Greek cuisine’s most famous dish, moussaka, an eggplant potato casserole, is in its best version here. Loved by Greeks and people from around the world, it is the epitome of comfort food. It’s like a big teddy bear hug. This is the authentic Greek moussaka recipe, just like we make at home. Enjoy!

If you love this moussaka, you will also love this pastitsioGreek stuffed eggplants or cumin meatballs in red sauce!

At front, a plate with a piece of moussaka, the greek eggplant potato casserole. At the back a baking pan with moussaka a glass of red wine and partial view of another plate.

Why this recipe sings

Moussaka is a dish that speaks Greek even though none of the ingredients that make it up are purely Greek. The eggplant and ground beef combination is of Eastern origin, and the béchamel has a French influence. Yet, anyone who comes to Greece for a holiday cannot wait to try this dish.

Moussakas (as we say in Greek with an s at the end) reminds us of summer, the islands, and big family dinners in gardens and yards. The dish, complicated as it is, is always a treat and a celebration.

There are many variations of a moussaka recipe in greek homes. The reason is the eggplant, the main vegetable of this recipe. It has loyal fans and sworn enemies. So Greek cooks trying to satisfy the preferences of the whole family, resorted to many variations: moussaka with potatoes with no eggplants in sight, with zucchini instead of eggplants, zucchini-eggplant-potatoes layers or various other vegetables, and a mashed potato topping instead of a rich bechamel (cottage pie anyone?).

The “correct” moussaka recipe has layers of eggplant, a meat ragout sauce, and a rich béchamel.

All these variations are authentic to Greek families, and they enjoy each and every one of them.

This recipe is the moussaka my parents and grandparents made through the years. It is exactly how I remember it and how I make it at home. Layers of lightly fried potato slices layered with slices of eggplant, some grated cheese, and a rich ground beef ragout sauce. A creamy, delicious bechamel sauce and a cheesy, crusty golden top to die for, just like home.

Here is what you need

For the eggplants and potatoes

Ingredients for what you need to prep the eggplants and potatoes for moussaka.
  • Yukon gold potatoes. I love them because they taste great and don’t need peeling. Their skin is thin and perfectly edible; it gets a bit crisp from the frying. Remember to scrub potatoes clean before slicing.
  • Eggplants. The key to a good moussaka is choosing good eggplants. Ideally, they should be in season and fresh.
  • Olive oil. I always fry the vegetable slices in olive oil. I love the taste and have never had any trouble with the high temperature. I am keeping the temp medium to high works fine for me. By all means, fry the veggies in sunflower oil or the oil of your preference.
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper. For seasoning and all over the eggplants while they release their liquid.

For the meat ragu

Ingredients for making the meat ragout sauce for moussaka.
  • Ground beef. I choose an 85/100 ratio for my ground beef. I prefer it to a very lean cut. You can also use a combination of ground beef and pork. For a leaner moussaka, you can make it with ground turkey.
  • Onions and garlic.
  • Tomato paste. To intensify and thicken the meat sauce.
  • Tomatoes. I use two cans of San Marzano tomatoes and pulse them in the food processor to make passata-tomato puree.
  • Red wine.
  • Cinnamon stick, cloves, ground cumin and nutmeg, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper.
  • Extra virgin olive oil.

For the béchamel

All the ingredients you need to make béchamel sauce for moussaka.
  • Butter.
  • All-purpose flour
  • Whole milk. 
  • Bay leaf.
  • Ground nutmeg.
  • Eggs. You will only use the yolks to thicken the white sauce.
  • Parmigiano Reggiano. The grated cheese is used to thicken the white sauce grated.

Detailed measurements, instructions, and tips are on the recipe card at the bottom of the page.

Step by step

Good ingredients, organization, and timing are the keys to a successful and delicious moussaka. This eggplant and potato casserole can rack havoc in a kitchen, so planning your steps is best. Below is the order I make things.

  1. Start the sauce.
  2. While the sauce cooks, prepare the eggplants and potatoes.
  3. Start assembling as soon as the meat sauce finishes.
  4. Preheat the oven.
  5. Make the béchamel and finish assembling.
  6. Cook in the oven.

Make the meat ragu sauce

A stock pot with browned ground beef.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a deep saucepan and brown the ground meat over high heat, stirring and breaking it with a spoon. 

A stock pot with diced onions, a cinnamon stick cut in half and browned ground beef.

