Classic Greek Eggplant Moussaka

Greek Eggplant Moussaka

The Spruce

Prep: 2 hrs 40 mins
Cook: 75 mins
Rest: 20 mins
Total: 4 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 10 to 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
716 Calories
39g Fat
60g Carbs
32g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 716
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 39g 50%
Saturated Fat 17g 86%
Cholesterol 226mg 75%
Sodium 519mg 23%
Total Carbohydrate 60g 22%
Dietary Fiber 9g 31%
Total Sugars 16g
Protein 32g
Vitamin C 12mg 60%
Calcium 285mg 22%
Iron 5mg 29%
Potassium 1087mg 23%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Moussaka is a classic Greek casserole. It's made with layers of eggplant, potato, meaty lamb sauce, and cheese topped with an egg-enriched béchamel sauce that crisps up and becomes golden brown in the oven. While moussaka can be time-consuming to prepare, it's worth the effort—so hearty and filling that a simple salad is the perfect side dish to this complete meal.

A dish most associated with Greece, moussaka is well-known in Middle Eastern countries, each with its own version of this hearty and filling casserole. Modern versions use beef, some skip the potatoes and béchamel, but most keep the meat sauce and have some type of creamy sauce on top.

Although there are many steps to complete the moussaka, think of it like lasagna, but instead of pasta sheets, you'll be using eggplant and potatoes. Assembling the dish is easy, and you can make it up to 48 hours in advance.

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"Otherwise known as Greek Eggplant Lasagna, this dish incorporates layers of potatoes, deliciously spiced ground meat, oven-roasted eggplant, and grated cheese. It's topped with a creamy-custardy Bechamel sauce, then baked to golden brown perfection." —Diana Andrews

Classic Greek Eggplant Moussaka Recipe Test
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Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 eggplants (about 4 pounds)

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • 1/3 cup olive oil, divided

  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and boiled in salted water

  • 8 large eggs, whites and yolks separated

  • 2 cups plain breadcrumbs, divided

For the Meat Filling:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, or lamb

  • 2 large onions, finely diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 cup dry red wine

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Béchamel Sauce:

  • 8 ounces (1 cup) unsalted butter

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 4 cups milk, warmed

  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg

For Topping the Casserole:

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps in this recipe, the moussaka is divided into multiple categories to help you better plan for preparation and baking.

Prepare the Vegetables

  1. Gather the ingredients for the vegetables.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe vegetables
     The Spruce
  2. Using a sharp vegetable peeler, partially peel the eggplants, leaving strips of peel about 1 inch wide around the eggplant. Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch slices.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe eggplant, sliced
     The Spruce
  3. Place the eggplant slices in a colander and salt them liberally. Cover with an inverted plate and weigh down the plate with a heavy can or jar. Place the colander in the sink and let the eggplants brine for 1 hour or a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe eggplant in a colander
     The Spruce
  4. While the eggplants are brining, cut the potatoes into 1/4-inch slices. Set aside.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe sliced potatoes
     The Spruce
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and lightly grease with some of the olive oil. Rinse the eggplant slices with abundant water and dry with paper towels. Reserve. Add a splash of water to the egg whites and beat them lightly with a fork. Place breadcrumbs on a flat plate.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe breadcrumbs
     The Spruce
  6. Dip the rinsed and dried eggplant slices in the beaten egg whites and then dredge them lightly in the breadcrumbs, coating both sides. Save a handful of breadcrumbs for assembling.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe breaded eggplants
     The Spruce
  7. Place the breaded eggplant slices on the foil-lined baking sheets. If you can't fit all the eggplant on the sheets, then you will need to cook them in batches. Bake for 30 minutes, turning them over once during cooking. When the eggplant is tender and lightly browned in places, set them aside and keep the oven on.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe baked eggplant
     The Spruce

Make the Meat Filling

  1. Gather the ingredients for the meat filling.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe ingredients for the meat filling

