Greek Fried Cheese – Saganaki
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One of our favorite dishes of all time is the simply wonderful Greek Fried Cheese, otherwise known as Saganaki. This dish is so widely served in Greek restaurants all around the world and is a fan favorite wherever it shows up. It is a beautiful combination of flavors and textures. The sharpness of the Sheep Milk Cheese punches through your taste buds like a freight train. The melty texture is simply to die for, and that lovely crispy, chewy crust tastes just as good as it looks. It may just be the best fried cheese you’ll ever eat, and we’ll show you how to make it right now!

How to make Greek Fried Cheese

The first step in making this wonderful dish is to locate the right cheese. There are lots of different cheese they use in Greece to make Saganaki, and like so many cuisines from all around the world, the type of cheese depends on the region you’re in

The good news is if you’re outside of Greece, the availability of good quality cheese that can be used for Saganaki is plentiful. The most common and popular types of cheese that is used to make Saganaki is Kefalograviera, Kefalotyri, or Graviera Cheeses. Basically, what you want is a firm Sheep’s Milk Cheese from Greece and you’re set

The Cheese has a wonderful sharpness and creaminess to it. It goes exceptionally well to being fried and will not break apart or crumble when cooked. When cooked, the cheese will form an unbelievably amazing crust on the outside yet stay lovely and gooey on the inside. Simply put, it’s the perfect cheese for frying!

Greek Saganaki with lemon
There are several types of Greek cheese that will work great to make an authentic Saganaki like this one

Shape the cheese into a rectangular block for cooking

The dish is typically, and most pleasantly cooked and served as an even rectangular-shaped block. It’s typically cut about ½ inch thick, with the surface area a similar size to processed American Cheese slices. Many times, the cheese can be found already cut into this shape. If not, the first step in preparing your Greek Fried Cheese dish is Kefalograviera, Kefalotyri, or Graviera Cheeses to cut the cheese into blocks about this size

Having a uniform shape and thickness of the cheese will make for more even cooking, especially if you’re cooking several pieces as a delicious appetizer or side dish to a big meal. So, take your time and use a shape knife to get the pieces of Cheese as uniform as possible

Coating and frying the Cheese is easy!

Unlike other fried dishes, coating the Cheese is simple. All you need to do is coat it in All Purpose Flour and it’s ready for the fryer! No need for egg washes, or breading, or brining. None of that is required. Just give it a good coverage in Flour that has been seasoned well with Salt and you’re ready to start frying

Unlike most frying, Saganaki / Greek Fried Cheese is fried in Olive Oil. This may seem a little strange as Olive Oil is generally not used this way due to its low overall burn point. For Saganaki it is the only way to fry, however. You don’t need to cook the Cheese for long, so the Oil won’t have time to reach the temperatures where it starts to burn

Greek Fried Cheese Olive Oil
Unlike most other kinds of frying, Greek Fried Cheese / Saganaki is fried in Olive Oil

Why is Greek Fried Cheese cooked in Olive Oil?

Olive Oil is hands down the most flavorful type of Oil going around. The amount of flavor that you will get infused into the cheese by cooking with Olive Oil is immense. Olives, and Olive Oil is so popular in Greece that it was the only Oil of choice for cooking when this dish was invented

The recipe has stuck ever since. No need to change a recipe that has stood the test of time for centuries, and that tastes as good as it goes! We recommend using good quality Olive Oil for this dish. You don’t need a whole lot of Oil as the Cheese is only shallow fried, not deep fried. About ½ cup is enough to fry multiple pieces of Greek Fried Cheese perfectly

Cook the cheesy by simply heating the Oil in a frying pan. Once hot, carefully place the cheese straight onto the hot oil. Always place the cheese away from you to avoid any splashes. Cook the cheese for about 3 minutes, then flip and cook for a further 2 minutes

You’ll know when the cheese is done as it will have a beautiful golden-brown color and be slightly springy to the touch. Once cooked, place it on some paper towels to remove any excess Oil then serve immediately. The sooner you serve the better, as you want that cheese lovely and gooey inside

It’s just not Greek Fried Cheese without the final ingredient – Lemon Juice!

Adding Lemon Juice to Saganaki is just as critical an ingredient to the dish as the cheese itself. The brightness and acidity the Lemon Juice brings to the dish completely transforms it. We recommend giving the Cheese a good squeeze of half a Lemon right before serving, and serve it alongside more wedges if needed

Give the Cheese a good sprinkle of flaky salt and it’s time to eat!

Greek Fried Cheese Lemon Juice
Perhaps almost as critical as the Cheese is Lemon Juice. You need a good amount of Lemon Juice squeezed over your Greek Fried Cheese before eating!

Where to place Greek Fried Cheese in a category on our website

So, we’ve had this dish ready to go for a while now, however I’ve held off writing the recipe because of one simple reason: There was no ‘specific’ category for it to go on our website! That doesn’t really sound like much of an excuse now as I write it out. Categorization limitation has prevented this ridiculously tasty recipe from being shared with you all!

So, to solve this dilemma I’ve come up with a very simple Solution. Please welcome this wonderful Greek Fried Cheese recipe to our Southern Sides section of the website! While this dish is 100% a proud Greek dish, it just felt at home in the Southern Sides section of the website. After all, it is ultimately Fried Cheese at the end of the day, and if any type of cuisine best represents Fried Cheese, it has to be Southern American cooking!

So please join me in welcoming our Saganaki Cheese recipe to Southern Sides, alongside such famous alumni such as Cheesy Grits, Crispy Fried Chicken Bites, and of course, Fried Mozzarella!

Recipe Details

Servings
Prep time

5 minutes

Cooking time

5 minutes (per cheese)

Total time

10 minutes

Greek Fried Cheese – Saganaki Recipe

Ingredients

  • 220g / 8 oz. Greek Cheese (eg: Kefalograviera, Kefalotyri, or Graviera Cheese)
  • ½ cup All Purpose Flour
  • ½ cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Lemon
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. If not already sliced, cut your cheese into even squares about ½ inch thick. The surface area should resemble a similar shape to an American Cheese slice, only thicker
  2. Place the Cheese in a bowl of All Purpose Flour that has been seasoned with 1 tsp. of Salt. Coat well to ensure an even coverage
  3. Heat the Olive Oil in a large frying pan over medium / high heat. Once hot, carefully place one piece of Cheese in the center of the pan over the hot Oil. Pan fry for 3 minutes, then carefully flip and cook for a further 2 minutes on the other side
  4. Once golden-brown and springy in the center, remove the cheese and place on a paper towel to remove any excess Oil. Season with Salt and squeeze over a generous amount of Juice (½ a Lemon or so). Repeat for remaining cheese
  5. Serve immediately with more Lemon Wedges. The dish is best served straight out of the pan

If you’re looking for a tasty and easy to prepare dish, this is the one! Greek Fried Cheese is up there with one of our favorite dishes of all time, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

For more fun and interesting dishes, why not try some of these great recipes:

Happy Cooking!

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