Greek Moussaka

Greek Moussaka

Details

Layers of eggplant are smothered between a delicious meat sauce and topped with a creamy béchamel. With hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, this traditional Greek dish is divine.
  • Serves: 6 to 8
  • Active Time: 1 hr 35 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hrs 45 mins
  • Views: 43,554
  • Success: 97%

Steps

Step 1: Making the Meat Sauce

• 1 large onion
• 5 cloves garlic
• 1 lb lean ground beef (or lamb)
• 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
• 1 tsp allspice
• 1/4 tsp nutmeg
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 1/2 tsp ground pepper
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 - 15 oz can whole tomatoes
• 3 tbsp tomato paste
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1 whole cinnamon stick
• 1/4 tsp freshly ground cloves

Method

To make the meat sauce, first prepare your mise en place. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Measure the spices and tomato paste, and have the beef and tomatoes on hand.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and gently cook the onions until translucent and start to turn golden, about 8-10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute before adding the ground beef. Increase heat to medium-high, add the cinnamon stick, oregano, allspice, nutmeg, ground cloves, sea salt and pepper and cook until the beef is done. Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute or so before adding the tomatoes. Crush them up a bit, and then add the bay leaf. Bring to just a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Step 2: Roasting the Eggplant

• 3 lb eggplant
• 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tbsp sea salt
• 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Method

To prepare the eggplant, first preheat your oven to 450º degrees Fahrenheit. Wash and slice the eggplant into 1/2" -inch rounds. Place onto a cooling rack and sprinkle both sides with the salt. Let sit for 20 minutes.

Rinse the eggplant under cold water and dry well with paper towels. Lay the eggplant onto two baking sheets. Coat each piece of eggplant with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast for approximately 25 minutes, flipping half way through.

To finish, turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 4 to 5 minutes per side to brown. Remove from oven and set aside on cooling rack. Reduce the oven to 350º degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3: Making the Béchamel Sauce

• 6 tbsp unsalted butter
• 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
• 3 cups whole milk
• 1/4 tsp nutmeg
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 1 large egg
• 2 large egg yolks

Method

To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk to form a smooth paste.* Add the nutmeg and salt. Slowly add the milk, while whisking continuously. Cook until the mixture boils, whisking continuously until it thickens, for another 2 to 4 minutes.

Remove from the heat and transfer to an ice bath to cool. Once cooled, whisk in the egg and yolks to form a smooth custard. Set aside.

Step 4: Assembling and Baking

• 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1/4 cup fine bread crumbs
• 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Method

To assemble the moussaka, oil a 9″ × 13″ -inch baking dish with the extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle the base with breadcrumbs and fan the eggplant to form a single layer. Next, remove the cinnamon stick from the meat sauce and then spoon half of the sauce on top of the eggplant and smooth out with an offset spatula. Place another layer of eggplant and then top with the rest of the meat sauce.

Pour the béchamel sauce over the entire surface and smooth out. Top with grated parmesan cheese. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown (you can turn on the broiler for the last few minutes to brown more). Let rest on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Chef's Notes

  • For added flavor, you can cook the roux for about 5 minutes or so until it turns a blond color. This will give the béchamel sauce a delicious, nutty flavor.

Served with a Greek salad, this moussaka makes a very tasty meal.

