Moussaka is a hearty, delicious dish perfect for a special occasion or a weeknight meal. If you’ve never tried it before, you’re in for a treat! It’s made with layers of eggplant, potatoes, meat sauce, and bechamel sauce, and baked until the crust is golden brown. Everyone at the dinner table will be blown away!
Get ready to journey to the eastern Mediterranean! If you’ve never had it before, Moussaka is a mouthwatering dish that combines layers of savory goodness. I’m talking tender eggplant slices, seasoned ground beef, and creamy béchamel sauce, all baked to perfection.
This dish hails from the Levant region, but its modern form, with the iconic béchamel, was refined by a Greek chef (thanks, Nikolaos Tselementes!) in the 1920s. It’s a hearty and flavorful meal, perfect for both special occasions and casual weeknight meals.
Below are all of the ingredients for the Greek version of moussaka. The flavor and texture they create is out of this world! See the recipe card below for exact measurements.
Eggplant: The star of the show! Slice them thin, fry them golden, and layer them for a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Eggplant is a great vegetable to work with. It absorbs the flavor of whatever you’re cooking it in!
Potatoes: Another base layer, adding tender, delicious starchiness.
Ground Beef: Lean ground beef is the main protein source in this moussaka recipe. Feel free to use lamb for a traditional twist!
Tomatoes: Diced tomatoes and tomato paste create a tangy and hearty base for the sauce.
Onions & Garlic: Add savory flavor and aromatics.
Spices: I used a combination of cinnamon, oregano, salt, and pepper!
Red Wine Vinegar: Adds a touch of acidity and also deglazes the pan for extra flavor.
Butter & Flour: The base of this creamy sauce.
Milk: Warmed milk gets whisked in, so the bechamel is nice and creamy.
Egg Yolks: Add richness and help bind the sauce for a velvety finish.
Nutmeg & Parmesan: A pinch of nutmeg adds warmth, while parmesan cheese brings salty depth and a golden gratin crust. SO good!
Olive Oil: For frying the vegetables in and adding earthiness to the moussaka overall.
Fresh Parsley: For a finishing touch!
This recipe is prep-heavy, but it’s so worth it! All of the hearty layers are what makes moussaka so good.
Wash and Slice: Wash your eggplants and potatoes, slice them into ¼ inch rounds. Squeeze the eggplant dry with paper towels, remove any excess liquid.
Sauté: Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the vegetables to the hot oil and fry them until they are just browned. Work in a couple batches to avoid crowding, adding more oil between batches.
Remove Excess Oil and Season: When the vegetables are removed from the oil, place them on paper towels to allow any excess oil to run off. Season the fried veggies with salt and pepper and set aside.
Cook Beef and Onion: Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the ground beef and onion. Saute until the beef is thoroughly browned and cooked through. Add the garlic and saute another 2 minutes.
Add Tomatoes, Vinegar, and Spices: To the saucepan add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, cinnamon, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring everything to a gentile boil, mixing until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
Set Aside: Remove the sauce from heat and set aside.
Roux: Melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly for about 2 minutes, until thick and bubbly and just starting to lightly brown.
Whisk in Milk: Slowly add the milk a little at a time while whisking constantly to prevent clumping. Increase the heat to medium and continue to whisk for 3-4 minutes until thickened and nearly boiling.
Add Eggs and Seasonings: Remove the bechamel sauce from heat and add the egg yolks, salt and pepper to taste as well as 1 pinch of nutmeg. Whisk the egg yolks in quickly to fully incorporate the eggs without letting them cook in clumps in the sauce, then set aside.
Preheat Oven, Prepare Baking Dish: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a 9X13 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Vegetable Layers: Spread the potatoes in an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Layer half the eggplants on top of the potatoes.
Top With Meat Sauce and Bechamel: Pour all the meat sauce over the eggplant. Layer the remaining eggplant on top of the meat sauce. Pour the bechamel sauce over the eggplant and top it with the parmesan cheese.
Bake: Bake the mousaka for 35-45 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve: Sprinkle with fresh parsley and enjoy!
This delicious layered dish is super easy to customize. Here are some ideas:
Traditional Version: You can use ground lamb in place of ground beef, which is more traditional.
Omit the Potatoes: You can leave out the potato layer entirely if you want, no need to replace it with anything else!
Make it Meatless: Skip the ground beef and double up on the vegetables, adding lentils or chickpeas for protein. Use vegetable broth instead of beef broth for a vegetarian-friendly option.
Golden Crust: For a more golden-brown crust, broil your moussaka for a minute or two before serving.
Leftovers are your friend! Moussaka tastes even better the next day as the flavors deepen.
In the Fridge: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
To Reheat: Reheat your moussaka in the oven for about 20-30 minutes or until warmed through at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave.
1 hr 10 mins
1 tablespoon olive oil1 pound lean ground beef½ yellow onion, minced3 cloves garlic, minced1 can diced tomatoes, 14 ounce2 tablespoons tomato paste¼ cup red wine vinegar1 teaspoon cinnamon1 teaspoon oregano1 teaspoon salt½ teaspoon black pepper