Greek Pastitsio recipe (Greek Lasagna with Béchamel)

Greek Pastitsio / Pastichio recipe

My very best Greek Pastitsio recipe (Pastichio)! This is my authentic “Greek Lasagna” recipe for you to make this traditional delight just like my grandma used to make it! So go ahead, read on to discover all my tips and tricks, my video showing you how to make it and of course the recipe!

What is Greek Pastitsio / Pastichio?

The simplest way to describe what is Pastitsio is a Greek version of Lasagna! The traditional pastitsio / Pasticcio recipe has a deep layer of tubular pasta, a delicious, aromatic beef ragu and is topped off with a thick and velvety béchamel sauce. 

This is the ultimate Greek comfort food, along with the legendary traditional Greek Moussaka of course!

Pastitsio recipe - Greek Lasagna with Béchamel sauce in a pan
Pastitsio recipe – Greek Lasagna with Béchamel sauce in a pan

How to make traditional Greek Pastitsio?

This easy to follow Greek pastitsio recipe can be summarised in three simple steps: 

  1. Prepare the Pastitsio pasta
  2. Prepare the meat sauce
  3. Prepare the béchamel sauce

In the sections below I’ll take you through each one of these in more detail so you can easily make the very best pastitsio on your first try! Truth is that the whole process will require dirtying some pans, but the end result is well worth it!

Greek Pastitsio ready to bake
Greek Pastitsio ready to bake

Greek Pastitsio recipe – Prepare the pasta

The authentic Greek Pastitsio recipe is made with bucatini pasta, a thick pasta like spaghetti with a hole running through the center. This pasta is what is used to make Pastitsio in almost every Greek household or restaurant. 

However sourcing bucatini pasta abroad can be a bit tricky, so a more convenient alternative that you can readily find at your local supermarket is penne pasta and ziti.

There are two little tips that make all the difference when preparing the pastitsio pasta. Firstly, boil the pasta for the pastitsio 2-3 minutes less than the package instructions. Your pasta will also cook when the dish is baked in the oven, so if you cook them fully on their own they will turn out mushy!

Secondly mix the boiled pasta with crumbled feta cheese and a the whites from two eggs. The feta cheese will give your pasta a delicious tang while the egg whites will help the pasta stay together when your pastitsio is cut!

Pasta for Greek Pastitsio
Pasta for Greek Pastitsio

Greek Pastitsio recipe – Prepare the meat sauce

Greek pastitsio (pastichio/pasticcio/Pastizio) owes its distinctive and rich flavour to the two aromatic spices used in the meat sauce. These are nothing else than cinnamon and clove! Once put in the oven, the intense aromas of those spices bring back so many childhood memories!

To prepare the pastitsio meat sauce start by heating up a large pan on medium/high heat, add the olive oil, the chopped onions and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the beef, tomato paste, garlic and break it up to small chunks using a wooden spoon.

Let it simmer until its nicely browned and cooked through. Then proceed to deglaze the pan with the wine, add the tomatoes and spices and season with some salt and pepper. Let it simmer for a while until the sauce has reduced and has barely any liquid left in it. Finally taste it and add some more salt & pepper to taste if needed!

Greek Pastitsio Meat Sauce
Greek Pastitsio Meat Sauce

Greek Pastitsio recipe – Prepare the Béchamel sauce

The perfect béchamel sauce for your pastitsio should be smooth, thick and creamy. To achieve the perfect texture the key is to add the lukewarm milk a little bit at a time whilst constantly stirring with a whisk. Whisk the sauce constantly, allow the flour to absorb the milk and add some more until the milk is used up. That way your sauce will turn out incredibly smooth and creamy!

Secondly be careful to set your stove to medium to low heat so that your bechamel sauce doesn’t burn and doesn’t stick on the bottom of the pan!

Finally, once you add the grated cheese to your béchamel it will thicken up a little bit. So keep that in mind to achieve the right texture. At that point give your bechamel a taste and add some salt. It will lift the flavour and make your bechamel taste simply divine!

Greek Pastitsio Bechamel Sauce
Greek Pastitsio Bechamel Sauce

Can this Greek Pastitsio recipe be made in advance?

Making Greek Pastitsio can be a bit time consuming, so sometimes you will need to prepare it in advance. If you like to prepare pastitsio in advance, you can prepare all its components above and assemble it the previous night. Let it cool down completely, cover it with some cling film and put it in the fridge. The next day put it straight in the oven and bake it! Just remember to let it cool down before cutting it up.