46 Comments

  • Liz S
    Liz S
    Every time I think I have a great recipe, Rouxbe comes up with a better one! Even though I mistakenly added a 28 oz can of tomatoes instead of 15oz it still turned out well. Luckily I had more of the other ingredients so improvised. After watching the cooking school videos, I cooked the bechamel sauce for 20 minutes - it actually need that much time to thicken anyway. Next time I will make that sauce first so it has time to cool. It was a bit time consuming but worth every minute - I now have 3 leftover meals for 2 in the freezer.
  • Angela T
    Angela T
    I am very impressed with this site. Your recipes so far are spot on! I was particularly pleased and surprised on your accuracy of the Moussaka recipe. This is the authentic way of making it..NO potatoes, and egg in the Bechamel. The only variations I noticed here, are that the eggplants were not fried prior to assembly but grilled instead, and the addition of the breadcrumbs and olive oil on the base of the pan. Between the fried eggplants and the sauce, there's enough oil in the pan to keep anything from sticking.It also seems like an extra step to add the olive oil just to coat with breadcrumbs. Thank you, and keep up the great video recipes!!
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Thanks for your comments! The eggplant can definitely be fried...this version is just a little lighter by baking it. The olive oil is optional and the breadcrumbs just help to soak up any excess liquid, not to prevent sticking. Mmmmmm...I haven't had this in a while. It's on my list of things to make. Great to hear you like the site. Happy Cooking!
  • Agnes M
    Agnes M
    We really liked the way this turned out. Although it was a bit of work it was easy to follow and the result was well worth the effort. A couple of things that we struggled with: * What does it mean "Cinnamon stick (broken)"? Does this mean broken in half? Or into pieces that you then have to fish out? The stick broke anyways and were fishing out pieces of wood out of the meal. * "add cinnamon through pepper" - I think this meant that you have to add the ingredients between cinnamon and pepper but it took me a very long to figure out that instruction. It could be written clearer. Keep up the good work!
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Thanks for the feedback. Regarding the cinnamon, you can break the stick in half or leave it whole. The recipe has been updated to make it easier and clearer. Glad you liked the dish! Cheers!
  • Jennifer K
    Jennifer K
    The finishing touch on this one was the broiling at the end. Nice, simple dish. Even my toddlers loved it.
  • Jeanne C
    Jeanne C
    Dear Rouxbe Staff, I am cutting the recipe in half, does it mean I would need to reduce cooking time in half for each step? Thanks! Jeanne
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    If you are halving the recipe that does not necessarily mean that the cooking time will change much. For example, the eggplant will likely take the same to cook, there will just be less of it. Same for the meat sauce and bechamel. When baking times this may be a bit less but again just look for it to be hot and golden. One important thing to remember when cooking and following recipes is that cooking times are merely estimations. It is more important to learn what to look for so you that eventually you can tell when things are done based on what they look like rather than what the timer says. Hope this helps. Cheers!
  • Stephanie H
    Stephanie H
    Some of the eggplant burned. I used processed olive oil, not EVOO, but next time I will turn the temperature down to 425. I have one recipe that suggests you pour the olive oil into the baking pan, then coat the slices. That's worked for me in the past. (I do have an oven thermometer, so that wasn't the problem.) Please move the amount of ground cloves up to under the nutmeg. I guesstimated correctly, but it would help to have it in the right place. Order of preparation seems very wasteful of energy. Since the meat sauce takes the most time, that should be done first, then the eggplant. My oven was running empty for a long time, and it's hot here! Lastly, I'm glad I followed my notes on making Bechamel rather than the recipe. This recipe doesn't have you cook off the flour on low, but I did. I loved these lessons on the sauces, and I love this school. Thanks for not being mad at my fussiness.
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Good that you made your own tweaks and adjustments. That is what cooking is all about! Regarding the ingredient, it has been moved to be closer to the other spices. We had a software glitch in the past that kept shifting ingredients and it looks like this one didn't get caught. This is why it's always a good idea to read the recipe through and do all of your mise en place first :) The recipe has been updated, although it will take a bit for the changes to be reflected. Good that you used what you learned and cooked the bechamel, although it will continue to cook during baking. In the end, hope you enjoyed the dish! Cheers!