After the meat browns, add the diced onion, garlic, spices, cinnamon sticks, and two or three cloves.

A stock pot with browned ground beef.

Let the onion soften for a few minutes, and add the tomato paste. Stir and cook for two-three minutes and pour in the wine. Let the alcohol evaporate. 

A stock pot with ground beef ragout sauce.

Add the tomatoes, a teaspoon of sugar and stir. Simmer the meat ragu for an hour on low heat.

Prepare the eggplants and potatoes

A red colander with eggplant slices in a black sink.
Cut the eggplants into slices about 1 cm / ⅓ inch thick.
Sprinkle slices with sea salt, and place them on a colander to drain their liquids for 15 minutes.
A white bowl filled with sliced potatoes and water in a sink.
Cut the potatoes into 6 mm / ¼ inch thick slices. Place slices into a bowl of water while you slice. When all are done, drain, and pat dry.
Four eggplant slices frying in a non stick skillet.
Pat the eggplants dry.
Fry eggplant slices in hot olive oil until they take on color, about 2-3 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack and set aside.
Five potato slices frying in a non stick skillet.
Fry potato slices in hot olive oil until they take on color, about 1-2 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack and set aside.

Start assembling

A large baking pan with potato slices on a wood surface.

Add a layer of potatoes to a baking pan—season with sea salt and pepper. Repeat with another layer of potatoes.

A large baking pan with eggplant slices on a wood surface.

Layer the eggplants. If you like, you can alternate with a layer of eggplants or add another layer of potatoes and right after layer of eggplant.

A large baking pan with meat sauce and grated cheese on a wood surface.

Remove the cinnamon stick from the meat sauce and pour it evenly over the eggplants. Next, sprinkle a generous amount of grated cheese.

Time to pre-heat the oven to 200°C / 390°F

Make the béchamel

Greeks call this white sauce béchamel for this recipe. Some would argue that technically it is a mornay sauce because the classic béchamel recipe does not include grated cheese.

TIP. Start the béchamel when your meat sauce is done cooking, and you have added it as a layer in your baking pan.

A saucepan with milk and a bayleaf.
Add the milk and the bay leaf to a saucepan and warm it on medium heat.
A saucepan with butter and flour and a whisk.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. 
Pour in the flour and cook while stirring with a wooden spoon or whisk…
A saucepan with roux and a whisk.
…until the roux takes on a slightly blond color.
A saucepan with milk poured into white sauce and a whisk.
Gradually pour in the warm milk.
Whisk continuously to dissolve any lumps and create a smooth sauce.
A saucepan with white sauce, and yolks poured in it.
Remove from heat.
Season with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and nutmeg. 
Add the yolks…
A saucepan with white sauce, and grated cheese poured in it and a whisk.
…and one cup of grated Parmigiano cheese.
Reserve the rest of the cheese.
Whisk until smooth.
Béchamel sauce and a wooden spoon.

Resume assembling

A large baking pan with white sauce and grated cheese on a wood surface.

Pour the béchamel over the meat in an even layer. Sprinkle the reserved grated cheese on top.

Bake for 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

A baking pan with moussaka, the greek eggplant potato casserole. Around it two glasses of red wine, partial view of utensils and a loaf of bread and some herbs.

Serve moussaka with a leafy green salad, feta cheese and a nice Cabernet Sauvignon.

Check out my Greek pantry staples 

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A piece of moussaka on a plate.

Moussaka-Greek Eggplant Potato Casserole

by Jenny | The Greek Foodie
Greek cuisine's most famous dish, moussaka is in its best version here. This is the authentic Greek moussaka recipe, just like we make at home.
5 from 17 votes
Print Recipe
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 50 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Greek
Servings 10
Calories 592 kcal

Equipment

  • Skillet
  • Medium saucepan
  • large deep saucepan
  • large baking pan
  • Collander.

Ingredients
  

For the vegetables

  • 2 large eggplants Plus one extra in case it is needed
  • 3 large Yukon gold potatoes Plus one extra in case it is needed
  • cup extra virgin olive oil

For the meat ragu

  • 1.5 lb ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions medium size, or one large, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cinnamon stick or one teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2-3 cloves or one teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the béchamel

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour plus more in case you need to thicken the sauce
  • 1 litre whole milk plus one cup in case you need to thin the sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 yolks
  • cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated

You also need

  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Instructions
 

Prepare the meat ragu

  • Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a deep large saucepan and brown the ground meat over high heat, stirring and breaking it with a spoon.
    After it browns, add the onion, garlic, ground nutmeg, cumin, cinnamon stick, and cloves.
    Let the onion soften for a few minutes, and add the tomato paste. Stir and cook for two-three minutes and pour in the wine. Let the alcohol evaporate.
    Add the tomatoes and a teaspoon of sugar and stir.
    Simmer meat ragu for an hour on low heat.

