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Whipped Feta Dip

By Sandra Wu Published

Have 15 minutes? This tangy meze comes together with the push of a button.

There’s nothing wrong with serving feta on a cheese plate, but if you have a few minutes to spare, I suggest transforming it into the traditional Greek dip tyrosalata. It’s practically effortless: Just process the cheese with extra-virgin olive oil until it turns smooth, and then season it with additions such as lemon juice, garlic, and fresh herbs. As part of a meze spread (small plates served with drinks) with crudités or pita, the creamy, milky, salty dip is a real standout.

Feta varies widely depending on the type of milk it is made from—cow’s, sheep’s, goat’s, or some combination thereof. I defaulted to our favorite high-quality cheese made from sheep’s milk. Its richness and distinct tang are not only authentic (most Greek fetas are made from sheep’s milk) but also the test kitchen’s preferred feta profile.

But something strange happened when I buzzed together my first batch. The consistency was oddly loose—more like yogurt than dip—even though I’d added nothing more to the feta than a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and a splash of lemon juice. Stranger still, the dip continued to thin as it sat at room temperature.

Feta is rather salty, so we rinse it in cold water and then drain it well before incorporating it into the dip.

But here’s the most surprising part of the story: The sheep’s milk itself was to blame for the dip’s drippy consistency, and the result was actually better—thicker and more stable—when I made it with cow’s-milk feta. That’s because sheep milk fat has a lower melting point than cow milk fat, so cheese made with sheep’s milk softens at a lower temperature than cheese made with cow’s milk. In the test kitchen, which runs a little warm, using cow’s‑milk feta was the only way to guarantee a consistently thick texture.

Of course, I assumed that cow’s-milk feta would lack character and richness, but I needn’t have worried. The subtleties of the sheep’s-milk cheese were mostly obscured by the other flavors in the dip (for more, see “Barnyard Battle: Cow versus Sheep”).

The only drawback was that the cow’s‑milk cheese actually made the dip a little too stiff, not to mention assertively salty (cow’s‑milk fetas tend to be saltier). Whipping in a few tablespoons of milk loosened its consistency enough that it could be swiped up with a piece of soft pita. And as for taming the salinity, I did what we often do with salty ingredients such as anchovies and capers: I rinsed it, which tempered the saltiness just enough.

With the base of the dip settled, I worked in some fresh oregano as well as a hint of minced garlic that I’d soaked in lemon juice to take the edge off its bite. It was a very traditional take.

But the beauty of this dip—other than how easy it is to make—is that the tangy, milky-rich base takes well to lots of different flavors. It was just as easy to give the dip a smoky profile by adding roasted red peppers, smoked paprika, and a touch of cayenne as it was to pack it with grassy dill and parsley. With results this good, why wait to include this dip in a meze spread? I’ll be whipping it up for a snack any old time.

Recipe Whipped Feta Dip

Have 15 minutes? This tangy meze comes together with the push of a button.

Recipe Whipped Feta and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Have 15 minutes? This tangy meze comes together with the push of a button.

Recipe Whipped Feta Dip with Dill and Parsley

Have 15 minutes? This tangy meze comes together with the push of a button.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.