Greek winter dishes
Kotosoupa or chicken soup (Credit: Mao Soria on Pixabay)

15 best traditional Greek winter dishes

Embrace the colder weather and keep weeknight dinners exciting even when you're stuck inside

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Winter in Greece is the perfect opportunity to visit mountain villages covered in blankets of snow and enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, trekking, skiing, snowboarding. The fresh air and low temperatures will definitely whet your appetite for a comforting and filling Greek winter dish wherever you choose to travel. Hearty soups replace light summertime salads, and a whole host of different seasonal products begin to appear. Here is a list of 15 Greek flavorful dishes to warm your body and soul and fill your tummy on cold winter days. They are all simple, delicious and have great nutritional value thanks to their vitamin-rich ingredients. There are different variations throughout Greece and never go out of fashion.

1. Kotosoupa

A classic Greek soup, kotosoupa (chicken soup) is made basically with chicken, which is boiled until tender, rice and plenty of egg-lemon sauce. It has a rich, velvety texture and is a restaurant staple as well as a home-cooked dish, ideal to keep away the cold. Make sure you use fresh, or as fresh as you can get, eggs and certainly fresh lemons.

2. Spetsofai

Spetsofai (Credit: Photo and cooking: Badseed, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

A traditional dish originating from Mt. Pelion in Thessaly region, where the local name for the pepper is “spenza”. It is popular in “hania,” or old mountain taverns that serve hearty rustic long-simmered dishes. Local country sausage (fresh beef or pork) is stewed in red peppers and tomatoes with spices. You replace regular peppers with hot paprika and red-hot chili peppers to make it spicier. Reach for some crusty bread to dip in.

3. Giouvarlakia

Giouvarlakia or meatballs soup (Credit: Biso, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

A juicy meatballs soup made with rice and minced beef, herbs and spices, finished off with a creamy egg-lemony (avgolemono) sauce has been served for generations.  There are many different versions of this warming and nourishing food all over the country with tomatoes, vegetables, and greens.

4. Trahanas soup

Trahana soup (Credit: Fabricio Macedo FGMsp on Pixabay )

Homely and humble, this ancient pebble-shaped dried food is based on a fermented mixture of grain-either semolina, wheat flour, bulgur, or cracked wheat- and yoghurt or fermented milk. It is usually made into a soup with water or milk. Some enjoy it even thicker with tomatoes and feta cheese.

5. Prasorizo

Prasorizo or leek rice (Credit: Andrzej 22, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Made with chopped leeks and rice and complemented with herbs such as fresh dill Prasorizo is creamy and  full of flavour. Optionally, you can add other vegetables like tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms or broccoli florets to make it more filling. The lemon juice at the end is a must. Rustic, comforting and full of nutritious goodness.

6. Lamb or pork fricassée 

Lamb fricassée (Credit: T2G Archive)

Fricassée is a French word but Nicolas Tselementes a famous Greek chef introduced French cuisine to the Greeks, at the beginning of the previous century.  Made with pork, lamb or even chicken, with lots of lettuce, aromatic herbs, celery and the infamous avgolemono sauce, this fricassée is made in the traditional Greek way. Instead of lettuce, you can use other greens like stamnaggathi (variety of wild chicory that grows on the mountains of the island Crete) and almyra greens (small shrub which grows close to areas with salt water). Greek vegetarian fricassée is cooked with mushrooms instead of meat.

7. Fasolada

Fasolada (Credit: Gordon Joly, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

This traditional soup is the national food of Greece. Its name (fasolada) comes from the word ‘fasoli’, meaning beans. Made with white beans, olive oil and veggies, such as tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery this hearty dish is enjoyed by people of all ages. Drizzle some Greek oregano over it and you have the perfect bowl of warmth and goodness. What was once considered “poor man’s food” has gained the respect that it deserves in modern times.

8. Revithosoupa

Chickpea soup (Credit: Weronika Krztoń on Unsplash)

Loaded with nutrients, a basic recipe for revithosoupa consists of chickpeas, onions, olive oil, and fresh lemon juice. You could add potato and carrots to further thicken the soup. Add celery, sage and thyme for extra flavour. Healthy and hearty, this soup pairs well with some crusty bread. It is one of the most popular dishes of the Greek islands.

9. Kakavia

Kakavia (Credit: Alexander Grebenkov, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Also known as “Greek Fisherman’s Soup” this ancient Greek dish it’s a broth with pieces of fish, potatoes, vegetables, olive oil, onions, and saffron. Kakavi is actually the name of the tripod vessel  that was used by fishermen to cook the fish that was too small to sell at the market. This traditional silky soup is very healthy because it includes lots of vegetables and herbs and is usually served with lemon on the side.

10. Lahanodolmades

Lahanodolmades (Credit: Zserghei, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Cabbage is in season in the colder months of the year and is used in dishes that are really loved. Lahanodolmades, are stuffed cabbage leaves with with a mixture of minced meat and rice, served with avgolemono sauce. The stuffing is usually flavored with oregano and mint. This is the winter version of stuffed grape leaves (dolmades).

11. Patsas

Greek winter dishes
Patsas is Greece’s favorite hangover food (Credit: Sacha47, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Greece’s favourite hangover food and one of Thessaloniki’s typical dishes, patsas is traditionally made from tripe (stomach lining), legs of pig or cow. Many also add pig intestines to the recipe while others prefer to use beef or lamb. Add salt, pepper, lemon, and sometimes red pepper and onion and you have a strong-smelling soup, rich in calories not for the faint-hearted. Patsas is sometimes topped with skordostoubi (a seasoning made with mashed garlic cloves and vinegar) or crushed chili flakes.

12. Kavourmas

Kavourmas (Credit: Clickatlife.gr)

Found mainly in Northern Greece, and especially in the region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, kavourmas is a meat dish similar to confit. The meat is usually pork, veal, buffalo, sheep or goat- slowly cooked with spices (allspice, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg) in fat and is preserved in it in a jar or formed into a log, sliced and eaten as a meze. It is perfect with eggs, as flavoring for vegetable stews, or with onions. Terrific as an accompaniment for ouzo.

13. Fava soup

Greek fava (Credit: I am the photographer and the chef!, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Often confused with fava beans (which are called “koukia”), what the Greeks call fava is actually yellow split pea. It is part of the local diet for millennia and still relevant in modern Greek cooking. It is usually served at room temperature as an appetiser or a side dish; however, it can also be served as a soup. Creamy, delicious and perfect for chilly evenings, this soup uses a few simple ingredients: yellow split peas, onion, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and lemon. Greek fava is produced in the Feneos in the region of Peloponnese, on the islands of Santorini, Limnos and Schinoussa, and in northern Greece, among other places.

14. Youvetsi

Giouvetsi (Credit: Greekoriginals.com)

Made of tender pieces of lamb (or beef) and pasta such as “kritharaki” (orzo), all cooked together in a tasty, aromatic tomato sauce, this iconic dish is simply packed with warmth and flavor. Other common ingredients include onions/shallots, garlic, and red wine. It is served with grated cheese.

15. Pites

Spanakopita or spinach pie (Credit: Alpha, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Never missing from the Greek winter table: Pites (pies), an easy appetizer to serve to guests! Made with layers of buttered handmade phyllo sheets and filled with feta cheese, mince meat, spinach, leeks, chicken, mushrooms, peppers, a variety of greens, etc Greek pies are some of the most famous dishes all year-round. Epirus is the most famous region for Greek pies.