Our traditional Greek Fried Cheese Saganaki is paired with a spicy red pepper tomato chutney for an irresistible treat. A golden crust reveals warm melted gruyere cheese, topped with sweet chutney. It is the perfect appetizer.

This delicious recipe is ready in 45 minutes.

Pair it with other great Greek appetizers such as roasted tomato & olives on pita bread, a traditional Greek salad, and crispy Greek fries.

Greek fried cheese saganaki with chutney with arugula leaves and a spoon with chutney on a plate.

Why this recipe sings

  • It is delicious. Our mushroom stew recipe is based on the classic Greek stifado-red wine beef stew.
  • It is easy. The whole dish has a quick prep and the cooking takes about 40 minutes.
  • It is versatile. This mushroom stew can be served over mashed potatoes or polenta for a main course and the leftovers are terrific as a sauce next to a protein.

Here is what you need

Ingredients for saganaki with tomato pepper chutney on a butcher block.

For the cheese crust

  • Gruyere cheese. If you can access a Greek market, get graviera cheese, the equivalent of Swiss gruyere. Aim to get a cheese that is not too salty. I always get a block of cheese and cut in ½ inch thick pieces. You can also use pecorino romano, kefalotyri cheese, or any other semi-hard cheese you like. Be aware of the salt content of the cheese. Pecorino and kefalotyri tend to be very salty.
  • All-purpose flour, eggs, and bread crumbs. I only use two egg whites lightly beaten but you can use one whole egg lightly beaten if you prefer.

For the chutney

  • Tomatoes. When out of season, I always use Campari tomatoes. They have a great flavor, similar to a Greek tomato.
  • Red and orange bell peppers. For their sweet flavor.
  • Habanero peppers. For a “fruity” heat. Seeded and diced fine (removing seeds reduces heat). The Scotch bonnet pepper is an ideal substitute. For a milder result, the rocotillo pepper is excellent.
  • Sweet onion. Pick a medium size, peeled and diced small. You only need about a cup.
  • White wine vinegar. For a tangy flavor. You can substitute it with apple cider vinegar.
  • Brown sugar. Replace with regular white sugar in a pinch.
  • Μolasses. The sweet syrup comes from refining sugarcane or sugar beets into sugar. The Greek version is a grape syrup that we call it petimezi.
  • Fresh ginger. You can substitute with ground ginger.
  • Ground cloves and cumin. For extra zing and flavor.
  • Rum. Just two tablespoons. You can substitute it with bourbon or whiskey. Totally optional.

For frying

I always use light olive oil like Bertolli. You can use canola oil or your go-to vegetable oil instead.

IMPORTANT NOTE

It is advisable to make the chutney first and follow with the fried cheese. Saganaki cheese should be served immediately, it is best when consumed almost right out of the skillet!

You can serve fried cheese on its own, without the chutney. Add a couple of lemon wedges on the plate to drizle lemon juice right before you take a bite!

Greek fried cheese saganaki with chutney with arugula leaves on a plate. At the back, utensils and a cloth napkin.

How to make Greek fried cheese saganaki

Prepare the cheese for frying.

Put the flour, egg whites, and bread crumbs separately in 3 shallow dishes. 

A piece of cheese in flour.
Dip each piece of cheese into the flour, then shake off the excess.
A piece of cheese in egg white.
Next, run the cheese through the egg white to coat it lightly.
A piece of cheese in breadcrumbs.
Finally, lay the cheese in the bread crumbs, turn it over, and press it into the breading to coat—Lay the piece on parchment paper while you prepare the rest.
Two pieces of cheese frying in olive oil.
Place a frying pan over medium to high heat.  Add some light olive oil.
Fry beaded cheese evenly on all sides until it gets golden for about 1 minute per side.

Detailed measurements and instructions can be found on the recipe card at the bottom of the page.

Three pieces of saganaki, greek fried cheese with arugula leaves and chutney on a plate, a fork on a table.

Make the chutney

Diced vegetables in a pot to make tomato chutney.

Dice the tomatoes, bell peppers, and sweet onion.

Place the diced bell peppers, tomatoes, habanero peppers, and onion in a large pot except for the molasses and rum. Add the minced ginger, cumin, and ground cloves and stir gently to combine.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. After it has come to a boil, put the lid on, but keep it ajar with a few inches of opening for steam to escape. Allow mixture to boil quite rapidly for about 30 minutes. Don’t stir.

After 30 minutes, add the molasses and rum and stir to combine.

Let the chutney boil uncovered for 5 to 15 minutes, or as long as the liquid is reduced to the desired level. Remove from heat and set aside.

A small bowl with tomato pepper chutney and a spoon.

How to enjoy this saganaki

Saganaki is a great appetizer and can also be very rich. One piece of fried cheese is more than enough for one person. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule! On a plate, serve one generous tablespoon of the chutney, set one piece of the saganaki on top, and add some arugula leaves.

You can also sprinkle arugula leaves on a platter and arrange the saganaki pieces on top. Serve family-style with a bowl of chutney on the side.

Side dishes for cheese saganaki

Cheese saganaki is a must dish to order at a taverna in Greece. It pairs well with other dishes, like a Greek tomato salad, crispy fries, fried calamari, keftedes-meatballs, fried zucchini and eggplant, and meats like pork skewers and roasted chicken.

Saganaki facts

What is saganaki?

