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This easy Eggplant Moussaka recipe is quick to prep and makes a tasty weeknight meal. This hearty eggplant recipe is packed full of authentic Greek flavors. Made with tender slices of roasted eggplant, a rich and flavorful meat sauce, and a creamy and nutty bechamel sauce, this simple eggplant moussaka recipe is a true celebration of Mediterranean flavors.
Table of Contents
- What is eggplant moussaka?
- Why you’ll love this Simple EggPlant Moussaka
- Ingredients to make Eggplant MoussakA
- How to make eggplant moussaka
- Tips For making The best Eggplant Moussaka recipe
- Popular Substitutions & Additions
- How to store & reheat
- Can I freeze Eggplant Moussaka?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- For more Mediterranean recipes, check out:
- Easy Eggplant Moussaka Recipe
Whether you’re serving this moussaka for a special occasion or just for a cozy weeknight dinner, this easy eggplant casserole is guaranteed to impress your taste buds and leave you feeling satisfied and content. So, preheat your oven, gather your ingredients, and let’s get started on this delicious journey!
What is eggplant moussaka?
Moussaka is a Middle Eastern recipe that’s made with layers of eggplant, potatoes, and ground meat. There are many variations of the recipe all over the Middle East, but the Greek Moussaka tends to be the most popular. This version that I make is without potatoes to keep it low-carb and simplify the recipe.
Whatever variation of moussaka you make, the layers of eggplant, meat sauce, and the bechamel sauce that covers it all, is truly something unique and delicious. In a way, it reminds me of Shepard’s pie and has a very Mediterranean flavor to it. Yet the ingredients you’ll need to make it are very common and simple.
Why you’ll love this Simple EggPlant Moussaka
- Easy to make: Even with its impressive flavor and presentation, this moussaka is surprisingly easy to make, with simple and straightforward steps that will have you enjoying a delicious meal in no time.
- It’s versatile: You can customize this recipe to your liking by using different meats, adjusting the spices, or adding your favorite veggies.
- Crowd-pleaser: Whether you’re serving this moussaka for a special occasion, a dinner party, or just for a weeknight meal, this recipe is sure to be a hit with everyone. Its flavors and textures are sure to please even the pickiest eaters.
- Healthier casserole option: Made with simple, wholesome ingredients like eggplant, beef, and milk, this moussaka is a healthier option compared to other comfort food dishes.
Ingredients to make Eggplant MoussakA
The ingredient list may look long, but it’s really mostly made up of pantry staples. It is truly easy to make!
Ingredients for the Meat Sauce:
- Olive Oil: Used as a base for cooking the onions, ground beef, and garlic, adding richness and flavor to the sauce.
- Onion: Chopped and sautéed in the olive oil, adding sweetness and depth of flavor to the sauce.
- Ground Beef: Browned and crumbled in the skillet, adding richness, protein, and texture to the sauce.
- Garlic: Minced and added to the skillet, adding a pungent and aromatic flavor to the sauce.
- Diced Tomatoes: Added to the skillet, adding a tangy and juicy flavor to the sauce.
- Spices: Oregano, cinnamon, and a dash of salt and pepper give the moussaka a wonderful flavor. (No, the cinnamon is not a typo – it’s a key ingredient and gives the meat sauce amazing flavor!)
Ingredients for the Bechamel Sauce:
- Butter: Melted in a saucepan, adding richness and creaminess to the sauce.
- All-Purpose Flour: Whisked into the melted butter, helping to thicken the sauce.
- Milk: Gradually poured into the saucepan and whisked into the flour and butter mixture, adding creaminess and smoothness to the sauce.
- Nutmeg: Sprinkled into the sauce, adding a warm and nutty flavor.
- Eggs: Beaten in a small bowl, then whisked into the bechamel sauce to set the sauce and add richness.
Ingredients for the Casserole:
- Eggplant: Sliced lengthwise, salted, and roasted until tender, creating the base of the casserole.
- Salt and Pepper: Sprinkled on the eggplant slices, enhancing the flavors and seasoning the dish.
- Olive Oil: Used for brushing the eggplant slices, adding richness and flavor.
- Shredded Parmesan Cheese: Sprinkled on top of the casserole before baking, adding a touch of nutty and salty flavor.
How to make eggplant moussaka
Making Eggplant Moussaka is a breeze! The hardest part is waiting for it to finish baking, as the aroma of the dish will have your mouth watering and your stomach rumbling!
Prepare the eggplant
- Lay the slices of eggplant on paper towels, sprinkle lightly with salt, and set aside to draw out the moisture.
- Pat the eggplant with a paper towel after it has sat.
- Brush both sides of the eggplant pieces with olive oil and season with black pepper.
- Place on a sheet pan and roast.
Cook the meat sauce
- In a large skillet, add olive oil, onions, ground beef, and garlic. Season with oregano, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, with a wooden spoon until beef is browned and crumbled.
- Add the diced tomatoes, and reduce the heat.
- Simmer uncovered until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.
