14 Old-School Recipes Your Greek Grandma Used to Make

If you’ve ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you know that Greeks show their love with food (not to mention Windex). And if you grew up with a genuine Greek yia yia, you definitely experienced it firsthand—with steaming plates of moussaka and bowls of lemon-chicken soup when you were sick. She probably taught you all her secrets, but if not, here are 14 classic recipes that would make her proud. 

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1. Spanakopita

We live for the flaky layers of phyllo dough, creamy spinach and salty feta in this savory pie. Phyllo dough can be a little tricky, but plenty of melted butter (don’t twist our arms) keeps it soft and pliable.

2. Pork Souvlaki With Lemon Rice

This tangy, herby marinade is great on just about any meat. But we like to follow Coterie member Heidi Larsen’s lead and use a lean pork tenderloin for an easy, healthy meal.

3. Greek Pastitsio

Think of pastitsio as Greek lasagna—endless layers of pasta, meat sauce, and a creamy béchamel. It’s comfort food at its finest. 

4. Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

No one makes a classic lemony chicken soup like our yia yia. But this one—loaded with white beans and plenty of veggies—is a pretty good substitute on a cold day. 

5. Authentic Greek Salad

Basically every Greek meal begins with this classic salad, and with good reason—it’s the textbook balance of crunch and brine. There are a thousand imitations, but this is one that yia yia would recognize (note: there’s not a leaf of lettuce in sight).

6. Rustic Eggplant Moussaka

This probably isn’t a project to tackle on a weeknight—it takes a few hours and most of the bowls in your cabinet. But we promise, the end result is totally worth it.

7. Oven Roasted Lemon Greek Potatoes

Our yia yia served these flavor-packed potatoes with just about everything—they’re scrumptious with chicken, fish or lamb. The secret? Marinating the little spuds in olive oil, chicken broth, lemon juice and plenty of spices before you roast.

8. Panko Crusted Fish With Tzatziki

We love all the textural contrasts in this recipe—flaky fish, crispy panko coating and a dollop of creamy tzatziki, of course. Coterie member Katie Workman is welcome to be our surrogate grandma any day. 

9. Creamy Feta Dip With Jalapenos

Forget hummus; this is our new party dip of choice. Serve with some toasted pita triangles and thank us later.

10. Greek Lemon Chicken Skewers With Tzatziki

We’d rather be eating these on a beach in the motherland. But if that’s not possible, they make a pretty quick and healthy weeknight dinner.

11. Instant Pot Shrimp With Tomatoes And Feta

Our grandma used to make this classic dish in the oven, but we think she’d approve of the Instant Pot version (especially since it’s ready in less than a half hour). Serve over rice, or with a side of crusty bread.

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12. Vegan Tzatziki

Tzatziki is a total staple of Greek food. It goes with just about anything. So we’re particularly thankful to have a dairy-free version available. It might not taste exactly like yia yia’s, but it definitely eases the craving. 

13. Greek Style Lamb Roasted Gyros

Fun fact: The gyros in Greece are actually stuffed with French fries. We recommend doing the same—but either way, the feta, pickled red onions and paprika tzatziki are non-negotiable.

14. Baklava Pie

Our yia yia never forgot about dessert, and neither do we. This pie has everything we love about baklava: plenty of honey, chopped nuts and a crispy phyllo dough crust.