Salads

Authentic Greek Salad

Juicy red tomatoes, crisp cucumber, sharp onion, olive oil and of course … feta. The one and only famous authentic Greek Salad also known as Village Salad and in Greek: Horiatiki. This is the real thing, do not accept imitations of so-called “Greek Salads”. Straight from Greece this salad is full of flavor, nutrients and the goodness of summer produce!

Photo of a Greek salad (tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, onion and olives) with feta cheese

The Greek salad is one of the most popular and well-known Greek dishes outside and inside Greece. Greeks love the horiatiki, which means village in Greek. In the summer months it is present on most Greek tables at home and at the tavernes.

The basic Greek salad is made with tomato, cucumber, olive oil, olives and feta and there are variations around Greece. For example on the islands another white soft cheese is used instead of feta cheese and in Crete there is the well-known dakos; tomato and feta (or other local white cheese) piled on a large barley rusk that has been soaked with a bit of water and olive oil.

Before we go on with the recipe, we need to make some clarifications and correct some misconceptions.

How to Make the Best Greek Salad

Here are some rules of the Greek salad:

  • There is no lettuce or any other leafy greens in the salad.
  • The salad is not mixed before it is served.
  • The feta cheese is not cut in cubes but rather a large piece is placed on top of the salad.
  • The tomato and cucumber should be cut in fairly large pieces not small cubes.
  • There is no red pepper in the traditional Greek salad.
  • Olives are added whole not sliced.
  • The salad is served with bread, not pita.
  • The salad is served in a shallow bowl; do not serve it in a deep bowl.
  • Use the best ingredients. As with most simple dishes, the horiatiki needs excellent ingredients. Make sure you have extra virgin olive oil, in season ripe tomatoes, juicy Greek Kalamata olives, good fragrant oregano and real feta (Greek) cheese…
  • Some folks here in Greece do not add vinegar. Vinegar is added  due to the cucumber (mostly in homemade Greek salads). The women in my family added it, but for an outside resource you can check the Tselementes cookbook (a classic and one of the first widespread Greek cookbooks) also mentions vinegar.

Greek Salad Ingredients

Photo of a Greek salad (tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, onion and olives) with feta cheese

The ingredients that go on the Greek salad are basic but they must be in season and good quality

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Get the best and freshest olive oil you can get your hands on
  • Ripe tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Red Onion
  • Green Bell Pepper
  • Kalamata olives (do not use those black canned olives- California style), they have a completely different flavor and are not processed naturally.
  • Greek Feta Cheese. Real feta is Greek and is acknowledged as that by the European Commission. Check out this post on how to buy good feta and what good feta should look like and taste like. 
  • Dry Oregano
  • Red wine vinegar

Greek Salad Dressing

So you want to know how to make a dressing for the Greek Salad? It is super easy. You actually do not make any dressing beforehand, you just drizzle extra virgin olive oil on the salad and a bit of vinegar. Some Greek actually only add olive oil! So just to clarify: a traditional authentic Greek salad does not have any type of dressing like the ones I see on various online recipes: there is no mustard, no lemon and definitely no garlic.

If you do want to make the dressing separately , you can make it as follows:

In a jar mix 3 parts olive oil, 1 part red wine vinegar

How to eat a Greek salad

1. With your fork break the big chunk of feta.

A traditional Greek salad made with tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, pepper, onion and feta in a white bowl

2. With your fork grab a piece of feta, a tomato and whatever else you can manage and eat it.

A traditional Greek salad made with tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, pepper, onion and feta in a white bowl.

3. If you want to be polite you can spoon out a serving on your plate, but the beauty of the Greek salad is that it is best consumed directly from the serving plate. That way you have a choice of the different combinations you can eat with your fork; tomato and feta or cucumber, pepper and olive? The combinations are endless. Why limit yourself to a small serving on your plate? I personally cannot enjoy a Greek salad if I can’t just eat it directly from the serving dish.

4. If you’re really comfortable with the other people at the table, grab a chunk of bread (with your fork-unless you are alone) and dip it in the leftover mixture of olive oil, juices from the tomato and crumbles of the feta.

