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Saganaki (Greek fried cheese) is crunchy on the outside and melty on the inside. If you like cheese, you’re going to love this pan-seared Greek cheese appetizer. Ready in 10 minutes!

close-up of tiny cast iron skillet with saganaki Greek fried cheese
Photos updated July 2017.

Saganaki refers to Greek dishes that are prepared in a small frying pan. The cheese is probably the best known, especially outside of Greece.

I first had cheese saganaki in a Greek restaurant. I’m annoyingly picky about the kind of cheeses I like, so I’m not sure what exactly prompted me to try this. Anyway, I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s always spectacular (and slightly scary) when they flambé it at your table, but don’t worry – we’re not lighting anything on fire here. That part is optional at your own risk.

tiny frying pan with saganaki Greek fried cheese, a fork, and lemon wedges

It’s perfectly safe if you do it properly, but I am not going to suggest something that may burn your house down 🙂 Basically, you would add a little brandy after the cheese is cooked, and then flambé it before you squeeze the lemon juice on top to extinguish the flame.

I was originally going to post a fried halloumi recipe, but I couldn’t find any at my usual grocery store, and I didn’t feel like driving around looking for it.

What kind of cheese do you use to make saganaki?

I found a cheese labeled as “saganaki cheese” in the cheese section by the brand Krinos. It’s a firm ripened cheese made from cow’s and sheep’s milk. I did some research and if you can’t find something like that, you could try other Greek cheeses such as kefalograviera, kasseri, or graviera. I think you probably would need to go to a more niche grocer to find any of those.

tiny cast iron skillet with Greek fried cheese beside parsley and lemon wedges

The key to this dish tasting so good is squeezing on a lot of lemon juice and eating it when it’s hot.

It gets hard quite quickly so it’s best enjoyed right in the pan, in my opinion. I’ve never been to a Greek restaurant that didn’t serve it right in the skillet.

saganaki Greek fried melty cheese in a tiny skillet with a fork and lemon

Will you try this Greek fried cheese recipe?

Love Greek food? Try my tzatziki, melitzanosalata, or Greek chicken souvlaki platter recipes. 🙂

empty cast iron skillet with eaten Greek fried cheese saganaki
That was good.

Questions? Let me know!

Saganaki (Greek fried cheese) is crunchy on the outside and melty on the inside. If you like cheese, you're going to love this appetizer. Ready in 10 minutes!
4.50 from 2 votes

Saganaki (Greek Fried Cheese)

A wonderful ooey gooey and crunchy Greek fried cheese appetizer recipe.
Prep: 2 minutes
Cook: 8 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients 

  • 1 piece saganaki cheese
  • Flour for dredging
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1/2 lemon cut into wedges

Instructions 

  • In a small skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. You want enough oil that the bottom of the skillet is well coated.
  • Dredge cheese in flour.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the cheese. Fry for a few minutes on each side until it's golden brown. It may stick a little, so use a metal spatula to loosen it and then flip it.
  • Serve immediately with lemon juice squeezed over the cheese. If you wish, you can drain some of the oil prior to adding the lemon juice.

Notes

  • If you can't find a cheese that's labeled as a saganaki cheese, try kefalograviera, kasseri, or graviera cheese.
  • The skillet pictured is a 5" Lodge cast iron skillet. It works for a small piece of cheese πŸ™‚ 
  • If using a cast iron skillet, let it heat up, and cook the cheese on medium heat since it retains heat so well. 

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Hi! I’m Natasha.

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20 Comments

  1. Saganaki can be made from quality cheeses like graviera, kefalograviera, or kaseri. Cannot be made with kefalotyri or feta obviously. The best and most used is kefalograviera. And correctly mentioned the traditional recipe calls for either cheese, water, flour, and oil. But do not use olive oil alone as it makes it heavier. However if you feel you want like or need olive oil for taste add only a little. Served with lemon wedges. You need a good quality oil and heavy frying skillet.. And don’t forget the ouzo!

  2. 4 stars
    Hi there!!Saganaki cheese has nothing to do with halloumi…And if you first dip the piece of cheese into water and then into the flour it will be much better!!Many kisses from Greece!!πŸ™‚πŸ™‚πŸ™‚

  3. I’ve never heard of saganaki cheese. I am familiar with Kasseri, kefaloteri, and myjithra. I gather from some of these comments, that kassei is the right one to use?

    1. Hi Naomi! I would go with Kasseri cheese as the commenters recommend. I’ve tried to make this recipe accessible to people who perhaps don’t have a Greek shop nearby, so I use the “Saganaki cheese” that’s available at my local Safeway.

  4. Kasseri is the standard “Saganaki” cheese. You really don’t even have to dredge it! Fry it in olive oil, flambe or not as desired, but do squeeze the lemon over it either way. It is Oh so very good!

  5. I’ve been making this for years!! Saganaki or Kaseri works best for me! I use butter instead of olive oil! Always flambΓ© with brandy and douse with fresh lemon juice! Very impressive yet easy to serve st parties!

  6. Mmm, fried cheese? Yes please! πŸ™‚ Glad to see you don’t need to flambΓ© it- I’m too clumsy to try a recipe that calls for that! πŸ˜‰

  7. Fried cheese could be my breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. And heck yes on the lemon. That little bit o’ acid goes so well with the cheese fat.

  8. I have never tasted a SAGANAKI cheese. I bet it has the texture of a halloumi? Your recipe sounds so interesting. Pinning to try later. Cheers!

      1. No it’s not like halloumi – which (although tasty & good for frying & grilling) I’ve always nick-named ‘squeaky cheese’ because it squeaks on your teeth and does not melt when cooked! The best saganaki cheeses do melt in the middle as you can see in your picture. The other cheeses you mention are the usual ones used plus on Lesvos we also use ladotiri.