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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.

In Greece no one flames the cheese.  This was invented in the United States as an attraction in restaurants.

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 (or flour)
  • 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.  If you don’t like sesame seeds, just wet it and dredge it in flour.

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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Friday 25th of February 2011

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 :-D My recent post Greek Ouzo- Drinking with the Gods updated Wed Feb 23 2011 4-24 am CST


Sunday 16th of November 2008

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. ;)

Nathalie (Spacedlaw)

Saturday 15th of November 2008

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)


Friday 14th of November 2008

OHHHHHH! I do love this dish.


Friday 14th of November 2008

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

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