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Greek Pastries in Crete

Greek Pastries Bougatsa (image by Savvas Limnatitis)

In Greece, the most delicious Greek pastries will be offered to you time and time again. This is true. Whether you are Greek or a visitor, that is one constant about life in Greece, you will be offered the most beautiful foods, including desserts. Make sure when you are eating your main meal, that you leave room for these special treats.

One of our favourites Bougatsa ~ Μπουγάτσα , is a pastry with custard served for breakfast in Crete. Any place that serves bougatsa for breakfast is a great place for us!

Are any of these Greek pastries really Greek? Well they were invented and eaten before nationalism was created, so we can’t really answer that question. We know however, that the most beautiful version of bougatsa is made by the zakaroplasteio in downtown Carlton in Sydney, no that’s not really true, but it runs a close second to those prepared in Iraklion, Kriti.

Mmmm...bougatsa…what can we say, it is crispy and creamy and vanillary and yummiest fresh and hot!

Greek Pastries
Recipe for Bougatsa

1 egg
1 egg yolk
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ cups whole milk
¼ cup semolina
½ cup butter
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
8-10 sheets filo pastry
½ cup melted butter
icing sugar

Fresh lemonFresh lemon in the garden in Crete

Beat the eggs until they are frothy then beat in the sugar until the mixture is thick and creamy, then let sit.

Heat the milk until hot. Do not boil. Remove from heat and gradually fold the milk into the egg mixture with the whisk. This is now your custard.

Set the custard on medium low heat and stirring constantly add the semolina.

Now cook on a low heat stirring constantly until thick and smooth, then fold in the butter. When completely mixed in, remove from heat and let sit until cooled, then stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest and the vanilla.

Preheat oven to 350oF

Brush each filo sheet with the melted butter before placing the custard on the lower third. Fold into a parcel roughly 15x10cm.

Fold right and left sides of filo towards centre. Brush sides with butter. Fold upper third down and brush with butter Your bougatsa will now look like a bursting envelope.

Place on a lightly buttered baking sheet. This recipe makes 7-9 envelopes. Brush the tops with butter and bake until golden brown for between 15 and 20 minutes.

Serve warm dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon (we prefer ours without sugar).

Where to Find Bougatsa in Crete

Bougatsa in Crete - Iordanis in ChaniaBougatsa served fresh in Crete

There are many places to eat bougatsa all over the island and in both Chania and Iraklion. Really one of the best is in Iraklion behind the Liondaria on Kalokerinou near the bus-stop. 

The only thing to do is to try bougatsa from a different café every morning while you are in Kriti, whether you live there or are just visiting, and keep going till you have found your favourite. Don't forget your Elliniko café (Greek coffee) while you are tasting!

In Chania try Bougatsa Chanion at 37 Apokoronou St, and Bougatsa Iordanis at 24 Apokoronou Street.

The video below shows bougatsa being made at Iordanis in Chania

For Greek pastries and bougatsa In Heraklion, try Phillo...sophia or any of the cafes around the Liondaria fountain, we are serious that you are going to have to do your own tasting to see which ones are your favourites!

Philosophia Cafe is next to the Liondaria fountain in central Heraklion - try the bougatsa here and at every other cafe around the square before making up your mind which is your favourite!Philosophia Cafe is next to the Liondaria fountain in central Heraklion - try the bougatsa here and at every other cafe around the square before making up your mind which is your favourite!

Other delicious treats include baklava, galaktoboureko, melomakarona, kourabiedes, loukoumades and kataifi.

Greek pastries are best eaten in a balanced diet, and the Mediterranean diet will include loads of fresh vegetables and fruit, nuts and variety.

See more about the Cretan diet and healthy wild greens on our food pages.


Galaktoboureko or Γαλακτομπούρεκο is a Greek pastry with semolina baked in filo pastry.


Melomakarona or Μελομακάρονα is a soft honey cookie scented with orange and cinnamon, drenched in honey syrup and covered with crushed walnut, traditionally served at Christmas time, but yummy any time. 


Kourabiedes or Κουραμπιέδες are shortbread made of flour, sugar, butter and almonds and covered with powdered sugar, traditionally served at weddings, but yummy all the time.

Loukoumades or Λουκουμάδες

Loukoumades or Λουκουμάδες are small puff balls made with semolina flour and honey, sprinkled with chopped almonds. Greek honey puffs. 

Kataifi or Καταϊφι

Kataifi or Καταϊφι are made of light stringy pastry filled with almond and walnut yumminess and soaked in honey. So delicious and light to the touch. A real work of art.

Easter bread tsoureki or τσουρέκι

The list of Greek pastries would not be complete without a mention of the special Easter bread tsoureki or τσουρέκι. This is a sweetbread which is soft and stringy, plaited three times and topped with roasted almonds.

See how to make Galaktoboureko here in this video

See how to make Tsoureki in this video below

Where to Find Pastries in Crete

zacharoplasteio or zaxaroplasteio or ζαχαροπλαστείο.

The pastry shop is called zacharoplasteio or zaxaroplasteio or ζαχαροπλαστείο.

  • In Chania head to Papaniolakis
  • In Rethymnon you will find all the local favourites at Fourno Klapsinos in the old town
  • In downtown Heraklion go to Savoidakis you will find a treasure trove of pastries as well as bread, cakes and all things sweet.
  • In Agios Nikolaos find your sweet spot at Paradosiaki Αρτοποιία ζαχαροπλαστικη at Roussos Kapetanaki 12

Sometimes the fournos is the bakery - selling all things bread and savoury, and the zacharoplasteio is the sweet shop only for cakes and sweet pastries. But often you will find them together.

Don't forget these savoury pastry favourites - ideal for snacks or second breakfast:

  • spanakopita - nothing like a fresh one from the fourno (better take two - one for the road)
  • kaseropita - cheese pie
  • kreatopita - meat pie
  • hortopita - wild greens pie
  • tiropita strifti - twisted tiropita
  • Sfakiani pita - mizithra cheese pie from Sfakia in Crete - served with honey

Kali Orexi !! Καλη ‘Ορεξη !!

Sfakian pie in Crete

Getting to Crete

Take a 1 hour flight from Athens to Heraklion with Aegean Airlines or Olympic Air, with many flights available per day.

Or take a 9.5 hour overnight ferry from Pireaus port of Athens to Heraklion port.

More on flights and ferries below.

Car hire in Crete is a really good idea as it is a large island 60 km by 260 km. There is so much to explore.

When you book with our car rental partners - Rental Centre Crete - you are supporting a local company with excellent service and easy online booking. We are sure you will be well looked after by the team. Choose from hybrid, electric or regular vehicles.

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We trust you have enjoyed these tips from the We Love Crete team. Evíva!

The We Love Crete team - Anastasi, Katia & Apostoli

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