This simple Greek salad is packed with fresh tomatoes, crisp cucumber, salty feta cheese, and briny olives, inspired by a trip to Santorini.
After our recent trip to Santorini, Greece — there couldn’t be a better inspiration to take home than the ubiquitous Greek salad. It’s no joke: nearly every restaurant we encountered in Greece serves this salad! And in the hot Grecian sun, there’s not much that tastes more refreshing than the combination of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, Kalamata olives, and salty feta. While in Greece, we learned a bit about how an authentic Greek salad is made. Keep reading for all our “secrets.”
How to make Greek salad…the Greek way
There are lots of versions of Greek salad here in America; some of them are not so “authentic”. First of all: Greek salad isn’t served with lettuce! I grew up thinking that Greek salad was a romaine lettuce-based salad served with sliced black olives and a few feta crumbles. Oh, and usually some bad tomatoes too. Not in Greece!
In Greece, Greek salad is a big pile of tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and Kalamata olives (no lettuce) with a big block of feta on top. Sometimes you’ll find green pepper in the mix. It’s typically then drizzled with olive oil and just a little red wine vinegar, then sprinkled with some dried oregano!
For our version of the classic salad, we’ve indicated to crumble or cut the feta into cubes. While it’s traditional to serve the feta in a big block on top that’s broken with a fork, we find it’s easier to serve it to multiple people with the cheese broken. But feel free to go with your preference!
How to serve Greek salad
I have a confession to make: I am a former tomato hater. Perhaps you know one, or are one yourself. Those pink, out-of-season tomatoes from my youth turned me off until I was nearly a quarter of a century old. It wasn’t until I discovered ripe, red local farmer’s market tomatoes that I was able to overcome my distaste. If you’re on the fence or have been looking to work up the courage on tomatoes, this Greek salad with some ripe summer tomatoes is a great place to start.
Often, we’ll eat this Greek salad as a side-dish for a grilled meal on the patio in the summer, or bring it out first as an appetizer. It’s also tasty as a simple lunch with some crusty bread and olive oil. Alex and I made this version with local tomatoes and cucumbers, and it was divine.
Ways to switch up this Greek salad
There are numerous variations on the salad (like our recipe for shepherd’s salad). Some Greek salad recipes are made with green pepper, or a block of feta instead of crumbled. As we mention below, you can also add capers. Feel free to switch up this Greek salad as much as you’d like — skip the olives if you’re not a fan, or use cherry tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes. It’s easily customizable to your tastes
Looking for more Greek recipes?
Outside of this Greek salad, here are a few more recipes inspired by our trip to Greece:
- Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt Cucumber Dip)
- Baked Feta with Tomatoes
- Mediterranean Quinoa Salad Bowl
- Baklava Cups
- Mediterranean Bulgur Salad (Tabbouleh)
- Greek Pita Sandwiches
- Whole Grain Homemade Pita Bread
- Greek Pizza
- Our Favorite Greek-Inspired Dishes, from Tzatziki to to Souvlaki | Bon Appetit
This recipe is…
This Greek salad is vegetarian and gluten-free.Print
This simple Greek salad is packed with fresh tomatoes, crisp cucumber, salty feta cheese, and briny olives. A real taste of the Mediterranean!
- 4 large ripe tomatoes
- 1/2 large red onion
- 2 large cucumbers
- 1 cup Kalamata olives
- 4 ounces high quality feta cheese: crumbled, cut into squares, or in a block (Greek feta, if you can find it!)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons capers (optional)
- Kosher salt
- Chop the tomatoes into rough chunks; remove and discard the seeds. Place the tomatoes in a large bowl and add a few pinches of kosher salt.
- Thinly slice 1/2 red onion. Peel alternating strips from the cucumbers, making a striped pattern with the peel (alternatively, remove the peel entirely). Cut the cucumbers in half and use a spoon to remove the seeds; then, cut them into ½-inch pieces.
- In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, red onion, and cucumbers with 1 cup Kalamata olives, 4 ounces feta cheese crumbles, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar. If desired, add 2 tablespoons drained capers and 1 teaspoon dried oregano. Gently mix to combine.
- Serve immediately, or let sit at room temperature for several minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
- Category: Salad
- Method: Raw
- Cuisine: Greek
Keywords: Greek salad
About the Authors
Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Cookbook Author and photographer
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.