Greek salad (tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, onion and olives) with feta cheese #salad #Greek #Mediterranean #summer

What to Serve with a Greek Salad

The Greek salad is a meal in itself; vegetables, healthy fats, protein from the cheese, it’s got you covered. You do not have to necessarily have to serve it with anything. I often have for lunch with a Cretan barley rusk or some whole grain bread. Having said that, in the summer in Greek homes a Greek salad is served almost everyday with whatever food has been prepared that day, with the exception of vegetable casseroles. For example pasta is always served with a Greek salad in the summer, same goes for any type of meat or fish.

Nutritional Value

Juicy red tomatoes, crisp cucumber, sharp onion, olive oil and of course … feta. I love the horiatiki salad, because it is healthy and almost decadent at the same time, just like most Greek food.

The horiatiki salad that usually serves as an appetizer, can be an excellent main course, especially in the summer. After a day on the beach, a horiatiki salad accompanied with some crusty bread and a glass of wine hits the spot. But this salad is not only about looks, it has substance too. Rich in fiber and antioxidants due to a combination of tomato, onion and olive oil. Feta cheese is the perfect complement, providing the necessary protein. How many calories? A whole horiatiki salad will provide you with about 600 calories, 100% of your daily vitamin C needs, and 50% of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) and vitamin B2.

Authentic Greek Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Category: appetizer, salad

Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean

Yield: 3

Serving Size: 1/3 of the salad

Calories per serving: 200

Authentic Greek Salad

An authentic recipe for the famous Greek Salad: Summer tomatoes, crisp cucumber, sharp onion, green peppers, Kalamata olives, olive oil and of course feta make up this famous summer salad.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tomatoes
  • 1 medium cucumber,
  • 5-6 Greek (Kalamata) black olives
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1/2 small green bell pepper
  • 1 chunk of feta about 2 to 3 ounces,
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Oregano
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Cut the tomato in wedges-do not cut in cubes. If the tomato is large cut wedges in half.
  2. Peel the cucumber and cut in slices that are about ½ inch thick, you may cut the rounds in half.
  3. Slice onion and green bell pepper in thin slices.
  4. Put tomatoes and cucumbers in a shallow bowl and combine. Place the thinly sliced onion and pepper
  5. on top. Add the olives. Sprinkle with oregano.
  6. Drizzle with some olive oil and a splash of vinegar.* Add some salt to taste.
  7. Place a piece of feta on top and sprinkle the feta with oregano and another drizzle of olive oil.

Notes

* You can also add capers. * I do not usually measure out the oil, but if you are, just use the ratio 2:1 for the olive oil and vinegar. Don’t skimp on the olive oil, you don’t want it to be drowning in it but the salad should be coated in the oil.

SAVE THE RECIPE FOR LATER AND PIN IT!

Authentic Traditional Greek Salad. Get the recipe for this Greek salad straight from Greece! Yummy summer veggies drizzled with olive oil and topped with feta? #salad #Greek #Mediterranean #summer

Photos by Elena Paravantes All Rights Reserved

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52 Comments

  • Reply Katie July 15, 2019 at 7:56 pm

    This has to be the best salad I’ve ever tasted!!! I was waiting to make it until I could find authentic feta (in grocery stores near me most is just a cow’s milk version). I finally found it and made this today and it was so good!

  • Reply The Complete Guide to The Authentic Mediterranean Diet | Olive TomatoOlive Tomato June 27, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    […] large Greek salad with an olive oil salad dressing and feta and whole grain bread. You may accompany this with a […]

  • Reply Munzer Qaddourah March 22, 2019 at 9:27 pm

    Last summer while in the Greek islands, we ate this Greek salad daily for 3 weeks. And now we make it at home in the US all the time, delicious!

