This flaming cheese ritual was started by restaurateurs in Chicago, who encouraged customers to yell, 'Opa!' as the plate was being ignited. You can recreate the tradition at home in minutes, whether you'd like to spark up a little romance with an old flame on date night or just try a fast and fun cheese dish on a chilly weeknight. Serve with sliced fresh or grilled bread.

Chef John
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Ingredients

2
Original recipe yields 2 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Brush each side of the kasseri cheese with water. Dredge both sides in flour, making sure the surface is completely covered.

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  • Preheat a well seasoned cast iron skillet on medium-high heat until smoking. Pour in olive oil. Carefully place the floured cheese in the hot oil. Cook until cheese begins to ooze and a golden brown crust forms, about 2 minutes. Quickly flip cheese over with a spatula. Fry until bottom is golden brown, about 30 seconds more.

  • Remove skillet from heat and transfer onto a napkin-lined plate. Pour brandy over the cheese. Light the brandy using a fireplace lighter. Now you can exclaim "Opa!" and marvel at the fire. Squeeze some lemon juice on top to extinguish the last few flames and garnish with parsley.

Chef's Notes:

I've also done this with a cheese called halloumi, which is tasty, but doesn't melt at all, and for me that's the best part. You can also use graviera, kefalograviera, kefalotyri, or even a firm feta cheese.

Any high-proof liquor will work.

Garnish with oregano if you prefer.

Nutrition Facts

391 calories; 25.4 g total fat; 61 mg cholesterol; 544 mg sodium. 15 g carbohydrates; 16.3 g protein; Full Nutrition

Reviews (10)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 4 stars
07/14/2018
I love Saganaki...the whole family does. But after trying this recipe for the first time, I have a couple of tips. First of all....pretend you are Chef John making a video, and HAVE ALL YOUR INGREDIENTS PROPORTIONED AND READY! Things happen fast, and you NEED to be ready. My first attempt, I made the mistake of having skillet TOO HOT, and burnt the cheese and smoked up the kitchen. You want the skillet to just start smoking, not heavily smoking and olive oil evaporating. Suggest you make a batch for yourself to practice first before trying to impress your special someone. Read More
(22)
12 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 10
  • 4 star values: 2
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 4 stars
07/14/2018
I love Saganaki...the whole family does. But after trying this recipe for the first time, I have a couple of tips. First of all....pretend you are Chef John making a video, and HAVE ALL YOUR INGREDIENTS PROPORTIONED AND READY! Things happen fast, and you NEED to be ready. My first attempt, I made the mistake of having skillet TOO HOT, and burnt the cheese and smoked up the kitchen. You want the skillet to just start smoking, not heavily smoking and olive oil evaporating. Suggest you make a batch for yourself to practice first before trying to impress your special someone. Read More
(22)
Rating: 4 stars
07/14/2018
I love Saganaki...the whole family does. But after trying this recipe for the first time, I have a couple of tips. First of all....pretend you are Chef John making a video, and HAVE ALL YOUR INGREDIENTS PROPORTIONED AND READY! Things happen fast, and you NEED to be ready. My first attempt, I made the mistake of having skillet TOO HOT, and burnt the cheese and smoked up the kitchen. You want the skillet to just start smoking, not heavily smoking and olive oil evaporating. Suggest you make a batch for yourself to practice first before trying to impress your special someone. Read More
(22)
Rating: 5 stars
11/17/2019
I’ve made this before from another recipe and the one thing that was different was to “marinate” the cheese in brandy for an hour before cooking. Either way, this is AMAZING!! Especially with some home made pita! Definitely have everything ready before you start and be careful lighting it. I once singed the hair on my arm making this. LOL! Opa!!!!! Read More
(3)
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Rating: 4 stars
04/24/2019
No changes. Will make again. Read More
(1)
Rating: 5 stars
09/17/2018
It turned out pretty good. I did not have the lemon to extinguish the fire nor the fresh parsley. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
09/17/2019
So good! And easy to make. A lot of fun too Read More
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Rating: 5 stars
01/21/2019
This was just plain fun to make. Had everything ready to go before I started and was glad I did. My honey told me I was going to catch the place on fire. Well when it was lit on fire my smoke detector that s right above where it was done went off lol. My honey devoured almost all of this. Thanks for The fun recipe. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
04/28/2019
Super easy and tasty. Used cilantro vs parsley. Will become a staple. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
11/21/2019
Cut the cheese in 2 first one it didn't light on fire (my fault) second time it did. Preferred the first one! Maybe the flames add visual interest but not better taste? Read More
Rating: 5 stars
10/19/2018
Yes one my favorite dishes?? Read More