    The Spruce

  2. In a large sauté pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and brown the ground beef until the pink color disappears. Add the diced onions and sauté the mixture until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe meat mixture
     The Spruce
  3. Add wine to the pan and allow it to simmer and reduce a bit. Add the cinnamon, allspice, parsley, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and sugar. Stir well.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe meat mixture with spoon
     The Spruce
  4. Allow the sauce to simmer, uncovered, for approximately 15 minutes so that excess liquid can evaporate. It should be a dry and chunky sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe cooked meat mixture
     The Spruce

Make the Béchamel Sauce

  1. Gather the ingredients for the sauce.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe ingredients for the sauce
     The Spruce
  2. In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add the flour to the melted butter, whisking continuously to make a smooth, lump-free paste. Let the flour cook for a minute but do not allow it to brown.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe béchamel
     The Spruce
  3. Add warmed milk to the mixture in a steady stream, whisking continuously. Simmer over low heat until the sauce thickens a bit. Do not bring it to a boil.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe béchamel with whisk
     The Spruce
  4. Whisk the 8 egg yolks in a small bowl. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in beaten egg yolks and a pinch of nutmeg. Return to medium heat and stir until sauce thickens, 5 to 6 minutes. It should be thick but pourable. Season with salt and set aside.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe finished béchamel
     The Spruce

Assemble the Moussaka

  1. Gather the eggplants, potatoes, meat sauce, béchamel, the reserved handful of breadcrumbs, and cheese. Lightly grease a large, deep baking pan (a lasagna pan works perfectly). Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with breadcrumbs.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe pan with breadcrumbs
     The Spruce
  2. Leaving a 1/4-inch space around the edges of the pan, place the potatoes in a layer on the bottom. Top with a layer of half of the eggplant slices.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe layer of eggplant
     The Spruce
  3. Add the meat sauce on top of the eggplant layer and sprinkle with 1/4 of the grated cheese. Top with another layer of eggplant slices and sprinkle once again with 1/4 of the grated cheese.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe eggplant in pan
     The Spruce
  4. Pour the béchamel sauce over all, being sure to allow the sauce to fill the sides and corners of the pan. Smooth the béchamel on top with a silicone spatula and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup grated cheese.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe assembled before baking
     The Spruce
  5. Bake for 45 minutes at 400 F or until béchamel sauce is a nice golden brown color. Allow it to cool for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy.

    Eggplant moussaka recipe finished
     The Spruce

Zucchini Variation

This eggplant moussaka is the traditional way to prepare the dish, but not everyone loves eggplant so a zucchini variation is a delicious alternative. You'll need four to five large zucchinis, but the rest of the ingredients remain the same:

  • Because there is no need to salt and rinse the zucchini, simply wash well and pat dry. Trim the ends and then slice transversely into 1/2-inch slices.
  • Bread the zucchini as you would with the eggplant and bake for the same amount of time.
  • Follow the rest of the recipe as instructed.

Another delicious version of the zucchini mousaka involves simply sautéing the slices instead of breading and baking them.

How to Store and Freeze Moussaka

This recipe yields six to eight generous servings of moussaka, and more if you like smaller portions. You have plenty of options for storing moussaka:

  • For cooked leftovers, keep the moussaka covered in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat at 350 F for 30 minutes.
  • Moussaka can be frozen before baking but it should not be topped with the béchamel sauce. (Egg-free béchamel sauce can be frozen separately, but there are egg yolks in this sauce recipe.)
  • If you just need half of the servings, make the full recipe but use two smaller baking dishes instead of a large one. Freeze one of the dishes and bake the other one; make just half of the béchamel for the moussaka you're actually baking.
  • Frozen moussaka will keep well for up to three months. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight and then make and pour the béchamel on top right before baking.
  • If you need to make it ahead of time, assemble and cover without the sauce. Keep in the fridge unbaked for up to two days (béchamel will keep for one day). Add the béchamel sauce right before baking the dish.