Beef and Eggplant Moussaka

  • Active Time 50m
  • Total Time 2h 20m
  • Rating ****

Serves 4 to 6

Moussaka is a popular casserole-style dish in Greece, Turkey and many other Middle Eastern countries. Typically moussaka contains ground beef or lamb, eggplant (the round, purple type), and a cheese sauce, but some versions contain just eggplant and other vegetables, or potatoes and beef. Of the many versions we tried, this is the best! WINE RECOMMENDATION: A West Coast Merlot/Cabernet blend or a regional St. Emilion from France are soft enough to "marry" successfully with this dish.


  • For Moussaka:
  • 2 large eggplants, about 1 3/4 pounds total
  • Salt
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean high-quality ground beef
  • 2 tomatoes (8 ounces) diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs (such as Herbes de Provence)
  • Pepper
  • For Sauce:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, or to taste
  • For Topping (optional):
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup prepared fine bread crumbs


TO PREPARE MOUSSAKA: Cut the eggplants crosswise into thin slices and place on a large platter. Sprinkle with salt, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse the slices and drain.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions, and sauté over medium-high heat until lightly golden brown, about 7 minutes. Add the ground beef, tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, cinnamon and herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stirring occasionally, cook until all of the beef is browned, about 11 minutes longer.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil in a large sauté pan and add one-third of the eggplant slices in a single layer. Sauté over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until just tender and lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add 1 tablespoon more of the olive oil and when hot, add another one-third of the eggplant slices, repeating the cooking process; remove and drain. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and the remaining eggplant slices and repeat. Set aside.

TO PREPARE SAUCE: Heat the milk in a saucepan, add the onion and garlic and bring just to a boil. Turn off the heat and let sit or 30 minutes to infuse. Strain, reserving the milk. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the butter in a saucepan and when melted, add the flour, stirring constantly over low heat for 2 minutes. Gradually add the infused milk and when completely blended in, bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring. When the sauce thickens, remove from the heat and stir in the mustard and cheese. Whisk in the eggs and season with the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

TO ASSEMBLE: Line a large lightly oiled casserole or ovenproof baking dish with one-third of the cooked eggplant and arrange an even layer of one-third of the beef mixture on top. Cover with one-third of the sauce. Arrange another layer of each, and then a third and final layer, ending with the sauce.

TO PREPARE THE TOPPING (optional): Heat the butter over medium heat in a sauté pan and when melted, add the bread crumbs. Stir together over medium heat until thoroughly combined. Remove from the heat and sprinkle evenly over the top of the moussaka. Cover the casserole (use foil if necessary, but make sure it is not touching the topping) and place in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until the topping is a dark golden brown; take care that it does not burn. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes, and serve.

HELPFUL TIPS: Salting the eggplant slices and letting them sit causes them to "sweat" and lose their bitterness; younger, less mature eggplants tend to have less natural bitterness, but it's still a good idea to salt them; Serve the moussaka with a green salad, if desired.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Harper Collins. All rights reserved.

RecID 2008

nutrition information per serving

694 calories; 49g total fat; 179mg cholesterol; 299mg sodium; 25g carbohydrates; 5g fiber; 36g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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