This recipe for traditional Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna) was given to me by a Greek family who has had this recipe in their family recipe collection for a very long time.
Watch the video showing you how to make Pastitsio, then scroll to the bottom of this post and print out the recipe so you can make it at home.
Pastitsio is a favorite traditional Greek dinner recipe. It’s a Greek version of lasagna- characterized by a white and creamy bechamel sauce used in place of marinara and a hint of cinnamon. And I think you’ll find that this is one of the most delicious dinner recipes you’ve ever had!
How do you make Pastitsio?
It’s layered just like traditional Italian lasagna. The layers are as follows: noodles tossed in egg are topped with Greek cheese.
A generous layer of meat sauce makes up the next layer.
Then, more noodles and cheese!
On top is the final layer of the bechamel sauce and more cheese!
It’s baked for 40 to 45 minutes, blending all of those layers together to create a fabulous meal.
The best tip I received about making Pastitsio is to make it early in the morning (or the night before), and then warm up individual slices when ready to eat. You certainly don’t have to make it this way, just know that the pasta dish will be more “loose” and will not likely cut into neat squares as you see in the photos here.
It will be tremendously delicious either way you decide to make it!
I do love how the layers are clearly seen in the slices. They’re a little mesmerizing.
My family LOVES, LOVES, LOVES this recipe. The bechamel sauce is a welcome change over the usual marinara, the hint of cinnamon in the meat layer is an interesting addition, and the Greek cheese connecting all of the layers is delicious! Authentic Greek recipes are the absolute best!
If you enjoy Greek recipes, you might also like my Greek Spinach Pie or my Greek Butter Cookies. You definitely have to try making Greek Tzatziki too!
Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 quart whole milk, warmed until hot
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 3 large eggs
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 pounds 90% lean ground beef
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- salt and pepper, to taste
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 pound ziti pasta
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 12 to 16 ounces Kasseri or Kefalotiri cheese, grated (see notes below)
PREPARE THE BECHAMEL SAUCE:
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and then gradually whisk in the hot milk. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Stir in the salt, remove from heat and let cool. When the sauce is lukewarm, whisk in the eggs. Set aside.
PREPARE THE MEAT LAYER:
- Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and saute until softened and golden. Crumble the beef into the skillet and cook with the onions until the beef is browned. Stir in the cinnamon, salt and pepper. Stir in the water and tomato paste, and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.
PREPARE THE PASTA LAYER:
- Cook ziti according to directions on the package. Drain and rinse with cool water. When pasta has cooled down, stir in the beaten eggs and 1½ teaspoons salt.
ASSEMBLE THE DISH:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a deep 9x13-inch casserole dish with nonstick spray. You really need a deep casserole dish for this recipe (deeper than the usual 9x13-inch pyrex).
- Scoop half of the pasta into the bottom of your prepared dish. Sprinkle generously with cheese. Spoon on the meat mixture to create an even layer; sprinkle with another layer of cheese. Scoop the remaining pasta on top of the meat and sprinkle with more cheese! Top with the cream sauce and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
- Bake 45 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and golden on top. Let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before serving (but it is suggested that you refrigerate to let the layers set... and then warm up later to serve).
- *Whole Foods carries Kasseri cheese- or check a specialty cheese shop. If you have trouble locating Greek cheeses, you can sub Parmesan.
Love this recipe! Spot on! I have used Parm/Reggiono and even added a little mozzarella to parm once when I was short on Parm. I get so many compliments when I make this for people. I will say I add 5 cups of while milk instead of 4 cups for a little thinner bechamel! I love Greek food! Thanks for the recipe🙂
would not make it without the long thin tubular pasta
Other than all the pots and pans I have to wash (hahaha), this is the best pasticho recipe I’ve found. It is delicious! Thank you!
Hi, Lori. My husband is Greek and I cook pastichio all the time. Your recipe is the closest to the one I learned in Greece from my mother -in -law. It’s so easy and so delicious. I just cooked some tonight. Thanks for all your beautiful recipes.
