Greek Eggplant Moussaka Recipe

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Moussaka is a classic Greek comfort food. Follow our step-by-step recipe to make this easy and comforting eggplant casserole. 

Greek moussaka is a classic comfort food of the Mediterranean region. This step by step moussaka recipe will show you how easy and comforting it is to make this delicious eggplant casserole.


 

We have some truly awesome Greek recipes on the blog. Some of our all-time favorite recipes of Greek origin include avgolemono, spanakorizo, chicken souvlaki, pastitsio, and Greek meatballs (Keftedes) served with creamy tzatziki. Today, we’re going to make another Greek classic: the mighty eggplant moussaka!

About this recipe

Moussaka is a traditional Mediterranean eggplant casserole that’s been around for many, many years. Its main ingredients are eggplants, a ground meat sauce, and delicious creamy sauce used as a topping.

Moussaka consists of four layers:

  • Sliced potatoes briefly cooked in boiling water.
  • Sliced roasted eggplants.
  • A delicious meat sauce made with ground lamb, beef or both.
  • A creamy sauce that could either be bechamel, yogurt or cheese sauce. Bechamel sauce is a basic sauce that was brought to Greece by the French. The bechamel sauce really brings this meal together.

Is this recipe Turkish or Greek?

This is a common dish in the Middle East and the Mediterranean so it’s very difficult to classify it as belonging to a specific country, though most Americans seem to think of it as Greek and it commonly found in Greek restaurants in the United States. The preparation of moussaka differs in Turkey, Greece and Lebanon. According to Clifford A. Wright, one of the first recipes for this dish was found in an Arabic cookbook from the 13th century.

Does moussaka contain potato?

It depends on the region and, of course, the recipe. Moussaka can be made with or without potatoes. I love including potatoes because the starch turns it into a full meal and holds the dish together pretty well.

Greek moussaka is an easy eggplant casserole that's perfect for a weeknight dinner.

Ingredients and substitutions

As mentioned before, there are four layers in homemade moussaka but don’t let this scare you as this is not a complicated recipe. If you can make a casserole, you won’t have a problem!

To make the first three layers, you need:

  • Eggplants – Italian or globe eggplants would work well for this recipe. Graffiti eggplants work just as fine. However, I don’t suggest using thinner eggplants such as Chinese eggplants because the pieces will be too small after roasting. Remember that you don’t have to peel the eggplants. The skin holds the flesh together and makes the transfer and slicing easier. 
  • Potatoes – Russet or Yukon gold work very well for this recipe. The potatoes will be partially cooked before layering.
  • Ground meat – Traditionally this dish is made with ground lamb. However, you can use ground beef or a combination of both. 
  • Tomato paste – Use tomato paste for flavor and color. I don’t recommend using tomato sauce as a substitute.
For this moussaka recipe you need beef or lamb, onion, garlic, tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes and spices.

The fourth layer will be the creamy bechamel sauce, made with:

  • Butter: It’s best to use unsalted butter for this recipe. If using salted, make sure to adjust the amount of salt in your meat sauce.
  • Flour: All purpose flour works just fine for this recipe. For a gluten-free sauce please use 1:1 gluten-free flour.
  • Milk: You can use whole milk or 2% to make this sauce. I don’t recommend using skim or non dairy milk.
  • Eggs: It’s best if the eggs are at room temperature so they mix well into the sauce.
  • Parmesan cheese: Traditionally this sauce is made with Kefalotyri but since that’s not available everywhere, you can use freshly grated parmesan.
To make bechamel sauce for moussaka you need butter, flour, milk, eggs and parmesan cheese.

Instructions

Prepare the eggplants and potatoes

Bring a pot of water to boil and preheat the oven to 400°F. Slice the potatoes and eggplants (1/2 inch thickness). Brush olive oil on the eggplants and coat the baking sheet with cooking spray. 

Place the eggplants on the baking sheet and roast them for 20 minutes until they are cooked and golden brown. Meanwhile, boil the potato slices for about five to seven minutes until they are somehow fork tender but are not falling apart.

Roast the eggplant slices in the oven.

Prepare the meat sauce

While the eggplants are roasting, prepare the meat sauce by sautéing onion until golden brown. Add the ground beef or lamb to the onion and garlic and brown completely.

Add in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and all the spices. The aroma of paprika and cinnamon will make your kitchen smell so good! Now that you have the potatoes ready, the eggplants roasted and the meat sauce completely cooked, it’s time to make the bechamel sauce.

saute the onion and garlic with meat, add the tomato paste and crushed tomatoes and spices.

Make the bechamel sauce

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Then stir in the flour and mix using a whisk. It should not turn into a hard paste, but rather a loose mixture of butter and flour.