  • Stephanie H
    Stephanie H
    You're right about the mise en place, but I still think the order should be switched around. I loved doing the bechamel and the dish was delicious. I did it with lamb. And I made a big salad, thanks to my garden. Thanks for all your gentle guidance.
  • Gavin A
    Gavin A
    Soooo good!
  • Rebecca B
    Rebecca B
    I love this recipe. I have made it twice so far, and I think it will become part of our regular household repertoire. I particularly like this recipe with plum chutney -- it really rounds out the sweet spices in the meat sauce. I think I agree with Stephanie H. about the order of steps in the format. The first time I made this, I started the eggplant first. That was a mistake. The recipe took about 2 hours to make -- the sauce needs time for the flavors to blend. The second time I made this recipe, I started with the meat sauce first. The total time was cut by at least 1/2 hour.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Glad you enjoy the dish. The recipe, as noted above, has already been updated regarding the order of the steps. Cheers!
  • Silas H
    Silas H
    This recipe turned out great! For those looking for a gluten-free "bechamel" for the topping, I used one cup of full-fat greek yoghurt + three eggs + ~1/4 or 1/3 cup of grated parmesan + some nutmeg. I also subbed some zucchini for eggplant (prepared in exactly the same way). I love that the eggplant is baked instead of cooked in olive oil on the stovetop. The oven method leaves the eggplants drier and so they absorb a lot of the excess fluid from the sauce. Previous moussakas have been floating in grease at the bottom!
  • Kevin O
    Kevin O
    I have to say Kimberley... YUM YUM! I live with my partner, we got 6 generous portions, spread over 3 days and we still aren't tired of it! Served with a roasted portobello mushroom and some chunky fries to mop up the sauce. I unknowingly followed Silas and halved the "Aubergine", with "Courgette" ;). Mainly because that's what I had and it really worked. Yes it's time consuming but here's the kick, I'd do it again, and again. It's a keeper. I used gluten free flour, again, just because that's all I had at the tme and it came out great. I had medium eggs so I use 2 whole and 2 yolks. I got a little scared when my nutty blond roux went from being silky smooth to a thick ball when I added the milk? Took me ages to whisk out the lumps and for a bit it tasted oatmeal-y. It wasn't until I added the eggs that it all became clear! I was daunted about pouring such a relatively thin liquid over those lovely veg and meat layers but if they're packed right, only a bit trickles down the sides and the egg gets the sauce to set somewhat in the oven. Magic in the kitchen. If anything, it improves with age. Having had it 3 days in a row, we really noticed the end result get better and better in the fridge. It's BETTER than lasagne! Lean meat, plenty of veg, less carbs. OK lots of butter and I snuck in some mozarella and Puy D'Anglois but let's not split hairs LOL
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Yay! Glad you liked it! It doesn't matter if it is the best recipe in the world...what matters is that you properly executed the dish! Without knowing proper skills and techniques, even the best recipe can be a failure. Give yourself a pat on the back as this is a longer dish to prepare. Regarding the roux, you may need to temper the liquid in more slowly next time (check out the lesson on Bechamel). Cheers!
  • Kevin O
    Kevin O
    Yeah, thanks Kimberley, I went back to the bechamel vid and realised i put fridge cold milk into a rather hot roux as I left it to go blond and forgot it momentarily. Ah well, at least I rescued the sauce :) thanks for your quick reply
  • Kevin O
    Kevin O
    Whenever I consider making meals a staple, I think of ways to make them healthier. I found a recipe online for a vegetable lasagne that uses a butternut sauce instead of a roux based bechamel. No sauce, no cream... if I added the eggs... you think this could work? Sounds interesting.
  • Kevin O
    Kevin O
    ...no butter no cream, not no sauce, sorry
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    I really can't say without trying it myself. I'm not sure how you make a "bechamel" without liquid. Sometimes recipes use terms incorrectly. Basically, eggs are binders; so, if they are mixed with cooked butternut squash and then the mixture is baked, it will become somewhat firm. You will need to experiment. The only way you'll know is to try it out. Let us know how it goes! Cheers!
  • Liz S
    Liz S
    I have made this moussaka many times. Last time, I happened to have a cooling rack nearby and I noticed that the washed slices of eggplant would fit neatly into the slots . I lined them up to drain and needed only 2 paper towels to finish drying them. It saved work and paper:)
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Nice one Liz - thanks for sharing! I will definitely do this the next time I work with eggplant. Cheers!
  • Monique M
    Monique M
    I thought this was a little time consuming- but worth every bit of it! It was a great demonstration of the impact of enriching the bechamel
  • Cindi L
    Cindi L
    Do you think this recipe can be prepared the day before you plan to cook and serve it? I'm preparing a Greek meal for several friends and I'm trying to prepare as many dishes as I can prior to dinner. I also plan to include other Rouxbe recipies including Greek Salad, Hummus with Tahini, Tzatziki, Red Pepper Eggplant Confit, Lemon Roasted Potatoes and the Chicken Souvlaki. I have made the Chicken Souvlaki several times with great results. Thanks for your time. Cindi Layton
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    This dish should be fine if baked, cooled and then reheated the next day. In fact, most of the dishes you are describing, besides cooking the chicken, making the Greek salad and cooking the potatoes, can be made in advance. Sounds like you are going to have one delicious dinner party Cindi. You are like me, I like to have many things prepared in advance so I can relax and have fun while the guests are there. Enjoy!
  • Cindi L
    Cindi L
    Dawn, Thanks for your speedy response. I'll prepare and cook the Moussaka the night before and see how it comes out. I'll make sure to let you know how everything goes. I'm always searching for cook ahead meals to serve guest so I can enjoy them and not worry how everything is going to come out. Thanks again. Cindi L
  • Cindi L
    Cindi L
    Dawn, I prepared and baked the moussaka the day before and it came out fabulous. I altered the recipe a bit by using 1/2 lb ground lamb and 1/2 lb ground sirloin. Everyone loved it. This was my first time making a bechamel sauce so I was a little nervous as to how it was going to turn out. It was easy, creamy and delicious. Everything else came out perfect and I was relaxed and able to enjoy my guest. I will be preparing all these great recipies again, especially the moussaka, red pepper eggplant confit and hummus. Thank you for your advise and Rouxbe for helping me become a better cook.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    So glad to hear that everything worked out so well for you Cindi. I am sure that your guests were more than pleased. Keep up the great work. Cheers!
  • Kevin O
    Kevin O
    Hi! I got some lovely Le Creuset Cocottes perfect for individual portions and I want to assemble and bake individual portions of this dish in them and take them straight to the table. i) How would you change the recipe here eg. in terms of temp/times ii) are there any rules / tricks / calculations I can take away that I can apply to other such recipes that were originally multi portion like pies etc. Thanks Kev
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    We have not made this recipe into individual portions ourselves but I imagine it would work out fine. The baking time would likely just be shorter. As for any rules or tricks for making individual portions, it will generally depend on the recipe. Generally though, I would say shorter baking times. You will just need to keep an eye on the item being baked. Cheers!
  • Georgeann sprague S
    Georgeann sprague S
    My husband is allergic to some foods in the nightshade family of which eggplant is one. What would be the best vegetable to substitute in this dish? I've thought of zucchini or portabello mushrooms. I was concerned about the increased water content of the zucchini compared to the eggplant. Would the roasting take care of that if I draw the water out with a bit of salt first? I also thought that putting the zucchini layer on a rack in the bottom of the pan might keep the water from the dish. I even have a dehydrator if that would take care of the water in the zucchini. What do you think or is there another vegetable I've not thought of that could be a good substitution? I realize that these substitutions will change the taste of the dish, but I'm trying to find a way to make it so that my husband can eat it.
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Georgeann- Zucchini is a great alternative. You might slice them and roast for 15-20 in a hot oven to bring some water out before assembly. As far as texture goes, that is your closest alternative although I do like mushrooms in this dish as well. Enjoy!
  • Kevyn A
    Kevyn A
    Hi there, this looks delcious and I prefer moussaka without the starch (potatoes). Is it possible to freeze this dish? If so, before or after baking? I'm trying to plan as many meals ahead of time for overnight company! Thanks, Kevyn
