This moussaka recipe is hearty, satisfying, and loaded with authentic Greek flavor. It features layers of fried eggplant, crispy potatoes, and a robust meat sauce, all topped off with a rich, creamy bechamel sauce. This is rustic comfort food at its finest!
Today’s recipe is wholesome to the body and nourishing to the spirit. You can basically think of moussaka as an eggplant, potato and beef lasagna with eggplant layers in place of noodles. Try it once and you’ll understand why this mouthwatering and delightfully filling meal has been around for centuries.
While moussaka is not complicated to prepare, there are quite a few steps and it could take around 2 hours to prepare. No reason to fret, though! Think of it as a labor of love and simply plan accordingly. I promise you it will be worth it!
Table of Contents
- Eggplant – Choose eggplants that seem heavy for their size and are firm to the touch, but not hard. If you pick fresh, young fruit, there is no need to peel the skins.
- Potatoes – Yellow potatoes, like Yukon Gold, have the best texture for a potato and beef lasagna.
- Ground Beef – We went with ground beef for this recipe, but Greek moussaka can include lamb as well. If desired, you can incorporate other ground meat like chicken, turkey, or pork.
- Bechamel Sauce – Forms the top layer of the dish. This rich sauce is made from egg yolk, milk, butter, flour, and cheese along with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
Watch how to make this Greek Moussaka step by step in the recipe card video below, too!
- Process the Eggplant. Cut into ⅜ inch round slices. Salt both sides of the slices and set them in a colander for the excess liquid to drain.
- Start Meat Sauce. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, saute for several minutes, then toss in the garlic. Cook for another 2 minutes. Add in the ground beef, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Stir and break the meat into crumbles as you brown it.
- Add Wine & Tomatoes. Stir in the tomato paste, mix well, and let it cook for about a minute. Next, stir in the wine and tomatoes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the pan as you stir to incorporate all the browned, flavorful bits. Toss in the bay leaf last.
- Simmer. Stir, reduce the heat to low, and leave the pot uncovered. Cook for 30 minutes, letting the liquid reduce. Remove the pan from heat, then remove and discard the bay leaf.
- Start Bechamel Sauce. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then whisk in flour to form the roux. Cook on low for 2 minutes, then mix in the milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan cheese. Cool for 5 minutes, then whisk in the egg yolks.
- Cook Eggplant. Pat the eggplant slices dry. Fry them in a skillet with olive oil — or bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F, flipping halfway through. Either way, the pieces should be golden brown. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
- Cook Potatoes. Slice the potatoes into ⅜ inch-thick rounds. Fry in the same skillet or bake in the oven for 15 minutes, flipping halfway. Once golden brown, sprinkle with salt and set aside to drain excess oil.
- Prepare the Oven. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the inside of a 13×9-inch baking pan with butter or oil.
- Assemble the Eggplant, Beef and Potato Lasagna. Place potato slices in the bottom of the pan in an overlapping fashion. Follow that with half of the eggplant slices, then spread on the meat sauce. Add the remaining eggplant, then the bechamel sauce. Finally, add the remaining ¼ cup of cheese.
- Bake & Cool. Place the casserole dish in the oven and bake for around 60 minutes, uncovered. You want the dish to turn a nice golden brown. Cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
Is moussaka Greek?
The Greek version of moussaka is perhaps the most well-known, consisting of layers of eggplant, ground meat (usually lamb or beef), tomatoes, and a creamy béchamel sauce. The origin of moussaka is often attributed to the Ottoman Empire’s influence in the region, with different culinary traditions blending to create this delicious dish. So, while it’s often associated with Greece, moussaka’s history is a testament to the rich culinary crossroads of the Mediterranean and Middle East.
While Greek moussaka is often referred to as eggplant, potato and beef lasagna, don’t let the nickname fool you. They are made with almost completely different ingredients!
Lasagna is a classic Italian dish made with pasta noodles, tomato sauce, cheese, and usually some sort of meat.
Greek moussaka, on the other hand, is made with layers of potato, eggplant, and savory beef (or lamb) sauce scented with cinnamon with a rich bechamel sauce topping. And don’t get moussaka confused with the Greek Pasticcio either, which is a Greek lasagna style dish with layers of bucatini, bolognese and bechamel.
This eggplant, potato and beef lasagna is hearty and satisfying enough to be served a la carte and also pairs nicely with a variety of sides. Here are a few of my top picks:
– Greek, Chopped Vegetable, or other fresh salad.
– Fresh bread like Turkish Sesame or Pita Bread.
– Hummus, Tabouli Salad, and a side of chopped veggies.
– Greek Roasted Vegetables or any of your favorite vegetable sides.
– A selection of condiments like Greek yogurt, Tzatziki, and Red Pepper Dip.
Absolutely! Assemble your moussaka as directed and bake up to a day ahead of time.
Cool to room temperature, cover it, and stash it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, you can pop it in a preheated 350-degree F oven for about 30 minutes, or until heated through.
Store any leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container, and enjoy within 5 days.
Share this recipe on Pinterest!
Love this recipe? Share it with the world on Pinterest.
Classic Greek Moussaka
- 2 lbs eggplants sliced 3/8″ thick
- 4 yellow potatoes sliced 3/8″ thick
- vegetable oil for frying
- Cut the eggplant into 3/8-inch round slices (See Note 1). Season on both sides with salt and place in a colander for about 30 minutes to drain excess water. Start meat sauce.
- In a deep skillet or Dutch oven add the oil over medium high heat. Saute the onion for several minutes and add the garlic. Cook another 2 minutes and then add the ground beef, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Brown meat, and using spoon, break up meat into a crumble.
- Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute, mixing well. Pour in the tomatoes and wine to deglaze pan, scraping bottom and sides to get the browned bits. Add the bay leaf, stir and turn heat to low and cook uncovered for 30 minutes and liquid reduces. Remove and discard bay leaf. Start Bechamel sauce.
- In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook the “roux” for 2 minutes on low. Carefully whisk in milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and simmer as sauce thickens, stirring often. Remove from heat and whisk in 1/2 cup cheese. Let cool 5 minutes and whisk in egg yolks. Start frying eggplant and potatoes.
- Pat the eggplant slices dry and fry in a large skillet with olive oil or bake on a lined baking sheet in a 425°F oven for 15 minutes, turning half way through, until golden brown on both sides. Set aside on lined tray to absorb oil.
- Slice the potatoes into 3/8-inch round slices. Fry in same large skillet with olive oil or bake on another lined baking sheet in a 425°F oven for 15 minutes, turning half way through, until golden brown on both sides. Season with salt and set aside on lined tray to absorb oil.
- Turn oven heat oven to 350°F. Brush butter or olive oil on bottom and sides of 9×13 inch baking dish.
- Layer bottom of pan with overlapping potatoes, a layer of half the eggplant, then spread the the meat sauce on top of the first eggplant layer. Top meat sauce with remaining eggplant slices, overlapping to cover. Spread bechamel sauce on top of final eggplant layer and remaining 1/4 cup cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 60 minutes, until top is a golden brown and bubbling. Let cool for 15 minutes minimum before slicing.
- I find slicing the eggplant into rounds instead of lengthwise strips is better when layering as the smaller pieces don’t all apart.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.