Greek food has been popular for a long time and is now the subject of extra attention due to interest in the Mediterranean diet and the potential benefits for health. Looking at Greek breakfast foods can be an interesting way to get a sense of Greek eating and the types of meals that you’ll find if you’re following a Mediterranean eating approach.
After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? Some of us skip breakfast, especially when we’re in a hurry, but most of us know that the day always goes better when we take the time to eat properly before heading out the door.
Learning about the breakfast habits of other cultures can be a powerful way to broaden your mind. You may discover some meals or ingredients that you had never thought about before. This could be a great way to kick you out of a breakfast rut and get you trying some new ideas.
You can also check out our other lists of breakfast foods for more ideas. We’ve covered a number of these already, including Japanese and Russian breakfasts.
Just be aware that there’s a difference between Greek foods and the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is based on the idea that people in the Mediterranean live longer, but the recommended food list doesn’t always align with what people eat in the Mediterranean. There is no single Mediterranean eating approach anyway, as there are plenty of differences between regions.
Greek Breakfast Foods
Bread And Bread Sticks
While there is plenty of variation from one part of Greece to another, Greek breakfasts often use the same foods that are enjoyed during other parts of the day. The reliance on bread and bread sticks proves this point well, as we are talking about the types of bread that you would see eaten for lunch or as a snack.
One common choice is paximadia, which is a type of twice-baked savory biscuit or bread rusk. These are essentially biscotti and are surprisingly appealing as a breakfast food.
Of course, bread isn’t eaten on its own for breakfast. Some of the other items on this list will often be enjoyed at the same time.
This dish is one of multiple feta pies that you’ll find in Greece. It is probably the simplest example, as it is just a thin unleavened batter that has been baked and has a sprinkling of feta cheese.
The simple ingredients make this dish an easy choice for breakfast. Some people choose to add herbs or perhaps vegetables to fill the meal out a little.
Spanakopita is a dish that you’ll probably recognize, as the savory Greek pie has now become popular in many parts of the world. The pie contains spinach, feta cheese, and ricotta cheese, and is covered with phyllo pastry.
This creates a crumbly and comforting meal that can easily be made at home. Many recipes create a large pie that can then be cut up into sections.
Portion-sized versions of the pie can be made as well. These are ideal if you want a breakfast to eat on the go. Just be warned, spanakopita can be messy to eat.
This soft flatbread ends up looking a little like a pizza, especially as it tends to be topped with onions and sliced tomato. If fresh tomatoes aren’t available, then the same dish can be made simply using tomato paste and onions instead.
Other ingredients can be added to create a more interesting flavor profile. Peppers and capers are two examples that you may often see.
Some types of soup may also feature as part of a Greek breakfast, such as split pea soup or a pulse-based soup. Soups can be a surprisingly good breakfast choice, as they can be hearty and they’re warming. That warmth is exactly what you want if you’re going out into the cold.
You could easily draw parallels between a sfougato and a frittata or a crustless quiche. Like both of those dishes, a sfougato relies on eggs and cheese, along with additions like vegetables, herbs, and olive oil.
There are, of course, countless variations to the dish, including versions that rely on lettuce and beef as key ingredients, and others that use zucchini or perhaps potatoes.
Greens pies can also be found as a breakfast choice in many parts of Greece. They’re called marathopites in Crete, but you may see them called wild greens pie, mixed greens pie, or Cretan pies too.
As the name suggests, these pies contain various greens. Some rely on collard greens or Swiss chard, which provides a familiar flavor profile. Dill is often featured too and helps to make the dish more interesting.
Some versions rely on wild greens, where the greens used may be found through foraging.
Regardless of the specific greens that are used, this type of pie tends to be savory. Leafy green vegetables are a good source of nutrients too, so you can be certain that this breakfast is good for you.
Fetoydia is another recipe that should look familiar – as you’re basically making a Greek version of French toast. The dish can be made using either fresh or stale bread, which is perfect if you have some leftover bread that you don’t want to waste.
The process of making the dish should sound familiar. You’re first slicing the bread and then soaking it in milk. The bread can be dipped in eggs after this point and fried in olive oil.
Once all of this has been done, the bread can be enjoyed hot. Not surprisingly, cinnamon and powdered sugar are a common topping for the bread. You could also use cheese if you want a breakfast that is a little more savory and filling.
Other types of traditional pie may also be served as part of breakfast – depending on the specific region of Greece. Now, these aren’t the sweet pies that you’ll find in the United States and elsewhere. Instead, they’re savory choices that often rely on flaky pastry and use fillings like feta, greens, or vegetables.
Here’s a second type of fried bread, but this time the bread is made specifically for the dish. The wheat flour dough tends to be formed into a circle, then filled with herbs and feta.
While the bread will be sometimes made without the filling, the herbs and feta are really what bring it to life.
Koulouri thessalonikis, or just koulouri, is a street food that you’ll often find in Greece. It can simply consist of wheat flour dough that has first made into a ring, then baked with sesame seeds.
This bread may also be filled, with cheese, tahini, and chocolate spread all being common choices. The fillings help to make the bread more interesting.
While the bread can be prepared at home, it is also easily purchased from bakeries and street vendors. This makes it an ideal choice for anyone who needs some food on the run.
Staka Me Ayga
This simple meal shows that eggs are popular for breakfast almost everywhere you go. The dish simply uses either fried or poached eggs, that have been cooked with staka, which is a combination of flour and local cream.
Salt and pepper are used to season the meal and that’s it. The eggs may be eaten alongside other breakfast choices, with the most common being smoked pork.
The dish hails from the island of Crete and isn’t as common in other parts of Greece. Still, it’s an easy dish to prepare, so there’s no reason why you can’t try it yourself.
Cold Cut Meat, Olives, And Cheese
Sometimes Greek breakfasts amount to a selection of different foods to pick and choose from, rather than a single dish that you’re eating. Cold cut meats, olives, and cheese are all examples that you’ll regularly see on a Greek breakfast table. Feta is, of course, one of the most common cheeses, but there are other types too, each with their own texture and flavor profile.
Fresh seasonal fruit will often feature too, along with bread, eggs, yogurt, and other items from this list. This type of breakfast can easily leave you satisfied, without being nearly as overwhelming as a full English breakfast.
Lalagites hail from Lemnos, although the breakfast food can be found in other parts of Greece as well. Lalagites are basically a type of pancake. They include most of the ingredients that you would expect, along with olive oil.
When making lalagites, the batter is fried in olive oil to give pancakes that are small and flat. Some versions use mint leaves and crumbled cheese as part of the batter, then honey and cinnamon when the lalagites are being served.
Greek Yogurt With Honey
Yogurt in Greece tends to be strained. This process makes the yogurt thicker and creamier. The nutritional balance of the yogurt changes too, and the yogurt ends up with more protein than conventional American yogurt.
The Greek yogurt you may have seen in American grocery stores follows the same general theme, but it isn’t quite the same as yogurt that you will actually get in Greece itself. Visitors are often amazed at how delicious Greek yogurt is, especially when it is paired with local honey. You might even find that this is enough for breakfast on its own.