Traditional Greek Moussaka recipe (Moussaka with Béchamel)

Moussaka recipe (Traditional Greek Moussaka with Eggplants)

Greek Moussaka recipe – A delicious taste of Greece

This dish is a legend! Creamy, juicy and absolutely delicious.. Greek moussaka (mousaka) is one of the most popular dishes in Greece, served in almost every tavern and prepared in every household on special occasions and big family meals and for good reason! With this step-by-step traditional Greek Moussaka recipe you can easily recreate this traditional delight from scratch. So go ahead, indulge yourself to this little sin!

To prepare a traditional Greek Moussaka recipe, luscious layers of juicy beef mince (or lamb) are cooked in a tomato based sauce, layered with sweet eggplants and creamy béchamel sauce and baked together until golden perfection.. Simply irresistible!

This easy to follow Greek moussaka recipe never fails to impress and is always a crowd pleaser. The essence of this traditional Greek moussaka recipe can be summarised in three key stages: preparing the meat filling, preparing the béchamel sauce and cooking the eggplants. Each stage will require dirtying some pans, but i think you will agree that the end result is well worth it!

Greek moussaka in a pan

Prepare the Greek Moussaka meat sauce

The traditional Greek moussaka recipe calls for either lamb mince or a mix of lamb and beef. But if you can’t handle its strong flavour and prefer a lighter version try substituting with good quality beef or veal mince.

Meat sauce for Greek Moussaka recipe

To prepare the meat sauce for this moussaka recipe, the ground beef is sautéed in olive oil, flavoured with onions and garlic and then simmered in red wine and tomato sauce. The aromatic herbs and spices used in the traditional moussaka recipe penetrate the meat and give a really characteristic taste and smell which permeates the house, once put in the oven! Let the sauce simmer for a while to allow the flavours to mingle.

Are you a vegetarian? Not to worry, there is always a way to enjoy this delicious dish! Discover my latest delicious Vegetarian Greek Moussaka recipe with a delicious mushroom based sauce replacing the traditional mince.

Greek Moussaka recipe – Prepare the vegetables

The base for a traditional Greek moussaka is most commonly fried eggplants. Some moussaka recipes also use sliced potatoes, so if you like potatoes, try adding a layer of sliced potatoes as the first layer to this amazing dish for some extra comfort during the winter months.

Layering the eggplants for Greek moussaka

The traditional Greek moussaka recipe calls for fried eggplants (and potatoes), but for a lighter alternative, try drizzling the aubergines (and potatoes) with some olive oil and bake them for 20 minutes instead of frying them. Some eggplants may be bitter, so it is very important to remove the bitterness by seasoning with salt and letting them stand for half an hour in a collander.

Greek Moussaka recipe – Prepare the Béchamel sauce

The creamy béchamel sauce is the most essential part for a traditional Greek moussaka recipe and probably the trickiest part too.

To achieve the perfect texture for your béchamel sauce, add the milk (preferably lukewarm) a little bit at a time whilst constantly stirring. The perfect béchamel sauce for your moussaka should be smooth and creamy. The key is to whisk the sauce constantly to allow each time the flour to absorb the milk, so that it doesn’t get lumpy.

Cook the sauce over medium-low heat in order to prevent it from burning and sticking on the bottom of the pan, but be careful to cook it enough, until you can’t taste the flour and is thick enough.

Greek Moussaka recipe bechamel

So go ahead, give this traditional Greek Moussaka recipe a try and amaze your friends and family with this extra tasty hearty dish!

What goes well with it?

Why not try combining it with some delicious little cheese pies, a traditional Greek Salad and a juicy saganaki as a starter! 

Love eggplants? Take a look at my favourite eggplant dip and panfried battered eggplants and tagliatelle with eggplants and feta cheese recipes which I’m sure you’ll love as well! Vegetarian? My veggie moussaka recipe was made just for you!

Looking for some more inspiration? Why don’t you also take a look at my favourite pastitsio and stuffed eggplants with mince (papoutsakia) recipes!

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Moussaka recipe (Traditional Greek Moussaka with Eggplants)

Traditional Greek Moussaka recipe (Moussaka with Béchamel)

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  • Author: Eli K. Giannopoulos
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 8 pieces 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Cuisine: Greek

Description

The very best traditional Greek Moussaka recipe. Imagine layers of juicy beef mince, sweet eggplants, and creamy béchamel sauce baked to perfection!


Ingredients

Scale

Base ingredients

  • 6 eggplants
  • vegetable oil (for frying the eggplants)

For the meat sauce

  • 750g beef or lamb mince (26 oz)
  • 2 red onions (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g / 14oz)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A pinch of cinnamon or one cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 of a cup olive oil

For the bechamel sauce

  • 900ml milk (31 fl.oz)
  • 120g butter (4 oz)
  • 120g flour (4 oz)
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 100g Parmigiano-Reggiano or Kefalotyri or your favourite hard cheese (3.5oz)
  • salt to taste


