Lavas and pyroclastic products of Nisyros volcano (Aegean arc, Greece) host a wide variety of phenocryst and cumulate assemblages that offer a unique window into the earliest stages of magma differentiation. This study presents a detailed petrographic study of lavas, enclaves and cumulates spanning the entire volcanic history of Nisyros to elucidate at which levels in the crust magmas stall and differentiate. We present a new division for the volcanic products into two suites based on field occurrence and petrographic features: a low-porphyricity andesite and a high-porphyricity (rhyo)dacite (HPRD) suite. Cumulate fragments are exclusively found in the HPRD suite and are predominantly derived from upper crustal reservoirs where they crystallised under hydrous conditions from melts that underwent prior differentiation. Rarer cumulate fragments range from (amphibole-)wehrlites to plagioclase-hornblendites and these appear to be derived from the lower crust (0.5–0.8 GPa). The suppressed stability of plagioclase and early saturation of amphibole in these cumulates are indicative of high-pressure crystallisation from primitive hydrous melts (≥ 3 wt% H2O). Clinopyroxene in these cumulates has Al2O3 contents up to 9 wt% due to the absence of crystallising plagioclase, and is subsequently consumed in a peritectic reaction to form primitive, Al-rich amphibole (Mg# > 73, 12–15 wt% Al2O3). The composition of these peritectic amphiboles is distinct from trace element-enriched interstitial amphibole in shallower cumulates. Phenocryst compositions and assemblages in both suites differ markedly from the cumulates. Phenocrysts, therefore, reflect shallow crystallisation and do not record magma differentiation in the deep arc crust.