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Saganaki cheese

Saganaki is a pan seared cheese, one of the best Greek mezedes (plural or mezes).   For my readers who are new to this blog, mezes is an appetizer served with wine, ouzo or tsikoudia.


There is a lot of false information given on the internet and if your read about saganaki in Wikipedia, you will read that it means flaming cheese, sometimes translated as fried cheese.    Saganaki has nothing to do with the cheese but it is the cooking “pan” in which it is made and usually served in, called “sagani”. So, if we make shrimps with tomatoes and feta in this pan it’s a shrimp saganaki, or we can make anchovies with wine, mustard, lemon, chilli and some feta and we have Gavros saganaki. That does not mean, of course, that we cannot make saganaki in any other frying or sautéing pan.


Cheese Saganaki is very easy to make but you will need a very good Greek hard cheese. Saganaki can be made with Graviera, Kefalotyri, Kefalograviera, Formaella, Halloumi, Kaskavalli (another very good Cypriot cheese), hard feta or the special saganotyri you see in the photo, above. For those who can read Greek, they will see on the label that it says Traditional Greek Cheese, ideal for frying (saganaki) in hot oil (no dredging in flour is necessary) or grilled etc…, ideal for wine, ouzo etc.

Graviera, Kefalotyri and Kefalograviera look like this.

However, if you like you can dredge the cheese in flour first and then fry it. That makes a nice crust on the outside.


Cheese Saganaki is something I make quite often and I have three different ways I have made saganaki.

Grilled Cheese Saganaki


  • Any of the above cheese
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Lemon juice to sprinkle on top

Cut the cheese into 1 cm thick slices. Heat the olive oil in a sautéing pan and grill on both sides.

Serve hot with a squeeze of some lemon juice.

Fried Saganotyri with sesame seeds


  • Saganotyri or any other of the above cheese
  • 1 egg or milk to wet the cheese
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon


Cut the cheese into 1 cm thick slices. Beat the egg and wet the cheese (or wet it with the milk), then dip it in the sesame seeds.

Heat the olive oil in a saganaki pan or if you don’t have one in a frying or sautéing pan and fry on both sides.

Serve hot with a squeeze of some lemon juice.

Halloumi and Lountza

Halloumi with orange, fennel seeds and parsley


  • 1 halloumi cheese
  • 1 cup of green, yellow and red bell peppers cut julien
  • 1 teaspoon whole fennel seed, crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • a few sprigs of finely chopped parsley
  • 1teaspoon orange zest
  • ½ cup of orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oill


Drain halloumi and cut into 1 cm slices.

Heat a non-stick frying or sautéing pan and brush with olive oil.

Place the slices on the hot pan until they has browned on both sides. Remove to a platter.

Add another spoonful of olive oil and sauté the peppers.When they are soft put halloumi back into the pan.

Add fennel seeds and orange juice and toss the pan so that the juice will wet all pieces of halloumi.

Remove again to the platter and sprinkle with the orange zest and the parsley.

I am sending this over to Loulou, who is hosting La Fête du Fromage.

Another saganaki we make in Cyprus is Lountza.

Lountza is made from the pork tenderloin. After the initial brining and marinading in wine, it is smoked. Although it can be aged, many prefer younger, milder lountza.

It is often cooked over coals or fried with eggs as well as a sandwich filler or part of a meze.

Lountza saganaki is as simple as just frying it.

Another very popular mezes is Garides Saganaki (shrimp saganaki).  See my recipe here.

You can find my Greek recipes in my cookbooks «More Than A Greek Salad», and«Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!» both available on all Amazon stores. Read more here.


Other recipes with cheese:

Tyropita with Kourou Phyllo

Savoury Cake with Peppers


Cypriot Tyropita

Tyropita with Kataifi

Tyropitakia (Cheese triangle bites)


Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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33 Responses

  1. Ivy, the cheese looks heavenly. I’d love to try it, with a bottle of wine of course. You are such a lovely cook. So elegant. Thank you for stopping by and saying hello.

  2. PG

    these look fantastic! the last one is so very yummy! Have to find out where I can get these cheese varieties here.
    That’s a wonderful event for cheese you are taking part in!

    I just remembered, while reading your post, as you mentioned about those who understand greek, well i don’t at all, but I have a page with the Greek alphabet hand written on it in small case (the antique one- still used for scientific purposes) for me to memorise on my magnet board. every now and then I look at it and check if I remember it by heart! Reason: as an effort to fight my almost-feeling-like rapid dementia! 😀
    If you want to know if I remember, well… I’ll be honest….I have to check in between as i for get some of them. But, it is fun to be able to at least read and understand the name of the cheese 🙂

  3. I really wish I had some of the halloumi in that photo right now. It’s snack time and that would be perfect. I love cheese, I can go without meat for days, even weeks. But cheese is really hard for me to do without.

  4. Oh wow, this is great! So easy to make. I love the cheese saganaki, This is new to me and I will have to try it sometime. Thanks.

  5. I’m glad you covered all there is to saganaki Ivy. I especially like your sesame seeds version.

  6. Oh, yummy! really delicious looking! I’m a total cheese fan…



  7. Wow! You made that with cheese? Looks yum Ivy.

  8. All of these cheesy combinations look great Ivy! Love the simple ones with the lemon the best, I think.

  9. There is nothing finer than fried Greek cheese. Nice job Ivy.

  10. Ivy, your halloumi looks DELIGHTFUL. I would love to try that! I also love the combination of fried halloumi with orange, and when I make my (very fake drunken Canadian) version of saganaki I use some Grand Marnier to drizzle….is that sacrilege? Be honest…..

