What Cheese To Use for Saganaki – A Guide to Choosing the Best Cheese for Your Greek Dish

Have you ever heard of Saganaki? It is a Greek dish that has been gaining popularity all around the world. This delicious appetizer is made with fried cheese and served hot with lemon juice on top. If you’re wondering what type of cheese to use, how Saganaki is made, and other frequently asked questions about this dish, keep reading.

To make authentic Saganaki, Kefalograviera or Kasseri cheese should be used. These cheeses have a mild flavor that pairs perfectly with the golden crust formed when pan-fried. To make it, cut the cheese into thick slices, dredge them in flour, then fry them until crispy on both sides. Serve immediately with fresh lemon juice squeezed over the top.

What is Saganaki?

Saganaki is a Greek dish that primarily consists of cheese that has been fried or flambéed. The cheese used for saganaki tends to be a salty, hard, and flavorful variety such as kefalotiri.

History and origin of the dish

The origins of saganaki can be traced back to ancient Greece where dairy products were a staple in their cuisine. However, it was not until the 19th century when the Greeks began frying cheese after coming into contact with Italian culinary traditions.

The name saganaki actually comes from the small pan called ‘sagani’ which was traditionally used to cook this dish. In Greece, it’s commonly served as an appetizer accompanied by lemon wedges and crusty bread, but it can also be enjoyed as a main course alongside salads or other sides.

Variations of Saganaki

  • Cheese: While kefalotiri is the most common type of cheese used for saganaki, other options include feta, halloumi, kasseri or graviera depending on personal preference.
  • Additions: Although traditional saganaki doesn’t contain additional ingredients, some versions call for extra flavoring like tomato sauce with shrimp or honey and sesame seeds with dried fruit slices thrown in.
  • Preparation method: Different variations can result from how long the cheese is fried (just melted vs crispy), flambéed (burnt rum soaked), or even baked (less greasy).
Overall, whether you’re trying it at a local restaurant known for its authenticity or making it yourself – Sagnaki offers deliciously savory flavors and an exciting experience for your taste buds.

What Cheese To Use for Saganaki

If you’re looking to whip up a batch of delicious Saganaki, choosing the right cheese is crucial. The wrong selection can result in a dish that lacks flavor, has an unpleasant texture or simply doesn’t melt the way you’d like it to. Here are some options and tips when it comes to selecting the ideal cheese for your next batch of Saganaki:

Importance of using the right cheese

Using the right cheese is important because it can help ensure that your Saganaki turns out just as you imagined. Different cheeses will produce different textures and flavors, so it’s worth taking some time to explore what works best.

Best cheese options for Saganaki

  • Kefalograviera: This hard Greek sheep’s milk cheese boasts a slightly salty tanginess that works beautifully with the sweetness of honey or fruit.
  • Kasseri: A mild, buttery cow’s milk cheese, Kasseri melts easily and evenly, making it great for those who are new to making Saganaki.
  • Halloumi: Made from goat’s and sheep’s milk, Halloumi has a firm but slightly rubbery texture that gives this uniquely-flavored meatless alternative more depth.
  • Graviera: Graviera can be made from goat’s or sheep’s milk (or both) and packs more strength than kefalotyri but less pungency than other regionally made varieties. It has nutty vibes close in taste to NAsiago and Gruyere which makes it great on bread/crackers plate.
  • Feta: Feta is a Greek crumbly cheese made from sheep’s milk with a tangy, salty kick.

Tips for choosing the right cheese

  • Flavor profile: Look for cheeses that have a flavor profile that meshes well with the other ingredients in your dish. Stronger, saltier cheeses can help balance out sweeter or fruit-based Saganaki recipes while milder options might be better suited to savory incarnations of this meal.
  • Melting point: Keep melting point in mind when shopping around. Cheeses that melt too quickly can leave you with a greasy mess while firmer varieties may not soften up enough to get that gooey texture you’re looking for.
  • Texture: Consider texture when making your choice as well. Some people prefer softer or creamier variations of Saganaki and others seek something more spreadable on hard breads rather than crackers.
  • Availability: Finally, consider the availability factor. Although specialty food shops might boast an impressive selection, it’s good to know what specific places nearby would have select types of cheese then test them out.

With these considerations in mind, you’ll be able to select the perfect cheese every time and enjoy delicious sizzling hot Saganaki any day!

How To Make Saganaki

If you love Greek cuisine, then Saganaki is a must-try dish for you. Here’s how to make it:

Step-by-step instructions for making Saganaki

  1. Cut firm cheese like Kefalotyri, Feta or Halloumi into slices.
  2. Create an egg bath by whisking one egg and set aside.
  3. Pour flour into a bowl and season with pepper (optional).
  4. Dip each slice of cheese first in the flour mixture, then in the egg bath and finally coat it gently once again in flour mixture until evenly coated on both sides.
  5. In a frying pan over medium heat melt unsalted butter (1/4 cup) until its slightly browned/foamy texture appears.
    Tip: Use small fry pans to cook single portions at a time to maintain good texture and avoid overcrowding that may result in uneven browning or sticking together.

  6. Add your prepared cheese slices onto the pan an ensure not to touch them too much so they don’t break apart easily.
  7. Fry them for about 30 seconds without flipping them as this cooks the base of your slice properly.
    Tip: Do not overcrowd the skillet while frying since this may cause uneven temperature shifts and hence departs from uniformly browned slices. we want specks of brown that leads way for creamy gooey center that is quintessential feature of Sagnaki.
  8. Using a spatula or turner, flip the cheese slice over and let it cook again for an additional 30-40 seconds until crisp-golden brown.
  9. Transfer the fried Saganaki into a serving plate or individual plates.
  10. Tips for cooking Saganaki

    • The secret to good Saganaki is in the cheese used; Kefalotyri, Feta or Halloumi are recommended options.
    • Dip each slice of cheese in egg wash very briefly and do not overcrowd while frying.
    • Use small fry pans to cook single portions at a time to maintain good texture and avoid overcrowding that may result in uneven browning or sticking together.
      Bonus tip: Spoon some of that delicious melted butter back onto your sizzling cheeses as they fry – this will give them an even more luxurious taste.
    • Serve hot with simple toppings such as wedges of lemon juice, black pepper and rustic crusty breads.

      Serving suggestions

      Saganaki can be served on its own as a quick weekday meal when paired with some vegetables like tomatoes, cucumber etc., alternatively, it could also make an excellent appetizer at dinner parties. Serve after all courses have been finished as a special dessert like dish where single servings come out from oven piping hot-drizzled with honey, nuts & confectioners sugar sprinkle. Note: Desert-style serving usually involves adding only a little butter upon heating pan and right before removing it from heat, then drizzling desired amount of honey or any preferred syrup top it up with crushed almonds, pistachios, walnuts for that perfect heavenly crunch, finally dusting with sugar cinnamon mix or confectioners sugar. A sumptuous spread of Sagnaki could also make for an excellent breakfast or brunch meal.


    Saganaki is a mouth-watering dish that deserves more attention than it gets outside of Greece. By following our recipe and tips on what type of cheese to use, you’ll surely impress your guests at your next gathering or enjoy it yourself as a tasty snack anytime!

    Frequently Asked Questions:

    Can I use any type of cheese for Saganaki?

    No! Only Kefalograviera or Kasseri should be used for best results.

    Is Saganaki difficult to make?

    Not at all! It’s very easy to make and requires just a few basic ingredients.

    What can I serve with Saganaki?

    Traditionally, this dish is served as an appetizer before a meal or as part of a meze spread alongside other small plates like hummus and tzatziki dip.

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