That’s wonderful, thank you!
Easy to follow came out perfect ! I used kefiloteri cheese from a small Mediterranean market.. authentic taste,
My daughter cannot have sugar so what would you use instead of the milk in the bechamel sauce?
Maple Hill Creamery began offering zero sugar cow’s milk in 2021.
can it be made the day before?
I am Greek and have traditionally used the recipe from the Charleston Greek Orthodox Church cookbook. Haven’t made it in years bc cookbook got lost in the move. This one looked so good but i used a grated Pecorino/Romano cheese mix as that was closest I could find in grocery store. Recipe called for grated but then i saw shredded in pics so hoping that doesn’t make too much of a difference. Also should eggs be beaten before adding into bechemel?
You can beat the eggs if you’d like, but shouldn’t make much of a difference since you are beating them into the sauce.
I make this recipe every year for Easter. I get rave reviews from every one
IS THE PASTA 1 POUND AFTER COOKED OR 1 POUND BEFORE COOKED?
Why does recipe say to add eggs to pasta and also to the sauce but doesn’t show the amount of eggs to do this? I’m confused
Are you looking at the list of ingredients in the recipe? There are 3 eggs added to the sauce. And there are 3 eggs added to the cooked pasta. All of that is indicated in the list of ingredients and then in the recipe instructions. I’m not seeing where you’re confused…
loved it, only problem I had, was i added 3 eggs to the bechemel…and was out of them by the time i got to the pasta..(beaten and divided) should be added, or amounts in each.
Absolutely fantastic! I had no idea a dish like this was so simple. I followed recipe exactly as instructed and wouldn’t change a thing. (I did halve the recipe and used 2 eggs where the whole recipe called for 3)
I would like to try this but we do not eat beef or pork or venion. Do you think I could use ground turkey or chicken?
I’m sure that would be fine!
So great! Wondering if it is ok to freeze this and if so for how long?
I think you can probably freeze it. Just store in a sealed container. I’d say it would keep well for about a month.
We use ground turkey!
I can’t thank you enough for this recipe. I am Greek, but had never made Pastitsio – my sister-in-law always made it and she’s a great cook. I finally tried this 2 years ago, and wow! I follow your special cooking directions, so it does take quite some time (and dirties every pan in my kitchen) but if you take the time to cook it right, it really does look just like the photo! No sloppy mess; just perfect squares. Everyone says they love it. I’m a veggie but I believe them! Thank you so much!
I have made a vegetable one from leftova vege instead of the meat in my lasagne’s
I was given a recipe MANY years ago but lost it in a move. I’ve been looking for a recipe that sounds the same as the one I had and Thais one is the closest. However, I sort of remember using elbow macaroni tossed with butter. And then, before adding the bechmel topping I whipped an egg if two In two cups of milk, poured it over top and shook it down thru all the layers. I thought it was a little bland so the next time I made it, I added cheddar cheese to the bechmel topping along with some nutmeg. Turned out excellent. Thank you for posting this recipe, I’m back in business.
The traditional Greek recipe, as prepared in Greece
has a regular tablespoon of nutmeg in the béchamel
Thanks for sharing!
You are welcome!
To write it more correctly I mean a teaspoon normally full
I really like this dish and served it at a dinner party a few days ago. It was a big hit. However, when making the bechamel sauce, it’s too much flour, and the “roux” is way to thick to properly brown the flour before adding the milk. I’d back off the flour to 1/2 cup.
This is a great recipe
It tasted just like real Pastitsio I get in Greektown in Chicago! I only made a half batch and I did add a bit more tomato paste and I used tomato sauce instead of water (it didn’t come out tomato saucey at all, if that made sense). And I did have to use fresh parmesan because that’s all I had on hand, but I plan on making it again with the correct cheese. I even got my boyfriend to eat it 2 days in a row and he usually hates Greek food if it’s not gyros lol
This recipe looks amazing but I hate, repeat, I hate goats milk cheese. If I sub Parmesan, do I buy shredded or grated? And, are there any other cheese that you can recommend? Thank you in advance for any cheese tips.