  • Reply Food Ideas for New Parents | Girl Meets Party November 19, 2018 at 1:19 am

    […] Greek Village Salad (Horiatiki) […]

  • Reply 19 delicious ways to use feta cheese May 3, 2018 at 5:38 am

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  • Reply Greek Style Nachos with Spicy Whipped Feta | Olive Tomato January 17, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    […] with olive oil and topped with tomatoes, feta cheese and capers. 2. We use ingredients from the traditional Greek salad (tomatoes, capers, olives, onions). 3. We top it with a traditional Greek dip known as tirokafteri […]

  • Reply Tsambika K. December 18, 2017 at 5:31 am

    My mother was from Chania, Crete and I was born in Rhodes. I love visiting my family in Crete and the food! I laugh when I see lettuce in “Greek” salads. I have my family’s olive oil shipped where I live in Louisiana and always bring back plenty of herbs. They taste Greek! Unfortunately, I have to search for feta in slabs but when I find it, I’m in Heaven.

    • Reply Elena December 18, 2017 at 7:34 am

      What a nice story, thank you for sharing! Good, aromatic herbs make the difference.

  • Reply The Mediterranean Diet and Your Teen - A Step by Step Guide November 6, 2017 at 2:05 pm

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  • Reply Greek Island Summer Salad | Olive Tomato July 24, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    […] The nice thing is that it is vegan, there is no cheese in it. As much as I love the traditional Greek salad and I really love cheese, sometimes it’s good to just enjoy the vegetables with some olive oil. I […]

  • Reply Ivan W Chan July 18, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    Thank you for this! I love this recipe and the rules. (I use lemon juice instead of vinegar, I hope that’s okay.)

  • Reply 5 Epic Mediterranean Salads You'll Love - Olive TomatoOlive Tomato July 13, 2017 at 7:54 am

    […] simple recipe, details are important: fresh produce, good olive oil, no lettuce and no lemon. Click here to get the authentic […]

  • Reply Steve June 23, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    I love Greek food. Why did I have to born Irish? Lol!

  • Reply Amy June 6, 2017 at 2:07 am

    Made this last night and it is now my new go-to salad for work. My daughter and husband loved it too but had to leave out the onions for them. I’ve tried many Greek salads and this has to be the best one I’ve had.

  • Reply Ken Wightman June 3, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    I see my heart and stroke specialist this month (June). I’m going to tell him about your site and your recipes. I believe many of your food suggestions sync up beautifully with my doctor’s approach to healthy eating. I’m going to encourage him to post something on the waiting room bulletin board telling about your site and with tear-away tabs at the bottom carrying your Internet address.

    You are posting great stuff.

    • Reply Elena June 22, 2017 at 6:06 am

      Thank you so much Ken! Hope your appointment went well.

  • Reply Jeff January 25, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    Is it always vinegar, and not that mainstay of Greek cooking, lemon? A good, authentic tzaziki recipe would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  • Reply Eleni January 18, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    FINALLYYY!!!!!THE REAL RECIPEEEE!WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU AMERICANS?WE NEVER CONFUSE YOUR DISHES EVEN IF THEY ARE COMPLICATED!!!!!!FINALLLY!!!!THANKS FOR UPLOADING THIS!

  • Reply Clarence November 23, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    A Greek salad with no lettuce? I’ve been doing it wrong for years. Thanks for educating us all.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD December 5, 2015 at 7:48 am

      Thanks Clarence.

  • Reply Scott K. November 8, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    File this under sacreligious: I will add avocado to my horiatiki. Don’t knock it until you try it. I call it my California Greek Salad.

    I also use heirloom tomatoes whenever possible, and hothouse cukes. Never lettuce, only kalamatas for me. I’ve been to Greece twice, and I’ll make a complete meal of horiatiki, hummus, and spanakopita.

    My other favorite salad is heirloom tomato with avocado, sprinkled with white balsamic vinegar, sometimes with onion. Simple and delicious, no oil necessary.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD November 21, 2015 at 7:38 am

      Scott,
      Avocado is great, and it is a great combo with tomato. Just clarifying what a “Greek” salad really is.

  • Reply Cabbage and Carrot Greek Winter Salad | Olive Tomato October 29, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    […] all have heard of the famous Greek Salad know as horiatiki in Greek. It is basically a salad with tomatoes, cucumber, feta and some other […]

  • Reply Yianni May 9, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Right on the money! I don’t add salt in my Greek salad though. The capers provide the sodium. I guess for those in salt sensitive diet it works. Oh and for those who want to add a different type of cheese other than feta, Myzithra is a good choice.

