What are the Differences Between Kefalotyri and Saganaki?

Last Updated on August 27, 2023 by Aaron

This article will discuss the differences between kefalotyri vs saganaki, two types of Greek cheese. Kefalotyri is a hard, salty sheep’s milk cheese.

Saganaki is an appetizer dish in which a small amount of the cheese is fried in a small frying pan with butter or olive oil, then it can be served either as-is or topped with lemon juice.

Is Kefalotyri the Same as Saganaki?

No, kefalotyri and saganaki are not the same. Kefalotyri is a hard, salty sheep’s milk cheese. It’s often used in making the saganaki due to its high melting point. It has a strong flavor and can be grated.

Saganaki is an appetizer dish in which the traditional way to make saganaki is by frying kefalotyri cheese in a pan until it’s golden brown on all sides. However, many cheeses can also be used for saganaki too. For example, kasseri cheese, kefalograviera, and graviera are all commonly used for saganaki.

Read here for 6 great kefalotyri cheese substitutes.

What Exactly is Kefalotyri Saganaki?

Kefalotyri saganaki is a popular grilled appetizer dish in Greece. The kefalotyri cheese used for this dish needs to be very dry and hard, otherwise, it will not hold up when being fried in the pan.

Generally, “Saganaki” refers to a Greek method of frying cheese. The term can also refer to the two-handled pan in which it’s typically cooked. So, “kefalotyri saganaki” would be a dish where kefalotyri cheese is fried using the saganaki method.

How to make Kefalotyri Saganaki:


  • Kefalotyri cheese, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (you can also use other Greek cheeses like kasseri or graviera)
  • Flour, for dredging
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  • Oregano (optional, for garnish)


  1. Prepare the Cheese: Start by cutting the kefalotyri cheese into slices, approximately 1/2-inch thick.
  2. Dredge in Flour: Lightly dredge each slice of cheese in flour, shaking off any excess.
  3. Fry the Cheese: Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a skillet or saganaki pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully place the floured cheese slices into the pan.
  4. Golden Brown Crust: Fry the cheese until a golden brown crust forms on the bottom, which usually takes about 1-2 minutes. Carefully flip the cheese slices and fry the other side until golden brown.
  5. Serve Immediately: Once cooked, remove the cheese from the pan and transfer it to a plate. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the top and sprinkle with a bit of oregano if desired. It’s best enjoyed while still warm.

Kefalotyri saganaki can be served as an appetizer or mezze, alongside other Greek dishes. The tangy taste of the lemon juice complements the salty and rich flavor of the fried cheese.

What does Kefalotyri Saganaki Taste Like?

kefalotyri saganaki is a delightful blend of salty, tangy, and rich flavors, complemented by the contrasting textures of its crispy crust and soft interior. The lemon juice cuts through the richness, balancing the dish and making it even more tantalizing.

Kefalotyri cheese itself is salty, tangy, and has a robust flavor thanks to the sheep or goat’s milk from which it’s made. When it’s fried, it takes on additional richness and a slightly nutty note from the frying process. The exterior crust provides a toasted, almost caramelized flavor.

If sprinkled with oregano or other herbs, there’s an additional layer of earthy or aromatic flavor.

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