Greek Moussaka

A delicious Greek Moussaka.

Experience the Mediterranean with this traditional Greek Moussaka. A hearty dish layered with eggplant, potatoes, and a rich meat sauce, all topped with a creamy béchamel sauce. Granny always loved exploring international cuisines, and this Greek classic was one of her favorites. This moussaka is a perfect blend of savory meat, tender eggplant, and creamy sauce, all baked to golden perfection.

Creating the perfect béchamel sauce can be a bit tricky, but Granny has a foolproof method. By slowly adding warmed milk to a butter and flour mixture, and whisking continuously, you'll achieve a smooth, creamy sauce that's the perfect topping for this dish.


  • 6 eggplants
  • 5 potatoes (optional)
  • vegetable oil (for frying the eggplants)
  • 750g beef or lamb mince
  • 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
  • 900ml milk
  • 120g butter
  • 120g flour
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 100g Parmigiano-Reggiano or Kefalotyri or your favourite hard cheese
  • salt to taste
  • Method

    • 1. Let's kick things off with our eggplants. First, you'll want to bid farewell to those stalks and slice the eggplants into 1 cm thick rounds. Give them a good sprinkling of salt and let them rest in a colander for about half an hour. After their little nap, rinse them well with water and give them a gentle squeeze to get rid of any excess water. Pat them dry and fry them in a generous amount of oil until they're beautifully colored. Transfer the fried eggplants onto some paper to soak up any extra oil. Once done, set them aside.

    • 2. If you're planning to add potatoes to your moussaka, now's the time. Slice them into 0.5cm rounds and fry or bake them just like you did with the eggplants. Don't forget to season them with a bit of salt. Once they're done, set them aside.

    • 3. Next up, we're making the meat sauce. Heat a large pan to medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Toss in the chopped onions and sauté them until they're softened and slightly colored. Add the mince, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as you sauté. Once it starts to brown, add the garlic and tomato paste and continue to sauté until the garlic softens. Pour in the red wine to deglaze the pan and wait for it to evaporate. Add the tinned tomatoes, sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, a bay leaf, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes or until most of the juices have evaporated. Once done, set it aside.

    • 4. Now, let's prepare the béchamel sauce. In a large pan, melt the butter over low-medium heat. Add the flour, whisking continuously to form a paste. Gradually add warmed milk, continuing to whisk to prevent any lumps from forming. If the sauce needs to thicken, let it boil over low heat while you continue to stir. The consistency should be similar to a thick cream. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the egg yolks, salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg, and most of the grated cheese. Keep some cheese to sprinkle on top later! Whisk quickly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Season with salt to taste. Take a spoonful of béchamel and stir it into the meat sauce. Set the béchamel sauce aside.

    • 5. It's assembly time! For this moussaka recipe, you'll need a large baking dish (approx. 20x30cm / 8x12inch and 8cm/3 inch deep). Butter the bottom and sides of the pan and start layering. If you're using potatoes, they go in first, followed by half the eggplants. Pour in all of the meat sauce and spread it out evenly. Add a second layer of eggplants, then top with all of the béchamel sauce, smoothing it out with a spatula. Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F and bake your moussaka for about 60 minutes or until the crust turns a light golden brown. It will be tough, but try to wait for the moussaka to cool down and be just warm to the touch before cutting into pieces. This will help ensure that the béchamel sauce stays put when you're serving up this delicious dish.

    All About Moussaka: A Culinary Journey

    Embark on a culinary journey into the heart of the Mediterranean, and explore the rich, savory world of Moussaka. This beloved dish, with its layers of eggplant, meat, and creamy béchamel sauce, has captivated the palates of food enthusiasts across the globe. From the bustling markets of Athens to the cozy kitchens of home cooks in the United States, Moussaka has become a symbol of Greek cuisine and a testament to the universal appeal of comfort food. So, grab your apron and your appetite as we delve into the history, variations, and serving suggestions of this iconic dish.

    The History of Moussaka

    Moussaka is an eggplant- or potato-based dish, often including ground meat, which is common in the Balkans and the Middle East, with many local and regional variations. The best-known version in Europe and the Americas is the Greek variant created in the 1920s by Nikolaos Tselementes. Many versions have a top layer made of milk-based sauce thickened with egg (custard) or flour (béchamel sauce). In Greece, the dish is layered and typically served hot.

    The English name for moussaka was borrowed from Greek mousakás and from other Balkan languages, all borrowed from Ottoman Turkish, which in turn borrowed it from Arabic muṣaqqa‘a, meaning 'pounded' or 'cold'. The word is first attested in English in 1862, written mùzàkkà.

    Regional Variations

    From Egypt to Turkey, and from Romania to Saudi Arabia, Moussaka takes on different forms and flavors. In Egypt, the main ingredient is fried eggplant, while in Turkey, it consists of thinly sliced and fried eggplant served in a tomato-based meat sauce. In Romania, a vegan version replaces meat with mushrooms or a mix of sautéed onions and rice.

    In the Levant, moussaka is a cooked dish made up primarily of tomatoes and eggplant, similar to Sicilian caponata, and may also include chickpeas. It may be served cold as a mezze dish, or hot. In the rest of the Balkans, the top layer is often a custard.

    Serving Suggestions

    Moussaka is a versatile dish that can be served as a main course or as a side dish. It pairs well with a fresh Greek salad and a glass of red wine. Remember, Moussaka is best enjoyed warm, allowing the flavors to fully develop.

    For a complete Mediterranean experience, consider serving Moussaka with other regional favorites like Tzatziki, Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), or Spanakopita (spinach and feta pie). And for dessert? A piece of Baklava or Galaktoboureko (custard pie) would be the perfect sweet ending to your comfort food meal.