Kalitsounia: A Traditional Cretan Sweet Pastries Recipe

 A unique Cretan dish, the kalitsounia is the quick and easy way out for a dessert or afternoon snack. Kalitsounia (καλιτσούνια in Greek) are delicious treats that you can find with different fillings and serving variations across the beautiful island of Crete. As a result, in Chania, we find and enjoy the salty kalitsounia, stuffed with the locally made cheese mizithra, and the sweet kalitsounia, that also stuffed with mizithra but with honey poured on top. On the other hand, in Lasithi, kalitsounia are mainly sweet, made with dough and filled with mizithra, and topped with cinnamon.

You can make kalitsounia with phyllo dough or with dough. For this traditional kalitsounia recipe, we are going to use phyllo dough. 

This kalitsounia recipe, which serves 4 persons, takes 15 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to cook. 


Kalitsounia - Ingredients

  • 120 g of phyllo dough
  • 200 g of soft mizithra cheese (or anthotyro)
  • 5-6 mint leaves, thinly chopped
  • 40 ml of Greek olive oil
  • Honey for serving

Kalitsounia - How to Make

  1. Start this traditional kalitsounia recipe by defrosting first the phyllo dough. 
  2. Lay 2-3 sheets on a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
  3. Take a bowl, and mix the mizithra with mint leaves. With the help of a fork, work the mixture so it does not get lumpy.
  4. Take one phyllo sheet and cut it longitudinally, into pieces of about 10-12 cm in height. It has to divide into 4 or 5 strips, depending on the brand of phyllo you are using.
  5. Gently brush a little olive oil on each strip. 
  6. Add a tablespoon of the mizithra mixture in the upper corner at the beginning of the strip. Start lifting the corners to form the triangle, following the steps in the scheme below.
  7. Keep repeating the steps until the triangle is shaped and the mizithra cheese mixture is well sealed inside. Each triangle needs about 6 folding steps.
  8. Once folded, lay the kalitsounia on a flat surface preferably lined with parchment paper, until ready to be fried. 
  9. Continue with the next kalitsounia until you finish the mizithra cheese filling. 
  10. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on medium to high heat. Add the kalitsounia one by one in the oil, with plenty of space around, and fry quickly on each side, until they get a nice golden color.
  11. Place the kalitsounia on a plate with some absorbent paper. 
  12. Top with honey and serve.
Important tip: do not stack the kalitsounia before frying. Kalitsounia is typically served as a snack or dessert and is often enjoyed with a cup of Greek coffee or tea. They are a delicious and traditional treat that can be found throughout Crete and are a great way to experience the unique flavors and culinary traditions of this beautiful island. If you enjoy Cretan food, you should try this marathopita recipe. Enjoy!