fbpx

Best Desserts in Greece

One of the amazing parts of eating in Greece is the delicious dessert. Greece has a great variety, from baklava, to halva, to frozen custards and spoon sweets. Coming from western European countries like the UK or the Netherlands, some visitors find Greek desserts to be overly sweet. Let’s just say that they are as sweet as the people are hospitable – which means the Greeks do not hold back on the sugar!

Galyfianakis Galaktoboureko, Thessaloniki

History of Desserts in Greece

Many of the sweets in Greece have been around since the Ottoman or Byzantine Empires, and some are even from ancient Greece. As we share with you the top sweets in Greece, we will tell you some of their famous history too. The most important ingredients for Greek desserts are flour, honey or sugar, vegetable or olive oil, nuts, cinnamon, and cloves. In other desserts, there are eggs, milk, or yogurt.

Galyfianakis Galaktoboureko, Thessaloniki

Baklava

Baklava is definitely one of the first desserts we think of when we think about Greece. It contains phyllo pastry, butter, walnuts or pistachios, and a simple syrup. Sometimes, flavorings like orange zest, lemon zest, cinnamon and cloves are added. Some historians claim that Baklava was once made as far back as Ancient Assyria, in the 8th century BC. The dessert was very popular in the days of the Ottoman Empire and during the 15th century. The Greek version can be distinguished from the Turkish version because it is shaped like a triangle, while the Turkish version is square. 

Baklava

Loukoumades

Loukoumades are deep-friend honey doughnuts, and are also popular in other countries. The Greek version of loukoumades usually is covered in sugar syrup, honey, cinnamon, and sesame seeds. Some reports say that loukoumades as a dessert was enjoyed as far back as Ancient Greece. During the Olympic Games in 776 BC, they were offered to the winners of the games, in addition to an olive wreath. 

Loukoumades

Halva

Halva is another famous dessert in Greece. Although it seems confusing, there are three desserts in Greece with the name halva. The most popular kind is the halva with tahini (sesame paste), sugar, and honey. Some other kinds feature nuts or raisins. Second, semolina halva includes semolina, vegetable oil, and simple syrup. Finally, the least common version of halva is made in the Farsala area of Thessaly, near Meteora. This version is made with vegetable oil, sugar, corn flour and almonds, and it resembles a jelly. 

Halva (The most common variety)

Kataifi

Kataifi is a famous sweet treat that is also enjoyed in other areas of the Middle East. It is made of shredded phyllo pastry, honey, sugar syrup, and nuts. The kataifi is then baked to make it crispy, and its unique texture makes it a much-loved dessert. Kataifi in Turkish is known as kadaif and kanafeh if you are in the Balkans. Kaitafi is usually made with walnuts, which add a nice crunch.

Kataifi

Bougatsa

Bougatsa is a sweet or savory dessert, sometimes filled either with cheese or a sweet custard. It is most popular in northern Greece, but in general you can find it in bakeries all over Greece. Bougatsa is made with a phyllo dough that is wrapped around a custard filling. The dessert is baked and powdered with sugar and served warm. It is said that bougatsa was brought to the region after the Greek-Turkish War of 1922, when Greek immigrants moved to the Macedonia region in northern Greece after being exhiled from Turkey. 

Bougatsa

Spoon Sweets

Spoon sweets are a simple dessert, featuring preserved fruit in sweet syrup. This tradition has its roots in the fourteenth century, when the Byzantines adopted the custom from Arab traders of offering a spoon sweet to visitors. There are many types of spoon sweets in Greece, because you can make it with many types of fruits. Cherry, fig, or orange rind are common varieties. Sometimes, spoon sweets are paired with Greek yogurt. 

Spoon Sweets

Pasteli

There are few desserts more simple than pasteli. The most simple recipes feature just two ingredients: honey and sesame. This dessert dates to the Homeric era – in the Odyssey and in the Iliad, we read about a dessert known as “itrion” made of honey and sesame which was given to warriors getting ready for battle in the Trojan War. Herodotus, known as “The Father of History,” spoke in the 15th century about a honey and sesame dessert that was eaten by young people at parties.

Pasteli

Galaktoboureko

Galaktoboureko is a slightly more complicated Greek dessert, and it is popular all over Greece. “Galaktos” means milk and “boureko” means phyllo pastry. Some say that the dessert came from the Byzantine empire’s capital, Constantinople, and that its popularity slowly grew over time. The dessert is creamy and smooth and features a custard that is wrapped in phyllo pastry and often served cold with a simple syrup. The best place for Galaktoboureko in Greece is the “Galyfianakis” galaktoboureko shop, which has a shop in both Athens and in Thessaloniki. 

Galaktoboureko

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Table of Contents

Looking for something in particular?
BlogLifestyle

What Can I Expect at Matala Beach Music Festival in 2024?

The Matala Beach Festival is one of Europe’s biggest free music festivals, and is a mix of entertainment and relaxation. The International Matala Beach Festival ...
Christy in Milos
BlogRegional Guides

Top Areas in Greece for Americans: Milos

Why should I buy a home in Milos if I’m American? How does it rank compared to other destinations in Greece for me? In this ...
View of Town in Crete
BlogPurchase Tips

Guide for Belgians: What it’s Like to Buy a Home in Crete

Are you Belgian and thinking about buying a home in Greece? You probably have many questions and unknowns: What are the biggest cultural differences between ...
Konstantinos
BlogIn The News

Where Did Elxis Travel in May?

Where did Elxis travel in May? Elxis’s team traveled thousands of kilometers in total. With offices in Thessaloniki, Crete, and The Netherlands, and a network ...
Rhodes for Americans Images
BlogRegional Guides

Top Areas in Greece For Americans: Rhodes (Feat. VagabondJourney)

Why should I buy a home in Rhodes if I’m American? How does it rank compared to other destinations in Greece for me? In this ...
Stella and Stamatis
BlogLifestyle

Sailing Greece: A Tour of Milos on a Traditional Wooden Boat

Want to sail the Greek islands on a traditional sailing ship? Maybe you like being in boats, but you don’t want to buy your own? ...

Compare Listings

Receive the latest news

Stay informed on the latests market insights, updates, tips and more

We’ll send you our best articles, expert insights and newest listings.​