Greek Language Blog

Traditional Greek desserts Posted by on May 17, 2021 in Culture, Holidays, Vocabulary

Γεια σας! If you like sweets, this post is for you. The Greeks love sweets, generally speaking, and although we are as not famous for our ζαχαροπλαστική (confectionery), if you are a foodie with an avid appetite for sweets, they you will not disappoint you. There is a pastry shop in every neighborhood and nowadays chefs experiment with new trends, such as vegan ice-creams or minimal-style sweets. In this post, we will see traditional sweets, some of which are also eaten in other Balkan or Arabic or even Asian countries.

#1. Γλυκά σιροπιαστά ή γλυκά ταψιού

(σιροπιαστός means syrupy, ταψί means baking pan)

α. Γαλακτομπούρεκο (το): a sweet made of fyllo dough (φύλλο ) layers, a custard (κρέμα) filling and syrup (σιρόπι).

β. Μπακλαβάς (ο): it is eaten in Turkey and Arab countries. It contains fyllo dough layers, a filling of nuts (ξηρούς καρπούς) and syrup.

γ. Κανταΐφι (το) or κανταΐφι: made of kataifi dough, nuts and syrup (σιρόπι)

Φωτογραφία από martin miranda από το Pixabay


#2. Για κάθε μέρα (everyday treats)

Κουλουράκια (το κουλουράκι): probably the most famous treat. Κουλουράκια are made of dough, they can be soft or hard, with cinnamon (κανέλα), orange (πορτοκάλι), molasses (πετιμέζι), grape must (μούστος) and are made in a ring or braid shape. To some of us a κουλουράκι is the perfect match to Greek coffee.

Φωτογραφία από DanaTentis από το Pixabay

#3. Για πρωινό (for breakfast)

α. Τσουρέκι (το): the famous Easter bread. Although it is mostly eaten in Easter (Πάσχα), we enjoy it all year round. It comes from Armenia, or Turkey. Many people have it for breakfast with jam or a chocolate spread.

β. Μπουγάτσα (η): a savory or sweet pie from Θεσσαλονίκη (Thessaloniki). It consists of fyllo dough in layers and a custard and it is ideal if you want a sweet breakfast. Taste it sprinkled with powdered sugar (ζάχαρη άχνη) and cinnamon.


Φωτογραφία από Mirko Sajkov από το Pixabay


#4. Για το καλοκαίρι (for the summer, although they are eaten anytime)

α. Λουκουμάδες (ο λουκουμάς): a must-eat in summer. They are made of a fluffy dough, fried in oil. They are eaten with honey (μέλι) and cinnamon on top. Adding a scoop of ice-cream, απογειώνει τη γεύση! (“makes the taste get off the ground”, as we say in Greek).

β. Παγωτό καϊμάκι (το): an ice-cream full of aromas of salep (σαλέπι) and mastic (μαστίχα). It can be eaten plain or with γλυκό του κουταλιού or λουκουμάδες.

γ. Βανίλια (η) (υποβρύχιο): if you visited Greece in the 70’s or the 80’s, you probably know what υποβρύχιο is. Υποβρύχιο means submarine. It is a thick and soft mixture, which looks like a scoop of ice-cream. It consists of water, sugar and vanilla or mastic extract, although more ingredients can be added. We take a spoon of the mixture and put it in a glass of cold water. Since the mixture is not chewable, we lick it.

#5. Για τα Χριστούγεννα (for Christmas)

α. Δίπλες (η δίπλα): A crispy (τραγανό) dessert from Νότια Πελοπόννησος (southern Peloponnese, especially Kalamata) made of dough in rolls and honey . If you like Greek honey, you will love it!

β. Μελομακάρονο (το):from μέλι (honey). They look like cookies and they contain spices such as clove (γαρίφαλο) and cinnamon.

γ. Κουραμπιές (ο): oι κουραμπιέδες και τα μελομακάρονα are the traditional treats we make for Christmas. They contain a lot of butter (βούτυρο) and ανθόνερο (neroli water).


Άλλα γλυκά (Other desserts)

α. Χαλβάς (ο): an oriental dessert since it is consumed in Middle-Eastern countries, in Turkey, even in India. Τhere are three types of χαλβάς:

  • σιμιγδαλένιος: it’s basic ingredient is σιμιγδάλι (το) is semolina. It can contain spices such as clove and cinnamon, or orange juice or peelings (ξύσμα πορτοκαλιού).
  • Μακεδονικός χαλβάς (ο): it comes from Macedonia (Μακεδονία). It’s main ingredient is sesame paste (ταχίνι). It is a traditional sweet dessert eaten on Clean Monday (Καθαρή Δευτέρα).
  • Χαλβάς Φαρσάλων (ο): it comes from Farsala (Φάρσαλα), a city in (Thessaly). It is made in big copper pot (μπακιρένιο καζάνι) from experienced artisans. Its basic ingredient is νισεστές, a material similar to corn flour.


Φωτογραφία από yilmazfatih από το Pixabay

β. Παστέλι (το): a basic sweet dessert that can be eaten as snack. It is a bar made of sesame (σουσάμι) and honey.

γ. Γλυκά του κουταλιού (το γλυκό του κουταλιού, the sweet of the spoon, literally): It is made of boiled fruits and a thick syrup. Any fruit can make γλυκό του κουταλιού, especially those who are too bitter to be eaten, even vegetables, such as tomatoes (ντομάτες) and small eggplants (μελιτζανάκι). It needs experience in order to make an homogeneous syrup. It is delicious with Greek yogurt

Φωτογραφία από Mrdidg από το Pixabay

If you are a fan of Greek food, do this quiz posted last year.

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About the Author: Ourania

Ourania lives in Athens. She holds a degree in French Literature and a Master’s degree in Special Education for Children. Since 2008, she has been teaching Greek to foreigners.


  1. Alexandra:

    Καλημέρα, Ράνια!
    Όλα είναι πολύ νόστιμα!
    Great post for (not only) everyone who is going to visit Greece and to enjoy its wonderful cuisine.
    Εμένα μου αρέσει το γαλακτομπούρεκο και τρελαίνομαι για τον μπακλαβά. 🙂
    Καλή όρεξη σε όλους!
    Καλό καλοκαίρι, Ελλάδα!
    Thank you for this post, Rania. 🙂

    • Ourania:

      @Alexandra Ευχαριστώ, Αλεξάνδρα 🙂

  2. Carolyn:

    Here are two corrections for this wonderful article: #2. (Κουλουράκια) “A perfect much” should be “a perfect match” and…
    In the final sentence, “If you are a fun of Greek food” should be “if you are a fan of Greek food.”