Moussaka Recipe

Moussa-what?! M-O-U-S-S-A-K-A! Learn to pronounce this dish because we guarantee that you're going to make it over and over again.

It's a fabulous dish found in Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, and the Balkans. It's made much like a lasagna or a casserole and is seriously exploding with rich, hearty, and earthy flavors. It can be made in a variety of ways, some with layers of eggplant, potatoes, beef, and lamb and others with large slices of eggplant topped with minced meat and a bechamel sauce. It is said that the French bechamel sauce wasn't part of the original dish but was added by Greek chef, Nikolas Tselementes, in 1910. However, to this day, it is the bechamel topped Moussaka that Greeks love and is served in restaurants throughout the world

Chef Tara Rylie of RylieCakes breakdowns this moussaka recipe here and finishes it of with a salty, creamy, tangy cheese sauce without the complications of a bechamel!

Slice and spice eggplant for this moussaka recipe

For this moussaka recipe, you'll start off with your eggplant: eggplant is to moussaka as noodles are to lasagna. You want as close to four pounds of eggplant as you can get — this should be roughly four eggplants. However, if you notice the eggplants look small, best to get one extra! Cut off the tops and bottoms of each eggplant, saving as much of the eggplant as possible. Then, cut each eggplant lengthwise into ¼-inch slices, and place eggplant slices on prepared sheet pans. The eggplant will overlap slightly, and that's totally okay.

In a small bowl, whisk together a half cup olive oil, half of the minced garlic, half of the mint, and one teaspoon of the oregano. Liberally brush the topsides of eggplant with herb oil. Be sure to use all the oil and get all herbs and garlic on the eggplant and not on the pan. After all, it's so good, you don't want any to go to waste! Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for approximately forty minutes until golden brown.

Let's get saucy with this moussaka recipe

While the eggplant is cooking for your moussaka recipe, you'll start your meat sauce by heating remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add your diced onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté until golden brown. When sprinkling with salt and pepper, try to sprinkle from a good height, about one foot above the pan. This will help disperse the salt and pepper.

When onions are ready, push them toward the sides of the pan and coat the center with cooking spray. Place your ground lamb into the center of the pan and start to break it up, eventually stirring in with the onions. Cook lamb until browned and most fat has evaporated, then add all your spices.

While lamb in the most common meat used in moussaka, ground beef is a great substitute.

Finishing off your sauce for this moussaka recipe

When adding your whole, peeled tomatoes, be sure to add the entire can for this moussaka recipe. Do not drain the extra juices, as you most definitely want all that flavor in your sauce! Using a spatula, gently break up all the tomatoes into two to four chunks each. It's important to do this gently because the tomatoes sometimes explode a little — just go slow! Stir tomatoes into mixture, and turn heat to low. Simmer your sauce for approximately 30 minutes. The extra juices should mostly absorb into the meat mixture, leaving a thick, meaty sauce.

Assembling this moussaka recipe

Assembling this moussaka recipe is simple, but be careful not to eat it all now. It smells so good at this point, you're going to want to eat it before you even bake it! Start by layering half of your eggplant slices onto the bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Then, place half of the lamb mixture on top of the eggplant and spread out it evenly. Repeat this layering step with the remaining eggplant and meat sauce. Just set the dish aside as you quickly whip up your cheese topping.

The easiest, cheesiest topping for this moussaka recipe

As mentioned before, a traditional moussaka recipe is typically topped off with a bechamel sauce. However, bechamel sauce can be finicky and really hard to get just right. In order to make this dish easier to whip up and to save some time, we decided to throw together this easy cheese sauce instead. All you have to do is combine the Greek yogurt, ricotta, feta, eggs, and cornstarch together in a medium bowl. Pour the entire mixture over the last layer of lamb sauce, and finish it off by sprinkling Parmesan cheese over top.

Pop your moussaka recipe in the oven

Bake this moussaka recipe for approximately forty minutes in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven until the top is golden brown and parts of it are starting to bubble. If it's been 40 minutes and you'd like your moussaka a little more golden, go ahead and switch your oven from bake to broil. Broil the moussaka on high for two to three minutes until your desired doneness is reached. After removing from the oven, let your moussaka cool slightly before topping with fresh mint and/or parsley (optional). Serve hot and watch in awe as you and your loved ones devour this earthy, rich eggplant masterpiece.

Moussaka Recipe
4.9 from 15 ratings
Chef Tara Rylie of RylieCakes breakdowns this moussaka recipe here and finishes it of with a salty, creamy, tangy cheese sauce without the bechamel.
Prep Time
1.25
hours
Cook Time
45
minutes
Servings
10
servings
moussaka recipe served
Total time: 2 hours
Ingredients
  • 4 eggplants (approximately 4 pounds)
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 18 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped, divided
  • 2 tsp oregano, divided
  • 2 yellow onions, medium diced
  • 2 pounds ground lamb (or beef)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 serrano pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ¾ cup red wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • ¾ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ cup Parmesan
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place an oven rack middle in middle position. Coat two half sheet pans and one 9-by-13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Cut off tops and bottoms of eggplants, saving as much of the eggplant as possible. Cut lengthwise in ¼-inch slices. Place eggplant slices on prepared sheet pans — they will overlap slightly.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together ½ cup olive oil, four cloves of minced garlic, nine mint leaves, and one teaspoon oregano. Brush topsides of eggplant with herb oil — use all the oil and be sure herbs and garlic are on the eggplant and not on the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for approximately 40 minutes until golden brown. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  4. While eggplant is cooking, heat remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté until golden brown.
  5. Push onions toward the sides of the pan and coat center with cooking spray. Place ground lamb into center and start to break it up, eventually stirring in with the onions. Cook until browned and most fat has evaporated.
  6. Add remaining four cloves of garlic, nine mint leaves, and one teaspoon oregano as well as a cinnamon stick, serrano pepper, nutmeg, paprika, tomato paste, and red wine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir to combine.
  7. Add a whole can of tomatoes — do not drain. Use a spatula to gently break up the tomatoes and stir into mixture. Turn heat to low and simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Sauce will be mostly absorbed when done, leaving a thick, meaty mixture.
  8. Assembly: Layer half of the eggplant slices onto the bottom of prepared casserole dish. Place half of the lamb mixture on top and spread out evenly. Layer remaining eggplant slices on top of lamb mixture. Lastly, place remaining lamb mixture on top of eggplant and spread out evenly. Set aside.
  9. Combine Greek yogurt, ricotta, feta, eggs, and cornstarch. Whisk to combine. Pour mixture over top of the lamb layer, and spread out evenly. Sprinkle Parmesan over top.
  10. Bake Moussaka for approximately 40 minutes until top is golden brown and parts are starting to bubble. Remove from oven when done and let cool slightly.
  11. Serve warm. Top with mint, parsley, or even dried oregano if desired.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 591
Total Fat 43.1 g
Saturated Fat 15.8 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 135.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 23.6 g
Dietary Fiber 9.5 g
Total Sugars 12.3 g
Sodium 1,192.6 mg
Protein 26.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe