This Easy Moussaka Recipe is an unbelievably delicious classic Greek casserole! With layers of tender roasted eggplant and spiced meat sauce topped with velvety parmesan bechamel, it’s a rich and comforting family favorite that will have everyone saying “opa”!
What Is Moussaka
Allow me to introduce you to hearty and delicious moussaka! At its heart, this dish is almost like a Greek-inspired beef and eggplant lasagna. Featuring layers of roasted eggplant and Mediterranean spiced meat sauce covered with creamy béchamel, and then baked to golden brown perfection, it’s an authentic taste of Greece.
But you might be wondering, with so many layers, is making this culinary masterpiece a daunting task? The answer is no! While this Greek casserole may appear complicated, the steps are super easy and it doesn’t require any fancy ingredients! So, grab a couple of eggplants and give this easy moussaka recipe a try!
Why You’ll Love This Moussaka Recipe
- Easy Recipe! This dish may seem like a complex culinary creation, but it’s surprisingly easy to make! It doesn’t require any hard to find ingredients and my recipe breaks down the process into simple steps.
- Classic Greek Dish! Infused with traditional Mediterranean spices, this easy moussaka recipe captures the very essence of Greek cuisine. Featuring layers of eggplant, a meaty red sauce, and rich bechamel, this dish is incredibly delicious.
- Crowd Pleaser! With its comforting layers of flavors and textures, moussaka is a wholesome and filling meal that the whole family will enjoy. From Sunday dinners to holiday feasts, this Greek casserole does not disappoint.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Olive Oil: I always use extra virgin olive oil to saute the aromatics. You can also use vegetable oil if you prefer.
- Onion: Flavors the meat sauce and adds texture. I used brown onion but any type of onion will work.
- Garlic: Infuses the sauce with a pungent yummy flavor. Use fresh minced garlic cloves for the best taste.
- Ground Meat: Ground beef or lamb provides the sauce with its meatiness. For a leaner alternative, you can use ground turkey or chicken.
- Diced Tomatoes: Diced tomatoes contribute savory flavor and add some texture. Fresh tomatoes can be used as a substitute.
- Tomato Paste: Enhances the tomato flavor and thickens the sauce.
- Herbs: A mixture of dried oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice gives the dish its signature flavor.
- Seasonings: Salt and black pepper are added to taste.
- Red Wine: A touch of red wine elevates the sauce with a layer of complexity.
- Eggplants: Roasted sliced eggplant provides a tender and flavorful layer.
- Salt: Draws out any excess moisture and bitterness from the eggplant slices.
- Olive Oil: Adds flavor to the roasted eggplant and helps it to properly brown.
- Butter: Forms the roux of the creamy bechamel. Always use unsalted butter to control the saltiness of the dish.
- All-Purpose Flour: White flour thickens the sauce. You can use gluten-free flour if needed.
- Milk: Creates the creamy texture of the sauce. Plant-based milk like almond or oat milk works as a dairy-free alternative.
- Seasonings: Salt and black pepper enhance the flavor of the bechamel.
- Ground Nutmeg: Just a pinch complements the richness and creaminess.
- Eggs: Helps to bind the sauce and add richness.
- Parmesan Cheese: Provides the sauce with some cheesy goodness.
How To Make Moussaka
Don’t let the long list of ingredients or steps scare you away! This Greek moussaka recipe is actually quite easy to make and is perfect for feeding a crowd!
Preheat The Oven
Begin by preheating your oven to 375°F (190°C). Then grab a 9×13 inch (23×33 cm) casserole dish and set it aside.
Cook The Meat
Start by heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Then add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the pan and saute for about 5 minutes until the onion becomes soft and translucent.
Now, add the ground beef to the mixture and cook it while breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until it’s no longer pink and cooked through.
Make The Sauce
Next, stir the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, dried oregano, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg,
ground allspice, salt, and black pepper into the beef mixture. Then bring it to a simmer and let it cook for about 15 minutes while stirring it occasionally until it thickens up a bit.
If you are using the red wine, add it to the thickened sauce and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
Prep The Eggplant
While the sauce is simmering, start prepping the eggplant. To begin, place the slices of eggplant in a colander in the sink and sprinkle them with salt. Now, let them sit for 30 minutes and let the salt draw out any bitterness.
Once the eggplant has sat for 30 minutes, rinse the salt off the slices and pat them dry with paper towels. Next, brush the slices with olive oil on both sides and lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Then put the baking sheet into the oven and let the eggplant bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until it’s soft and lightly browned.