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Kevyn, you should be fine if you freeze the moussaka, before or after baking it. Good luck and enjoy!
  • Kevyn A
    Kevyn A
    Thanks, Dawn. I appreciate the quick response! Just one more thought - I'm told we can freeze most anything except dishes with gelatin or dairy products so now I wonder about the bechamel sauce. Couldn't it seperate after freezing? ~Kevyn
  • Kevyn A
    Kevyn A
    Well, it really doesn't matter if we can safely freeze the bechamel sauce or not because the moussaka never made it to the freezer! It was just too delicious and we ate it all. The layers of eggplant and perfectly spiced lamb (or beef) are complemented by the cream sauce on top. It does take some time but it's relatively straight forward to prepare. My only suggestion is to list the ingredients in order of use (e.g. meat is added before all the spices). Otherwise, I can't imagine how this could be any better.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    So glad that you liked the recipe Kevyn. As for making and freezing the moussaka (with the béchamel) ahead, you should be okay, as the béchamel is made with a roux, which will help to keep it from separating. To know for sure if the texture will change, you may want to make one ahead and see if you are okay with the results after freezing. And as for the order of the ingredients, I see your point; however, since the first step also involves gathering your mise en place, it's better to cut the onion and garlic and gather all of the spices before you start working with the raw meat. Again, glad you liked the recipe. Cheers!
  • Colin M
    Colin M
    I noticed it was a little bitter, if I peel the eggplant will that remove some of the bitterness? My wife isn't too keen for the nutmeg in the bechamel, would truffle oil, or rosemary infused butter work with the meat sauce and eggplant?
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Colin- Yes, removing the skins can sometimes reduce bitterness. Some people are just more sensitive to that flavor in eggplant, or sometimes the eggplant is just on the bitter side - although common cultivars are not bitter compared to older varietals that required peeling and salting, etc. As for nutmeg in the bechamel, it should be a whisper only. Not really even discernible. Truffle oil is a good option but can quickly overpower. Rosemary butter sounds like a good option if used sparingly. Enjoy!
  • Lili I
    Lili I
    I made this the other day and served the next day and it turned out really good. It is a lot of work but it's worth it. I ended up using 28oz of tomatoes because it seemed like 15 oz was not enough liquid. Since another person said she used 28oz and it turned out good I did the same. Thanks for all the great recipes!
  • Swati B
    Swati B
    Hi Rouxbe! Moussaka has been on my mind for a while so when I got two giant eggplants from my CSA (community shared agriculture) this week, I decided to give it a go. My husband who is ever so fussy -- doesn't like ground beef in anything but a burger or a kabab, finds eggplant icky and hates tomato in anything but a salad -- went back for seconds and then thirds. He would have gotten fourths but in the interest of his health, I put the rest in the fridge. I will try reheating it today for lunch; I hope 30 minutes at 350 covered will do the trick.
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Oh, that is great to hear Swati, Hopefully you and Rouxbe are opening his eyes to the wonder of great food prepared at home. It's so much about ground meat or any particular ingredients - but flavor and technique! Cheers!
  • Kevin O
    Kevin O
    I've done this before a couple of times with fantastic results. I was grating raw nutmeg direct into the pot and because I couldn't find my nutmeg grater I just used the smallest setting on my normal grater. long story short, the nutmeg/cinnamon/allspice combo is really overpowering in the sauce as a result. Ive tried beefing it up a bit with demi-glace but it's still there. only 10 minutes into cooking will it it mellow out? or any rescue remedies? Thanks
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    The spice may mellow out with a bit more cooking, but then again, it may not. As for remedies to mellow out the overpower spices, that might be a tricky one. You could try adding some large pieces (or whole is your pot is deep enough) of potatoes to the mixture. The potato might absorb some of the extra spices. You could also try adding a bit of milk or cream to help mellow out the spices. Note that this will change the color and flavor a bit though. Hope that helps Kevin. Cheers!
  • Kevin O
    Kevin O
    seems I'm learning... it did mellow with further cooking, and the demi glace helped too. :)

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