How to Make Traditional Greek Moussaka

Super Delicious Greek Moussaka

In this blog, I’ll be sharing with you all the secrets about one of the most delicious staples of thelocal cuisine, the amazing Greek Moussaka. A dish that everyone loves to eat, no matter where they are! Ready? Let’s do it!

Arguably, the most famous dish you will find around, Moussaka is nothing but a baked feast made with aubergines, potatoes and zucchini, plus a mouthwatering, creamy Bechamel sauce, and a tomato sauce with minced meat with a characteristic cinnamon aroma.

Have you ever tried Greek Moussaka?

greek moussaka

Probably you did, and probably during your holidays in Greece as well. But trust me, there’s no way to compare the moussaka you order in a restaurant to the fresh one you will make at home. It will take some time, sure, but iy will also taste ten times better!

Moussaka is originally made frying all the vegetables, and that is the version I’m publishing here. But you can also cook the vegetables in the oven. The result witll be a much a lighter version (that I will be sharing soon here too).

Interesting things to know about Moussaka

As you may already know, Greek cuisine has received tons of influence from the Middle East. But also from the Balkans and Turkey. Moussaka is not any different. In fact, the dish is also common in many Mediterranean countrie where it is cooked in varied ways. The main difference? While Greek moussaka is often eaten hot, the dish is served cold in many other countries.

Despite its international flair, moussaka is one of the best-known Greek dishes, in fact, the most popular version around the world was created back in the 1920s by one of Greece’s most popular chefs.

Moussaka in Greece

Eggplant and potatoes…

There are different moussaka versions in every region, all of them claiming to be the authentic Greek moussaka. The most common moussaka, often described as the official version is the one made just with aubergines.

But I’ve also tried it with layers of potatoes. Or potatoes and zucchini. This is my favorite version, and the recipe that I share down below.

Personally, I think that zucchini adds a touch of freshness and lightness that gives a fantastic flavor to the whole combination.

Moussaka ingredients
With or without zucchini?

However, the first thing you think of when hearing the word moussaka is layers of sauteed eggplant. The sauce is normally made with ground meat (generally lamb), and a thick top layer of bechamel which, in most cases, has been enriched with an egg to make moussaka really firm, so as to be able to cut steady portions.

Vegan version of Moussaka

Using white moussaka makes the dish even more delicate, if you can find it.

An old vegan moussaka version has also been around for years, it does not have any meat or dairy, so no bechamel at all, just tomato sauce and breadcrumbs for consistency.

A curious fact: While doing my food tours on Crete, and talking with local chefs, I’ve learned that cinnamon has been used for centuries in many dishes. The curious thing is that cinnamon – which gives moussaka and other ground beef based dishes a characteristic taste – was initially used as a meat preserver, not really for flavor, as it would preserve meat longer in the times when there were no fridges around!

More eggplant dishes?

Papoutsakia

Eggplant, aubergine, or – locally, melitzana (μελιτζάνα) is a very popular vegetable in Greece. You will easily find it in dishes such as briam (μπριάμ) (a traditional dish made with roasted vegetables).

You will also find aubergines in papoutsakia, a dish made with small eggplants (often cut in halves), suffed with ground meat and tomato sauce (cinnamon-flavored,of course!), topped with bechamel and baked in the oven.

Melintzanosalata (μελιτζανοσαλάτα) or eggplant salad, is another summery dish you can easily find in every taverna during summer.

Greek Moussaka Recipe

Yield: 8-10

Traditional Greek Moussaka

Greek Moussaka

One of the most popular - and delicious - Greek staple dishes!

Prep Time 50 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 5 or 6 aubergines
  • 5 or 6 potatoes
  • 5 or 6 zucchini
  • Oil for frying
  • 1 cup of grated cheese
  • FOR THE MEAT SAUCE:
  • ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 500 gr. of minced meat
  • a shot of wine or cognac
  • 1 grated tomato
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. of tomato paste
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1 tbsp. of oregano
  • 1 tbsp. of thyme
  • ¼ tsp. of pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cube of beef stock
  • ½ cup of parsley
  • FOR THE BÉCHAMEL SAUCE:
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 cup of water
  • 6 level tbsp. of butter
  • 14 level tbsp. of flour
  • ½ cup of grated cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 180 °C
  • Peel and cut the potatoes into narrow round slices about 1 cm thick.
  • Place them raw at the bottom of the oven tray to make sure you have cut enough.
  • Leave the potatoes in water until you are ready to fry.
  • Wash the aubergines, remove 4 strips of the skin across the length of each aubergine to make it less bitter. Also cut into long and narrow round slices about 1 cm thick.
  • Place them in oven tray to make sure you have enough and then place them in a bowl with water until you’re ready to fry.
  • Follow the same procedure for the zucchini.
  • Add enough sunflower oil in a frying pan, preheat and start frying the potatoes, first, continue with the zucchini and end with the eggplants (for them not to stain the frying oil).
  • Remember to add extra oil as needed, especially because aubergines tend to absorb a lot of oil during the frying procedure.
  • Once all the vegetables have been fried, remove the excess of oil using paper towel and get ready to prepare the meat sauce.

    Meat Sauce:
  • Place ½ cup of olive oil into a pan, add the diced onion, salt to taste, and let them cook until they’re slightly brown.
  • Add the chopped garlic and when it is slightly golden add the minced meat.
  • When you add the minced meat make sure you thoroughly separate it into smaller pieces so that there are no big chunks of meat visible.
  • Incorporate the tomato paste and add a shot of wine or cognac to enhance the taste.
  • Once the alcohol evaporates, add the grated tomato, the cinnamon stick, and let all cook for a couple of minutes, no more.
  • Now, it’s time to add all the remaining ingredients (save the parsley for now) and enough water so it doesn’t burn. Also add some a cup of tomato sauce.
  • Let it simmer for 30 minutes, adding water as needed and parsley in the last 10 minutes.
  • Taste for salt, remove the cinnamon stick and set aside to cool down.

    Bechamel Sauce:
  • Pour the three cups of milk in a small pot and heat until it slightly simmers.
  • In a separate pot melt 6 tbsp. of butter.
  • As soon as it melts add 14 tbsp. of flour in butter while whisking continually.
  • Don’t be afraid yet, mixing butter and flour won’t make any slumps, so you’re ok for now.
  • When the mixture turns slightly yellow, slowly add the milk mixture and continue whisking.
  • This is the lump-risk moment, but don’t panic! The secret is to add the milk just a very little at a time while you never stop whisking.
  • Add enough of the milk mixture until the sauce is creamy and flows slowly off the spoon.
  • Remove from fire once the first two-three bubbles appear and add cheese.
  • Once removed from heat add two fresh eggs and freshly-grated nutmeg and whisk once again. Set aside.

    Layering the Moussaka:
  • Place a layer of potatoes at the bottom of the tray. Place the smaller pieces wherever there are large gaps so that the bottom of the tray is completed covered.
  • Sprinkle with grated cheese (a good Italian Parmesan cheese works wonders).
  • Add the meat sauce, spread it smoothly and evenly, and sprinkle with cheese.
  • Add a layer of aubergines and sprinkle with cheese, alternated with meat sauce and then add the final layer of zucchini.
  • Cover the tray with enough béchamel sauce and once again sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  • Cook in the oven until the white béchamel turns into a delicious golden brown, or until it reaches the color that you prefer (anything from 25 to 40 minutes).
  • Let it cool for a few minutes in orer to cut it easily and serve.

Are also a fan of moussaka? Let me know!

Did you cook it?

Tag @mycretanrecipe on Instagram and show me the results!

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