Slowly add the milk (in four to five pours) to the butter and flour mixture and whisk very well after each addition, making sure no lumps are visible. Bring the mixture to simmer and cook until it thickens, which should take about five to seven minutes. As you can see in the photo below, the sauce is thick enough that it doesn’t run off the wooden spoon.

Turn the heat off and season the bechamel sauce with salt and pepper. Then add eggs and parmesan cheese. Whisk well until the sauce is smooth and no lumps are visible.

To make bechamel sauce, whisk flour and butter, add in milk and cook for a few minutes. Add eggs and parmesan cheese.

Assemble the moussaka

Spread a thin layer of bechamel sauce at the bottom of a large baking dish (9×13) and then layer the potatoes on the sauce. Layer the eggplants on the potatoes and top with the meat sauce. Make sure it covers all the roasted eggplant slices.

Top moussaka with the creamy bechamel sauce and sprinkle more parmesan cheese on top. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes and then get ready to enjoy this delicious meal!

place the potatoes, add the eggplant and the sauce top with bechamel and parmesan then bake.

Frying the eggplant vs roasting

Frying the eggplants will work just fine for this Greek moussaka recipe. I like to roast them because it’s faster, easier and uses way less oil.

If you decide to fry the eggplants, please sprinkle some salt on both sides and let them sit in a colander for 30 minutes until they “sweat.” Then rinse them with cold water and dry each piece using a paper towel. Heat vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat and fry them for about five minutes on each side, making sure they’re soft but not burnt. 

Serving suggestions

If you like the moussaka to have clean and nice slices, make sure you let it cool for about 15 minutes and then, using a sharp knife, slice and serve it with a side salad such as classic Greek Salad, Mediterranean salad, or fattoush salad.

A slice of moussaka in the pan.

Leftovers

Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Reheat in the oven at 300 degrees F for 20-25 minutes until completely heated through.

To freeze moussaka let it cool completely, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. You can also slice it and place them in a freezer safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating in the oven.

Frequently asked questions

Can I make this vegetarian?

Yes, all you need to do is to leave the meat out and use a combination of veggies like green beans, mushrooms, zucchini and squash in the same recipe.

Can I freeze the leftovers?

Absolutely. Let moussaka cool completely and then slice and freeze. To eat, simply defrost in the fridge and reheat in the oven.

My bechamel sauce got so lumpy and not creamy at all, why?

The main reason could be that you didn’t add the milk in steps. Stagger your pour – don’t put it all in at once. You need to add the milk slowly so every time that it’s added, it’s combined well with the flour mixture. Also, the milk might have been too cold.

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes! You can make all the layers a day before and assemble later. You can also assemble the layers and refrigerate for a day and cook later.

How can I keep the eggplant from getting mushy?

Make sure that the slices are not too thin because they will get too soft. Peel stripes on the eggplants instead of peeling them completely to help them keep their shape.

a slice of Greek eggplant moussaka on a plate and the rest in the pan.

Notes and tips

  • I usually do one layer of potatoes, eggplants, meat sauce and bechamel but you can also do several layers by layering potatoes on the bottom and then eggplants, meat sauce, more eggplants, and more meat sauce. Just make sure the bechamel is on top!
  • Don’t cook the potatoes too much; otherwise they’ll fall apart as they cook in the oven.
  • Make sure the eggplant slices are not too thin as they can get mushy. You can also grill the eggplants.
  • For the meat sauce, you can use lamb, beef, or a combination of both. I love using half lamb and half beef. It’s best to use lean beef (93% to 97% lean) to make this recipe. 
  • The best eggplants for this moussaka recipe are globe eggplants since they have a great texture. Italian eggplants would work pretty well.
A bite of greek eggplant dish

More eggplant recipes

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4.59 from 131 votes

Greek Eggplant Moussaka Recipe

Moussaka is a classic Greek comfort food. Follow our step-by-step recipe to make this easy and comforting eggplant casserole. 
Prep: 35 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
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Ingredients 

  • 2 large eggplants, sliced (1/2 inch thickness)
  • 3 medium potatoes , peeled and sliced (1/2 inch thickness)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion , chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef , See Note #1
  • 1 can 14 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Bechamel Sauce

  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 5 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup parmesan
  • 2 eggs, room temperature

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and brush generously with olive oil.  
  • Place the eggplant sliced on the baking sheet and brush some more olive oil on them. 
  • Roast in the oven for 20 minutes until they are cooked and golden brown. Take then out of the oven and lower the temperature to 350F. 
  • As the eggplants are roasting, bring a pot of water to boil. 
  • Cook the potato sliced in the boiling water for five to seven minutes until they are some how fork tender. Drain and discard the water. Set the potatoes aside. 
  • Heat olive oil in a large pan and saute onion and garlic until golden brown. 
  • Add in the ground beef and brown completely. Discard excess fat if any. 
  • Add in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and all the spices. Mix well and cook for about ten minutes over medium low heat. Make sure the meat sauce is juicy enough, add 1/2 cup water or broth if needed. 