Prepare the eggplants

  • Cut the eggplants into slices about 1 cm / ⅓ inch thick.
    Sprinkle slices with sea salt, and place them on a colander to drain their liquids for 15 minutes.
    Pat the eggplants dry.
    Fry eggplant slices in hot olive oil until they take on color, about 2-3 minutes.
    Transfer to a wire rack and set aside.

Prepare the potatoes

  • Cut the potatoes into 6 mm / ¼ inch thick slices. Place slices into a bowl of water while you slice. When all are done, drain, and pat dry.
    Fry slices in hot olive oil until they take on color, about 1-2 minutes.
    Transfer to a wire rack and set aside.

Assemble

  • Add a layer of potatoes to a baking pan—season with sea salt and pepper. Repeat with another layer of potatoes. Layer the eggplants.
    You can alternate with a layer of eggplants if you like or add another layer of potatoes and right after layers of eggplant.
    Remove the cinnamon stick from the meat sauce and pour it evenly over the eggplants.
    Next, sprinkle a generous amount of grated cheese.

Time to pre-heat the oven to 200°C / 390°F

  • Start the bechamel when your meat sauce is done cooking and layering all the other components to the pan.

Make the béchamel

  • Add the milk and the bay leaf to a saucepan and warm it on medium heat.
  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan.
    Pour in the flour and cook while stirring with a wooden spoon until the roux takes on a slightly blond color.
    Gradually pour in the warm milk. Use a which and stir continuously to dissolve any lumps and create a smooth sauce.
    Remove from heat.
    Season with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and nutmeg.
    Add the yolks and one cup of grated Parmigiano cheese. Reserve the rest of the cheese. Whisk until smooth.

Finish assembling and bake

  • Pour the béchamel over the meat in an even layer. Sprinkle the reserved grated cheese on top.
    Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  • Let food cool for 15 minutes.
    Serve with a leafy green salad, feta cheese, and a glass of Cabernet. Enjoy!

Notes

Apart from good ingredients, organization and timing are the keys to a successful moussaka. This dish can rack havoc in a kitchen, so planning the steps is best. In this recipe, I am giving you the order I make things.
  1. Start the sauce.
  2. While the sauce cooks, prepare the eggplants and potatoes.
  3. Start assembling as soon as the meat sauce finishes.
  4. Make the béchamel and finish assembling.
  5. Bake.
 
  • Traditionally, the eggplants and potatoes are fried for a few minutes until golden. The shallow frying adds extra flavor to the dish. However, you can bake the slices with similar results with a lighter taste. For a lighter moussaka, brush the sliced eggplants and potatoes with olive oil, season with sea salt and pepper, and bake them in parchment paper lined sheet pans for 20 minutes at 180°C/350°F until they are partially cooked.
  • I use Yukon gold potatoes because they don’t need peeling. Their skin is thin and perfectly edible; it gets a bit crisp from the frying. Remember to scrub potatoes clean before slicing. I suggest peeling the skin first if you use another kind of potato.
  • You want the eggplant and potatoes ratio to be 2/3 eggplant to 1/3 potato.
  • Have another potato available for quick slicing and frying if three potatoes are not enough to cover your whole pan. The same applies to eggplant.
  • Start the béchamel when your meat sauce is done cooking and layering all the other components to the pan. It will allow the bechamel to be poured over immediately and not sit around. Béchamel develops a thin crusty layer after a while, so using it fresh off the stove is best.
  • For the top, you can also mix half 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs with 1/3 cup of grated parmesan.
  • This recipe calls for a large deep baking pan. The one I am using is Similar to 10″ x 13″ x 3″ / 26cm x 35cm x 7.5cm
 
Nutritional Info – Please remember that the nutritional information provided is only estimated and can vary based on the products used.

Nutrition

Calories: 592kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 25gFat: 39gSaturated Fat: 15gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 144mgSodium: 458mgPotassium: 1091mgFiber: 6gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 694IUVitamin C: 22mgCalcium: 374mgIron: 4mg
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Moussaka-Greek Eggplant Potato Casserole

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