Make the bechamel sauce
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and sprinkle the flour in.
- Whisk the flour and cook, stirring occasionally, until it bubbles.
- Gradually pour in the warm milk, whisking constantly until it thickens.
- Remove from heat and whisk in the salt and nutmeg.
- In a small bowl, beat the eggs. Then whisk in some of the bechamel sauce into the eggs to temper them.
- Pour the mixture into the saucepan with the bechamel sauce and whisk again until the egg mixture is fully incorporated.
Layer the moussaka ingredients
- Start with some of the eggplant, making sure to cover the entire bottom of the baking dish.
- Next, add the meat mixture and use the back of a wooden spoon to really pat down everything so it’s nice and compact.
- Repeat another round of layers between the eggplant and meat mixture and then pour the bechamel sauce on top, followed by the parmesan cheese.
- Bake it uncovered. All the ingredients are essentially cooked already, so the signal that it’s done is when the bechamel sauce gets golden in color, and the cheese starts to melt and bubble.
Tips For making The best Eggplant Moussaka recipe
- Peel the skin off the eggplant. The skin on the eggplants can very tough and chewy, making it hard to cut through. It can also taste pretty bitter and take away from the dish. So if you’re serving it to kids or want an overall more cohesive appearance, I would recommend peeling off the skin.
- Sweat the eggplant. Sweating the eggplant is very important when baking it in a casserole because it holds a lot of water, which can ultimately ruin the moussaka. To prevent the moussaka from being watery, make sure to lay the eggplant on a paper towel, sprinkle lightly with salt and let it sit for 30 minutes. You’ll notice small beads of moisture all over the eggplant. After half an hour, you can use a paper towel to wipe off the moisture.
- Use warm milk for the bechamel sauce: When making the bechamel sauce, make sure to warm the milk before adding it to the saucepan. This will help the sauce to thicken more easily and result in a smoother and creamier sauce.
- Leave the moussaka to rest before serving. I recommend half an hour. That way, the pieces stay together better when you cut and serve them. It’s similar to lasagna in that way.
Popular Substitutions & Additions
- Use chicken or vegetable broth for added flavor. While the meat mixture is made up for only a few ingredients, using broth really dials up the flavor of those few ingredients. It adds an extra dimension without adding additional vegetable prep.
- Use another protein. Ground beef can be substituted with ground lamb, ground chicken, ground turkey, or a mixture of any of these.
- Switch out the milk. It can be substituted with cream, half-and-half, or a non-dairy milk like almond or soy milk.
- Add more vegetables: You can add a layer of sautéed or roasted vegetables like onion, zucchini, bell peppers, or mushrooms to the moussaka, adding more flavor, texture, and nutrition.
- Experiment with herbs and spices: You can add fresh herbs like basil, parsley, or mint to the meat sauce or bechamel sauce, adding more fresh and aromatic flavors. You can also adjust the spices used in the recipe to your liking, adding more or less of the spices depending on your preferences.
How to store & reheat
- Store in the refrigerator: Allow the moussaka to cool completely, then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Reheat in the oven: To reheat the moussaka, place it in an oven-safe dish and cover it with foil. Bake at 350°F for 20-30 minutes, or until heated through. You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave.
HOw long will Eggplant Moussaka last in the fridge?
When stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, Eggplant Moussaka will last for up to 4 days.
Can I freeze Eggplant Moussaka?
Yes, you can freeze Eggplant Moussaka since we sweat the eggplant, that makes it more freezer-friendly. Allow the moussaka to cool completely, then wrap it well with plastic wrap and foil. Label and date the moussaka, then freeze it for up to 3 months. To reheat, place the moussaka in the oven at 350°F, covered with foil, and bake until heated through, about 30-40 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Moussaka is a hearty dish that is full of flavor, so I like to keep it simple and serve it with a fresh side salad. If you are looking for a fuller meal, a side of Mediterranean Tomato Brown Rice Pilaf or Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice would work really well!
Lasagna and moussaka definitely have their similarities with the layers of ground meat, bechamel sauce and tomatoes. The main difference is that eggplant replaces pasta sheets which changes the texture of the dish and makes it low carb.
Yes, you can make this moussaka ahead of time! Simply assemble fully and cover in the fridge until ready to bake. Add 5 to 10 minutes to the cooking time.
If this eggplant moussaka brings back memories of a time you’ve eaten before, I hope you try my quicker version of the recipe. And if this recipe sounds interesting for you to try, I promise you won’t be disappointed!
If you love eggplant, be sure to check out my grilled eggplant recipe.
For more Mediterranean recipes, check out:
If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Easy Eggplant Moussaka recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!
