The Best Authentic Greek Salad

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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!

Greek salad

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.
  • Typically green pepper is used 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

Greek salad (tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, onion and olives) with feta cheese #salad #Greek #Mediterranean #summer
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
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.
Course: Appetizer, Salad
Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean
Keyword: Greek Salad
Servings: 3
Calories: 200kcal
Author: Elena Paravantes
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  • Cut the tomato in wedges-do not cut in cubes. If the tomato is large cut wedges in half.
  • Peel the cucumber and cut in slices that are about ½ inch thick, you may cut the rounds in half.
  • Slice onion and green bell pepper in thin slices.
  • Put tomatoes and cucumbers in a shallow bowl and combine. Place the thinly sliced onion and pepper
  • on top. Add the olives. Sprinkle with oregano.
  • Drizzle with some olive oil and a splash of vinegar.* Add some salt to taste.
  • Place a piece of feta on top and sprinkle the feta with oregano and another drizzle of olive oil.


* You can also add capers.
* 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.
Nutrition Facts
Authentic Greek Salad
Serving Size
1 g
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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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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  1. Ken Wightman says:

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


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

  5. 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.

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

  6. 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.

  7. stabros lazarakis says:

    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)

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. evangelos mitsakos says:

    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


    1. I like kalamatta olives

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

    1. Little Cooking Tips says:

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

    1. It is a filler not as expensive

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