Moussaka

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Greek Moussaka
Moussaka

Ah Moussaka. If you’ve seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding you’ll know the joke. However moussaka is one of my absolute favorite comfort foods in the entire world. It is rich, hearty, and packed with flavor. I did not have this dish until I was about 25 on my first trip to Greece, and I immediately fell in love with it. It is a sort of Greek pasta-less lasagne using layers of eggplant, spiced minced lamb, and potatoes to make up the stack. All of this is under a coating of creamy white sauce which is baked to perfection.

Like Aubergine (Eggplant)? Try My Roasted Balsamic Eggplant Recipe

This is not an overly complex dish, however it always seems when I make it, I have to keep all the burners going at all times. From boiling the potatoes, to sautee-ing the eggplant, browning the lamb with the onion, and making the white sauce. This is definitely not a one pot meal, far from it. But don’t let the amount of cleaning you’ll have to do deter you from making a delicious moussaka because the end result is a savory bite of perfectly balanced ingredients.

When I travel one of the main souvenirs I always look for to bring back is either a cookbook or spice packets to make some national dishes. On my last trip to Corfu I picked up a spice pack for moussaka and knew I had to make it. Ok, to be honest I picked up 3 spice packets since I really really love this dish.

Moussaka spice mix
I know, I probably super overpaid for this pack of moussaka spices.

There are dozens of different ways to layer this dish, from just tossing stuff in a baking tray willy nilly, to carefully layering each ingredient to make a prettier stack. The original recipe doesn’t even include potatoes but I like the addition so I’ve included them in this recipe.

Moussaka Ingredients

Main Ingredients

2 Aubergine (Eggplant). This is probably the most important part of this recipe, I like to buy big fat aubergines to really soak up the sauteeing olive oil.

1 Onion; chopped. I used a standard yellow onion for this recipe.

500 grams Minced Lamb. Lamb is the traditional meat in this dish, however you can use beef if you want. As this dish has a high fat content due to the oil and butter, I’d look for a pack of lean beef which will be closer to the fat content of the traditional lamb.

400 grams Potatoes. Potatoes are an optional part to this dish, but I feel they enhance it, and act as a good starch to help absorb some of the liquid whilst cooking.

200 ml Red Wine. Go cheap, you’re going to cook it for a while, no need to splurge on the fancy stuff.

400 grams Chopped Tomatoes. As with most dishes I shoot for San Marzanos, but of course you can use whatever is easiest for you.

Olive Oil. I’m not putting a measurement here because it is hard to estimate how much you will need based on how absorbent your eggplants are. I like to sautee them until they are just caramelizing on the outside and that takes quite a bit of oil.

Spices

Of course, if you are like me and have one on hand, you can use a pre-packaged spice mix. But if you don’t have that here is what comprises the moussaka spices for the lamb

3 cloves Garlic; minced.

1 tbsp Sea Salt; more or less to taste

1 tsp Dried Oregano.

1 tsp Dried Mint

1 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1 tsp Black Pepper

1/2 tsp Garlic Powder

1 Bay Leaf

Bechamel (White Sauce)

100 grams Butter

100 grams Flour

500 ml Milk; 2%. You can use heavy cream if you want a really thick sauce, but I find it to be TOO rich.

50 grams Parmesan Cheese

1 Egg Yolk. You can use the entire egg if you wish, but you have to be careful as that makes it easier to scramble while mixing.

Moussaka Instructions

I’m going to break up all the instructions for the different parts, since each layer can be made separately and then combined in the casserole dish before baking.

Spiced Lamb

1. In a saute pan on medium, add a bit of olive oil, and begin to cook the chopped onions.

Sauteing onions for moussaka
Sauteing onions

2. When the onions are translucent and softened, you can add the minced lamb.

Added the minced lamb

3. Cook until everything is browned but not burnt. About 5-7 minutes. At this point add all the spices at once and give it a good mix.

Browned and Spiced

4. Add in all of the chopped tomatoes and red wine and bring to a simmer to thicken.

Aubergines

1. Slice your aubergines into half centimeter rounds and place in a colander. Salt heavily and set aside.

2. In another saute pan on medium-high heat, add a lot of olive oil, and set the aubergine rounds down being careful not to crowd them. If they absorb all the oil and are still not fully covered, feel free to drizzle some more over the top of the rounds.

Eggplant Rounds
I want all the rounds to look like the bottom most round. Get ALL that oil up in there.

3. Saute until brown and caramelized on the outside.

Potatoes

1. Boil the peeled potatoes for 15-20 minutes, or until fully cooked through.

2. Slice the potatoes about a quarter centimeter thick.

Bechamel (White Sauce)

1. Melt the butter in a saute pan. When fully melted, whisk in the flour until fully combined.

2. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking to prevent lumps.