I’d use shredded. My suggestion would be to read through the comments. There are a few people who have tried using different cheeses.
I This was a big hit with my honey and he’s asked me to make it again several times since I made it about a month ago.
Today on Christmas! he’s going to make it!
I’ll make tzaziki to go with it.
very good will tyr again
Amazing recipe. Couldn’t find the right cheeses anywhere so went with manchego and mild white cheddar. Next time I do this I want to take some pages from the other commenters and use lamb and add garlic and paprika.
I’ve been making this dish since I was 5 years old. It’s been a few years since I made it and wanted to check my ingredients. First off ground lamb and not beef is the correct meat. Second paprika needs to be used with the cinnamon finally for the sauce don’t whisk it constantly but allow it to foam up and then gently whisk. You need a very large pot to do this in. Otherwise this is a good recipe. I also use Parmesan cheese in the mix as it absorbs some of the moisture. I find it hard to believe this is a traditional Greek recipe as the paprika and lamb are very important. We use ground beef when lamb is hard to find.
It’s a recipe directly from Greek friends- I’m sure everyone makes it differently, but I’d love it with lamb!
I made this tonight and it is amazing! Very authentic, I’ve made a few different recipes bc this is what I always order at Greek restaurants but they haven’t really come close to “real” pastitsio. I did add a little garlic to the onion and beef mix and I couldn’t find the right cheese so I used parmesan mixed with a little feta and it worked great. I haven’t gotten to eat out at any restaurants with the pandemic so this really hit the spot! Thanks
Great to hear!
I noticed the egg thing too so I wanted to.clarofy before I make this tonight. The ingredients list only says 3 eggs but in the written instructions it says to add the beaten eggs to rhe beschsmel sauce but then in the instructions for the pasta it also says stir in heaven eggs. Are there 6 eggs total? 3 in the sauce and 3 in the pasta or 1.5 in each? Its just a little unclear
Hi Clare, If you print out the recipe– it calls for 3 eggs in the sauce and 3 eggs in the main part of the dish, so yes… 6 eggs.
My daughter in law who lives in Greece and is full blooded Greek, uses feta cheese in hers instead of the Kassari Cheese.
Overall a good recipe. I was a little shocked that there wasn’t any garlic, so I added some. I also found that the 3/4 cup of flour was too much for me so I backed it down some. I also added a little oregano which really punched up the flavor. Using whole milk was such a good recommendation!
Just FYI, my Greek friend uses ground lamb in her recipe.
This was definitely missing flavor. My husband was afraid to tell me how bland it was, so I had to sprinkle taco seasoning on it after it was all done. Not exactly the type of flavor I wanted it to be, but after it was baked, I had very little choice. It needed way more cinnamon than the recipe called for and god only knows what else, but it sure was boring. I’m not one to write negative reviews just to complain, but I have had genuine Greek Pastitsio before, and this was recipe was lacking.
I don’t know what happened with your recipe, but it definitely shouldn’t have been bland! This is the first bad review I’ve seen on this one– so I’m not sure where things went wrong. Sorry you didn’t enjoy!
Is there a good substition anyone has found for the eggs? I have an egg allergy, I can handle a couple eggs, but 6 in the recipe makes me cautious. Thank you in advance 🙂
Everyone absolutely LOVED this; it is far superior to my old recipe. It made more than even my deep 9×13 could hold and I had to make a foil collar to get all the bechamel on (worked fine, and reduced to fit the pan after baking) and next time I will make 2/3 the recipe for my normal 9×13. I used block parmesan and added some white pepper to the bechamel and some garlic to the meat mixture. I made a day in advance and baked twice as suggested in reviews, which was nice because this does take some time and use a lot of dishes… but the result is well worth it!!