Make The Bechamel
You can start making the creamy bechamel as the eggplant roasts in the oven. To begin, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Then whisk in the flour until it’s fully combined. Now, slowly begin whisking in ½ cup the milk at a time. Make sure that the milk is fully absorbed by the flour before you whisk in the next portion.
Then when the sauce starts to bubble, whisk in the pepper and nutmeg. Now, whisk in the eggs until well combined. Finally, stir in the parmesan cheese, bring the sauce to a boil, and then remove it from the heat.
Assemble The Dish
Once the sauces are ready and the eggplant is roasted, start building your moussaka! First, spread half of the meat sauce on the bottom of your 9×13-inch baking dish. Next, lay the roasted eggplant in a single layer on top.
Then spread the remaining meat sauce on top of the eggplant. Now, pour the bechamel over the meat sauce and spread it out evenly with a spatula.
Bake The Moussaka
After it’s assembled, transfer the casserole to the preheated oven. Then let it bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until it’s bubbly and golden brown on top. Then remove it from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before slicing it into portions and serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some variations include thinly sliced potatoes between the layers for extra heartiness or incorporating sliced roasted zucchini. You could also add some spinach or mushrooms if you like. Just remember to keep the ratio of ingredients about the same.
This recipe does not. However, some versions do contain an added layer of thinly sliced potatoes. It typically depends on the regional variation and personal preference of the cook.
Moussaka typically consists of three main layers: roasted eggplant slices, a meat sauce, and bechamel sauce on top. However, some recipes might incorporate additional layers.
- Use fresh eggplant. Look for eggplants that are firm with smooth skin for the best results. Overly soft eggplant does not provide the best taste and texture.
- Don’t skip salting the eggplant. This helps to draw out excess moisture and bitterness. Not doing so can result in chewy eggplant.
- Gradually add the milk. When making the bechamel, you must add the milk half a cup at a time to prevent lumps and ensure a velvety consistency.
- Let it rest. Allow the moussaka to rest for a few minutes after baking. This lets the flavors meld a bit more, and the layers settle.
You can store leftover moussaka in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container. To reheat, simply cover it and heat it in the microwave or oven. You can also freeze the leftovers for up to 3 months. Just be sure to let them thaw out overnight in the fridge prior to reheating.
Discover More Great Casseroles
- Baked Mostaccioli
- Beef Stroganoff Casserole
- Tater Tot Casserole
- Chicken Spaghetti
- Green Bean Casserole
Craving More? Follow Along:
Easy Moussaka Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound ground beef or lamb
- 14 ounces diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup red wine optional
- 2 large eggplants sliced into ¼ inch rounds
- olive oil
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic, and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.
- Add the ground beef to the skillet, and cook, breaking it up into small pieces, until it is browned and cooked through.
- Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, dried oregano, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground allspice, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it has thickened slightly. If using red wine, add it to the sauce and let it simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
- While the meat sauce is simmering, prepare the eggplant layers. Place the eggplant slices in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let them sit for about 30 minutes to release any bitterness.
- Rinse the eggplant slices with water and pat them dry with paper towels. Brush them with olive oil on both sides.
- Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast them in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, until they are soft and lightly browned.
- To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. As soon as the butter has melted, whisk in the flour until it gets fully incorporated into the butter.
- Start to add the milk slowly. I usually add it in about 4 batches, so add 1/4 of the milk at a time, whisk until all the liquid is absorbed by the flour and repeat until you have whisked in all the milk.
- When the sauce starts to bubble, it will be ready to whisk in the pepper and nutmeg. Add the eggs to the sauce and whisk them in well. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, bring the sauce to a boil again and remove from heat.
- To assemble the moussaka, spread half of the meat sauce in a 9×13 inch (23×33 cm) baking dish. Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer over the meat sauce.
- Spread the remaining meat sauce over the eggplant layer.
- Pour the béchamel sauce over the top of the meat sauce, spreading it evenly with a spatula.
- Bake the moussaka in the preheated oven for about 45-50 minutes, until the top is golden brown and bubbly.
- Let the moussaka cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving. It is best served warm, but it can also be eaten at room temperature or chilled.
Tips & Notes:
- Meat Choice: This recipe is versatile; feel free to use ground beef, lamb, or even a mixture of both for different flavor profiles.
- Eggplant Prep: Salting the eggplant slices helps to remove bitterness and extra moisture. Don’t skip this step for the best texture.
- Wine Option: The red wine in the meat sauce is optional but highly recommended for an added depth of flavor. If you prefer, you can substitute it with beef or vegetable broth.
- Béchamel Consistency: The béchamel sauce should be smooth and lump-free before layering. If it’s too thick, simply add a little more milk to reach the desired consistency.