Moussaka is a classic Greek dish. Learn how to make this authentic recipe at home with the help of step-by-step photos.
There are plenty of variations on how to make Moussaka and this is The Real Greek‘s version, prepared by Tonia Buxton. Meat, potatoes and aubergine are the main ingredients that characterise Moussaka but there is plenty of leeway as to what you can add to yours. For example, in the height of summer Greeks use the glut that comes from their vegetable gardens, such as courgettes, spinach or tomatoes.
Moussaka is a great candidate for bulk cooking. If you were to go down that route, it’s best to do it in logical phases. First prepare the Kemas (Κιμάς), which is the meat mixture. After that the béchamel sauce and then cooking each vegetable respectively. It doesn’t matter whether any of the components cool down afterwards, in fact, it’s actually ideal because it makes constructing the final dish much easier and faster.
As you can see in the photos, preparing the lamb mince is straightforward. Mind you, you don’t always have to use lamb. Almost any type of meat can be used, from pork and veal to turkey and chicken. In the Volos region in central Greece where they have lots of cattle they use beef. Cinnamon definitely needs to be used and at the end of cooking chopped parsley can be added to the mixture and left to wilt a bit. At this stage you can freeze the meat if you don’t want to use it immediately.
There is nothing unique about the béchamel sauce. Other than adding some ground cinnamon to it just follow the instructions and let it cool down. What you don’t want is lumpy sauce but if it curdles due to cooling down, don’t fret, because it will cook again in the oven and even out and no would be the wiser.
Now for the vegetables. As we all know, anything fried tastes good. So for the best results, fry your potatoes, aubergines and courgettes – separately, of course. If you’d like your Moussaka to be healthier and less calorific, grill or bake them in the oven.
In this recipe, boiled new potatoes were used. Traditionally, big Greek or Cypriot potatoes work best because they never break down. Depending on the variety you use, you can leave the skin on which will lead to more flavour and nutrients in the dish.
Traditionally, deep and large ovenproof dishes are used, which makes double “layers” possible. Starting from the bottom it would be potatoes, aubergines, meat, potatoes, aubergines, meat and béchamel sauce. However, if you’re using small dishes, like in this case, only one layer would be possible but will taste just as good!
Sprinkle the Moussaka with some cheese. Traditionally kassari, haloumi or kefalotiri is used. If you can’t get hold of them French gruyère will work as a substitute. If all else fails, use cheddar.
If you make Moussaka the night before, it will taste better. Unbaked at room temperature it would take 45 minutes at 180°C to cook. Unbaked, it will keep up to 3 months in freezer. Cooked, it will keep for 3 days in the fridge. To reheat, for best results cover the Moussaka with foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes at 160°C.
There you have it! I suggest you follow the recipe the first time round and the next (and next and next) time start playing to suit to your taste!
Get Your Inner Greek Going
- Smashing Plates: Greek Flavours Redefined
- Food From Many Greek Kitchens
- Vefa’s Kitchen
- It’s All Greek to Me
Prep 30 minutes
Cook 60 minutes
Total 90 minutes
Author: Michelle Minnaar
A classic Greek dish that will leave you yearning for more.
- 30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
- 1 kg (2lbs) lamb mince
- 250g (½lb) onions chopped
- 15ml (1 tbsp) ground cinnamon
- 2.5ml (½ tsp) sea salt
- 30ml (2 tbsp) tomato puree
- 400g (1lb) passata
- 50g (2 oz) butter
- 50ml (4 tbsp) corn flour
- 600ml (1 pint) warm milk
- 2 eggs
- 60g (2oz) grated cheese, such as haloumi, kefalotiri, kassari or strong cheddar.
- 3 aubergines, cut lengthways in 1cm slices
- 1kg (2lbs) potatoes, cut in 1cm slices
- In a large pan add olive oil & onions & sauté until translucent.
- Add the lamb & cook until browned on a low heat.
- Add the seasoning & cinnamon.
- Add the tomato puree & passata. Optional: add a splash of red wine. Simmer with lid on for 20 minutes.
- For the sauce, warm 3/4 of the milk with the butter.
- Mix the remaining milk with the corn flour, and then beat in the eggs and add the grated cheese and cinnamon.
- Take some of the warm milk and mix with the egg mixture, then slowly stir it all into the pan on the heat. Stir till it thickens to a custard mixture.
- Bake, grill or fry the slices of potatoes and aubergine, respectively.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
- Place the potatoes at the bottom layer of an ovenproof dish, then layer the aubergine slices.
- Top the vegetables with mince mixture and finish off with a layer of béchamel sauce. Sprinkle with some cheese if you like.
- Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes. Done!
Serve with Greek Salad and warm flatbreads.
Courses Main Course
Serving Size 789.8g
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 49.3g
Saturated Fat 24.2g
Trans Fat 0.1g
Total Carbohydrates 55.8g
Dietary Fiber 8.6g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.