Moussaka

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Moussaka...this Greek traditional recipe is loaded with delicious flavours; you won't regret making this dish

Moussaka is a Greek classic made of layered eggplant, potato, meat sauce and béchamel

Welcome to our first entry…again!  We’re so happy that you are here.

When we were trying to decide which recipe to launch our website with, the decision was easy.  We chose a meal which typically sends shivers of fear down the backs of Greeks and non-Greeks alike.  The mighty moussaka! Often ridiculed for sounding like the excrement of wild deer, and feared for its many steps and delectable layers, moussaka truly is a celebratory meal, and we have a lot to celebrate!  We hope you do too.

Moussaka...this Greek traditional recipe is loaded with delicious flavours; you won't regret making this dish

Although it can appear intimidating, we think you’ll discover that moussaka is actually quite straightforward to make.  With some advance planning you can even whip this together during a weeknight, impressing your family (unless you house teenagers, in which case little you do will impress them) and delighting your co-workers when you pack some up for lunch the next day.

As with most meals, there are several variations of moussaka out there.  Some recipes include cheese in the béchamel sauce, others add zucchini to the more traditional eggplant-only layer.  Our parents’ moussaka has its own twist.  If you regularly visit our page (and we really, really hope that you do), you’ll notice that our parents very rarely use butter.  For them, olive oil is gold, and finds itself into most dishes.  So, the béchamel sauce which forms the top layer of their moussaka is made with olive oil (crazy right!?).

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They also use lactose free milk and broil the eggplants instead of frying them.  This results in a light meal which does not leave you feeling heavy and bloated, but incredibly happy.  It is, in fact, divine.  So set aside a few hours, put on some Greek music and get ready to send your taste buds to Greece (or at least, to our house).

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Helpful hints:

This recipe was made for an 11 x 14 inch baking pan, but moussaka is actually very versatile and very forgiving. If you have a smaller pan, don’t worry. You can easily half the recipe for a pan half the size.  Otherwise,  keep the quantities the same and you’ll either be faced with enough ingredients to make two smaller pans of moussaka, or you can toss any leftovers in the fridge and use them in other recipes. The ground meat can be the base for a pasta sauce, the eggplant can be used in sandwiches or chopped up in a salad, and the fried potatoes can be eaten with ketchup and a smile. As for the béchamel sauce, you can maybe use it to make some macaroni and cheese (this is very not Greek).

Our parents prepare their eggplant slices by broiling them. Be careful and keep a close watch. Ovens vary and you don’t want to burn the eggplants. If you’re a baker, not a broiler, no worries. Prepare the eggplant in exactly the same way, but instead of setting your oven to broil, bake the eggplant slices in a 350 degree oven. Just note that it will take the eggplant almost twice as long to cook this way.

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This recipe calls for aged mizithra which is a hard crumbly cheese made with leftover whey from the production of other cheeses which is then combined with either sheep or goat milk. If you can’t find it, be a little bit sad, and then substitute grated parmesan or romano cheese.

The various layers of moussaka (except for the béchamel ) can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator for a day or two. This will make baking your dinner a breeze.

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Moussaka...this Greek traditional recipe is loaded with delicious flavours; you won't regret making this dish
Processed with Snapseed.
Moussaka...this Greek traditional recipe is loaded with delicious flavours; you won't regret making this dish

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A Greek classic of layered eggplant, potato, meat sauce and béchamel
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Moussaka

A Greek classic of layered eggplant, potato, meat sauce and béchamel
Prep Time2 hrs 45 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time3 hrs 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: eggplants, moussaka, Traditional Greek recipes
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Mia Kouppa

Equipment

  • mandolin (optional, but strongly recommended)
  • 11 X 14 inch baking pan
  • Sauce pots
  • Frying pan

Ingredients

Meat Mixture

  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground meat we use a mixture of veal and lamb-but pork can also be used
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) tomato sauce we use homemade; but you can use a good quality strained tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) water
  • 1 1/2 tspn salt
  • 1/2 tspn ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tspn ground pepper

Potatoes

  • 12 medium size potatoes we like to use yellow flesh potatoes
  • vegetable oil for frying

Eggplants

  • 7 medium sized eggplants
  • 1 tspn salt
  • olive oil for brushing onto eggplant

Béchamel Sauce

  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) olive oil
  • 1 cup (150 grams) all purpose flour
  • 2 liters milk we use 2% lactose free milk
  • 7 eggs beaten
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 1/2 tspn ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup (35 grams) plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup (25 grams) mizithra cheese or grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) crumbled feta cheese optional

Instructions

Meat mixture

  • In a medium sized saucepan fry the finely diced onion in the 3/4 cup olive oil until the onion is soft and slightly caramelized.
  • Add your ground meat to the pot, breaking it apart so that you don’t have clumps of meat sticking together.
  • Add the 3/4 cup tomato sauce, 1/2 cup water, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium heat, covered, for one hour.
  • Check your pot frequently and stir your meat mixture. If it appears to be drying out, simply add more tomato sauce or water. When the hour is done, taste and adjust seasoning if required. Set aside.

Potatoes

  • Peel and slice your potatoes into rounds, about 1/4 inch thick. If you have a mandolin, this would be a good time to use it…otherwise use a knife (and be careful!).
  • Soak your potatoes in cold water for approximately 10 minutes. Drain and salt the potatoes.
  • Place approximately 1 inch of vegetable oil into a frying pan and fry the potato rounds in batches. (You can check if your oil is ready by dropping in one sacrificial potato slice and waiting for it to start frying.)
  • Fry the potatoes until they are golden brown on both sides and then drain them on paper towels.

Eggplant

  • Turn your oven on to broil.
  • Slice eggplants lengthwise (maybe you should get a mandolin) and soak them in cold water for approximately 10 minutes.
  • Drain eggplant slices and salt them evenly using 1 tsp salt
  • Line your baking tray with parchment paper. Place eggplant slices on tray, being careful not to overlap the slices.
  • Brush top side with olive oil and broil for 5 – 10 minutes. Flip eggplant slices over, brush top side with olive oil and return to broil for another 5 – 10 minutes.You will have to repeat this step several times in order to cook all your eggplant. Set aside.

Béchamel sauce

  • Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a heavy saucepan over high heat.
  • Add 1 cup flour and mix continuously so that flour does not burn and cook for approximately 2 to 3 minutes. You don’t want your flour to brown
  • Slowly add 2 liters of milk and then slowly stream in 7 beaten eggs. You must stir this mixture constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk.
  • Add 1 tsp salt.
  • Cook béchamel sauce for about 10 minutes, until it has thickened but is still easily poured. You can tell if your sauce is ready if it coats a wooden spoon and you can draw a line across it with your finger.

Assembly

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Pour any juices from the meat mixture into bottom of a 11 x 14 inch pan. If there are no juices, oil the bottom of the pan slightly with some olive oil.
  • Layer the fried potato slices on the bottom of pan. It is fine if they overlap.
  • On top of potatoes layer meat mixture using a slotted spoon to drain off any excess liquid.
  • Sprinkle meat with a light dusting of nutmeg.
  • Layer the eggplant slices on top of meat.
  • Add crumbled feta cheese over eggplant (optional)
  • Pour béchamel sauce over eggplant, spreading it evenly so that all eggplant is covered.
  • Sprinkle the béchamel with 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup mizithra. Bake for 40 minutes until heated through and top is golden brown. Enjoy.

Notes

Make ahead tip: You can prepare the meat sauce ahead of time; just make sure you drain it before storing it. Just keep about 3 tablespoons of the liquid to line the bottom of your pan, when it’s time to assemble your moussaka. 
You can also prepare the potatoes and eggplant ahead of time as well.

28 responses to “Moussaka”

  1. Nick Avatar
    Nick

    This is great. Important blog to keep these great recipes going for eternity.

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Thank you Nick!! We think so too!

  2. Nick Evangelista Avatar
    Nick Evangelista

    Wow! nice job! will have to get this to my Syrian wife to make

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Thanks Nick… let us know if you have any questions, and feel free to put any comments in, after you’ve tried it 🙂

  3. Nahla Al-Horani Avatar
    Nahla Al-Horani

    I made it today. It’s super delicious. Thank you very much Helen. The way you explain the recipe was very clear and the pictures made it very easy to visualize what you were describing. Good job!!!!

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      That is wonderful to hear Nahla!! I am so glad you enjoyed it, and thank you so much for your comments 🙂

  4. […] house won’t smell like Christmas.  Still, it is often a good option, especially if you have something else baking in the oven.  Simply place your chestnuts in a saucepan of boiling water, cover,  and boil over medium-high […]

  5. […] meal, often invited to celebrations and large family gatherings.  It may seem complex, but like our moussaka, the different components involved are actually pretty simple.  And, as with moussaka, some of […]

  6. marina Avatar
    marina

    I made this again today. 2nd time. The bechamel is delicious on it’s own with a spoon. Best I’ve ever had. I did a meatless version and 1/2’ed the recipe with 4 eggs. I love your recipes and continue to check your site regularly. Thank you for the detailed pictures (which I consult a lot) and the explanations. I took out a greek cookbook from the library – nowhere as fun as your site is. Cheers!

