Greek kleftiko

Kleftiko Recipe; Delicious Greek Lamb Kleftiko

Kleftiko is an iconic Greek dish that has been around for centuries. It’s a classic slow-cooked meal that combines lamb, potatoes, spices, and vegetables in a flavorful blend. Kleftiko is traditionally cooked in a sealed clay pot, but fortunately, it can also be prepared easily at home with simple ingredients and basic kitchen equipment. This recipe from Cooking County will take you through all the steps to make your delicious kleftiko at home, from preparing the ingredients to serving your finished dish.

Try other Greek dishes:

Kleftiko recipe

History of Greek Lamb Kleftiko

Kleftiko, a traditional Greek dish of slow-cooked lamb, is steeped in history. Dating back to the Ottoman Empire before Greece declared its independence in 1821, this hearty and flavorful meal had been passed down from generation to generation throughout Greek culture.

slow-cooked marinated lamb with potatoes and fresh herbs

The recipe for Kleftiko varies slightly between regions but typically consists of slow-cooked marinated lamb with potatoes and fresh herbs. The name “Kleftiko” comes from the Greek word “klephtiko”, which means stolen food; during the Ottoman rule when Greece was under foreign occupation, sheep would be stolen and cooked in sealed ovens or pits so as not to create any smoke and attract attention. Today Kleftiko is a popular staple on many traditional Greek menus.

What are the Health Benefits of Kleftiko?

Not only does it taste delicious, but it has many health benefits too. For starters, Kleftiko offers people a great source of protein. The tender lamb is high in protein which helps with muscle maintenance and repair as well as providing essential amino acids for the body to use. Additionally, the potatoes contain fibre which can aid digestion and help keep you feeling fuller for longer. Furthermore, the herbs used in Kleftiko provide antioxidants which protect our bodies from free radicals generated by everyday activities such as exercising or spending time outdoors.

How to Make Kleftiko?


  • 1.2– 1.5 kg boneless leg of lamb (about 2 kg with bones) 
  • 2 onions 
  • 2 peppers (green, red, yellow) 
  • 4 garlic cloves (2 chopped and 2 whole) 
  • 2 tablespoons mustard sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon oregano 
  • 1/2 cup olive oil 
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine 
  • 200 grams graviera or kefalotyri
  • 5 potatoes 
  • 1/2 sliced tomato, 
  • Salt and pepper as needed


Step One

To make this recipe for Lamb Kleftiko, start by washing the lamb thoroughly and cutting it into portions (about 5*6 cm). Place the pieces in a large bowl and set aside.

Step Two

Prepare the vegetables for the lamb thief. Cut the onions in half and then into quarters. Cut the peppers into pieces (2-3 cm) and mince the garlic. 

Step Three

Place the vegetables in the bowl with the lamb and add the olive oil, white wine and lemon juice. Add the mustard, and 2 cloves of garlic, sprinkle with oregano and season well with salt and pepper. 

Step Four

Mix the ingredients very well and cover the bowl with cling film. Refrigerate and let the lamb marinate for at least 2 hours. To make the kleftiko even more fragrant and infuse it with the aromas, it is better to marinate it overnight.

Step Five

Once the lamb is marinated, take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature a little. Add the cheese (in 2 cm cubes) to the same bowl and mix—Preheat the oven to 180C.

Step Six

Prepare the potatoes for the Kleftiko. Peel the potatoes and cut them into slices. The lamb kleftiko needs to be cooked for about 2 hours and 30 minutes, so it is best to cut the potatoes into large pieces to keep their shape.

How to Serve Kleftiko?

When the Kleftiko is ready, serve it in a dish and enjoy. Do not forget to make this recipe and share it with us. If you also have any related questions about the Kleftiko recipe, please do not hesitate to ask.

Greek lamb kleftiko

Tips for making Kleftiko

To ensure your Kleftiko turns out perfectly every time, here are some tips for making this classic dish:

  • Start by purchasing quality ingredients; lamb shoulder or leg is ideal for this recipe. 
  • If possible, buy organic meat that has been grass-fed and free-range to ensure the best flavor. 
  • For maximum flavor, marinate the lamb overnight with garlic, oregano, rosemary, salt & pepper; this will create succulent, tender meat! 
  • When preparing your potatoes for Kleftiko, make sure they are cut into small cubes, so they cook evenly.
  • Try using a leg of lamb marinated overnight in garlic cloves, oregano, olive oil and lemon juice. 
  • The marinade will help keep the meat juicy while slowly roasting it in the oven. 
  • Secondly, don’t forget the vegetables! Potatoes, carrots, onions – all these vegetables are essential for adding flavor and texture to your Kleftiko.

FAQs about Making Kleftiko

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