I’ve been making pastichio for over 30 years, and I can say that this recipe is better than the last one I’ve been using. Flavor is just right, and it’s very firm when I cut it.
Had to use Colby cheese because I couldnt find the Greek cheese.It was great!!!!!
This was amazing!
An excellent recipe. Thank you.
This recipe is perfect and one of my absolute favorite meals! Made it three times now 🙂
I want to make this weekend May 16th or 17th 2020 and you said that you should refrigerate to let the layers set… and then warm up later to serve).long in the refrigerator and then should you bring it back to room temperature before you put it in the oven?
Just until set… and then yes, probably a good idea to let it sit at room temperature again before heating. I’d heat individual slices in the microwave it is were me!
My family all loved this pasticho, some of them even had seconds, served with a salad also
Nice recipe, which we have used several times. The only change, is that we use ground lamb instead of ground beef (Aldi’s carries it). Really adds SO much! A really nice recipe!
You have written 3 large eggs for the sauce and then 3 large eggs for the main dish, however in the method you only reference 3 eggs for the sauce. Is this a typing error or does the main dish require an additional 3 large eggs?
There are 3 eggs in the sauce and 3 eggs in the pasta. It’s all laid out in the written instructions for the recipe. Good luck!
Made this for the first time, so good! Used penne pasta, only 1 onion, added some nutmeg into the sauce, and used parmesan cheese. Reasonably seasoned meat beforehand (salt, pepper, garlic powder). Added about 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper with the cinnamon when ground beef was browned. My non greek bf even loved it. Tastes like the pastistio I remember!
Did I miss the pasta in the list of ingredients? What kind? How much?
One pound of ziti pasta is listed in the ingredients 🙂
Very VERY compelling video, I can’t stop looking at it! One question: It looks like it might be dry wtihout marinara. Would it do better for me to serve marinara on othe side, could I add some,, or does the (bechmel?) sauce moisten it enough?
Delicious and the whole family loved it 🙂 I did have to use parmesan cheese due to lack of finding Greek cheese locally. I have never had either of these Greek cheeses and would love to try it one day with them – when I can find them. I am not sure we have a Whole Foods close to us here, but maybe one day I will find it in another store.
This is NOT authentic. I have a recipe from the 1970s. It calls for one clove of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 1/2 cup of white wine. Plus 2 pounds of ground lamb—not ground beef. I’m from the Chicagoland area, and have been cooking for 54 years. I also cooked professionally for 17 years. I know what I’m talking about, and I’m making this today.
Hi Paula, I’m sure your recipe is really good! This recipe was given to me by a Greek friend. The recipe came from her family, who still live in Greece. Perhaps there are different versions of Pastitsio.
I’m rating five stars cause it looks great. fresh fresh fresh. now my question would be how about a mixture of venison ground with sausage for the meat? about 50/50. I’m going to try this recipe sometime and I love this meat combination for other dishes I make like shepherds pie. we have a really great restaurant nearby in a town of about three thousand run by Greeks and the food there is amazing all hand done to the highest standards. A real gem of a place out here in the middle of nowhere and pastitsio is one of their offerings and I get it often.
I am Greek, and do lots of cooking and baking. Love to explore new recipes. Amazing, this recipe is exactly how we make this Pastichio, ala Yiayia’s old recipe, which through the years , I had to nail it down. After all, no Yiayias had recipes. Love your recipes..
Glad to hear, thank you!
Second time making this. It’s now a family favorite!
I am Greek, and have always been afraid/too lazy to try this. I now have made it three times, and everyone tells me how wonderful it is. I took Nadia’s advice, and baked it for 45 minutes the day before, then took out of the fridge and brought to room temp. the next day, before baking it another 45 minutes. It comes out perfectly. Thanks so much for this post. Great instructions and photos.
Happy to hear!