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Oh thank you Marina for your feedback and kind words of support. We are so happy that you are enjoying Mia Kouppa and hope that we continue to provide you with inspiration and recipes you are interested in trying 🙂

  7. […] to find alternatives and usually do so with great success (like the butter-less béchamel for their moussaka and pastitsio).  Often, bruschetta will be made with a thin layer of garlic butter between the […]

  8. […] (yes, the driveway), and every inch of the kitchen table was covered with salads, pitas and other delicious dishes.  These holiday celebrations varied somewhat from year to year (primarily with the introduction of […]

  9. […] way to enjoy eggplant, particularly when you don’t have the time to delve into making a moussaka (which you should find time for…because moussaka is perfection in a […]

  10. […] mason jars of tomato sauce a summer. They use it often in their meals, like pasta with meat sauce, moussaka and roasted cauliflower.  They also very generously supply their children ( 🙂 )  with it too. […]

  11. […] Fried eggplant chips.  The perfect way to convince people who think that they don’t like eggplant that they actually, really do!  You will be amazed to see how a somewhat spongy vegetable can be transformed into something so crisp and delicate, and so, surprisingly un-greasy. These eggplant chips are so yummy, that they might even convince the anti-auberginers out there to try other eggplant recipes too, like these eggplant bruschettas or moussaka. […]

  12. […] We don’t know about you, but in our homes, melitzanosalata often plays second and third fiddle to some of the other, more popular Greek dips like tzatziki and taramosalata.  This is a shame, and every time we do have melitzanosalata, we vow to make it again very soon; it is so good, so easy, and pretty good for you too.  It is also a great way to use up any eggplant surplus from the garden when you don’t feel like eggplant chips (actually…we always feel like eggplant chips), or you don’t have the time to invest in making moussaka. […]

  13. […] people think about Greek food, they tend to think about the big ones…the pastitsio, moussaka and spanakopita, foods that Greeks and non-Greeks often consider to be the quintessential staples […]

  14. […] people think about Greek food, they tend to think about the big ones…the pastitsio, moussaka and spanakopita, foods that Greeks and non-Greeks often consider to be the quintessential staples […]

  15. […] almost as if the pizza is an after-thought; a quick little add-in to complement the roasted lamb or moussaka, and we are always so grateful for […]

  16. Jon Avatar
    Jon

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. I made this today and it was delicious! The only issue I had was that they expanded to the point where one of the sides would always break. Could it be that I’m wrapping them too tight?
    Thanks again!

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hi Jon!! Thanks for your comment. Is it possible you posted this question on the wrong recipe? Let us know what you were making, and we’ll try to help. Thanks!

      1. Jon Avatar
        Jon

        Oh geez! I was so taken by your website I must have lost track. My comment was meant for the bougatsa. It was delicious, but most exploded out the side of the filo parcels. I believe I should have let the custard cool, as many other sites warn that the custard should cool completely or else condensation will occur within the bougatsa.
        P.s. Your website is great!

      2. miakouppa Avatar

        LOL…that’s okay!! We’re happy to hear that 🙂 Thank you for your kind words about our site. As for the bougatsa, we will be sure that we edit the post to indicate that the custard should not be piping hot. It’s true that this can make a difference, as well as being sure not to overstuff each bougatsa. Thanks again for your comment and we’re so happy you enjoyed your messy bougatsa 🙂

  17. […] happy, even the second sister. Sister #2 anticipates this amazing salad while she is busy making a moussaka or galaktoboureko as her contribution; a little tired and maybe frazzled, she is excited to know […]

  18. Susan Reed Avatar
    Susan Reed

    SO delicious and decadent! I feel as though I could fall asleep right now! Haha!
    We filled our bellies with this along with Maroulosalata. Thank you for sharing your family’s recipes with us!

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      That makes us so happy Susan! Thank you for inviting us to your family table. We’re so happy that you loved our recipes 🙂 Thanks for letting us know!

  19. laptopleon Avatar

    I’ve been reading a lot of moussaka recipes, out of curiosity for the variations.
    One thing I’ve found after making moussaka myself a few times is that really, all the ingredients are already done when you put it in the oven, except for the browning of the béchamel sauce. My tip is to also turn on the grill of the oven – if it has one. That way, the top layer is ready after about ten minutes, depending on the distance to the grill element.
    If you make it fresh, with still warm ingredients and put it in a preheated, hot oven and grill, this saves you half an hour of cooking time 🙂

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Pre-planning is definitely helpful!! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  20. […] to find alternatives and usually do so with great success (like the butter-less béchamel for their moussaka and pastitsio).  Often, bruschetta will be made with a thin layer of garlic butter between the […]

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