Alternatively you can prepare the whole pastitsio and bake the day before, let it cool down, wrap in cling film and store in the fridge. When its time to serve, pop it in the oven for 20 minutes at 150C/300F to reheat it, cut it up and serve immediately. 

Assemble Pastitsio

Can you freeze baked Pastitsio / Pasticcio?

This pastitsio recipe can also be cooked in advance and frozen in individual portions. Truth is that sometimes you will end up with leftovers, as this recipe makes for a generous baking tray! Let your pastitsio cool down completely, cut it up in pieces and place it in sealed plastic containers and then in the freezer. 

To serve it, thaw in the fridge the night before, heat your oven to 150C/300F and warm it up for 20-30 minutes until warm throughout. It will taste as good as fresh!

What goes well with it?

I love serving my pastitsio with a delicious Greek Salad and some greek country style crusty bread. You don’t need anything else as this dish is pure perfection on its own! 

If you love Pastitsio as much as I do then you have to give these amazing recipes a try!

  1. Traditional Greek Moussaka!
  2. Stuffed eggplants (Papoutsakia) also known as individual moussaka!
  3. Vegetarian moussaka 

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

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Pastitsio Recipe Greek Lasagna with Bechamel sauce

Greek Pastitsio recipe (Greek Lasagna with Béchamel)

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  • Author: Eli K. Giannopoulos
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Greek

Description

The Best Greek Pastitsio recipe (Pastichio)! An authentic Greek Lasagna recipe to recreate this traditional delight just like my grandma used to make it.


Ingredients

Scale

Base Ingredients

  • 450g/ 15oz. bucatini pasta, penne or ziti
  • 110g/ 4oz. feta cheese
  • 2 egg whites

For the meat sauce

  • 900g/ 30oz. lean ground beef
  • 2 medium sized red onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 400g/ 14oz. canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 150ml/ 5 fl.oz. red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1/4 of a cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

For the bechamel

  • 120g/ 4.3 oz. plain flour
  • 120g/ 4.3 oz. butter
  • 1000ml/ 34 oz. milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 50g/ 1.7oz. Kefalotyri or Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • salt to taste
  • 50g/ 1.7oz. Kefalotyri or Parmigiano-Reggiano to sprinkle


Instructions

  1. To prepare this traditional pastitsio recipe (pastichio), start with the meat sauce. Place a large pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil, the chopped onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste and the beef. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon and brown for 4-5 minutes. Pour in the red wine and wait to evaporate. Add the canned tomatoes, the sugar, cinnamon, clove, the bay leaf and season. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes, until most of the juices have evaporated. (After the meat is cooked, discard the bay leaf, the clove and the cinnamon)
  2. Prepare the bechamel sauce for the pastitsio. Melt the butter in a large pan over low-medium heat. Add the flour whisking continuously to make a paste. Add warmed milk in small batches, whisking continuously in order to prevent your sauce from getting lumpy. If the sauce still needs to thicken, boil over low heat whilst continuing to stir. Remove the pan from the stove and add the egg yolks, salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and the grated cheese (50g/ 1.7oz.). Whisk quickly, in order to prevent the eggs from turning an omelette! Season with salt to taste.
  3. Cook the pasta for the pastitsio 2-3 minutes less than the package instructions, so that they don’t get mushy after turning out of the oven later. Drain the pasta and stir in the egg whites and the feta cheese (smashed with a fork) and mix gently with a spatula.
  4. For this pastitsio recipe you will need a large baking dish, approx. 25*35 cm / 10*14 inch. Butter the bottom and sides of a pan and assemble the pastitsio. Layer the pasta, top with the meat sauce and even out. Top the pastitsio with the bechamel sauce and smooth out with a spatula.
  5. Sprinkle the pastichio with grated cheese and bake in preheated oven at 180C (350F) Fan for about 40 minutes, until crust turns a light golden brown. Let the pastitsio cool down for a while before serving.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 square
  • Calories: 724kcal
  • Sugar: 11.1g
  • Sodium: 607.6mg
  • Fat: 30.7g
  • Saturated Fat: 14.6g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 14.1g
  • Trans Fat: 0.2g
  • Carbohydrates: 63.2g
  • Fiber: 3.1g
  • Protein: 44.5g
  • Cholesterol: 169.6mg