Instructions

  1. To prepare this Greek moussaka recipe, begin by preparing the eggplants. Remove the stalks from the eggplants and cut them into slices, 1 cm thick. Season with salt and place in a colander for about half an hour.
  2. Rinse the eggplants with plenty of water and squeeze with your hands, to get rid of the excessive water. Pat them dry and fry in plenty of oil, until nicely colored. Place the fried eggplants on some paper, in order to absorb the oil. (For a lighter version of the traditional Greek moussaka try drizzling the aubergines with some olive oil and bake them for 20 minutes instead of frying them). Set aside when done.
  3. If you are adding potatoes to your moussaka, now its time to slice them into 0.5cm, half a finger width slices. Fry them or bake them in the same way as the eggplants. Season with some salt and set them aside when done.
  4. Prepare the meat sauce for the moussaka. Heat a large pan to medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Stir in the chopped onions and sauté, until softened and slightly colored. Stir in the mince breaking it up with a wooden spoon and sauté. When it starts to brown, add the the garlic and tomato puree and sauté until the garlic starts to soften. Pour in the red wine to deglaze the meat juices and wait to evaporate. Add the tinned tomatoes, the sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, 1 bay leaf and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down and simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes or until most of the juices have evaporated. Set aside when done.
  5. Prepare the béchamel sauce for the moussaka. Use a large pan to melt the butter over low-medium heat. Add the flour whisking continuously to make a paste. Add warmed milk in a steady stream; keep whisking in order to prevent your sauce from getting lumpy. If the sauce still needs to thicken, boil over low heat while continuing to stir. Its consistency should resemble a thick cream.
  6. Remove the béchamel pan from the stove and stir in the egg yolks, salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and the most of the grated cheese. Reserve some cheese to sprinkle on top! Whisk quickly, in order to prevent the eggs from turning an omelette!  Season with salt to taste. Take one spoon full of béchamel and stir it in the meat sauce. Set the béchamel sauce aside.
  7. Now its time to assemble the moussaka. For this moussaka recipe you will need a large baking dish, approx. 20x30cm / 8x12inch). Butter the bottom and sides of the pan and layer the potatoes first (if you’re using them), then half the eggplants. Pour in all of the meat sauce and spread it out evenly. Add a second layer of eggplants, top with all of the béchamel sauce and smooth out with a spatula.
  8. Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese. Preheat you oven at 180C/350F and bake your musaka for about 60 minutes or until its crust turns light golden brown. Even though it will be really hard to do so, you should wait for the moussaka to cool down and be just warm to the touch before cutting into pieces. This will prevent the béchamel sauce from pouring out when you’re cutting your pieces.
  9. Serve the Moussaka with a refreshing Traditional Greek Salad  and enjoy over a glass of wine!


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 Piece
  • Calories: 455kcal
  • Sugar: 11g
  • Sodium: 84.6mg
  • Fat: 19.1g
  • Saturated Fat: 8.2g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 9.7g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 61g
  • Fiber: 5.3g
  • Protein: 14.7g
  • Cholesterol: 72.1mg

Keywords: How to make moussaka, Moussaka with potatoes, Béchamel sauce for Moussaka, Moussaka recipe, Traditional Greek moussaka

Are you a Greek speaker? You can always read this delicious recipe in Greek here Παραδοσιακός Μουσακάς συνταγή (Μουσακάς με πατάτες και μελιτζάνες).


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80 Comments

  1. I made this for our supper this evening…my husband said it is one of the best meals he has had and as he is 57 and eaten out in some good restaurants I am patting myself on the back!
    Very tasty!

    • Hi Ruby! I’m so happy to hear that, comments like yours make my day! Congratulations for making it delicious!

      • Shobhai Williams

        Hi.. Loved you recipe and I tried and made this for our dinner tonight.. Smelt and looked delicious although i haven’t quiet finished baking it off on the oven yet. I am sure it will take as good as it looks and my family will hopefully enjoy it. Thank you for a beautiful recipe.

  2. Can anyone please advise on the weight of eggplants as I believe 6 eggplants from an American grocery store may be too much. I was thinking maybe 3 would be correct?

    Thanks!
    Mary

    • Eli K. Giannopoulos

      The eggplants I’m using are around 7-8 inches long and about a fist thick. They shrink quite a bit when baking and I like 2 layers of them plus having good coverage. If you make them a bit more sparse then you can get away with less 🙂

  3. Anyone recommend how many lbs of eggplants to use please?

  4. Do you cook covered or uncovered?

  5. I have a question regarding the tomato puree. Does that refer to a tube of tomato paste or a can of tomato puree? Thanks!

  6. Delicious! Thanks for the recipe.

  7. Christopher olin

    This took me 3.5 hours to prepare the first time but it looks great so far. Also might be clearer if you indicated “reserve some cheese for a later step” . . I’m looking forward to tasting this but it’s still in the oven!

  8. Have used this recipe before and received lots of lovely comments! Is it possible to make this a day in advance what with the bechamel sauce? And if so what would be your reheating suggestion.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Eli K. Giannopoulos

      Hi Claire

      Of course you can make and bake it in advance. I actually prefer making my Moussaka the day before as I find it easier to cut and much less messy if its cold. Once you’ve baked it, let it cool down, cover it with some cling film and put in the fridge. Then you can reheat it in the oven at 130C/ 260F for about 45 minutes.

  9. That’s a regular in egyptian households I guess mediterranean countries shares a lot of food heritage, thanks for the recipe it turned out great just like my mom used to make it.

  10. Bob Whitehead

    Just cooked this for my wife and daughter 1/2 the recipe but it was superb as good as any I have had in Corfu or aegina

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