  11. This is our absolute favourite sis. Here we can find Halloumi, Kefalotyri and a cheese called Saganaki cheese (not really sure what it is exactly)…all are delicious:D

  12. Oh, yum, yum, yum! That looks amazing!

    The only Greek wine I’ve ever had is retsina. Would that go with your cheese dishes?

  13. Ivy

    Teresa, thank you as well for being so kind and polite.

    P.G. I am sorry you are having memory problems but it’s great that you are doing your exercises with the Greek alphabet and hope that it will help you.

    Maria, I don’t mind about not eating meat as well but I can’t imagine how it would be without feta and halloumi.

    Bobby, I am sure you will love it.

    Peter, thanks. Halloumi, was great as well thanks to your three ingredients!!

    Rosa, thanks, so am I.

    Anudivya, thanks.

    Cake, the original recipes are the simple ones and you are right they are the best but once in a while we like to taste something new.

    Lisa, thanks. I wonder, do they fry cheese in other countries? Can someone reply to this question?

    Tina, as I said the traditional way is the simple way but why not? I shall give it a try your way. Grand Marnier sounds like a great choice as it has orange flavour as well.

    Val, it’s great that you can get all those cheese in Canada and Saganaki cheese it what I have used and called saganotyri. It means the same thing and it is probably made with Graviera or Kefalograviera.

    Abigail, absolutely. Retsina would be perfect.

    Break time is over. Off, I go to continue with what I am doing…

  14. Che buoni !!!

  15. I love the one with seasame seeds.

  16. Dee

    This is a great post, Ivy. Very informative, and the food looks yummy! Thank you for your kind words on my blog. I’m really sorry I didn’t manage to post my pineapple pie for your event – all the entries look amazing, and you did a excellent job with the round-up.

  17. I love all your presentations Ivy, it’s one of the most loved mezedes by Greeks and lovers of Greek food alike.

    As for the dredging, it’s a personal choice as to the approach. Some find the egg wash adheres better to the cheese when dredged in flour first. No right or wrong, just different approaches.

  18. Yum, this looks simple but delicious in all its variations. Have a good couple days blogging break!

  19. Looks awesome…loved the one with sesame seeds…

  20. giz

    I tried the Haloumi cheese and had a hard time with it – a little too salty for me – can this be done with a less salty cheese?

  21. Ivy

    Giz, sometimes, depending on the brand halloumi can be very salty but not all the time. Unfortunately I haven’t tried this with any other cheese.

  22. Hi Ivy
    All the snacks look delicious..Sadly, we dont get this cheese in India easily…

  23. Going to the beach?????? Oh my god! It’s so cold here and it’s been cold for so many days now and rainy… both mediterranean countries and yet so different ;D

    You know I’m now a cheese lover Ivy, but I would love to taste halloumi one day… I just have to get the guts to do it ;D

  24. I’ve never had cheese like that before, but I love the hard crust it forms on the outside. It looks rough and then smooth and creamy inside. Very cool 🙂

  25. All those picts made me hungry! I had grilled cheese in one of Athens taverna. I think my family and I were the only tourists in that room! Thanks Ivy for clarified the meaning of Saganaki. My in-laws love fried cheeses like that called Croquettes fromage de chèvre – goat cheese coated with crumbs.

    I definitely will try this dish because recently my local supermarket imported products from Cyprus. Wish me luck…

    Take care.

  26. Yum. I absolutely love cheese done like this. The last recipe with the orange juice looks particularly yummy. Definitely going to give it a try soon. Thanks so much. 😀

    a.k.a. The Hungry Mouse

  27. A nice overview of Cheese Saganaki, Ivy. Kaseri (Kasseri) cheese is also widely used for cheese saganaki, but my preference is a kefalotiri or kefalograviera cheese.

  28. This is my favorite post so far! When my parents went to Limnos in April (and found my dad’s long lost cousin), they introduced them to the Limnos cheese that you fry like this. They brought back tons of the cheese (we were staying in France for a month) and every day we fried it up and ate…it was SO GOOD. They will go to Limnos again in a few months and bring back more cheese, and at that time, I’m going to try your variations! (It’s too expensive to buy here at my store…$10 for a small chunk).

  29. I don’t get the whole Nofollow thing – I mean, people want others to comment on their blog, giving them content, but they’re not prepared to give the commenter something in return. Seems a bit selfish to me

  30. OHHHHHH! I do love this dish.

  31. All those recipes look great (now I am hungry). In Italy, they have tomini that are also pan fried or roasted in the oven.
    (In via Loulou)

  32. I love Halloumi! I didn’t realize it was part of a whole category of mezes, but pan fried like that, it’s like a grilled cheese sandwich without the bread. 🙂

    p.s. I think we have the same frying pan. 😉

  33. I was a little late discovering your absolutely delicious blog. I am very happy to inform you that I featured this post in my page about Ouzo, as Cheese Saganaki is one of the "must" mezedes. I sure love haloumi (never tried lountza, though) and I most certainly try my hand at the "Halloumi with orange, fennel seeds and parsley" recipe. I'm sure it will bring tears of gratification in my eyes 😀
    My recent post Greek Ouzo- Drinking with the Gods updated Wed Feb 23 2011 4-24 am CST