Keywords: how to make pastitsio, Pastitsio, Pasticcio, Pastichio, Greek lasagna, pasta bake with béchamel sauce


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42 Comments

  1. My thea doesn’t use can of tomatoes and I’m not fond of them either. What can I use instead?

  2. Can I leave out the wine or what can I use as a substitute in the meat sauce?

  3. Can ground chicken substitute the ground beef

  4. Do I need to cover the casserole with foil while it bakes for the first 30 minutes or so?

  5. jim silver

    hi everybody mine is in the oven right now and i just realize i forgot the cheese on top,time to grate some cheese,cant wait

  6. jim silver

    panic over didn’t bother no need,it was delicious!!

  7. I have just made my first Pastitsio and it looks great!! All the ingredients taste beautiful, so I can’t wait to taste it
    My partner on the other hand looked over my shoulder the whole time because this is not how his mummy who is Greek makes it and the ingredients are all wrong……..gggrrrr

  8. Maria Kyriacou

    Wonderful recipe easy to follow and delicious with a nice greek salad?

  9. Lovely…..best recipe by far x

  10. Cindy Koukla

    I’ve made this 3 times so far and my Greek boyfriend now says I’m a keeper hahaha this recipe pleases the pickiest eaters I know. 5 stars!

  11. Just made it and was very tasty. Lots of pots and dishes, but worth it. Easy to make and to follow the recipe. The prescribed dish size is to small so I made a small one one the side to freeze. Thank you.

  12. colleen mills

    I’m confused about whether there are supposed to be egg yolks in both the pasta base AND the bechamel sauce. Instructions 2 and 3 (the pasta prep and the bechamel sauce) both call for eggs, but the list of ingredients only mentions 2 egg yolks once. ?? thanks~

    • 4 eggs needed total, 2 full for base and 2 yolk only for bechamel.

    • Staci Gregson

      Two eggs total, separated. Two whites for the pasta layer, two yolks for the bechamel. I separated two eggs into 2 separate bowls, one for whites one for yolks, mixed the feta into the whites smooshing with a fork, then folded the yolks in the bechamel.

  13. AmandaAmanda

    what kind of grated cheese do you top this with?

  14. Elaine Linnan

    Can you freeze once it is assembled then bake after defrosted or can you bake and then freeze?

  15. Excellent recipe.
    My Family thought that it was even better than my mom’s recipe and my Greek Mom’s a excellent cook.
    Try it and enjoy.

  16. Katharine Lucas

    Absolutely fantastic. Delicious authentic flavours. Easy to make. Look forward to inviting friends over to share and enjoy it too.

  17. Amazing Games

    Excellent recipe .Good work

  18. My yaya made it with vernors in place of red wine, it was delicious! I am going to try this recipe!

  19. Is there a recipe for just plain meat-less Paslitsio / I was served it at a restaurant in Crete / fluffy plain clean and easy on the digestion “Restaurant was in Marathi ” .. My swimming hole .

  20. What other cheese can you use on top please?

  21. Should I double the recipe for a baking dish measuring 24cm x 38cm?

    • Shery Sullivan

      Dree, no that dish is more like a 9x 13 in inches. You’ll have a little leftover for another very small dish.

  22. Can I use tomato paste instead, and if so, how much?

    • Eli K. Giannopoulos

      Hi Kate, I’m afraid you need chopped tomatoes or whole tinned plump tomatoes for the recipe. Tomato paste is super concentrated and used to add flavour due to its high levels of umami so wouldn’t advise just using that.

  23. Lisa Haldane

    I have egg issues. Could I leave out or??

  24. This recipe looks great. Can you prep a day in advance?

    • Eli K. Giannopoulos

      Of course! It actually tastes nicer the next day as the béchamel has had time to set fully and its easier to cut!

  25. Could I use Greek sausage (removed from casing) instead of ground beef?

    • Eli K. Giannopoulos

      Yes you can! It would add a lot more flavour compared to beef so adjust the salt down when cooking so its not too salty!

  26. Monica Nunchuck

    Can I refrigerate the white sauce if I have too much left over?

    • Eli K. Giannopoulos

      Hi Monica

      If you have too much left over then I would suggest portioning it out into ziplock bags and storing it in the freezer. When you want to use it, thaw overnight in the fridge, reheat in a pan and it should be good to go!

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