  • Reply stabros lazarakis March 18, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    i prepare my salad in a bowl, all the ingridients except feta, properly seasoned and leave those sit for 15 to 30 minutes at room temperature (olives brings out their flavour, cucumber, onions and peppers ‘cook’ a bit in the acid and tomatoes drain a bit of water and oil transfers all flavours in vegetables of oregano and dill ,that i use to add..) than i fill up my huge plate (i have a plate reserved just for horiatiki) adding feta more oregano and a waterfall of green gold Elaklion oil (of my production) that’s it…haven…and if u want to exaggerate, let the salad rest with some paxamadi crumbled in it before serving! (i have to stop…i’m gonna eating the screen)

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD March 22, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Sounds good Stabros!

  • Reply UC August 25, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    I loved this recipe! As a typical foreigner, I had never reacted to restaurant “Greek Salads” served with lettuce and cubed Feta cheese … After tasting the true version, I rather spend my money on really fresh organic ingredients and make this at home instead of eating a fake version at a restaurant. Thanks so much for educating me!

  • Reply Nick July 27, 2014 at 7:23 am

    I make it with red onion, cucumbers(same amount of slices as tomatoes), tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta, olive oil and a touch of vinegar, salt and pepper.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD July 27, 2014 at 8:51 am

      Thanks Nick for your version

  • Reply Elena Paravantes RD June 6, 2014 at 6:40 am

    Thanks for your comment. In some versions, green pepper is optional (I note that additional options in the recipe), but yes in the restaurants green crunchy pepper is always present.

  • Reply Gluten-Free | Greek Salad and Homemade Greek Dressing | Inventing Me May 5, 2014 at 4:29 am

    […] a few other traditional rules too if you want to make it really authentic, you can read about them here. Plus, once you realize how easy, and really cheap, it is to make your own Greek salad dressing, […]

  • Reply Elena Paravantes RD April 8, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Thank you for your tips Evangelos! Exactly, that is why I clarify that there are no red peppers 🙂 Although I may disagree with you on the olives, although I love kalamon, have tasted wonderful Greek salads from other Greek olive varieties.

  • Reply evangelos mitsakos April 8, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Hi Elena
    just a few observations about Greek salad
    1.there are green peppers
    2.onion has to be red
    3.olives have to be kalamata olives

    thanks

    • Reply Vasiliki June 4, 2018 at 10:20 am

      I like kalamatta olives

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  • Reply Jan July 8, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Just had a fantastic 10 days in Greece. Greek salads uniformly great although in Athens they did add lettuce — but very little

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD July 9, 2013 at 5:53 am

      Thanks for sharing Jan.

    • Reply Little Cooking Tips June 5, 2014 at 11:03 am

      It was probably a modernized version Jan:) We really don’t add lettuce in Athens:)

  • Reply Study Says Tomatoes May Protect From Depression | Olive Tomato January 9, 2013 at 2:08 pm

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  • Reply artemis June 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Lovely blog! Though I have to say I have never heard of a horiatiki with vinegar. The secret is to salt the tomatoes and let them sit for a few minutes (10-20) before finishing the salad. The salt brings out the tomato’s juices and is all of the acid you need.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD June 7, 2012 at 5:18 pm

      Thank you Artemis. Nice tip! The vinegar is added for the cucumber.

  • Reply Maria May 7, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    I love the Greek salad just like you describe it. Don’t understand why one gets it so often with lettuce in other parts of the world! And with sun-warm tomatoes makes the best. Thanks for sharing!
    Maria

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD May 8, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      Thanks Maria! You’re right, the tomatoes are the secret to its success.

    • Reply Lorna September 22, 2012 at 1:29 am

      It is a filler not as expensive

    • Reply Breffni April 19, 2016 at 3:24 am

      I have lost 25 pounds in 3 months having early dinners of hiriotiki salad as main course almost every night

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