Easy Eggplant Moussaka
For the Eggplant Layer & assembly
- 3 large eggplants sliced lengthwise into ¼-inch thick slices
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil for brushing
- ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
For the Meat Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 15- ounce canned diced tomatoes with juices
For the bechamel sauce
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ cups milk warmed
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 eggs
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Prepare the eggplant. Lay the slices of eggplant on paper towels, sprinkle lightly with salt, and set aside for 30 minutes to draw out the moisture. Pat dry, then brush both sides of the eggplant pieces with olive oil and season with black pepper. Place on a sheet pan and roast for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Make the meat sauce. In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, onions, ground beef and garlic. Season with oregano, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until beef is browned and crumbled, about 10 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, and reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.
- Make the bechamel sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then whisk in flour and cook, stirring occasionally, until it bubbles. Gradually pour in the warm milk, whisking constantly until it thickens. Bring the mixture to a boil, then decrease the heat to medium and continue cooking for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the salt and nutmeg. In a small bowl, beat the eggs. Then whisk in 2 tablespoons of the bechamel sauce into the eggs to temper them. Pour the mixture into the saucepan with the bechamel sauce and whisk again until the egg mixture is fully incorporated.
- Assemble the moussaka. Arrange half of the eggplant in an 8×11 baking dish. Add the meat sauce all over the eggplant and then layer the remaining eggplant on top. Pour the bechamel sauce over the top and smooth out with a spatula. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top.
- Bake. Decrease the oven temperature to 350°F and bake until the bechamel is set and golden, 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool for 30 minutes to set before slicing and serving.
- Instead of ground beef, you can use ground turkey. But traditionally this is made with ground lamb.
- Use fresh tomatoes along tomato paste instead of canned tomatoes if you prefer
- Instead of 1 teaspoon of allspice, you can use ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground cloves, and a pinch of ground nutmeg
Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.
Thank you Yumna, I’m looking forward to trying your delicious Recipe on my husband. Your Mousakka looks absolutely fabulous.
You’re so welcome! You’ll have to come back and let me know what you guys think when you make it! Enjoy!
Very delicious recipe! I added the potatoes and it was a hit! Took it to our friend’s house, and everyone loved it! Thanks Yumna!!!
Thank you so much! I’m glad to hear it was a hit. You’re so welcome, Dema!
I also find that the eggplants were steamed not roasted. The oven temperature is not high enough. We should roast at. Least 400 degrees. For the rest it was ok but I have tried better recipes
I find that if you sweat the eggplant by sprinkling the slices with salt, it helps with the roasting. If this skip is stepped, it might give more of a steaming effect because this step allows the moisture to release from the eggplant. Glad you enjoyed the rest of the recipe!
I am about to make this mousakka recepie and I’m wondering if it has been updated with all the suggestions that you thought were relevant?
That’s so exciting! Yes, it should be. For best results, don’t forget to read through the Tips, Frequently Asked Questions, and Notes.
I found the eggplant put straight into the oven after drying was a bit strange. They kind of steamed rather than roasted. Was there no light coating of oil required? And there was no mention of seasoning them, but saw your picture later, so I found the eggplant looked and tasted bland. All else was good, though would do a double batch of bechamel next time and add a little amongst the layers for a bit of a boost.
I see what you mean. There is so much flavor from the meat sauce and the bechamel sauce though so I left the eggplant alone aside from teh salt added to it in the drying process. Good tip though about the extra bechamel for next time!
What kind of shredded cheese do you use with the nutmeg?
It’s the shredded parmesan 🙂
This is delicious. I made a couple of changes, I used 3/4 of a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes so eliminated the broth. I added those tiny mozzarella balls and extra parmesan between layers. I made a bit extra béchamel and used half milk, half “half n half” cream, I also added a bit more parmesan to it. I love this dish, I think it is the cloves that just makes it. My hubby who does not care for eggplant said “do not lose that recipe”.
Aww that’s the best when the hubby approves so much!! I love substitute you made the recipe. Thanks so much for sharing!
Hi, I’m excited to make this. In #2 you mention “7 spice seasoning,” but I don’t see that in the ingredients. What is it? Thanks!
Oh sorry I mean to say All Spice.
Thanks, all set!
Can you USE the seven spice? I made some up for one of your other recipes and so I have it. Have not yet gone through your site enough to know where else to use it.
Oh yes, absolutely! If you search 7 spice on my blog, you can find tons of recipes were I use it!
where does the potatoes come in on the moussaka?
Usually it’s with the eggplant layers, but I don’t include it in my recipe.
What is the placement of the oven rack for frying the eggplant slices?
Middle rack is best 🙂
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I cook for about 10 people when college kids are home. The bizarre thing about this recipe is that EVERYBODY loved it, from 11 yrs old to 90. They ate it ALL. Every crumb. It was a little runny after the first slice, so I cheated and soaked most of it up with paper towels. I think if I had dried out the eggplant a little more, and let the dish set longer, it would have been perfect. Regardless, it was delicious!
OH, and I added potato slices, because, well, BOYS. Undercooked them a little parboiling, but it was a great addition.
Oh wow, from 11 to 90! That’s so awesome to hear…thanks so much for sharing! Yes, sometimes eggplant can get watery so letting it dry well will really help. Love the idea of adding potatoes to it!