3. Add in the grated parmesan cheese, still whisking.

4. Remove the sauce from the heat. Whisking fast drop the egg yolk in there and try to get it combined as fast as you can, ensuring it doesn’t poach itself in the hot sauce.

Finishing The Moussaka

1. In a casserole dish (ceramic or disposable) layer down the spiced lamb, followed by the aubergine rounds, then the potato rounds. Repeat until all ingredients are used.

layering the moussaka
Some of these potato rounds were undercooked. Make sure there are no hard white centers left in your potatoes.

2. When everything is layered it’s time for the sauce.

pre-baked pre sauced moussaka
Perfectly sauteed eggplant

3. Pour over the white sauce and cover completely. If you have too much sauce for your dish, no problem. Take the back of a wooden spoon and punch a few holes down entirety of the tray. This will allow some more sauce to seep down into the dish and let you use up all the sauce you made. Sprinkle with more parmesan cheese.

moussaka ready for the oven
Pre-Oven Moussaka

4. Bake in the oven at 180°C or about 360°F for approximately 40 minutes, or until the top is crusted golden brown.

moussaka
Moussaka

5. Slice using a spatula and serve moussaka hot!

Moussaka Notes

The potatoes are optional so feel free to leave them out.

The bechamel can be increased in size if you want a thicker top layer. It has a great mouthfeel similar to a mousse once it’s out of the oven so if your baking dish permits it, I say go for more.

If you want to make this dish vegetarian, you can omit the minced spiced lamb, and replace it with chopped zucchini. I know this makes it a bit of a squash dish, but it’s a good substitute.

What To Drink With Moussaka?

Well, if you’re eating Greek, why not drink Greek too! Try some Tsikoudia, Ouzo, or just a nice Greek beer.

moussaka

Recommended Tools

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Moussaka Recipe

moussaka

Moussaka

A classic Greek comfort food, moussaka is a great dish for large groups. Easily able to be frozen ahead of time, you can also give it as a gift for housewarming or if someone is sick.
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Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: Moussaka
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories:

Ingredients

Main Ingredients

  • 2 Aubergine (eggplant)
  • 500 grams Lamb mince
  • 400 grams Potatoes
  • 1 Onion yellow, large
  • 200 ml Red Wine
  • 400 grams Chopped Tomatoes
  • Olive Oil

Spice Mix

  • 3 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Dried Mint
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Bay Leaf

Bechamel (White Sauce)

  • 100 grams Butter
  • 100 grams Flour
  • 500 ml Milk
  • 50 grams Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Egg Yolk

Instructions

Spiced Lamb Mince

  • In a saute pan on medium, add a bit of olive oil, and begin to cook the chopped onions.
  • When the onions are translucent and softened, you can add the minced lamb.
  • Cook until everything is browned but not burnt. About 5-7 minutes. At this point add all the spices at once and give it a good mix.
  • Add in all of the chopped tomatoes and red wine and bring to a simmer to thicken.

Aubergine

  • Slice your aubergines into half centimeter rounds and place in a colander. Salt heavily and set aside.
  • In another saute pan on medium-high heat, add a lot of olive oil, and set the aubergine rounds down being careful not to crowd them. If they absorb all the oil and are still not fully covered, feel free to drizzle some more over the top of the rounds.
  • Saute until brown and caramelized on the outside.

Potatoes

  • Boil the peeled potatoes for 15-20 minutes, or until fully cooked through.
  • Slice the potatoes about a quarter centimeter thick.

Bechamel (White Sauce)

  • Melt the butter in a saute pan. When fully melted, whisk in the flour until fully combined.
  • Slowly pour in the milk, whisking to prevent lumps.
  • Add in the grated parmesan cheese, still whisking.
  • Remove the sauce from the heat. Whisking fast drop the egg yolk in there and try to get it combined as fast as you can, ensuring it doesn't poach itself in the hot sauce.

Finishing

  • In a casserole dish (ceramic or disposable) layer down the spiced lamb, followed by the aubergine rounds, then the potato rounds. Repeat until all ingredients are used.
  • When everything is layered it's time for the sauce.
  • Pour over the white sauce and cover completely. If you have too much sauce for your dish, no problem. Take the back of a wooden spoon and punch a few holes down entirety of the tray. This will allow some more sauce to seep down into the dish and let you use up all the sauce you made. Sprinkle with more parmesan cheese.
  • Bake in the oven at 180°C or about 360°F for approximately 40 minutes, or until the top is crusted golden brown.
  • Slice using a spatula and serve moussaka hot!
Did you make this?Mention @CookingToEntertain or tag #cookingtoentertain and let me know how it was!