A delicious last-minute 3 ingredient dip you'll want to make over and over again! This Tirokafteri also known as "a spicy feta dip" is a traditional Greek spread made with feta cheese and spicy peppers.
I love how I can make it in advance and also how simple it is to throw together. Guests always rave over it and I love sharing how easy it is!
Serve this dip as part of a large Greek Meze Platter.
How To Make Tirokafteri
Most feta dips are pretty easy to put together. Like my fried feta dip! We Greeks like to keep it simple. Because the ingredients are minimal it is important that you use THE BEST ingredients you can find.
Step 1: Choose A Good Feta Cheese
I've tried good feta and I've tried GREAT feta. There is a difference. To choose the best feta cheese, find one that is soaking in a brine (salty water).
The brine helps prolong its shelf-life but most importantly keeps the cheese MOIST. Dry feta is just not as appealing to me.
So try to find a nice chunk soaking in brine. Better yet, if the feta cheese was made in Greece, you know it will be good.
If you love feta cheese and have extra, consider making my shrimp saganaki!
Step 2: Choose Your Pepper
Since tirokafteri is a SPICY cheese dip, you will need to add some hot peppers.
There are many hot pepper options if you don't like the ones I used.
To get some heat, I chose to use hot jarred banana peppers and red pepper flakes. Hot banana peppers are NOT that spicy. So the added red pepper flakes help to kick it up a notch.
With that said, I personally cannot handle a TON of heat so I chose to make this recipe a 'medium hot' on the spice chart. If you love hot peppers, you can certainly add more of each ingredient OR choose another hotter pepper!
Here are some other hot pepper options for your tirokafteri:
- Anaheims (mild)
- Red peppers (sweet)
- Poblanos (mild)
- Jalapenos (mild-hot)
- Chili peppers (hot)
- Serranos (hot)
- Cayennes (hot)
- Habaneros (VERY hot)
Step 3: Blend, mash or puree!
Once you have your pepper decided, you need to keep the consistency of your feta dip in mind. To make your feta dip 'dip-able' you need to add some liquid. I added the liquid from my jar of hot banana peppers to turn this spread into more of a dip.
However the consistency of your tirokafteri is completely up to you. You could also add olive oil or wine vinegar to thin it out too if you are not using jarred peppers.
If you are using fresh peppers, a great technique for adding a smoky flavor is to ROAST your peppers . Or you can add jarred roasted red peppers instead. They are not spicy but they are delicious and already come sliced up perfectly.
Then add everything to a bowl and use a fork to mash for a chunkier dip OR a food processor for a smoother consistency.
Tirokafteri can be customized in various ways to suit your taste preferences. Here are some popular variations to try:
- Spicier Kick: If you love heat, add a dash of hot sauce or chopped hot peppers like jalapeños or serranos to your tirokafteri for an extra fiery flavor.
- Roasted Red Peppers: Roast red bell peppers before adding them to the dip. Roasting enhances their sweetness and imparts a smoky depth to the flavor.
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes: Incorporate sun-dried tomatoes for a sweet and tangy twist. They complement the creaminess of the feta and add a burst of color.
- Herb Infusion: Enhance the herbal notes by mixing in fresh herbs like mint, basil, or oregano. This addition can brighten up the dip and add a refreshing element.
- Yogurt Creaminess: For a milder and creamier tirokafteri, blend in some Greek yogurt. It not only adds creaminess but also balances the tangy flavor.
- Nuts and Seeds: To add some texture, toss in toasted pine nuts or chopped walnuts. They'll provide a pleasant crunch to contrast with the creamy dip.
- Lemon Zest: Grated lemon zest can bring a zesty brightness to the dip. The citrusy notes pair well with the richness of the feta.
- Kalamata Olives: Chopped Kalamata olives can introduce a salty and briny flavor profile, which complements the feta's creaminess.
- Caramelized Onions: Cook onions until they're caramelized and sweet, then mix them into the tirokafteri for a depth of flavor and a touch of sweetness.
- Smoked Paprika: Add a pinch of smoked paprika for a smoky undertone that enhances the overall taste.
Remember to adjust the quantities of these ingredients to your liking, and feel free to combine several variations to create your unique tirokafteri dip. It's a versatile dish that can be enjoyed with bread, crackers, vegetables, or as a condiment for grilled meats and sandwiches.
What to Serve With Your Spicy Feta Dip
I love eating feta cheese with BREAD and lots of it! I recommend finding the best pita bread or a fresh baguette you can find. The fresher, the better.
Then serve alongside this spicy feta spread. Don't use 'pita pockets'. These are way too dry and are just NOT ideal for dipping.
Add a hot cup of my Greek Lemon Chicken Soup and you're set!!
*Pita Bread Alternative* Naan bread is an AWESOME alternative to pita bread! If your local grocer sells it, GRAB a bunch! I like to keep a stash in the freezer!
You could also serve your Tirokafteri with some fresh cut veggies instead of bread. Yummy veggies options could be:
- Red, yellow and green peppers
- Cucumbers sticks or slices
- Cherry tomatoes
- Celery sticks
How Long Will Tirokafteri Keep?
This dip should stay fresh in a sealed container for up to 4 days. I recommend making it one day ahead so the flavors have time to infuse.
Looking for other Greek-inspired dips? Try these!
- 8 oz. Good Feta Cheese, in brine
- 6 oz. Jarred HOT Banana Peppers (+3 tablespoon reserved pepper juice)
- 1 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 clove garlic, minced (*optional)
- Chop up your banana peppers if not already pre-sliced.
- Add in your feta cheese, the pepper juice and red pepper flakes.
- Use a fork to break up your feta and mix everything together until it's creamy and paste-like.
- Serve chilled with warm pita bread or slices of crusty bread.
- Tips for warming your pita:Toss the WHOLE pita bread round on the grill, in a grill pan, under the broiler OR my favorite way, directly over your burner. You want a slight char on your pita. This will take the flavor to another level so don't skip it! It only takes 5 minutes to do! Then cut into triangles and serve. Naan bread is great too!