Saganaki (σαγανάκι) is a traditional Greek appetizer of fried cheese. The cheese is melted in a small frying pan until it is bubbling and generally served with lemon juice and pepper.

What is flaming saganaki?

There is a flaming version of saganaki exclusive to North American restaurants. The fried cheese is flambéed at the table and the flames are put out with lemon juice. This originated in 1968 at the Parthenon restaurant in Chicago’s Greektown.

What kind of cheese to use for saganaki

The cheese used in saganaki is usually graviera, kasseri, kefalotyri, or feta cheese. Regional variations include formaela cheese in Arachova, halloumi in Cyprus, and vlahotiri in Metsovo. 

Is there a seafood saganaki?

Yes, there is! Shrimp saganaki is divine, and it is feta-based in a lovely tomato sauce. Similarly cooked is a mussel saganaki.

A big thanks to averiecooks.com for the excellent inspiration for the chutney.

You may also like

Check out my Greek pantry staples 

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Three pieces of saganaki, greek fried cheese with arugula leaves and chutney on a plate.

Greek Fried Cheese Saganaki

by Jenny | The Greek Foodie
This Greek saganaki with melted warm gruyere cheese and topped with sweet and spicy tomato red pepper chutney is ready in only 45 minutes!
5 from 10 votes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Greek
Servings 8
Calories 330 kcal

Equipment

  • Skillet for frying
  • Medium saucepan

Ingredients
  

  • 1.5 lb block of Gruyere cheese cut in ½ inch thick pieces
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 egg whites beaten

For the chutney

  • cups white wine vinegar
  • cups brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 bell peppers diced. Can be red, orange, or yellow.
  • cups tomatoes diced
  • 2 habanero peppers seeded and diced fine (removing seeds reduces heat)
  • 1 sweet onion medium size, peeled and diced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons rum optional

For serving

  • 1 cup arugula leaves

For frying the cheese

  • 2-3 tablespoons light olive oil or a neutral vegetable oil

Instructions
 

Make the chutney

  • Dice the tomatoes, bell peppers, and sweet onion.
  • Place the diced bell peppers, tomatoes, habanero peppers, and onion in a large pot. Add the minced ginger, cumin, ground cloves, stir gently to combine.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. After it has come to a boil, put the lid on but keep it ajar with a few inches of opening for the steam to escape. Allow it to boil quite rapidly for about 30 minutes. Don't stir.
  • After 30 minutes, add the molasses and rum, and stir to combine.
    Let chutney boil uncovered for 5 to 15 minutes, or as long as the liquid has reduced to the desired level. Remove from heat and set aside.

Fry the cheese

  • Put the flour, egg whites, and bread crumbs separately in 3 shallow dishes. Dip each piece of cheese into the flour, then shake off the excess.
    Next, run the cheese through the egg white to coat it lightly.
    Finally, lay the cheese in the bread crumbs, turn it over and press it into the breading to coat—Lay the piece on parchment paper while you prepare the rest of the pieces.
  • Heat a skillet over medium to high heat.  Add two tablespoons of light olive oil. Add the breaded gruyere and fry evenly on all sides until it gets a nice golden color for about 1 minute on each side.

Serving suggestion

  • On a plate, serve one generous of the chutney, set 1 piece of the saganaki on top, and add some arugula leaves.

Notes

  • It is advisable to make the chutney first and follow with the fried cheese. Saganaki cheese should be served immediately, it is best when consumed almost right out of the skillet!
  • You can serve fried cheese on its own, without the chutney. Add a couple of lemon wedges on the plate to drizle lemon juice right before you take a bite!
  • Replace the brown sugar with regular white sugar. I have not tried stevia or coconut sugar, so I don’t recommend it.
  • Habanero peppers, scotch bonnet pepper, and rocotillo pepper are excellent in this recipe.
  •  You can substitute grated fresh ginger with ground ginger.
  • For frying, I prefer using light olive oil like this Bertolli. Of course, you can use canola oil or your go-to vegetable oil instead.
 
Nutritional Info – Please remember that the nutritional information provided is only an estimate and can vary based on the products used.

Nutrition

Calories: 330kcalCarbohydrates: 66gProtein: 6gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 135mgPotassium: 398mgFiber: 3gSugar: 42gVitamin A: 1251IUVitamin C: 48mgCalcium: 90mgIron: 3mg
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Greek Fried Cheese Saganaki

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5 from 10 votes

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Recipe Rating




19 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This saganaki is the perfect appetizer! You can’t go wrong with melty, cheesy goodness, and the chutney adds such an incredible flavor.

  2. 5 stars
    I am in love with this appetizer. It’s perfect for any winter party. I also like the sound of a mussels saganaki!

  3. 5 stars
    For the new years, me and my husband always go to my in-laws house. We all bring an appetizer and we just eat appetizers until midnight. This looks like the perfect thing to bring this year, thanks so much for the recipe!! 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    This looks amazing, it reminds me of this fried cheese we used to make when I was a kid back in Czech Republic. Definitely saving the recipe for later!

  5. 5 stars
    You had me at fried cheese and the chutney sealed the deal! This looks so good! Perfect over a bed of salad greens. Absolutely delish!

  6. 5 stars
    This was the first time I had served it, but it was a hit. Everyone loved it. The chutney was perfect! I’ll be making this again.