Family loved it! It’s a bit labor intensive for one person even with my wife cleaning as we went. I used a lamb beef 50/50 mixture which was amazing. Next time I will drain the grease from the meat, add some oregano and pepper flake (We are Italian) but overall, great step by step. Well written recipe. I think I spent $20 (1/2 on lamb) and it’s enough to feed 5 twice!
My own twist (based on your advice). I let cool for 15 mins, refrigerated for 30 Mins and reheated.it held together very nicely. Thanks!
This is the best pastitio I have ever tasted. My family is Greek and my Yiayia use to use handful of this and that.
This is how the older generation use to cook. When I want to make a something Greek I look for a recipe and then
I doctor it up to see if I can come up with something that tastes like family. So far so good at least I have the basic
I followed the recipe and what a disappointment. It was so bland that even my family said there was no flavour.
Sorry you didn’t care for it!
When you re-heat the slices after making the dish in the morning do you put them in the microwave or put them in the oven?
I think the microwave should be fine. Maybe sprinkle a few drops of water on the slice before microwaving.
Made this for dinner tonight. So delicious!! Thank you for sharing!! Also, I am obsessed with your baking dish. Do you mind sharing where you found it?
Glad you enjoyed! My Mother in Law got it for me as part of a set, and I think it was from QVC or something!
I am Greek and Pastitsio is a staple from waaaayyy back in the day! This is an incredible recipe. Clear instructions and perfect finish! The only thing I found challenging was translating some of the measurements.For example, 1 pound of pasta, 2 pounds of meat, 1 quart of milk and the ounces in cheese. I had to do some sleuthing to figure it out. But WOW , when I followed it exactly, it was and is a HIT in our home. I’ve served it to crowds and my little one requests it regularly. Thank you for sharing!
First time making this dish and I love this recipe tastes just like I remember it tasting when I was a kid. I am vegetarian tho so I used Gardein vegetarian beef crumbles and followed everything else the same and even my meat eating friends loved it. I did add some black pepper to my Bechemel sauce.
The white cheese in between your layers looks like a soft cheese like mozzarella. Kasseri and Kefalotiri are both hard cheeses. As is parmesan. So what dis you use here?
I used Kasseri in the photos.
Can I freeze this?
I think that would probably be okay, but I haven’t tried it.
YUM!!! I love this delicious version!!!
Our local diner serves pastitsio and it’s so good! Excited to try making it at home!
Those different layers look amazing! Must try this recipe!
This is truly the perfect comfort food. Five stars!
Such a delicious classic, love this!
Such a fun way to shake up our lasagna routine!
Aaaand now I’m craving lasagna! Wow does this look good!
It looks so delish!
Each layer is so good! This is a great dinner.
Oh my!! Layers and layers of goodness. Putting this on the weekly rotation asap.
I HAVE to make this ASAP!
OMG! Best remenince of Pastitsio made by my Greek friend’s mom. I prepared a half recipe, as no family around. However, it neded the full recipe for the beschemel. Forgive me, I hate when people are so free to “ modify”a recipe, but I did add some red wine to the sauce. No photo, I am bad at that. Marvelous flavors , great texture. Yes, I have leftovers, portioned, wrapped and in the freezer. Looking to thaw in frig, then reheat in oven.
I got it in the oven. I used grated feta cheese in the middle and parmesan on top…only because I forgot to same some for the topping.
i want to make a batch and then a second to keep in my freezer and enjoy in the future. when should i freeze it? how should i thaw and bake it?
I have not tried freezing this recipe!
If you make the night before should you bake it then refrigerate it or refrigerate it unbaked and bake it the next evening for dinner? Thank you Lori
I refrigerate leftovers. If you’re planning to prep but not eat until the next night… I’d probably refrigerate and then bake the next day.
Do you layer the cooled noodles one at a time to get such perfect rows? It looks beautiful !!!
No, they just fall into place and end up looking nice!
Can FETA CHEESE Be used instead of one of the others ?
Traditional Greek Lasagna, or Pastitsio, is made with ground lamb, not beef.
BEST TASTING MEAL EVER!!