Bechamel Sauce

  • Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. 
  • Whisk in the flour and mix well. 
  • Add milk in steps and whisk very well after each addition. 
  • Bring the sauce to simmer and cook for some minutes until it’s creamy and thick. 
  • Turn the heat off, add in salt and pepper. 
  • Add in the eggs and parmesan cheese. Whisk well until everything is completely incorporated. 

Assembling Moussaka

  • Coat the bottom of a 10×13 baking dish with bechamel sauce. 
  • Layer the potatoes so they cover the bottom completely. 
  • Layer the roasted eggplant slices on the potatoes. 
  • Pour the meat sauce over the eggplants. 
  • Cover the meat sauce with bechamel sauce and sprinkle extra parmesan cheese on top. 
  • Bake in the oven at 350F for about 45 minutes until golden and the sauce is bubbling. Broil for two minutes if desired. 
  • Let moussaka cool for ten to fifteen minutes before slicing. 

Notes

  1. I usually do one layer of potatoes, eggplants, meat sauce and bechamel but you can also do several layers by layering potatoes on the bottom and then eggplants, meat sauce, more eggplants, and more meat sauce. Just make sure the bechamel is on top!
  2. Don’t cook the potatoes too much; otherwise they’ll fall apart as they cook in the oven.
  3. Make sure the eggplant slices are not too thin as they can get mushy. You can also grill the eggplants.
  4. For the meat sauce, you can use lamb, beef, or a combination of both. I love using half lamb and half beef. It’s best to use lean beef (93% to 97% lean) to make this recipe. 
  5. The best eggplants for this recipe are globe eggplants since they have a great texture. Italian eggplants would work pretty well.

Nutrition

Calories: 309kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 678mg | Potassium: 415mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 711IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 197mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this recipe? Leave a comment below!

This recipe was created in partnership with the dairy farm families of New England.

About Shadi HasanzadeNemati

I'm here to show you how to make delicious Persian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food at home. My easy to follow recipes will bring exciting new flavors to your table!

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4.59 from 131 votes (85 ratings without comment)

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75 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner tonight. Husband and I loved it! I cut the eggplant too thin so it was melted into the dish a bit. Next time I know and will cut thicker. The Beschamel sauce was rich and tasty. Baked up beautifully.

    1. To freeze moussaka let it cool completely, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. You can also slice it and place them in a freezer safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating in the oven.

  2. I made this tonight. It is my first time ever making this dish. I didn’t realize I used the wrong milk (I only had 2%), but I remedied it with a little extra butter to make up for the list fat. It came out great…except it said to keep the meat sauce saucy and add liquid if needed. I think I could’ve added less liquid as it came out slightly soupy…but not real bad. I wasn’t sure what kind of Parmesan to use. The pic in the recipe looks like what you sprinkle onto spaghetti. So I used shredded park in the recipe and both shredded and grated on top.

    Bottom line…I have a very happy hubby and he said, “I can’t believe you waited so long to make this!” I am not an accomplished cook so I love it when he likes what I cook. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    I was craving Moussaka and had not prepared in a while. Looked up recipes in Pinterest and am very impressed with yours! I did a few things slightly different. I first sliced the eggplant and salted them , then patted them dry to get bitterness out., then used a mix of half and half and almond milk atsp of Guar gum, added a full tsp of cinnamon. All turned out well and was delicous!
    I won’t wait so long to prepare this again. Thank you much.

  4. 5 stars
    I use the traditional ground lamb instead of beef, add’s a TON of extra “GreeK” flavour, thank you for this recipe, It is amazing. I also added a large pinch of sugar to cut the acidity of the tomato’s and liven up the cinnamon flavour, tres Bon!

  5. Made this and it was really easy and good. Can this be made ahead and frozen? Not sure how the egg plant will do. However will only cook it on the day so hoping that it will be ok. Appreciate feedback regarding making ahead and freezing.
    Love the idea of addding lentilles may just try that as well!

    1. Yes! You can make all the layers a day before and assemble later. You can also assemble the layers and refrigerate for a day and cook later. You can also freeze it. Let moussaka cool completely and then slice and freeze. To eat, simply defrost in the fridge and reheat in the oven.

  6. 5 stars
    Great straightforward recipe. I’ve also roasted
    the potatoes along with the eggplant. I first slice them about 1/4 inch and spray with olive oil and lightly salted. saves boiling.