Greek Moussaka With Potatoes Recipe

Greek moussaka with potatoes served on a plate

The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

Prep: 60 mins
Cook: 2 hrs
Cool: 30 mins
Total: 3 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 12 to 16 servings
Yield: 1 casserole
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
606 Calories
31g Fat
49g Carbs
32g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 16
Amount per serving
Calories 606
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 31g 39%
Saturated Fat 14g 71%
Cholesterol 172mg 57%
Sodium 403mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 49g 18%
Dietary Fiber 5g 16%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 32g
Vitamin C 20mg 98%
Calcium 238mg 18%
Iron 5mg 27%
Potassium 1347mg 29%
*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 with potatoes is a terrific choice for those who don't care for the well-known version with eggplant and also when eggplant is not in season. Like all moussaka dishes, this is a layered dish of sliced potatoes, a meat sauce, cheese, and a creamy béchamel sauce. In Greece, moussaka is most often made with ground beef, though lamb is an excellent substitute.

Moussaka is traditionally served in very large pieces, and it is a heavy dish. Serve with a green salad, crusty bread, and dry red wine. If anyone has room for dessert, a fruit sorbet or cheese with fruit is a light way to end on a sweet note.

"I know moussaka is a bit of a commitment, but you can break down the steps and make it in stages, if you like. The béchamel cooks to a custardy consistency. The meat sauce (I used lamb) is deep and earthy. Together, with the layers of potatoes, it makes a rich and satisfying meal. —Diana Andrews

Greek Moussaka With Potatoes/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For the Meat Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed

  • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped, about 3 cups

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 1/2 pounds ground beef, or lamb

  • 3 cups chopped ripe tomatoes, or 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup finely ground toasted breadcrumbs

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or a 1-inch cinnamon stick

  • 2 bay leaves, fresh or dry

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more to taste

  • 1/2 cup dry red wine

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 5 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices

For the Béchamel:

  • 6 cups milk, whole or 2%

  • 12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter

  • 15 tablespoons all-purpose flour, about 4 1/4 ounces

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

  • 3 to 5 large egg yolks, as desired

For the Casserole:

  • Cooking spray

  • 1/2 cup finely ground toasted breadcrumbs

  • 1/2 cup finely grated kefalotyri cheese, Parmesan, or Pecorino Romano

Steps to Make It

Make the Meat Sauce

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients to make meat sauce for greek moussaka with potatoes

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onions. Sauté until translucent, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

    onions sautéd in a pan

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  3. Add the ground meat and continue to sauté until no longer pink. Drain the skillet.

    ground beef cooking in a pan

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  4. Add tomatoes, breadcrumbs, cinnamon, bay leaves, allspice, cloves, salt, pepper, wine, and tomato paste. Mix well.

    ground beef and tomatoes cooking in a pan

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  5. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low. Cover with the lid slightly cracked and simmer, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid is gone, about 45 minutes. 

    If there is still liquid in pan, continue to simmer uncovered, stirring to prevent sticking, until the mixture is as dry as possible without burning. This step is crucial to prevent the final dish from having too much moisture.

    ground beef and tomatoes cooking in a pan

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  6. Discard bay leaves, and cinnamon stick (if used), adjust salt and pepper to taste, and set sauce aside uncovered until ready to use.

    Meanwhile, position a rack in the upper and lower third of the oven and heat to 400 F.

    ground beef and tomatoes cooking in a pan

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  7. Toss the potatoes on 2 rimmed baking sheets with enough oil to coat. Arrange the slices in single layers. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    sliced potatoes on a baking sheet

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  8. Roast until the potatoes are light golden, flipping the baking sheets half way through cooking, about 45 minutes total. Set aside until ready to use.

    cooked sliced potatoes on a baking sheet

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

Make the Béchamel Sauce

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients to make béchamel sauce

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk over medium-low heat until warm.

    milk heating in a saucepan

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  3. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Slowly add the flour, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until there are no lumps. Continue to cook until the mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute more.

    béchamel sauce cooking in a pan

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  4. Increase heat to medium-low. Slowly add the milk while whisking continuously. Whisk until sauce begins to thicken, 12 to 13 minutes. It should be creamy, yet thick.

    Bechamel cooking in a pan

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  5. Remove from heat and whisk in the salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.

    bechamel sauce cooking in a pan

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  6. In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks together. While whisking continuously, slowly drizzle in 2 to 3 tablespoons of the béchamel mixture. Continue to whisk in another 2 to 3 tablespoons of the béchamel mixture.

    whisking yolks in a bowl

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  7. Return the béchamel-yolk mixture to the béchamel pan. Remove from the heat and whisk until well-combined. Set aside until ready to use.

    Bechamel sauce in a pan

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

Assemble the Casserole

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients to make Greek moussaka with potatoes

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  2. Reposition a rack in the center of the oven and lower the heat to 350 F. Generously spray a large baking or roasting pan (about 15 x 10 x 2, or 5 quart) with cooking spray. Sprinkle bottom of the pan with breadcrumbs. Place a layer of potato slices on the breadcrumbs. It's OK to overlap.

    sliced potatoes on a casserole dish

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  3. Spread meat sauce evenly on top of the potatoes, pressing it down lightly all the way to the sides of the pan.

    Gree moussaka with potatoes in a casserole dish

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  4. Cover evenly with the remaining potato slices. Slowly pour the béchamel sauce over top and spread evenly with a spatula, if necessary.

    Greek moussaka with potatoes covered with béchamel sauce

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  5. Transfer the pan to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the béchamel sauce begins to set, about 35 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over top. Continue to bake until golden and bubbling around the edges, 35 to 40 minutes more.

    baked Greek Moussaka with potatoes recipe

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

  6. Remove moussaka from oven and allow to cool for 20 to 30 minutes.

    Greek moussaka with potatoes in a casserole

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

Tips

  • Moussaka is traditionally eaten warm, not hot, but it can also be eaten at room temperature and is great on the second day.
  • Components of the moussaka can be made in advance, then assembled and cooked. Make the meat sauce and potatoes up to 2 days in advance. Make the béchamel a day in advance. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
  • Note that if the moussaka is cold going into the oven, it will take more time to cook.
  • Adding yolks to the béchamel lend a golden color to the custard. More yolks equals deeper golden color.

Recipe Variations

  • Switch from beef to ground lamb if you prefer.
  • Use 3 cups of canned tomatoes if you don't have fresh ones available.
  • Pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano can be used instead of Greek kefalotyri cheese.

How to Store

  • Moussaka can also be completely cooked and cooled, then frozen. Defrost completely in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
  • Leftover moussaka pieces can be wrapped and individually frozen. Let defrost completely in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat in the microwave on medium power in short bursts until warmed through. Alternatively, warm in a 300 F oven.