous for its pies is Epirus, in Northern Greece, not too far from the Meteora Monasteries. The traditional recipes from this area are out of this world.
With that said, every region, and each of the Greek islands, has its own specialties. The more you explore Greece, the more delicious Greek pies you will discover!
Here are a few of the most popular savory pastries in Greece:
9. Tirópita – Cheese pie
Tirópita, or tyrópita, is one of the most popular savory Greek pies. The word itself indicates a pie which contains cheese. Other ingredients include eggs, and maybe herbs.
There are dozens of different versions of tirópita all around Greece. The cheese most commonly used is feta, but the filling can contain many other types of cheese. There are also various types of pastry, such as filo pastry or puff pastry.
Most types of tirópita are oven baked. You can also find versions that are deep fried in hot oil, that are typical of certain Greek islands.
Best tirópita in Athens: Mam, Ariston. Or, if you are in Thessaloniki, you MUST go to Loryan!
10. Spanakópita – Greek spinach pie
Spanakópita is one of the most beloved savory pies in Greece. It is made with filo pastry, fresh spinach, onions, herbs, eggs and feta cheese. Sometimes it’s called spanakotirópita, which indicates that it contains cheese as well as spinach.
There is also a vegan version, which doesn’t contain eggs or cheese. This is known as nistísimi spanakópita and it’s easier to find at bakeries for the weeks preceding Greek Easter.
You can find spanakópita in most Greek bakeries. It is usually made in a big oven tray, and is cut in individual portions or small square pieces.
Best spanakópita in Athens: Harry’s Kitchen. I wish I had saved my grandma’s recipe…
11. Hortópita – Pie with wild greens
Hortópita is another savory pie, similar to spanakópita . It is made out of layers of phyllo pastry and various wild greens, known in Greek as horta. It may also contain a mix of cheese and eggs.
This type of Greek pie isn’t too common to come across, especially in the bigger cities. If you sit to eat at a taverna on a Greek island, there will usually be a version of hortópita, so make sure to try it.
Best hortópita in Athens: Oi pites tis Sofias
12. Kreatópita – Meat pie
Kreatópita is another popular type of savory pastry in Greece. While there’s no standard Greek recipe for meat pie, it’s usually a hearty pie filled with ground beef / pork, onions and herbs.
This pie is very filling, and it can replace a proper meal, so it’s an ideal snack if you are on a budget. The island of Kefalonia is famous for its meat pies, and the one above was absolutely delicious!
Best kreatópita in Athens: Starata
13. Sweet kalitsoúnia, or lychnarákia
If you can’t decide whether you want a sweet or a savory pastry, lychnarákia are the best of both worlds! These tasty treats are made out of dough, a white unsalted cheese called anthótiro, sugar, eggs, a bit of lemon juice, and cinnamon.
Lychnarákia are very popular on the Greek island of Crete. You can sometimes find them in other areas of the country. If you are in Athens, you can head over to Volikakis.
14. Ladénia Kimolou – Oil pie
Ladénia is a very simple pastry from my beloved Kimolos island. It consists of dough, olive oil, tomato sauce and herbs, so it’s similar to a pizza without toppings.
I don’t personally rank this Greek pastry very highly, but it’s a quick and easy snack that you will find in every bakery in Kimolos.
15. Skopelitiki tirópita – Cheese pie from Skopelos island
Remember how every region of Greece has its own version of cheese pie? Well, Skopelos island has its own type of tirópita, which is famous all around Greece.
Skopelitiki tirópita is a curly, deep-fried pastry with a cheese filling. It’s one of those dishes that you must try when visiting Skopelos. You can find similar pies in the nearby Sporades islands, Skiathos and Alonissos.
16. Kremmydópita Mykonou – Onion pie
This delicious, filling pastry originally hails from the cosmopolitan island of Mykonos. It’s a pie filled with a mix of local spicy cheese, onions and herbs. I didn’t get the chance to try it when I visited Mykonos, and I wouldn’t know if it’s easy to find.
For the best onion pies in Athens, as well as many other traditional savory Greek pastries, head to Plastos and Kremmydopita… you can thank me later!
FAQs about Greek pastries
Here is some more information about Greek pastries:
What are some Greek pastries?
Some of the best known Greek pastries are baklava, galaktoboureko, bougatsa, tiropita, and spanakopita.
What is the most famous bakery in Athens?
Three of the most famous bakeries in Athens are Takis, in Koukaki, Pnyka, in Syntagma, and Lykavittos, in Kolonaki.
What is a bakery called in Greece?
The Greek word for bakery is fournos, or φούρνος in Greek. Bakeries typically sell bread, cookies, biscuits, and selected types of pastries.
What is the famous snack in Greece?
One of the most famous snacks in Greece is tiropita, or cheese pie. It contains phyllo pastry, and a mix of eggs and various types of cheese.
Do Greeks say filo or phyllo?
The Greek word φύλλο (filo / phyllo) is pronounced FEE-loh, and it means leaf, or sheet. Phyllo pastry indicates that the sheets of pastry need to be as thin as a leaf.
Do you have a favorite Greek Pastry?
So this was an introduction to the amazing world of Greek pastries! Whether you have a sweet tooth or you prefer savory flavors, I’m sure that you have found a few that you’ll like. And if you’ve visited Greece before, I’d love to know your favorites, so please leave a comment right below.
Since you are here, have a look at these other articles:
- The best drinks to try in Greece
- Tips for visiting Greece in summer
- An introduction to the Greek island groups
- What to pack for Greece
- The best souvenirs from Greece
- The evil eye in Greece
Hi! I’m Vanessa from Athens. My favourite Greek pastries are tirópita and spanakópita, and I wish I had saved my grandma’s recipes… And now that you know everything about the best pastries in Greece, have a look at this other article with 50 popular Greek dishes!