I am Greek and never made pastichio before. I have my own recipes but needed ingredients quickly and was at store. Looked this up due to the picture honestly. Followed all instructions to the tee. Started the bechamel sauce with much trepidation but stuck with it and succeeded!
Lots of pots and pans and many minutes later, I had a beautiful pastichio for my family to eat.
This came out amazing!!! Great recipe!!!
100% percent Greek girl here! The best way to make pastichio so it does not fall apart is to bake it the night before for about 45 minuites. Let cool completely and place it in the fridge. Next day take it out of the fridge a few hours before serving and bring it to room temp. Then back for another 45 min or until the top turns golden brown. I use the broiler at the end for a few minutes. Take it out of the oven and let sit for a half hour and then cut. You will have perfect pieces that don’t fall apart.
We had a “Greek” Christmas dinner this year and I made this and it was amazing!! I only added a pinch of nutmeg for the bechamel sauce. We loved it so much I am making it again this weekend. Thank you SO much for such a fabulous recipe!
Happy to hear you liked it as much as we did!
It seems like some greek oregano would be a good addition to the meat sauce. I use lamb rather than beef; I think it makes the dish more authentic, if you can get ground lamb.
Minced beef is traditional. I have never had this with lamb or giouivetsi or moussakas.
You mention that it’s best to refrigerate to let the flavor set and then reheat. How long and at what temperature would you recommend for reheating? Thank you!
Reheat it at 350 degrees F, for about a half hour covered with aluminum foil, then uncover and put back in the oven for another half hour or so. Or you can microwave individual slices, of course.
Hi there. Can you tell me if this recipe freezes well?
I have not tried freezing it, so I’m not sure!
I have made this recipe and it was delicious and was a huge hit. I also have a vegetarian recipe and it’s just as good.
Thanks for sharing! Can I ask where the baking dish is from?
My Mother-in-Law got that for me… I believe it was part of a set that she ordered from one of the shopping channels!
My local diner makes a fabulous pastitsio but I’ve never made it before. Thanks for the recipe!
I don’t know which I love more – the movie or the pastitsio!!
This lasagna looks and sounds amazing!! I could eat this all day every day! I don’t think I’ve ever watched my big fat greek wedding #1. Isn’t that bad? I need to watch the first then the second. I would totally make this for dinner and binge watch movies. 🙂
yes, you need to catch up!!
You are soooo right, the layers are mesmerizing! Definitely worth it to make it advance for that show stopping presentation.
This looks so delicious! I haven’t had it IN YEARS! Can’t wait to make it at home!
Pastitsio is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods! LOVE this recipe!
I absolutely loved the first Big Fat Greek Wedding movie and can’t wait to see the second one! This would be the perfect pre-movie dinner!
I love this! Especially the cinnamon…..it must add an amazing twist of flavor!
What yummy comfort food! Pretty presentation too!
I am SO excited for this movie! And this pastitisio looks great! I’ve only ever had it once but your version looks so much better!
Yes please! This looks great and I love the alternative to the traditional lasagna.
Oooh man this looks so good! Every time I eat Greek food I think to myself, Why don’t I eat more Greek food. And I LOVE my big fat greek wedding, can’t wait to see the next one!! That lamb quote is totally my favorite!
OMG I LOVE Pastitsio!!! This looks amazing!
Looks and sounds delicious. Thank you.
I love this dish, and already have a similar recipe. But I wanted to tell you how beautiful your baking dish is! We love your recipes and posts, thanks for all you do!!
My mom was 100% Greek. This was her signature dish for Greek Easter. I watched her make is several times. She didn’t use a Bechamel sauce. She would beat 6/7 eggs and add parm cheese. (she never measured) Mix it and pour it over the pasta and meat sauce. My cousin made it with the bechemal sauce and did not enjoy it at all. Bechamel sauce was used to top moussaka. Didn’t give stars because I haven’t tried this recipe. Just my two cents >^..^<